For Mother’s Day: from “Motherland”

Motherland-cover-web

In 1998, I was invited to contribute to an anthology of writings about mothers and daughters, edited by Caledonia Kearns and published by William Morrow, New York.

It was a stunning collection of reflections from a writers ranging from Margaret Sanger to Susan Minot and more, and I saw it as an amazing opportunity to interview my mother and ask her a lot of questions I’d always wanted to ask, and so when she visited New York that Spring, where I was living at the time, we sat over several hours and she talked about growing up in Ireland during the war, the fifties, having kids and being an artist.

In honour of Helen Quinn Mulkerns this mother’s day, I’d like to post it now – with illustrations.  Click on the image or here to download the full PDF.

She has her own website at:  www.helenmulkerns.com, if you’d like to see more of her art work.

Meantime,
Happy Mother’s day, Mam!

From the archives: The David Bowie Interview

Bowie Cover-blog-docSo, at the request of friends, I’m uploading my one and only David Bowie interview for posterity, published in Hot Press – hard to believe – 20 years ago. (Click on the image to the left for immediate access).  In 1995, I’d long been a Bowie freak and back again, having first seen him as a vision in white satin hot-pants screaming “Jean Jeanie”, but not catching him live for the first time in Paris during the Serious Moonlight tour. 

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was the first album I ever bought, followed by every Bowie album ever after that until a certain dodgy period from the early eighties to mid-nineties, but say no more.

There was a heat wave in New York when Hot Press Editor, Niall Stokes phoned me and said, “I’m calling you because I know you’d come home and shoot me if I didn’t … ”

It had been a strange year, kicking off with twelve people dead in a weird chemical warfare attack in the Tokyo subway;  Timothy MacVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 Americans in Oklahoma City.  While an historic peace accord was signed between Israel and the PLO, in Srebrenica, Bosnian Serbs massacred an estimated 7,000 Muslim men, raping thousands of women, in probably the worst European war crime since World War II.

In the art world, a sort of misguided, pre-millennial rococo was everywhere. Body modification through self mutilation and even plastic surgery was at its height. The previous year’s Nine Inch Nails’ album, The Downward Spiral, with its themes of self-harm, addiction and despair had spawned a follow-up album in June.  Damien Hirst was suspending dead sheep and cows in formaldehyde and French performance artist Orlan was rearranging her face to resemble iconic works of Art.

It’s hard to believe that just two years previously, Bowie had produced the unspeakably bland Black Tie White Noise.  As a massive contrast, Outside was dark in the extreme, offering a musical reflection that sought to capture the prevailing fin de siecle angst.  Bowie had been graduating more towards fine art, and had begun to work with Brian Eno.  They even visited the Psychiatric unit of a hospital in Vienna to interview artists who had gone to the extreme end of Outsider art. Based on a short story written by Bowie, which is in the sleeve notes, it was filled with deeply disturbing imagery.  (more…)

Celebrating Women’s Day with some cherished Authors

Today – Women’s Day, I’d like to post a gallery to celebrate five women I’ve had the privilege to work with down recent years in my capacity as editor, book designer or e-book formatter – it’s been a pleasure to contribute in a behind-the-scene (or behind the screen as it were) way to their varied and worthy work. Each of these writers have such a broad range of individually great writing, I’d warmly recommend looking them all up.  Just click on the images.
Starting, of course, with the wonderful Val Mulkerns, not that I’m biased or anything like that …

So click on each image to link to their respective websites.
We don’t actually need a day to celebrate, but we might as well since it’s there !!!

val-mulkerns

 

Joan

Margaret

 

Gai

 

susan

From the Archives: The San Francisco Book Fair, 1996

THE SAN FRANCISCO BOOK FESTIVAL turns out to be exactly what it’s billed as: a “celebration of books”.  Leave your cares, your TV, your Internet (although it does rear its ugly head) and your sense of time behind you,and head into an arguably dying realm. After all, the Japanese have already invented the slim, compact, CD ROM book-reading device which you hold in your hand and press a tiny panel to turn the “pages”.

San Fran Book Fair-Web

For all that, books, their creators and their enthusiasts appear strangely healthy this weekend, by the end of which strong backs are necessary to cart away compulsive print purchases, many signed by the gang of authors who have descended on the town for the event. Over the weekend, you could attend readings by American book heroes as diverse as Amy Tan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tobias Wolff, Joy Harjo or Alice Walker, with visits by writers from China, India and Peru.

The Pads, of course, are no exception. Not to be completely out­ done by the mucho-sexy Frankfurt extravaganza, San Francisco this year featured a strong Irish – Indeed Celtic – presence, with writers travelling from the auld sod and around the US to participate in a special panel entitled “The Wild Colonials: The Writing Irish Abroad”. (more…)