Mike McCormack in Conversation

Where: The Irish Writer’s Centre, Parnell Square

When: Thursday the 20th of October

Why: Martin Doyle from the Irish Times Book Club interviewed Mike McCormack on his latest Novel Solar Bones.

About the Book

They say the dead return on All Soul’s day and Marcus Conway returns on one such visit. Marcus, husband, father and engineer is in his kitchen contemplating the events that took him away from home and brought him back again.

It’s an extraordinary novel about an ordinary man. Solar Bones starts in Louisburgh in Mayo. The story portrays real family life. We get an intimate look into one man’s family, regrets and mistakes. Marcus has a daughter, Agnes, an artist. He recalls a troubling visit to Agnes’ first solo exhibition where one of her mediums was her own blood. We get a glimpse of conversations with his son Darragh who’s off in Australia, busy growing a beard. We see their relationship through his memories of Darragh and also through skype calls during late hours of the night. We meet his wife Mairead who his children joke is much more cultured than Marcus.  She spends some of the book ill with cryptosporidium virus which causes extreme stomach upset. A disease which left Ireland’s water supply contaminated by it’s own shit.

McCormack’s book is one of the most important works in contemporary Irish literature today. Solar Bones is a fine representation of 21st Century Ireland, just about to be struck down by a recession. It comments cleverly on post Celtic tiger boom in Ireland. It deals with the corruption in local small town politics.

One piece of advice writers are told all the time is to write what you know. McCormack himself was born in the same part of Mayo that Marcus lives in which he uses to his advantage by giving us, the readers, a truthful and sad insight into what every day life was like for one man in rural Ireland. Solar Bones can be understood by anyone in the world as most importantly it’s about life, family, decisions and regrets which anyone can relate to.

About the Author


Mike McCormack is an award winning Irish writer from County Mayo in Ireland. His previous novels include Getting it in the Head and Notes from a Coma. 

After his father died Mike McCormack felt he needed to get a vocational education as he was the oldest in his family and needed to provide for them. He went onto study electrical engineering but soon realized he didn’t have the mathematical inclination needed to complete the course. Dropping out, he spent a year working for a pharmaceutical company as a gardener before enrolling into NUI Galway to study English and Philosophy. His time studying Engineering and his time working for the pharmaceutical company definitely wasn’t a waste as in his works he puts much emphasis on machines and high tech mechanics in his sci-fi based work.

He accredits his publishers, Sarah and Lisa from Tramp Press and his wife Maebh for being his greatest support behind his writing and the making of Solar Bones. His wife Maebh, a painter had to remind Mike that he’s a writer and not a publisher. He had to focus on his job, writing and let the publishers do theirs. McCormack reveals that the writing process is blurry as he submitted it at 2am one morning and several hours later his son was born, which led Mike to become a father for the first time.

As well as being a writer, Mike is a lecturer and teacher in creative writing.

Recently Solar Bones has been nominated for a Goldsmiths Prize.

The best way to keep up to date with the progress and his work is to follow Tramp Press on Twitter.

Tramp Press

You can catch the full podcast which is aptly being published on the 31st of October and you can buy the novel from any good book store for €15

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