Mark Tuohy Interview
Posted on 20 July 2005. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Mark Tuohy, author of the recently published acclaimed novel The Tide, published by Crescent Press.
"This is only the third book from Crescent, a small fiction imprint within the Scottish publisher Mercat Press. Tuohy is a challenging writer and it is a pleasure to welcome both him and the Crescent Press into the world of fiction and wish them well for the future.’ Demot Bolger
Tell us something about your background.
My first novel “The Tide” has just been published. I’ve written most regularly for radio, a couple of plays and a year writing for a radio soap on the World Service. I’ve also written a couple of screenplays and a stage play that is currently looking for a home. At the moment I’m concentrating on my second novel which I’m about half way through.
For the last couple of years I have been writing full time but in previous years I was involved in social work and community development work and that provided my main income.
How did you start writing?
Originally I wrote songs and played in local bands, then I did a bit of poetry and then as part of my social work training I chose to write a short radio play. It was the final part of the course, at the dissertation type stage I suppose, and there was the option of writing something long and boring or you could present it as a play which I did, although I suppose that could have been long and boring as well! Anyway, apparently it wasn’t and with some encouragement from a professional writer I just kept on writing.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
The writers I enjoy most are the ones capable of embracing life, ones that can connect with the reader emotionally, writers who are exciting and prepared to take risks, writers who are funny and writers who can tell a good story. I don’t like purveyors of “detached cynicism”, that cold distant but ever so clever stuff, and I get very frustrated with novels that seem to pad things out just to justify the cover price.
So my favourites would include (at the moment anyway) Carson McCullers, James Joyce, Patrick McCabe, DBC Pierre, Jack Kerouac, Roddy Doyle and having recently re read The Ginger Man I’d have to add JP Donleavy. There are actually a lot more, mainly “one offs”, because I think I take a rather chaotic approach to my reading, often coming across great writers by accident and then moving on again.
How did you get your first agent/ commission/publication?
The Bush Theatre held a new playwright competition (97/98 I think). You had to submit a completed piece of work and an outline idea for a stage play. I submitted a screenplay with the outline and won. As a result I met Alan Brodie who became my agent.
What's the worst thing about writing?
Getting started and then getting cold knees when I’ve been sitting still for too long.
And the best?
Being able to create your own world where anything is possible.
Tell us what kind of response you get from audiences and if/how this affects/influences your writing
A lot of people have said some very good things about my novel The Tide, which is very encouraging and extremely good for the ego but I try not to linger over specific comments, I think you need to be careful or you could end up quite paranoid.
What was your breakthrough moment?
Probably winning The Bush award because it made me believe in myself as a writer. Out of 300 entrants, including some who were far more experienced/trained than me, I came first. It was a real boost.
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