Brian Kennedy’s first book, Confessions of an Exeter City Nut, was self-published before being taken up by a small publisher in England. His 2011 book, Just Follow the Floodlights was published by Liffey Press and went to No.1 on Amazon’s English Football League Bestseller List on 4 different occasions. I caught up with Brian to talk about his new memoir, Radio Blaa Blaa.
Brian was a man born with a pen in his hand: “I’ve always been writing one thing or another from an early age. I used to do a football magazine called ‘Blow It Up Ref!’ for my Waterford Junior League Division 4 Club, Kilbarry Rangers. It always gave the lads a laugh, which helped after the beatings we used to get!”
So how long has Radio Blaa Blaa been in the works? How did it begin? “I wrote it in about six months,” Brian says, “When I put my mind to something, I keep at it until the project is finished. ‘Radio Blaa Blaa’ was no different to any other publication of mine in that respect. I started the project, set a date to finish and worked within those boundaries.
“It was a disc jockey who had inspired me to write the book. Colin Kennedy is a family friend and happened to have been part of the whole pirate radio scenario in the early eighties. I was a bit iffy about whether it could be done, let alone successful, but to date it’s my fastest selling book ever!”
I asked Brian what he enjoyed writing the most in his memoir and why: “Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. It’s the file that takes the rough edges off of yesteryear. It’s something everyone goes back to time and time again. Sometimes all we have is the past when the future looks bleak. It was for this reason I really enjoyed writing the book, going back to a time that’s brought many, many wonderful memories.”
Brian is no stranger to self-publishing, but I was curious as to why he chose it again. “For Just Follow the Floodlights, I had a publicist, graphic designer and a book distributed all over Ireland by Gill & McMillian, but I actually enjoy the self-publish route just as much. That way you’re judge, jury & executioner on everything.
“To be honest I knew the chances of getting published at first where Bob Hope and No Hope! I just wanted to get my books on the shelf of my local bookstore. I think self-publishing is a lot of fun. You’re dealing with the front cover on your own terms , the content on your own terms, without an editor to say ‘Take this, that, and the other out’. Nobody knows better than the author themselves I feel. Yes sometimes they need a guiding hand but I never liked anyone telling me the way to go. I had a good publisher in Liffey Press who listened to me about the front page, the content and the price. I didn’t budge on a single thing! And it worked as I got my way, which has proven a success.”
So why self-publishing in the first place? “To be honest at first it was a step into the unknown. I’d either had my books published or had used my local printer and that had been a happy union. However, money became an issue which brought me to the lads at Selfpublishbooks.ie. I’ve got an astounding piece of work made, more so for the price which is simply the best in Ireland and trust me I’ve checked. The quality is fantastic.”
Was a writing career always on the cards for you? “I’ve never been to a writing class, barely passed English in my Leaving Cert and hardly ever go to book launches. I don’t run in those circles. It’s just never interested me. I laugh sometimes at the grants handed out to some writers – I remember three Irish writers getting a combined grant of €30,000 euro between them for Irish language books a couple of years ago and selling exactly 64 books between them. There a lot of pompousness involved. There is this need of acceptance. That getting a publishing contract means they have ‘made it’. Did I make it when I got my publishing contract? Yes I did….for 2 euro a copy! That’s the reality.”
I asked Brian what’s next – or has he had enough of writing? “Well if I finish a book before 2014 it will have been 10 books in 10 years. Mind you I’m running out of subject matters! Yes I get tired of writing, and I can’t see myself doing it forever, but when I see the joy it brings to people, who tell me so, then it makes it all worth while.”