My good friend Phil Mac Giolla Bhain has finished his second novel.
A follow up to his opening book, The Squad, Native Shore is a political thriller set in Scotland.
It should be one hell of a tale.
I was recently allowed a sneak peek at one chapter, involving a visit to Celtic Park, and I have to say I laughed out loud more than a few times!
I like that in a thriller. A book with a good sense of humour is a lot lighter to read than one that is weighed down by the darkness of the plot.
Phil is an accomplished guy. A journalist, a novelist and a playwright.
He’s a guy with several degrees. He has written in national titles. His book on the collapse of Rangers, Downfall, remains the only book written on that whole affair. He is a credit to Celtic cyberspace.
Yes, he has his detractors, but some of them are nuttier than the proverbial fruitcake. It always cracks me up when people who have achieved nothing can aim such barbs at someone who has done it all.
Phil doesn’t have to prove his credentials … those of us who read him know them already.
He’s got nothing to prove.
Phil isn’t the only person in Celtic cyberspace who has crafted a sterling reputation as a writer above and beyond what we read about the club.
Stephen O’Donnell has written some outstanding books on Scottish football, and he has a novel out to boot.
The teams at CQN and The Celtic Star have published numerous books on our club, and their team of writers like David Potter and Matt Corr are brilliant at what they do.
This site’s regular contributor Matthew Marr is writing a book about Celtic’s first league title right now.
I am very much looking forward to reading that.
Paul Larkin never stops working, and nor does the hilariously brilliant Pat Anderson, author of more books than a man could ever read.
At some point, I’ll republish my own first novel, my novella and my book of short stories.
At what point?
At the point where I can give them a proper final polish, and I’ll only do that once I’ve finished one of the other two I’ve been working on for way too long. This year?
Hopefully, but I’ve set those deadlines before and I’m more easily distracted than George RR Martin.
Our community has so many great writers in it.
It has so much variation.
Most of our writers and bloggers are well educated, and you can tell. You read some of the stuff in the mainstream press – completely devoid of intelligence or insight – and wonder how in the Hell these people ever got their gigs. Worse are the number of footballers who have columns, and can’t help revealing their utter ignorance.
Smart writers make smart readers.
Those of us who write full-time feel very fortunate that they get to do so … it also gives a lot of us the freedom to work on writing projects outside of football, and Phil branching out into novel writing was an obvious step for him to have taken.
But we all come back to this stuff, over and over again, because Celtic is our passion and writing about the game and the issues in it is what we care most about.
Someone asked me a few years ago if I would still write even if there was no prospect of every making a penny from it; the answer is obvious.
Of course I would.
I write seven days a week, almost every day of the year with the notable exceptions being my birthday and at Christmas and I do that because I love doing it.
Defending Celtic is something else that gives me a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. I love to poke holes in the media’s nonsense. I love to set the record straight when they get their facts wrong, or simply ignore facts and write their own fiction instead.
I know all of us feel the same way.
In terms of the football stuff, Phil was quiet for a few months there … he never fell off the planet or anything, but he took time out to get his book finished and then, I’d hope, gave himself some time off to put up his feet and relax.
I know that several other writers within our sphere are, themselves, working on new books and major projects.
Always, though, we’ll be writing about our club.
The truth about it too, not blindly spouting PR bullshit from within its walls, or pushing some party line.
Leave that to the Peepul and their “official media partners”.
(Pay us £25,000 and then write what you are told.)
That’s why our supporters are, if you’ll pardon the pun, “smarter than the average bear.”
Phil has also published two extracts from the book on his own site.
You can read those here and here.