1. Your recently-released novel “Nobber” was referred to in an Irish Times review as “14th-century bawdiness and Irish noir whimsy.” And in the Guardian as “a grisly, gross-out slice of medieval life and death” Do you think either of those are fair descriptions of the book? And if not, how would you describe it?
I enjoy those descriptions you mentioned, and I also enjoy the variation in different people’s summaries of it. To be honest, I’m happy that people are describing it in any way at all. I describe it as a story about a change that happens in a small town over the course of a few hours.
2. Nobber is set in 1348. Did you get bogged down at all in historical fact during the writing process?
I didn’t get bogged down at all. A certain kind of attention to period and difference and detail can be poisonous to a story, I feel. Edward Gibbon once said something like you could tell the Koran was a genuine document because there were no camels in it. That strikes me as true. I learned as much as I could about what peasants and aristocrats believed at that time, and what peasants had to put up with from the different forces in society and then I estranged myself from any previously-held conception of medieval people and treated them like they were my brothers or sisters, which they are. I made the Gaels up because most records pertaining to them were destroyed in the Civil War or pulped in World War I.
3. What, if anything, do you have in common with your protagonist Osprey De Flunkl?