A self-centered only child of classical musicians, Marina Julia Neary grew up in a picturesque radioactive Gomel, just a stone throw away from Chernobyl, and came to the US on a refugee visa. Glowing personality. Nuclear ego. Explosive libido. Toxic sense of humor. A few of her favorite things include historical novels, cats, guns, Orthodox icons and Yankee dollars. During the day she works in foreign exchange. On her spare time she goes to cat shows, rock concerts and pro-life marches. An eloquent and sarcastic ultra-conservative voice, she loves to aggravate humorless liberals. Her literary work revolves around Neo-Victorianism, French Romanticism and Irish nationalism. Don’t miss her acclaimed debut novel Wynfield’s Kingdom (2009, Fireship Press).
Connect with Marina: Website | Facebook
Links to Irish books: Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian | Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916 Never Be at Peace: a Novel of Irish Rebels
In today’s world there are very few topics that are still considered taboo. One of them is questioning the unconditional nature of parental love. It’s just something you don’t bring up in polite society. While most parents who find themselves loving one child more than another are too embarrassed to verbalize their feelings, they don’t have a problem showing it in every way possible. It’s fascinating how parents will find creative roundabout ways to explain why they treat their children differently, from “Katie was a high-maintenance baby” to “Susie takes after her father”, but they will always augment the explanation with the defensive statement, “But I still love them the same, and I would die for either one of them.” If you omit that last statement, you put yourself at risk of being crucified.
In my creative life – as well as my daily life – I like to push the limits of decorum. I remember being thrown out of a Mommy group for openly admitting that I didn’t feel guilty about leaving my baby in daycare, and no my heart was not breaking from the thought of some “strange woman seeing his first smile”. I could tell that other mothers were horrified by my absence of Mommy guilt and more so by my candor. The moderator politely suggested that I should find another social network for myself as my disturbing and insensitive comments were not meshing well with the culture of the group. Interestingly, some moms e-mailed me later on and expressed their admiration. Clearly, they were too chicken to show their support in public. Just for the record, they didn’t end up becoming my friends. I have no time for people who are too chicken to stand by me in the open. I am not going to become another soccer mom’s guilty pleasure, the kind of friend you keep behind closed doors.
I am grateful for that episode because it encouraged me to go back to an early draft of a historical novel that I wrote in college. Set in Ireland in the turbulent decade leading up to the Easter Rising of 1916, the novel tackles another taboo topic – favoring one child over another, especially when there are ethnic and religious factors involved. Meet Brendan Malone, a handsome Irish landlord in his prime and a member of the Fenian Brotherhood, a secret oath-bound nationalist organization. He has two sons less than a year apart, recent graduates from the University College Dublin. Dylan, the eldest, is a Celtic titan – gorgeous and physically developed, though intellectually superficial and juvenile. Hugh, the youngest, is sickly bookworm, secretive and sardonic. Still, it’s not Hugh’s physical weakness that makes him less than an ideal son for Brendan – it’s his ambiguous political loyalties. Brendan has good reasons to suspect that Hugh is not committed to fighting for Ireland’s freedom alongside his brother. What can be worse for an Irish nationalist than having a traitor for a son? When Brendan takes his boys on an excursion to a the shrine of Lawrence O’Toole, the patron saint of the Fenian Brotherhood, certain secrets come to light, and Brendan’s suspicions are confirmed. What does a father do when his children end up on the opposite sides of the barricade? What do you do when your child is your political and ideological enemy?
The novel Brendan Malone: the Last Fenian was completed in 2010 and accepted for publication by All Things That Matter Press. The outpour of positive feedback from the the readers who enjoy Irish history prompted me to write two more books in the series Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916 and Never Be at Peace: a Novel of Irish Rebels.
After much nagging, I ended up writing a theatrical adaptation of The Last Fenian. I had to dramatically reduce the head count to 5, leaving just the father, his two sons and the two female love interests. This past August a theatrical adaptation of the play was filmed for PBS in Greenwich, CT. It was an absolute pleasure to work with the cast if talented actors from New York. We were able to film everything in one day. Every time I get involved in a theatrical production, there are those episodes of weakness and defeatism, when I ask myself, “Why, why do I put myself through all this stress?” But in the end it all ends up working out, and the final product makes you forget the stress.
About Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian
Based on true historical events, “Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian” is a folkloric satire examining the dark, destructive side of paternal love. Roscommon, Ireland-1910. A string of crop failures and botched rebellions had left the country a pitiful wasteland. Brendan Malone, a struggling Gaelic landlord and memberof the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood, succumbs to a midlife flare-up of nationalism, while his two sons climb the academic Olympus at University College Dublin. Dylan, primitive and compliant, clings to his overbearing father, while Hugh, anglicized beyond recognition, harbors his own ambitions that do not include liberating his native land.
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