I have been involved in the arts as an Actor Writer and Film Maker from most of my
adult life. The depth of beauty in this world has always compelled me as much as the darkness to create with my voice my body, my visual and my words. These tools have since growing up in such a beautiful and epic country like Ireland given me a gateway to a deeper understanding of the world around me. The noble resonance of a word thought then written then spoken or read by another gives me a sense of renewal of the heart.
My time in Ireland first as an actor then as a writer and film maker shaped the color
and depth of my worldview. When I moved to New York I transcended my past and
became immersed in a deep and flowing river of endless humanity. My art as a writer accelerated as much as the pain and rebirth was in tandem with this difficult flowering.
My inner narrative emerged as a man , as a human in a landscape that was changing almost by the moment. I had the advantage of my acting skills and my visual skills to
absorb characters, ideas, shapes and sounds. I filled the depths of my heart with all of the voices of the world. My spirit shaped amongst the millions.
Back in Ireland , when I first stepped on a stage , I was electrified by what was within rushing out into the light and allowing my soul to be free. Again it was words, unlocking the mysterious kingdom of the self. Always I felt changed. Breaking time whether it be by the pen or the expression of the words of others.
In New York I made a great leap with just a digital camera. The extension of my gifts like the tallest spires in Manhattan reaching beyond the impossible into the realm of a dream realized. I wrote and filmed and wandered and lost all that was me. I talked and interviewed and spun a web of beauty, light, darkness and something almost pure in a much wounded city. This film became HOME, and became a beacon to New York. It shone in it’s innocence of creation in an era of destruction. My words in the film soared
into the eyes and minds of tired New Yorkers.
I got Woody Allen, Liam Neeson, Mike Myers , Susan Sarandon, Frank Mc Court, Pete Hamil and others to recollect their own feelings about why New York was their home.
But it was my words, fragments of pain and light that scattered the cobwebs from my eyes. I was New York, it’s rhythm, it’s beat it’s pulse. The blood of this metropolis was pulsing in my veins. That film took me to London, Florida, Lincoln Centre, all over Ireland and it had it’s launch on PBS and across America. My words echoing in the
home’s of millions. I was commended by the New York Mayor and lauded by Gabriel Byrne and others of fame in the Irish American Arts.
I think back to Ireland then the beauty and the darkness, my own simple life, and I look also at the incredible journey of ten thousand miles walked around every block and alleyway and avenue and they seem worlds apart. They are linked by millions who share the idea of leaving and returning. Of their loneliness like I felt many times.
But for art, for writing it was gold, harsh cruel gold but shining nonetheless.
The scars are beautiful. For others to see and be transformed by. My journey in this
world with so many pitfalls and unmarked roads, has enhanced my gifts. Where are
we now in this darkening era of disconnection and myth less rage? I know I fall back on my art. The bard, the poet, the player of the story. I know the worth of being moved or moving someone in the heart. This awaits my own work I feel. My voice many times has touched lives with my film across the world. The voice of a simple man. Yet their is something extraordinary about an ordinary life. That is my wealth in my work.
When the Emmy’s in 2009 were announced as I sat in a humble supermarket after
returning to Ireland I felt the doors opening again. I felt the broken dream reassemble and beckon me back to the city of a thousand ideas.
The night I was in the hotel 50 floors up , apart in the silence and again back in the city, I smiled and looked at the tiny lights of a hundred thousand windows across Manhattan.
She was bending to me again , after so much strife and agony.
I knew her heart and the darkest essence that stirred beneath the pipes and bricks and cabs. That night I won. I won for best writing. It was a cinderella moment. Broken , beaten and now ignited again in this city . I dedicated the Emmy to those who had yet to come, to those who remained and to those who left and carried something of New York which only those that dared to risk truly knew.
The breath and width of my journey encompassing acting on stages both in New York and Ireland sharing a communion of emotions brought me to writing Naked In New York . After all the acclaim of HOME and the subsequent reaction from around the world,
I realized that people were deeply affected by my words and voice. Whatever I had
experienced in life somehow I could transmit directly into the sounds and shapes and vowels that people could immediately connect with.
My lineage , the great celtic blood of the dreamer that connects me with Joyce and
Beckett and Oscar Wilde in how the seen their own interior world and wanted to share this short and beautiful mortal life as passionately and resolutely with as many others
as possible. I have sometimes felt the ragged bones of failure haunt my life. The chosen road of a dreamer in such a dark era is paradoxical in the extreme. As the shadows
haunt the world and men of terrible impulses wage war on beauty. The poet and
dreamer and writer pushes against this every day. As the world moves in slow circles , I ponder and write and delve and sacrifice .
My book Naked in New York is an extension of my soul’s work. A transmutation in
poetic heaving paragraphs . The world is alone. In a planet of billions with so much
communication we are adrift on our own private islands. I wrote Naked in New York
to expunge the black liquid of pain and awareness of a cruel world and yet try and
highlight the beauty of a city that has the world’s greatest and lowest aspects of our tired race. I made a journey alone into a wounded city. I shared the suffering and felt wild anger and loss. I was bound by something greater to express the souls of New York in all their anguish yearning and their triumphs. New York changes you forever.
I watched from distant shores when I was there and thought of all I had left behind.
Now I have returned , I am amongst wild trees and a darkening Atlantic ocean that hides the secrets of a million souls that left and never returned.
I am in both places in the heart. Ireland is an illusive place of beauty and secrets. New York is a steel giant relentless and foreboding yet full of tiny achingly beautiful touching moments.
Who am I in the midst of these great journeys? I am a man, a dreamer, a celt, a poet an actor and writer. I will soon embark again on another journey. An epic odyssey around
Ireland to capture it’s heart, it’s essence and to find my own connection with this my
nation of birth. The project film and book will be called ‘ The Spirit of Ireland’ .
My book The Spirit of Ireland – An Odyssey Home will be available as an audio download here on my site soon.
I hope this to be another light a flickering and eventually will turn into a flame of power that can be ignited around the planet. Ireland calls out to many from the four corners and the 70 million around the globe who claim blood and lineage as part of this nation will answer I hope to my expression and my passion and poetry about this great and wounded country called Ireland.
Book blurb for Naked In New York
Naked in New York is a literary non fiction memoir by irish Emmy Winning Writer Alan Cooke. It is the story of Alan’s powerful journey of inner transformation in a post 9-11 New York. Naked in New York is a poetic eulogy and odyssey through a dark and bruised metropolis.
Posted in Author Spotlight
Tags: Alan Cooke, author bio, author spotlight, authors, Beckett, Book, book trailer, books, Emmy award winner, Frank McCourt, Gabriel Byrne, Joyce, Liam Neeson, Mike Myers, Naked in New York, narration services, narrator, New York, New York Mayor, Oscar Wylde, Pete Hamil, poet, Susan Sarandon, The Spirit of Ireland - An Odyssey Home, Wild Irish Poet, Woody Allen
David Pilling was born in West Wales, where he lived for eighteen years imbibing tales of the Mabinogion and Arthurian legend, as well as dragging his parents up and down ruined castles. This history and fairy tale-fixated childhood, along with early exposure to The Once and Future King, sparked his imagination and stuffed it full of castles, kings, knights, swords and jousts etcetera. After a lengthy stint working in various archives in London, including Tate Britain and The Royal Opera House, he is now back in Wales and settled down to write as many historical and epic fantasy tales as his mind can churn out.
“A Bolton! A Bolton! The White Hawk!” England, 1459: the rival factions of Lancaster and York have plunged the kingdom into civil war. The meek and feeble King Henry VI presides over the chaos, unable to prevent his ambitious, bloodthirsty nobles from tearing each other to pieces. Book One of The White Hawk follows the fortunes of one family, the Bolton’s, as they attempt to survive and prosper in this world of brutal warfare and shifting alliances. Surrounded by enemies, their loyalty to the ruling house of Lancaster will be tested to the limit in a series of bloody battles and savage twists of fate…
Guest Post and excerpt by David Pilling
A Bolton, a Bolton! The White Hawk!
“A Bolton, a Bolton! The White Hawk! God for Lancaster and Saint George!” England, 1459: the kingdom stands divided and on the brink of civil war. The factions of Lancaster and York vie for control of the King, while their armies stand poised, ready to tear each other to pieces. The White Hawk follows the fortunes of a family of Lancastrian loyalists, the Bolton’s, as they attempt to survive and prosper in this world of brutal warfare and shifting alliances. Surrounded by enemies, their loyalties will be tested to the limit in a series of bloody battles and savage twists of fate.
This period, with its murderous dynastic feuding between the rival Houses of York and Lancaster, is perhaps the most fascinating of the entire medieval period in England. Having lost the Hundred Years War, the English nobility turned on each other in a bitter struggle for the crown, resulting in a spate of beheadings, battles, murders and Gangland-style politics that lasted some thirty years.
Apart from the savage doings of aristocrats, the wars affected people on the lower rungs of society. One minor gentry family in particular, the Paston’s of Norfolk, suffered greatly in their attempts to survive and thrive in the feral environment of the late 15th century. They left an invaluable chronicle in their archive of family correspondence, the famous Paston Letters.
The letters provide us with a snapshot of the trials endured by middle-ranking families like the Paston’s, and of the measures they took to defend their property from greedy neighbours. One such extract is a frantic plea from the matriarch of the clan, Margaret Paston, begging her son John to return from London:
“I greet you well, letting you know that your brother and his fellowship stand in great jeopardy at Caister… Daubney and Berney are dead and others badly hurt, and gunpowder and arrows are lacking. The place is badly broken down by the guns of the other party, so that unless they have hasty help, they are likely to lose both their lives and the place, which will be the greatest rebuke to you that ever came to any gentleman. For every man in this country marvels greatly that you suffer them to be for so long in great jeopardy without help or other remedy…”
The Paston Letters, together with my general fascination for the era, were the inspiration for The White Hawk. Planned as a series of three novels, TWH will follow the fortunes of a fictional Staffordshire family, the Bolton’s, from the beginning to the very end of The Wars of the Roses. Unquenchably loyal to the House of Lancaster, their loyalty will have dire consequences for them as law and order breaks down and the kingdom slides into civil war. The ‘white hawk’ of the title is the sigil of the Boltons, and will fly over many a blood-stained battlefield.
In the following excerpt, the Lancastrian lord “Butcher” Clifford prepares to defend a river crossing against the Yorkist host:
“Lord Clifford sat his horse on the north bank of the River Aire and watched the glittering mass of the Yorkist vanguard march into view from the south.
It was a bitterly cold afternoon, with a hint of ice on the wind. Clifford took no notice. He was the lord of Skipton and Craven in Yorkshire, and the atrocious weather and desolate landscape of the north appealed to his stark nature. This was his country.
“The Butcher”, the Yorkists had started to call him, for his cold-blooded killing of Edmund of Rutland after the Battle of Wakefield. Clifford gloried in the name. The more his enemies feared him, the better. He was a hard man, consumed by a lust for revenge since the death of his father at the First Battle of Saint Albans, six years previously.
Clifford had slaked his thirst for Yorkist blood somewhat on Rutland, and still felt a tight little shiver of pleasure at the memory of his knife plunging into the boy’s soft white gullet. One death, however, wasn’t enough. Only the bloody annihilation of all the Yorkists in England would suffice.
“Fauconberg’s men are in the van, as we suspected,” said Lord Neville, his second-in-command, pointing at one of the enormous standards carried at the head of the Yorkist troops, displaying blue and white halves painted with Fauconberg’s distinctive sigil of a sable fish-hook in the top right corner.
Clifford said nothing. He had already repelled an attempt by the Earl of Warwick and Lord Fitzwalter to cross the stone bridge over the Aire, falling on the Yorkist camp at dawn and slaughtering many soldiers in their beds. More had died as they tried to escape across the river, drowned or swept away in the icy waters. Lord Fitzwalter had been mortally wounded, and Warwick himself barely escaped with an arrow in his thigh.
The bridge was the only reliable crossing over the flood-swollen Aire for miles in either direction. The Yorkists had to cross the river to engage the enormous Lancastrian army slowly deploying a mile to the north, between the villages of Towton and Saxton. Sooner or later, Clifford appreciated, they would realise how small the force was that opposed their crossing…”
If this whets your appetite, then please check out the paperback and Kindle versions of Book One below…
Links for David Pilling
Posted in Author Spotlight, guest posts
Tags: Book, books, David Pilling, England, excerpt, fantasy, fiction, historical fantasy, historical fiction, House of Lancaster, Paston Letters, The White Hawk Book One: Revenge, War of the Roses, White Hawk
Holly Stacey started life as an archaeologist and folklorist but always had a love of writing. Since moving to Essex, UK, her writing has been included in anthologies by Pill Hill Press, Bridge House, Rebel Books, Knowonder! and her own small publishing house, Wyvern Publications.
She has a Master’s Degree in Early Medieval Archaeology from the University of York and a Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology from UCSB. She has excavated in three nations on Roman, Native American, Victorian, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, and Pictish digs, all of which inspire her writing.
Holly infuses her work with history and folklore, having a special love of dark tales with pirates, magic, and a bit of gold. Her award-winning teen novel, The Faerie Conspiracies is available to buy from Amazon and her historical fiction, Blood Tide: A Promise of Freedom is now on kindle.
Now a staff writer for the online literacy website for children, www.knowonder.com she is also working on a non-fiction book for the new press Springbok Publications. When not writing Holly spends most of her free time reading traditional fairy tales, creating jewellery for Seadrake Creations (www.seadrakecreations.co.uk) and spending time with her family. You can read more about Holly on her blog page: http://inkydoom.blogspot.com/
When I started writing Blood Tide, I was inspired by two things – the need for a warm climate and the portrait of an unknown beauty in a head wrap that still hangs in my late grandmother’s house. The portrait is so striking – the charcoal sketch of what seems to be a Caribbean woman. There is not much to look out outside of her head and wrap, but it’s so intoxicating, I could always envision her walking to an outdoor market on a blisteringly hot day to buy spices and fruit. It was the seeds of Amber and her story of slavery and piracy.
In the book, Amber’s passage to the New World was not at all like an average slave’s crossing, but it was very common for the women and children to be separated from the adult men. Many female slaves were allowed to work the ship as servants and ‘maids’ until they reached their destination. Being the only woman, Amber shares a cabin with the cabin boy because he’s deemed still a child and women and children were often clumped together.
Slaves that came to plantation were often from different parts of Africa, with different language, religion and customs. Although it’s not stated here, Amber’s mother and E (the strong slave who inspires the others to freedom) were both originally from the same tribe. Also, religion on plantation often became a mishmash of different religions, with heavy practice of Voodoo, such as found in Haiti. Much of Precious’s (Amber’s mother) practice is taken from Metraux’s study of the Voodoo religion in Haiti, where Voodoo and Christianity are practiced hand in hand. The fire dance and the magic initiation for Amber are both fiction, but I feel represent the nature of the island’s religion.
In record, there is only one successful slave mutiny aboard a crossing, and that was the Amistat. Recorded as losses in stock, not much is said about what happened to the slaves after the revolt. I found in my research that most of the history we know is written with the slaves’ account in the Caribbean only by an ancestor of the slave and therefore, slightly romanticised. Similarly, history written by those working the slave trade keep their histories frustratingly narrow-minded: slaves were not seen as people but as cattle, and therefore their lifestyle and experiences were overlooked.
Born into slavery on a plantation in the Caribbean, Amber is both gifted and beautiful. The young master wants her as his own, but when the arrival of a new ship brings a contender for love, Amber’s world is turned upside down.
Shipped away to the Americas after the murder of her mother, Amber must win her freedom and learn to balance love and life. But when the ship’s company mutiny, can she keep the freedom she so desperately seeks?
Set in 1733, Blood Tide tells a tale of love, betrayal, magic and the immense task of finding one’s place in an impossible world.
This is a really good adventure story set to the backdrop of the slave trade. It includes a huge cast of character’s who all have unique personalities. The relationships and interactions between the character’s are depicted extremely well. The positive and negative emotions are expressed clearly and you will be sure to find somebody to specifically relate to.
The atmosphere is palpable as you read from life on the plantation to being in the hold of a slave ship to mutiny, piracy and uninhabited islands. The pace is fast and flowing and will keep you reading from page to page. The author has obviously undertaken extensive research to make this work of fiction as authentic as possible, I loved this story and many of the character’s. In particular, I liked the way the character’s grew and changed as the story progressed.
A lot of the dialogue is written in a manner which expresses the character’s accent/dialect, this is a very difficult aspect of writing to pull off successfully but Holly achieved this with great overall effect to increase the impact of the novel on the reader.
I have no hesitation in giving this book a full 5-star rating.
Links for Holly if you would like to explore further:
http://www.wyvernpublications.com – publishers of teen and children’s fiction
http://www.seadrakecreations.co.uk - unique hand made items inspired by folklore and history
http://holly-stacey.suite101.com/ - non-fiction articles
http://www.knowonder.com/holly-stacey/ - children’s on-line ‘read along’ fiction
FB page -http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Holly-Stacey/338509066242606
Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Reviews, guest posts
Tags: 5-star rated book, Amber, Anglo Saxon, Bachelors Degree, Blood Tide, Book, book review, book reviews, books, Caribbean, Cultural Anthropology, fiction, guest post, Holly Elizabeth Stacey, Masters Degree, New World, University of York
The Three Letters is a mindful anthology made up of several short stories starting with Three Letters – Which is dedicated to my three daughters; Heather, Janine and Nicole. What more can I say other than, I love you. – Dad
I loved this book. It is a collection of short stories which vary in length and theme. The author’s unique and friendly writing style flows seamlessly throughout the stories. Every story is complete in itself which means you can dip in and out of the book reading one story at a time and reflecting on it at your leisure. You will be moved and you will be drawn back into nostalgic memories of your own by the author’s skill in making each story seem personal to the reader. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes to read a ‘feel good’ story or two. I find it very difficult to give a star rating to this book as I did find a number of editing errors which Robert accepted and corrected. I have since discovered that he has credited me as the editor of his new edition, this causes a slight conflict of interest and I wouldn’t want people to think that I was giving a biased review due to my own involvement. Therefore I will let you decide for yourselves.
This is not a traditional author bio but rather Robert Ruisi’s answer to the question “Why do you write?”
Writing for me is an incredible experience. I did not write until after becoming ill with Alzheimer’s Disease. For some unknown reason the disease set me on a course, a course that steered me into writing. I have no idea where the words come from nor do I question it, but I am driven to write, it is barely out of choice I have to and I do not stop writing a story until it is done. Odd how it all works but I am loving it!
I don’t sit around wondering what to write next, It just happens and I do have to write. I have written in several genres one anthology was said to be very Poeish. I was sincerely honored to be mentioned in the same breath as him. All in all I have the most fun writing children’s stories. It is like I am one of the characters playing right along side of everyone else!
Buying links and social media links for Robert Ruisi
Link to Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BXHEWNA
Link to Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481129015
Link to Book-Spot http://book-spot.com/book/spot/index.php?do=/store/the-three-letters-anthology/
Posted in Author Spotlight, Book Reviews
Tags: 5-star rated book, adele symonds, Amazon Kindle, anthology, Author, Book, book review, book reviews, books, Children's literature, fiction, Robert Ruisi, short story, The Three Letters, United States
I heard the very sad news yesterday that James Herbert had died. The announcement was made on his official facebook page and read as follows:
‘We’re very sad to announce the death of bestselling novelist, James Herbert OBE. James, aged 69, died peacefully in his bed this morning at his home in Sussex.
He married his wife, Eileen, in 1967; our thoughts are with her and their three daughters, Kerry, Emma, and Casey.
His Publisher, Jeremy Trevathan, says,
“Jim Herbert was one of the keystone authors in a genre that had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s a true testament to his writing and his enduring creativity that his books continued to be huge bestsellers right up until his death. He has the rare distinction that his novels were considered classics of the genre within his lifetime. His death marks the passing of one of the giants of popular fiction in the 20th century.”
Please do use this Facebook wall to share your memories of this wonderful author.’
There have been 5,272 comments to this post at this time.
James Herbert was a prolific writer over many decades, his genre being thiller/horror. His books have scared many, thrilled many and been enjoyed by many over a wide period of time.
My thoughts are with his family.
His first novel, The Rats, was published in 1975 and his latest novel, Ash, was published on March 14 2013. As a mark of our respect for this giant of the writing world I would like to encourage you to buy a copy of Ash and help his final book to become his overall best seller.
It is available in Kindle and P/back and hard cover from all major outlets and the UK link for Amazon can be found below.
I apologise for bringing you such sad news today, please join me in wishing his family all the best during this very difficult time.