A new novel, Authority Me Now, draws carefully on Irish Eurovision history for its abating adulation story, whose aboriginal abstraction was dreamed up by Derek Mooney, with advice from Niall Hatch and closing antecedent by John MacKenna. Paddy Kehoe heard from all three creators about a project that is apprenticed to have legs,
First of all, Derek, arise off the fence, the man charge have a sneaking regard for the glitzy, outrageous, semi-bonkers things that is the Eurovision nowadays, an accident which still manages to accept a appropriate admixture of abundant songs, admitting bodies tend to balloon that in all the affectation and circumstance.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is fun and that’s what we charge appropriate now, and it’s what we will crave into the future, ” says the accepted RTÉ presenter. “The costumes, the affected and the absurd are allotment of the Eurovision anniversary that I’ve developed up with, and it will endure. This is Europe’s version of carnival – what’s not to like?
He doesn’t accept why bodies criticise the event, which will not booty abode this year, admitting there is a appropriate Eurovison programme on RTÉ One on Saturday night. “If you don’t like it afresh don’t pay any absorption to it, ” he says. “The apple is abounding of closet Eurosexuals. The apple is abounding of critics. I generally anticipate aback to what Kenneth Williams already said about critics, back he likened them to eunuchs in a harem – they’re there every night. They see it done every night. But they can’t do it themselves.
He talks about his dream that has been turned into a reality, address of his pal John MacKenna, who took Derek’s artifice outline and spun it into a account of 186 pages. The romantic, abating account has aloof been published in Kindle, e-book and album formats.
“My dream from the alpha was to accomplish a ‘jukebox’ cine in the appearance of Mamma Mia! ” says Derek. “There’s abeyant actuality for a date musical, a soundtrack and a sing-a-long, all captivated into one admirable package. All I charge is a backer. I’m accessible to offers and the abstraction of a TV alternation appeals to me but who will accomplish it? RTÉ or BBC?”
Mooney readily declares that he is not a writer, but “an account guy and a producer. “I accept a acceptable plan for RTÉ’s captivation and I will put it to them, ” he says, “and if RTÉ is interested, afresh blessed days. The songs are already written. This is a jukebox cine with a Eurovision soundtrack. We don’t charge anyone to address anything. Over 1,500 songs accept been performed in the Eurovision Song Contest back it was aboriginal staged in Lugano, Switzerland in 1956. So there’s affluence to accept from.”
And so to the plot of what he envisaged as “a acceptable adventurous novel, a couple who meet, abatement in adulation and attempt to accomplish it assignment – and a blessed ending. It’s 1987, four guys from ‘The Kop’ (Liverpool) booty the bear to Dublin for a stag. They accommodated four girls alleged the Danas on their way to the National Song Contest. Two of them hit it off, Stevie Sherrard and Linda Martini. The girls accept a added admission and Stevie takes up the offer.”
“The adventure itself had to be a able one, with the appropriate antithesis of drama, humour and romance, and alluringly article that addition who had never alike heard of the Eurovision Song Contest could still adore on its own merits.”
“Then back all the votes are counted, it’s Johnny Logan’s song Authority Me Now that wins the appropriate to represent Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest. The admirers erupts and anybody is hugging. It’s at that moment, Stevie and Linda authority anniversary added for the aboriginal time. The adulation adventure begins, and what follows is an affecting roller coaster, brindled with some of the best memorable songs Europe has produced.”
At some point, Derek realised he bare addition who would address the adventure of Stevie and Linda’s relationship, based on his artifice sketch. “Someone with passion, but, best importantly, a being who would adore the claiming of autograph a atypical in this way.”
One day he heard his old acquaintance John MacKenna being interviewed about his Leonard Cohen project, a Requiem Mass, on the radio. “I knew there and afresh that it had to be John, ” recalls Mooney. “I formed with John for a few years, and he is actual amorous about aggregate he does and that shows in his writing. John gave my characters abyss and he added a acknowledging casting that accomplish this book what it is and accomplish these bodies real.”
Watch: Johnny Logan performs Authority Me Now on The Late Late Show
MacKenna is a adept of critically-acclaimed fiction and memoir-writing, and a above presenter and ambassador at RTÉ Radio 1. He is additionally a champ of The Irish Times, Hennessy and Cecil Day Lewis arcane awards. He has been a teacher of artistic autograph at Maynooth University for abounding years. John, who is additionally an actor, was decidedly absorbed by his own creation, grandad Ricky, whom we accommodated in the aperture pages of Authority Me Now. I’d adulation to see it filmed – I anticipate there is a abyss to the characters that would absolutely assignment on awning – Ricky Tomlinson has got to comedy the Grandad! I could see Ricky arena the allotment and that helped a lot.”
He additionally mentions the AIDS subplot as one that is “very abutting to my heart” with advertence “to a above apprentice of abundance – I had him actual abundant in apperception back autograph it.”
Is adulation accessible as a aphorism to address about, I ask the writer, a glib question, but still. Or death? Or are all the $.25 in amid easier to get down? “Not abiding it’s easier to address about adulation and death, but I acquisition them a lot added interesting, ” the biographer and academician responds. “Facing adulation and afterlife puts us on the frontline of emotion, and puts us in a abode we accept never been afore and never will be again. As in, anniversary differs – the afterlife of one being affects us abnormally from addition (death).
“So those areas are absolutely absorbing to contemplate from the credibility of appearance of differing characters in differing stories, including Hold Me Now.”
The biographer of twenty books and a dozen date plays says he would love to see his latest atypical acclimatized for film. “I anticipate there is a abyss to the characters that would absolutely assignment on screen. I’ve accounting a brace of blur scripts, so I’d adulation to booty a attempt at this, and I apperceive Derek would adulation to see it on screen. It would be abundant fun, but I accept it additionally has some added things to say about association in the Eighties, times that were altered from now, but every bit as dark.”
Niall Hatch, who works with Derek on attributes and wildlife programmes, was a basic player in the activity already he came on board. He advised article that would accept ample appeal. “We knew that it was important not to accomplish a cheesy, novelty-style book. The adventure itself had to be a able one, with the appropriate antithesis of drama, humour and romance, and alluringly article that addition who had never alike heard of the Eurovision Song Contest could still adore on its own merits.”
A agog Eurovision fan, Niall attended the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan with Derek and helped him with his radio appearance that week. About two years ago, Derek mentioned his abstraction for Hold Me Now and Niall was instantly on board. “Over the afterward months we array of work-shopped it together, came up with a anecdotal breeze and bounced account off anniversary other. In abounding ways, this action was a accustomed addendum of what we do for Mooney Goes Wild (currently appearance its 25th year in existence.)
“We’re actual acceptable at dispatch anniversary added on and at allowance to clarify and brightness anniversary other’s ideas. We knew that it was basic for the adventure to address to Eurovision admirers and that it had to accomplish bodies anticipate of the archetypal Eurovision songs back they apprehend it. We capital the music absolutely to comedy automatically in their active as they apprehend the words.
“Once the adventure had taken shape, Derek afresh contacted John, and asked him absolutely to address it based on those adventure outlines. John is an amazing writer, and he did a absurd job. He sent his antecedent abstract to me, and I fabricated absolute addendum on it, proof-read it. I adapt BirdWatch Ireland’s membership magazine, Wings, so I’ve lots of acquaintance proofing text.
“I made added suggestions about added elements we could include. John additionally attentive accustomed me to aggrandize on some of the passages myself, and accepting the befalling to coact with such a accomplished and acclaimed writer has been a absolute highlight for me.
“Linking the adventure to absolute contest in Eurovision history has been absolutely key. The aggregate of the adventure takes abode during the acme of Ireland’s Eurovision success, which happened to accompany with times of absolute amusing change in Ireland. In abounding ways, the adventure is apprenticed by that, and doesn’t shy away from the realities of that time in Ireland at all.
“If Ireland wins the Eurovision again, it would be wonderful, admitting I don’t anticipate it could possibly accept the aforementioned appulse as it did back we won on antecedent occasions.”
“There are abounding times back the book is hilariously funny, but at times it’s additionally sad and alike tragic. It has a feel-good vibe overall, certainly, but it additionally reflects the realities of activity in Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s. Then, of course, you accept the music attached all of that together, and back you attending at the pantheon of Eurovision hits, there are songs there to clothing every believable amore and emotion.”
Niall is a able adviser and is appealing abundant consistently cutting his legal hat – “it’s a allotment of my composition that I can’t about-face off, ” he says. “We had to be abiding that we didn’t footfall on anyone’s toes or agitated anyone. Hold Me Now is a assignment of fiction, and that is actual clear, but it’s set adjoin a accomplishments of real-life events. We bare to accomplish abiding that those actual contest were portrayed accurately, but additionally that the absolute bodies featured in them would be blessed with the way they were accounting about. Some notable Eurovision stars absolutely arise in the book, fictionalised, of course, but consistently in a absolutely absolute and admiring way.
“Linda Martin in accurate has been brilliant. The capital changeable character, Linda Martini, is about based on some aspects of the absolute Linda Martin, but there is additionally a key arena area the absolutely fabulous Linda Martini and a fictionalised adaptation of the absolute Linda Martin accommodated anniversary added and accept a conversation. We were accurate to analysis every aspect of this with (the real) Linda and to get her approval and blessing. I’m captivated to say that she is captivated with it.
“Other key real-life characters are mentioned in conversation, pop up in the accomplishments and advice our protagonists out, and, afterwards giving too abundant away, we can say that Johnny Logan saves the day appear the end of the book and brings us the blessed catastrophe that we knew we bare to accord to the readers afterwards the affecting roller-coaster we had taken them on. Johnny agency a abundant accord to the characters in the book, aloof as he does to so abounding Eurovision admirers in Ireland and abroad, and their amore for him and his music shines through.”
Niall would like to anticipate that bodies will still be cornball for Eurovision in years to come, and that Hold Me Now – both the song and the book – will abide to resonate. “The book is already set in the accomplished and curtains into that faculty of nostalgia, and abundant of it is set able-bodied afore abounding of its ambition audience-members were alike born. They apperceive the songs, however, and they apperceive the feelings, and they accept co-opted that homesickness somehow, afterwards absolutely experiencing it for themselves the aboriginal time around. The songs are important, but aloof as important is abandoning who you were with back you heard them, how you and your ancestors argued about the voting, and what the accomplished acquaintance represents.
Watch: Linda Martin performs Why Me? on The Late Late Show
“If Ireland wins the Eurovision again, it would be wonderful, admitting I don’t anticipate it could possibly accept the aforementioned appulse as it did back we won on antecedent occasions. The apple has changed, and horizons accept expanded. Europe has afflicted acutely too. Everybody loves to accept fun, however, and that’s not activity to change any time soon.”
Whatever the case, Hold Me Now: The novel – but maybe the musical, and the cine too? – is likely to fly into acknowledged apogee like a decidedly able animal from Mooney Goes Wild.
On Saturday night, Marty’s Magical Eurovision Moments begins at 6.55pm on RTÉ One, followed by a two-hour show, Eurovision Europe Shine a Light 2020 which features all 41 songs appointed to access this year, but in a non-competitive format.
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