The local community filled Longford Library on Monday, December 3, last as a group of ten authors launched their collective novella, 'Let Him Lie'.
The book tells the story of Emmett Maguire, who has died unexpectedly at the age of 64 in his hometown of Lusmór, a small country town in the Irish Midlands.
His death has touched many who passed through his life.
Emmett was an ordinary man with an ordinary life, and yet, through the thoughts of the mourners at his funeral, we explore the idea that no person is ever truly known and that a different version of every person is experienced by those around them.
“We have a literary pantheon going back to Goldsmith,” said Cathaoirleach of Longford Municipal District Cllr Seamus Butler at the launch.
“You have Maria Edgeworth, now a thriving centre there attracting tourists from around the country and from other countries.
“And we’ve added Padraic Colum and we had the second gathering this year. And it was a tremendous success and we hope to build on that for next September with an international flavour.
“But that’s about the past,” he continued.
“And we are in the present and we’re adding to that literary pantheon.
“To have a… I don’t know how you describe a group of ten authors - a decathlon perhaps? … coming together - not just one author, but ten.”
The book was officially launched by internationally popular Longford author, Alan McMonagle, who met with the group several times for debriefing sessions.
“This collective achievement is really what I think should be first acknowledged,” he said to the crowd gathered in the library for the launch.
“Writing is challenging and difficult and distracting at the best of times. It’s predominantly a solitary preoccupation.
“Writers... we like to spend time with ourselves. We’re alone most of the time, grappling with a menagerie of characters and language and plotting and tone and perspective and point of view and all of that stuff that goes into the making of a cohesive narrative.
“And so for a group of ten individuals to decide collectively that they are willing to take on a similar undertaking… you’d be right to think - or at least I think I was right to think ‘what fresh lunacy is this?!’
“And yet, here we are and here it is - signed, sealed and delivered. Bound and printed. And along with startling cover art by one of the authors. A collaborative novella ready to be loosed into the world and with contributions, I feel and think, as interesting as they are varied by no less than ten authors.”
What struck Alan most about the book was the variety of strong characters created by each of the authors.
“We have a funeral. We have various interested parties. We have anger, sadness, joy and pain. Forgiveness, resentment, simmering feuds and poignant remembering. And most of all, we have characters. Always characters.
“They’re a great bunch of characters with axles to grind, scores to settle, stakes to claim. Characters looking to discover who they are. Characters looking to fit in. Characters wanting nothing more than to be acknowledged and accepted for who they are.
“There are characters full of heart and complexities. Haughty and vulnerable. They’re flawed and resilient.
“I’ve travelled over three or four times over the course of the making of this for a number of debriefing sessions with the group. And I’ve often been curious as to when they meet together without my presence, what has actually been going on - playfully trying to tease out some of the most animated moments of this journey.
“I have a feeling it might make for an interesting story in itself. So if it’s at all possible, ply them aplenty later on this evening and we might unearth some quality gossip.
“And, I suppose, this is just a roundabout way of saying that the group as a whole really should be commended for their willingness to have a go. And for their determination to see it through.
“When it comes down to the writing, it’s really about three things: perseverance, perseverance, perseverance and, evidently, this group have it in spades.”
'Let Him Lie' is now available for purchase in various parts of the county, including Newsround and Ballymahon street in Longford town, as well as Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre, Tally Ho Bar and Centra in Drumlish.