I describe him as a new author – and that’s true because he’s just released his debut novel Blood Red Turns Dollar Green – but as a writer he’s been around for some time and has a list of impressive credits to his name. He cut his teeth as a playwright, with a number of his productions showcasing in the National Theatre of Ireland, The Druid, and the Gaiety School.
But more about that later……
Paul’s originally from Wexford, in the south eastern corner of Ireland, and is proud of his upbringing in an area called Maudlintown, where he describes his early life as “tougher than a two-dollar steak.” It was one of those places where men were men, and you either learned to take care of yourself or find somewhere to crawl and hide!
Here’s how Paul summarises it: “I loved growing up there though. The characters, the poverty, the hard lessons learned. But ultimately, I think if you come out of an estate like that and you have a head on your shoulders, those experiences teach you there isn’t much out there that can shake you.”
For his first novel it was probably inevitable that Paul would turn to a story injected with enough male-testosterone to keep book-reading action junkies on a high from cover to cover. He chose America’s pro-wrestling scene of the seventies as the backdrop for Blood Red Turns Dollar Green. The action opens in New York with a dazed Lenny Long walking away from a car crash carrying someone’s foot in his hand!
Not bad for openers!
From that point you read about the hapless Lenny searching for a VIP passenger who has somehow disappeared from the back of his overturned van. It’s the first day of his new promotion and Lenny has less than twenty minutes to deliver the missing person or a lot of people are going to get badly hurt.
The scene is set for a plunge into the seamier side of the wrestling industry, with guns, hoodlums, and shady dealings pervading a story that pushes the boundaries of realism. It’s set in an era when titles were bought, sold and voted on, rather than being won in the ring. With big money at stake, it’s hardly surprising the central characters will go to any lengths to ‘own’ the champion.
So where did the idea for the story come from?
Paul explains: “Last year I was re-reading some wrestling articles from years ago and was reminded of a story about two big name wresters who were pulled over by the cops and arrested for possession of cocaine. They were both scared of the details of the incident getting into the papers, not because of shame, or not because of a fear of being saddled with bad reputations. What really worried them was that professionally one of them was marketed as the good guy and one as the bad guy. They had promised their fans they would draw blood from each other the next time they met – and here they were socialising together!
“Pro wrestling was still being sold as a legitimate sport and the secret of wrestling being ‘fake’ was about to hit the papers. This was hardly good for either man.”
Paul tells me that for years he has been an avid reader and devourer of interviews, articles, and autobiographies, including thousands of hours researching the wrestling business. “Even though it’s a shiny kid-friendly business now – back then it was as shady and backhanded as anything to hit before or since.”
When he’s not writing – and that’s not often – Paul is a guitar-playing socialite, a computer-game nut, and even dabbles with various design projects.
Okay, I promised you a glimpse at Paul’s play-writing career. Sit back and drink in this lot!
1998: His first play, Velvet Sky, was produced in Wexford Arts Centre by his own theatre company, Thunderhead Theatre. That same year he wrote and directed a further two full-length plays.
1998 to 2000: He wrote, produced and directed another five plays with Thunderhead.
2000: He was commissioned by Martin McDonagh under Druid Theatre’s Debuts initiative and The Bower Wall was produced in Galway in April 2000.
2001: Following the success of The Bower Wall, he was commissioned to write a new play, Janet’s Table which toured successfully for most of the year.
2002: He was invited to workshop a new script with the Royal Court in London.
2003: The National Theatre in Dublin commissioned Standing in the Same Old Dance after Paul was invited to attend a workshop with American dramaturge, Richard Blacker.
2004: Paul travelled to New York to sign with Spare Key Productions to write his first screenplay.
2005: His A/S/L was commissioned and produced by The Gaiety School of Acting. The play was staged in the Project, Dublin.
2006: He was asked by The Dublin Theatre Festival to be one of seven writers to write a play- Salt – on a train and have it produced in the same day.
2009: His second play for the Gaiety School, God’s Lap, was produced and staged in the Project.
2010: Red Kettle Theatre produced another of his plays – Happy Like a Fool – that ran in Garter Lane Theatre, Waterford.
If you take the opportunity to read Blood Red Turns Dollar Green you’ll be glad to note Paul is currently working on a follow-up.
This prolific Wexford writer has paid his dues and deserves all the success that’s possible. Why not help him on his way by becoming one of his growing army of readers? I’d be surprised if you’re in any way disappointed.
Footnote: Paul’s novel is available at the following Amazon links: