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Alan McMonagle


Alan McMonagle lives in Galway, Ireland, and recently completed his MA in Creative Writing at NUIG. He has been published in a number of journals including Crannog Magazine, The Stinging Fly, Southword and Pindelyboz.

Short Story Collections

Liar, Liar
Wordsonthestreet Press, Oct 2008

Longlisted, 2009 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award

Reviewed by Mark Dalligan

 Interview with Alan McMonagle

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Alan McMonagle: The Girl who liked Words was written in June 2005. Lots of Bad Things was finished in September 2008.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

AM: Not at all. Completing a single story is an accomplishment for me – irrespective of how it is received by others. Something that did strike me, however, is how the work accumulates over time. Some of the stories also arrived in "pairs." Inevitably I began to detect patterns. Patterns in voice, in mood, perspective, tone, style. Moments that tethered stories to each other.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

AM: There are 16 stories in my collection, whittled down from a mighty pool of 20. I have a soft spot for the four that didn’t make it. One of them I think is even quite good. Of those lucky sixteen, I chose the lead story. After that I was happy with my publishers' suggested running order.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

AM:  Stories are revelations, discoveries, confessions, little explosions. They attempt to be of reality and, at the same time, to stretch reality. I think they begin in a place before the writing begins. And end somewhere after the writing ends. Many of my efforts eschew the classic moment of epiphany. So early into a writing career I’m happy for my characters to "emerge." It's that Flannery O’Connor thing of people being the way they are despite what has happened as opposed to because of what has happened. What is essential doesn't change I suppose is what I am trying to say. And a story is a good way to eke out the essential.

TSR: Do you have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?

AM:  I think the answer is no. That said, when I am writing I don't leave something alone until I can read it back to myself and get something from it. My reasoning being, that if I can get something from it, I think there is a fair chance someone else will. As to whom that someone else is…

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

AM: What did you like, and why? What didn't you like, and why?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

AM: It is very humbling to think that people are going to invest time in reading something I've written.

TSR: What are you working on now?

AM: I've spewed out almost 200 hundred pages of what was supposed to be my scintillating arrival as a novelist. A couple of weeks ago I took a look at what I've done and I’m fairly certain 197 and-a-half pages are going in the bin. The remaining two and-a-half pages might make a good story.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

AMEncounters by Michael Trussler; Cathedral by Raymond Carver, My Name is Aram by William Saroyan