Friday, August 10, 2012

Placebo by Padraig Murphy : Interview & Excerpt

298 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1463631574
ISBN-10: 146363157X

BISAC: Fiction / Action & Adventure

The geometric impact of the 9/11 event blossomed beyond NYC, The Pentagon and the lonely fields of Pennsylvania. Parents, wives, husbands, children, siblings, friends, neighbors, and workmates connect in an incredible linking of humanity. We are all, in a sense victims, or more properly, we share in a small way, the suffering. We share this rip in the fiber of humanity. We share our human condition. There is anger, vengeance and perhaps in time forgiveness and peace.

Sailors believe it is unlucky to change the name of a boat. Placebo was the fourth name. The sailboat Placebo was a 47-year old derelict when Michael Collins discovered her and brought her back to life. In many ways, Placebo would repay the favor in similar fashion.

The Baltimore Catechism offers that the sacrament of Extreme Unction more commonly referred to as the Last Rites (the Placebian rites) are given to someone in immediate danger of death. It adds the remark, “…Giving comfort and solace to the soul and sometimes to the body.” The medical use of the definition, Placebo, is derived from the healing effects of personal solace. The sugar pill is a venue to seduce the body into relief. The healing comes from within.

Nothing in Michael Collin’s experience had prepared him for what his life became after September 11, 2001. His wife, Linda and daughter, Beth were visiting New York City to celebrate her “Sweet 16” birthday. Like almost 3,000 others they were guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, they were never found.

Michael’s world is rearranged and disorienting. His sense of loss immediately flowers to guilt. The pain of his loss and guilt encapsulates him. The primal survival defense mechanism of flight eventually takes over. He runs away. The Placebo becomes both his escape capsule and lifeboat. It becomes his sugar pill.

Michael attempts his escape into the backwater, off the beaten path, outposts in the Caribbean Islands. He drifts across a palette of exquisite deserted coves and beaches populated by an eclectic cast of characters. He meets Jenny who offers him his first toe hold toward recovery offering him a future.

A late season hurricane rolls off the African desert and careens toward a rendezvous with the Placebo. The ultimate challenge to any single-handed sailor- an open ocean confrontation with one of nature’s most formidable creations is a nightmare from which few of the dreamers survive. His suspense filled struggle and ultimate survival leaves him with closure to his personal tragedy.

Fashioned in the shadow of Pat Conroy, in the settings of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt stories and in a tone of Stuart Woods, Placebo transports Michael through his own tragedy, the acceptance of his own humanity, and finally the rebirth of love.

Placebo is not just a 911 story. It is a story of the human condition - love, loss, repair and growth.

Chapter Sixteen

Cesar’s Tribute

“So this is what it is like to die.” he said to himself. He had a quiet accepting, calm feeling of finality. “There isn’t any of the sadness or mystery. It is almost soothing. No fear. ” He remembered most clearly of any of the things that happened that morning, he was conscious of the EPHIRB being in its cradle in the cockpit which would allow it to float free during the inevitable sinking and automatically starting in the sea water and transmitting the location of the sea disaster that was about to occur. The Coast Guard would be immediately aware of his demise and when conditions were such that Air Sea Rescue could make it out this, far they would find wreckage and with a little luck, maybe even recover his body. All neat and well done, Michael should have had another sailor aboard. It would be noted in the incident report; he thought that this was the fault of the captain. He should not have been alone. He embraced his responsibility.
When Placebo crested the first wave, her mast was almost parallel to ocean’s surface. In these conditions, there was not a geometric plane that could have been defined as a straight line. What was a deck is now a wall.
The mast was ninety degrees off center, pointed out to the starboard side with the entire boat horizontal. He had climbed up the port side of the cockpit still holding on to the wheel. He later realized the wheel was strangely light. He had heard a puzzling, unfamiliar screech. The stern of the boat was out of the water and the rudder and propeller had no resistance. In the melee, he filed all this to a page of his mind that would sort these things out later. If there was a later.

More immediately, when Placebo dropped down the backside, of the wave engulfed the mast, rigging and sail as it moved away from the boat. The entire boat now plummeted ten feet. The drop pinned Michael to the corner of the cockpit. He had been thrown like a rag doll as Placebo started her first elevator ride. When he hit bottom in the trough of the wave, he could see nothing but walls of angry ocean water all around. For a moment, he felt he was going down some incredible drain. But, before that idea took hold, he felt Placebo start up the side of the next wave. He had broached in 10-foot seas. He was now expecting Placebo to turn turtle or turn completely over…….

Welcome Padraig! Thanks for this opportunity to find out more about you and your book.  Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?

 Placebo takes us on a journey through the human condition. It guides the reader along with Michael, on a Caribbean journey through love, loss and recovery.

 How did you start your writing career?

 The usual ways, I suppose. High school paper, then I took one of those standardized “Interest Test” in high school. Out of nowhere, it told me I had a 90% interest in writing. I knew immediately that it was spot on and never looked back. Within three years, I was a radio announcer and a reporter for WKUL in Cullman, Alabama. Later, I worked all over the world in radio and TV news and wrote for both magazines and newspapers.

 Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?

 I struggle with the character’s names. I envy writers who approach names like naming babies. I suppose I have always tried to make the charterers names give some additional facet to the character. To give depth and extra nuance. For instance, Placebo’s main character is Michael Collins. Michael Collins was a very popular Irish patriot. After reading the biography of Michael Collins, I was fixed to an impression of both his personality and what he did – in some respects, the Michael of Placebo has some of the same attributes – I helped him through his dilemma with the name, not unlike why some parents give the name of some great person to a child. Other characters in my books are named vaguely after real people who have things I want the character to have in a million different ways.

 Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself?

 I am asked that all the time. I suppose all writers’ do. I can recognize things Michael feels or thinks as things I might. Hemingway said “..You write truly what you know.” I did not write an autobiography but I don’t think you can write without exposing yourself in your characters. I suppose you might say Michael is somebody I wish I was. I admire him, but don’t envy him. There are many characters in Placebo that are equally a mirror to my internal vapors.

 Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

 (Laughing) Yes. When I was at the National University of Ireland in Galway, a number of years ago,  one of my son's friends called me Padraig which is Irish for Patrick. I decided to use it as a pen name because it was my childhood name as well.

 Does travel play in the writing of your books?

 Yes, very definitely. I have been incredibly fortunate to have traveled all over the world for both business and pleasure. My parents gave me wings. I don’t think there is anything so expanding than travel. Placebo is a veritable travel guide for the off the beaten track Caribbean – not the cruse ship islands here. Just over the horizon from most cruise ship destinations are incredible “Real” places with beauty, serenity and genuine folks, worth knowing.

 How do you react to a bad review of your book?

 That is a good question. I suppose writers have to develop a thick hide. It is an almost continuous process of dealing with negative input with a very few rare pats on the back. I don’t have much tolerance to poorly conceived or shallow criticism – which does exist. Don’t get me wrong, I understand I’m probably not the best one to separate good criticism from bad – the natural tendency would be to dismiss all the bad criticism as weak critics. You can’t listen to your friends and family at very best their criticism is suspicious. If you are the type person who cannot take rejection, I would suggest something else for you.  I honestly welcome criticism that is presented to make me a better writer and to improve my work. Sally Koslow, editor of Placebo told me “ never stop rewriting…ever.” I pay attention.

 Tell us about your next release.

 My next book is in edit with Irish best selling writer Karina Colgan right now. Seanchai - The Storyteller. Seanchai is Irish for storyteller. It’s about a classic Irish storyteller who tells nightly stories in his west Kerry home to an eclectic ensemble of characters. Great Irish places and with traditional and historical Irish stories.

 Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

 The list of places may be too long for this interview. Right this moment, I’d like to be where the action is internationally – The Middle East. Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran. All else failing I spend some of each year back in Ireland.

Pat Murphy recently completed post Graduate Studies from the National University of Ireland, Galway in Irish Studies with emphasis on Irish Literature and Archeology.

Pat lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Pat operates Centerpoint Marketing a successful marketing company concentrating on the Marine Industry in the Southeast United States.
He graduated from St. Bernard College with a BA in Journalism after which he worked with WKUL, WMBR, WTVT as well as CBS TV/ radio, UPI and the Associated Press.  Pat has taught English and Communications at both the high school (Duval County FL.) and college level.

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Giveaway ends September 8th 11:59 PM Central Time.


joannie said...

Hi thank you for the review. I would Love to read this story. It does sound tragic as well as reviving ones life. Thank you for the giveaway. Joannie sparks jscddmj [at]aol [dot] com

Jill Gustafson Cakmis said...

I very much enjoyed reading an excerpt of Mr. Murphy's latest book, as I know I will enjoy reading it in it's entirety. I enjoyed the questions you asked him, as I always find it interesting to know where authors get their inspiration, as well as coming to know the author himself in a more personal way. Thank-you, well done.