Squid McFinnigan, Pub owner and Storyteller
If you sit down and google the unique name "Squid McFinnigan" you will come across a very busy Irish lad who likes to share stories with you. He will also happily serve you a beer while you tell him a good story. He is a pub owner, writer, storyteller and curious to what life can teach us. Google away readers, but pause here first and get a little appetizer to what Squid McFinnigan is all about. He willingly gave and interview to Culture and Creativity and this is one portrait that will only make you smile.
Could you begin by telling a little about yourself, we are curious to know about your background?
So, where to start? We’ll I’m a bloke so that is a start and I am 45 years of age. Most of my life I have lived in the countryside but I have spent some time in Dublin, Galway, Limerick and London. Right now, I live in Kerry and I am very happy here, only minutes from the sea, only minutes from the mountains, it is heaven on earth to me. All my life I have been in the hospitality industry and have worked in bars, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. As for the pub, I say I own it but I think the bank might argue that point with me. It’s a very traditional spot with a lot of regular clients and that is the reason I try and keep its name out of things. I wouldn’t like any of the regulars to think I was telling tales out of school, it’s a respect thing.
You own a pub and you publish books/stories, how would you describe yourself: an author who runs a pub or a pub owner who likes to write?
I don’t think I have ever called myself an author, I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller. You know, pulling pints and telling tales really go hand in hand, they are both about entertainment. A Seanchaí is the Irish for a story teller. In years gone by they would travel from village to village, telling stories as they went. It was the way history was recorded and news traveled. I hope in years to come some of my stories will show how it was to grow up in Ireland during the 50’s, and on.
When did you first learn you had a flair for writing stories and books?
I always had a vivid imagination and when I was younger I loved writing stories. But that got stifled during my school years because it turns out that I have a musical ear, one which refuses to spell properly. About four years ago I had a hankering to try some stories out on the unexciting public and low and behold, they didn’t hate them. Since then I have been flying and making friends all over the world.
You have just released a brand new book "Thirty Pieces of Silver" Can you tell us a bit about how it came about?
I always begin a book with a theme, for this one it was betrayal and family.
I set the story in Dublin’s criminal underworld where rival gangs face off over control of a section of the city. A killer is called in to sort things out but he turns out to be more of a lose canon than an asset. I also tried to explore different family units and I wanted to develop the bonds that tie them together, explore them to breaking point. I like the action to come hot and heavy in my books, but it always has to be believable. If I am doing my job right the reader should be thinking that they would do just the same thing if they were in the hero’s, or baddies, shoes. I do like my characters to grow and change as the story develops.
You also run a blog where people can read your stories, do you have a favourite among all the things you have written?
I do. The one I am most proud of is Bunny Derby. I love the way it came out and it is so hard to write comedy. In their own ways, each story has a special place in my heart. It the story of me and how I have developed as a storyteller.
The hardest post I ever wrote is one of my earliest ones, but it is also the one which is most personal to me. It’s called Stephen My Brother. It is the only story that I have never edited, nor corrected and never will. If you want to read it and see why, here is the link to it. https://squidmcfinnigan.blogspot.ie/2013/07/stephen-my-brother.html
What's your favorite writing genre and can you see yourself exploring new genres in the future?
I am always trying out new genre and styles in my blog. I have written pros, comedy, history, horror, poetry and more. I have gone from flash fiction to multi post series. It is the only way to keep getting better. I have even tried to write as a woman, a teenager, a child and even a dog. Its great crack and you would be surprised where the best stories come from.
Do you find inspiration for yout stories from the people you meet?
All the time. Some are whole stories that I have been told over the bar, others are inspired by people who are ignorant of the brilliance of their own characters, and sometimes it’s just a word or a sentence. Inspiration lives everywhere, you just have to open your mind to it.
What's the best experience you have gained from being a part time author?
Without a doubt, it’s the people I’ve met through my stories. Words have the power to create worlds, to make a heart race, to tear someone down and also to build them back up. It’s that last one that gives me the most pleasure. I have been lucky enough to touch people’s lives, and that’s something I would never had done without writing.
Do you have a favourite character from all the books/stories you have read yourself?
Gosh, that’s a hard one. I have read so many books over my life, and thousands of characters are burned into my mind. I guess one I think has struck a chord with me is Charlie Parker from John Connolly’s novels. He is fractured and strong at the same time, a real contradiction. He is a hero but one with feet of clay.
What is a typical day in your pub like, if you want to invite readers around for a drink and a story?
I wish it were like that but it’s not. Mostly it’s getting ready during the day, stocking up, cleaning, and accounts – all that boring stuff. We do a bit of food so that is hard work and then in the evening I rarely have the luxury of a minute to myself. A pub is like any business, you have to cut your cloth to suite your needs. If it’s quiet then it’s just me, if its busy there are a few to help out but one thing is for sure, I will always be running. The writing comes in the small hours of the night from things I saved up in my mind over the day.
We thank Squid for taking the time out to answer some questions for our site. If you wnnt to know more about him, or read some of his stories or books then follow these links. Or simply search for him on the big WWW.
(Interview was done by BJ for Culture and Creativity. All photos are provided by Squid McFinnigan.)