2016 Press Releases

‘Troubles’ inspire UCC academic’s novel

6 Jul 2016
Dr Paul Burgess

UCC’s Dr Paul Burgess has found that life can be stranger than fiction as he drew on his experiences growing up in the Shankill Road for his debut novel.  

Burgess’ book, White Church, Black Mountain, is a thriller set in Belfast where the fragile Peace Process is haunted by crimes of the past.  Burgess grew up on the Shankill Road at the height of the Troubles and also worked there as a Community Relations Officer. He now works as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Applied Social Studies at UCC.

At the beginning of the novel, Detective Inspector Dan Watson of the Historical Enquiries Team enters an interview room for a routine consultation, where he is astonished by the recognition of an eerily familiar face. Eban Barnard, younger brother of his late partner and mentor Detective Superintendent Alex, who was brutally assassinated by the Provisional IRA some 20 years earlier, is demanding an audience. What Dan learns defies credulity and threatens to open up a Pandora’s Box of secrets that will unhinge the lives of all those involved and even endanger the Peace Process itself...

Burgess has been signed up by literary agency MV Worldwide based in Los Angeles and its founder Mathilde Vuillermoz is working on securing a mainstream publisher and film rights for his book.

The North also features in Burgess’s UCC work and his latest academic book The Contested Identities of Ulster Protestants explores in a series of essays the various manifestations of that identity.  The book was co-edited by Dr Gareth Mulvenna of Queens University Belfast.  http://bit.ly/29qhxPL

The Contested Identities examines the public perceptions of what has been described by The Guardian  journalist Henry Mc Donald as ‘…the least fashionable community in Western Europe’, the Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist communities in Ulster. 

Flags, Emblems and The Past; three seemingly insurmountable challenges which continue to hinder the peace process in Northern Ireland.  For many, the responsibility for the impasse that scuppered the Haass talks and brought violent protests to the streets of Belfast appears to rest with the perceived intransigence of the Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist communities to embrace change. That this community is itself riven with internal rancour and discord should come as no surprise. Issues of social class, denominational alignment, political aspiration and national identity have historically divided what outsiders have often mistakenly viewed as a collective cultural, religious and socio-political entity.

The North, it would seem, has provided Burgess with a rich source of material for his professional and personal interests. “Growing up in the crucible of the conflict, people have a tendency to pursue some kind of catharsis. This can be through a complete rejection or denial of those experiences or – as in my case- as an attempt to make peace with them through academic study and literary invention. And whilst there has been some interest in a follow up to ‘White Church, Black Mountain’, my next novel, nearing completion, is an allegorical tale set in the USA in the wake of the 9/11 attacks of 2001.”

More about the novel http://bit.ly/29eJqWB

More about Paul Burgess  www.thomaspaulburgess.co.uk


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