Brian’s debut collection has the right chemistry

Brian Coughlan.
Brian Coughlan.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Brian Coughlan always loved creative writing. But life called the Meath Man in another direction – until he was made redundant from a pharmaceutical job in Cork in 2010.  What might have been perceived as a career-setback gave Brian a new opportunity to pursue his creative passion, and the result is his debut short-story collection Wattle & Daub.

Published by an American company, Etruscan Press, this collection of stories, some sad and some wickedly funny, will be launched in Galway City next Thursday evening.

After being laid off in Cork, Brian came to Galway, lured here by another job offer. Funded by a €1,000 training grant from the company that had previously employed him, he enrolled on a screenwriting course at NUIG.

“That was where I started to learn what I’d been doing wrong,” he says about his fiction.  “I needed to rein it in and put a structure on things. For instance, who is telling the story and why are telling the story? The screenwriting course really helped with that.”

Brian still has a day job in pharmaceuticals, working in Inverin these days, and keeps his different careers very separate, he says with a laugh.

“They have to be kept miles apart. In the real work I’ve got to be trustworthy and responsible. In the fictional world, you can get away with murder!”

Brian is happy to occupy both worlds.

“Science was always something I was very good at and you kind of gravitate towards something that you are good at, but you might not feel a passion for it,” he explains about his day job.

One reason the screenwriting course was so helpful was that it tapped into Brian’s natural style.

“I was always a very visual writer,” he says. “I’m always seeing what I’m writing. Other people feel when they write, I see.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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