02 Brian Finnegan

Brian Finnegan is an established magazine editor and journalist and the author of The ProductImage-7564206Forced Redundancy Film Club (2012). He lives in Dublin, and has kindly agreed to be my second victim/featured author here on Literary Love Fest.

1) What is your name? What is your quest?

Brian Finnegan. My quest is, and always has been, to write books that I'd like to read, that hopefully other people would like to read too. And to find a place in Dublin that serves pancakes as good as the International House of Pancakes does.

2) Okay, tell me about your book.

On the day Maggie Corcoran begins chemotherapy for breast cancer, she discovers that ABBA are reforming for one concert only in Stockholm, so she decides to get the ABBA fan club she was part of 30 years ago together to travel to the concert

3) What was the most difficult bit to write?

All of it. Writing is hard work! And especially the last three chapters. Ending a book authentically, and keeping your readers asking what will happen next until the very last line is the hardest of all.

4) What surprised you about writing it?

How much I remembered about my own teenage years. I was a massive ABBA fan, and I was very like one of the characters in my book, but I haven't thought about my teens for a long time. What I discovered is that, although everything in my life is much better and very different, I haven't changed that much since inside then. Plus, I remembered many friends that I haven't been in contact with since I was 13, and through the power of Facebook, got back in touch with many of them. I have even met up with some of them and taken up the friendships from where we left off, just like Maggie does in the book.

5) First line:

"Maggie takes a pull on her cigarette with puckered lips, and emits three perfectly formed rings of blue smoke. 'If your life was an Abba song, what would it be?'' she asks, her voice puncturing the silence like the pop of a helium balloon."

6) What's the next project?

I don't want to say too much and give the game away, but suffice to say it's set in Disneyworld and the main character is an actual Disney Princess – with a lot of very un-Disney-like issues.

7) Your three main characters are trapped in a barn during the zombie apocalypse. What's the outcome?

They make a run for it to find the nearest Karaoke bar, where they're sure no self-respecting zombie would be seen dead (well, living dead) in, and they sing Abba songs to distract themselves from the fact that life as they know it has ended and even Agnetha, Frida, Bjorn and Benny are probably on the hunt for brains to eat in Stockholm right now. (And probably singing some great songs about it.) The zombies, true to type, avoid the Karaoke bar and my characters are the only survivors, and a whole new book begins...

8) Your book's been made into a movie. What's playing over the opening credits? (Hmmm. Bit of a no-brainer here, really. Well, then, the closing credits? The big scene?)

Well, the book is called Knowing Me, Knowing You, so the opening credits song is a no-brainer. The big scene actually has one of the main characters, Daniel, singing 'Fernando', so I'll let Hugh Jackman (who, is of course, playing Daniel – another no brainer) do his job, and over the closing titles Sinéad O'Connor's beautiful version of 'Chiquititta' will play, as people leave the cinema feeling totally uplifted, and a little nostalgic, having remembered the joy, excitement and wonderful heartbreak of their very first loves.

9) When and where is the book available?

It's out on May 1rst and in all good bookshops in Ireland, across the world at Amazon in glorious print, and here for Kindle, which I have to admit I'm addicted to (although there's nothing quite like going into a bookshop and seeing your novel on the shelves).

My two cents: I had a great time with this novel and was in total suspense to see if Maggie would get her reunion concert - it became very important to me as I got more and more invested in these four characters' stories and lives. There are a lot of dark themes here: cancer, domestic abuse, bullying, discrimination. But in describing the book I'm still reaching for words like 'positive', 'uplifting', 'romantic', even 'fun'. Maybe it was the soundtrack, or just the conviction that a happy ending had to be on the way. My favourite bits were a one-eyed cat named 'Benny' and a scene of family callousness that had me swearing out loud on the plane.

Here's Sinead O'Connor with the closing credits:

Get your copy of Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World here

...in Ireland and the UK 

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In the U.S.A.

In Canada...or try here. Or go independent.

"...astonishingly good....a juicy coming-of-age story...also an important read." The Globe and Mail

"...poignant...heart-wrenching. This stunning debut will surely appeal to both teenage readers and adults." Quill & Quire, starred review

"Witty, devastating, with a melancholy humour..." Sunday Business Post

"...page-turning, top drawer stuff..." BGE Book Club

"...warm, witty, heartfelt and utterly engaging..." The Irish News

"A stunning debut. I loved it." The Irish Examiner