Monday, 14 October 2013

Tony Black: His Father's Son

Today, it's our pleasure to welcome Mr. Tony Black to Heart of Fiction.

Tony is the author of the Gus Drury mystery series, the Rob Brennan mystery series, and a series of standalone thrillers, such as RIP Robbie Silva and Killing Time in Vegas. Tony is also well-known for his short stories which have been published alongside the likes of Ian Rankin, Irvine Walsh, Ken Bruen, and many other hard hitters. This hardworking writer has earned himself a well-deserved place amongst Scotland's top crime writers, and we're honored to have him with us today.

Okay, now that we've intimidated you a bit with his backlist, let's introduce you to the man. Born in Australian, his family moved to Ireland where he grew up. He then went to Scotland where he enjoyed a career as an award-winning journalist. Today he makes his home in Ayr, Scotland with his beautiful wife and infant son. And yes, he *has* picked up the traditional Scottish burr which makes it a treat listening to Tony read passages from his stories.

Today, Tony is here to introduce is to his first non-crime drama called His Father's Son, published by Black & White Publishing.

This story is told from two points of view -- Joey Driscoll, ostracized son of a famous Irish football hero, and Marti, Joey's young son.

Having lived ten years in Australia after leaving Ireland for a better life at the end of the 1960s, Joey's life isn't what he imagined it would be like. His once beautiful and outgoing wife, Shauna, now suffers from what Joey calls the black dog, which we learn is his meaning for depression. She spends countless hours sleeping or crying, rarely dressing or participating in the family. Joey is working hard to make a life for his young family, trying anything he can to cheer up Shauna, and giving Marti the life Joey never had in Ireland. But the black dog is persistent.

Marti is at an impressionable age and doesn't understand the black dog, only that when his mother has it, he wants to hide so she doesn't cry and smother him with the agonizing emotions that scare him. He clings to his father for support, which Joey gladly gives, but it's a hard homelife for Marti. He wants what other boys have -- his father home more and a mother shed of the black dog. He wants a happy family. From Marti's point of view, narration and dialogue are that of a young boy so it's easy to slip into Marti's sufferings, to not understand adult problems, to be pushed and pulled on adult whims, and to be taken away from the only person with home he feels safe.

One day, Joey comes home and Shauna and Marti are gone. Joey is sent into fits of confusion, anger, despair, and all the other emotions that go with losing your family. Joey had vowed never to return to Ireland. Sure, what was left for him there after being cast out by his family and shunned by the community? But Ireland is where Shauna has taken Marti. If he wants his son back, he needs to go home.

His Father's Son is an emotional story fraught with believable characters, a finely woven plot, and a mesh of two cultures expertly revealed. This story is written in a style reminiscent of the late Frank McCourt and should sit alongside Angela's Ashes as one of Irish literature's classic novels.

We had the good fortune to bend Tony's ear recently where he gave us a glimpse into his life away from the computer.

Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Tony, and congratulations on the publication of His Father's Son. It's quite a change from your thrillers, but a welcome one, I must say.

You're a busy man -- writing, promotions, book tours -- do you have a writing routine that keeps you on track?

Yes and no. When I was producing two books a year I did stick to office hours, but usually found myself working into the wee hours to get stuff finished. I try to do at least a thousand words a day and if I don't make that will do more the next day but I find I'm not at my best being so strict with myself. I think my best writing comes when I'm not up against a deadline but actually just exploring characters on the page.

Deadlines are a two headed cobra, aren't they? Great for getting the job done, but not really letting you be flexible when you need flexibility, especially when you're trying to balance writing with everything else that goes into having your book out.

What's your writing space like? I imagine you sitting behind a giant walnut desk with a pipe and a tumbler of Scotch at hand, and a deerhound beside the fire.

Well, at the moment it's a bit of a tip. I'm just putting out a book - HIS FATHER'S SON - and things have got a bit chaotic. My study is at the back of the house and tends to become a bit of a dumping ground for all my family's stuff too. For example, right now, there's a dog crate in front of my book shelves and my wife's new winter coat is hanging on the door, presumably en route to her wardrobe.

Hmmm . . . I'll pretend there's a walnut desk in there . . . somewhere!

I know you enjoy engaging with your readers on places like Facebook, but what else do you enjoy doing when you're not writing . . . or cleaning your study?

I try to chill out as best as I can. I'm a big movie buff and spend far too much on DVDs. I read a lot too, obviously a must for a writer, but I try to read outside my genre and a lot of factual non-fiction too.

I think books and movies go hand in hand for writers.

Thank you so much, Tony, for taking the time to chat with me and give our readers some additional reading material for the TBR piles.

So, who wants to get a glimpse into His Father's Son?

• • •

Australia is the Lucky Country and Joey Driscol knows it. It’s a far cry from his native Ireland but he believes this is the place he and his wife, Shauna, can make a new life and forget the troubles of the past. And for a time they do just that. There’s steady work, a new house and, in time, they welcome their new son, Marti, into the world.

But as the years pass, history comes knocking at the door. With Shauna battling the ‘Black Dog’ depression, the ghosts of the past take hold and, with their marriage floundering, Joey’s wife disappears one day taking Marti with her. Distraught, Joey finally hears word that they’ve returned to Ireland. Forced to follow if he wants to see his beloved son again, Joey must confront a past he’d rather forgot and along with it, the father he never wanted to see again.

In a beautifully written story where the tragedy and tenderness of the tale is balanced brilliantly by the light of comic imagery, former crime writer, Tony Black explores the bond between a father and son; the clash of culture and landscape between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ land and takes us on a journey into a family’s struggle with their past, present and uncertain future.


Marti didn’t get it. He knew when Dad said it was “just one of those things” it was because he couldn’t be bothered explaining.

“But why, Dad?” said Marti. It was burning hot outside and Dad was stretched out in the yard under the coolibah tree. Marti had seen him put the newspaper over his face when the sun broke out from the shade. He was still under the paper when Marti asked the question again. “Dad, why Blue?”

“Like I say, son, it’s just one of those things.”

Dad must know, thought Marti. He had never heard him say he didn’t know about something. He must know, really. “Just one of those things” was something grown-ups said when they couldn’t be bothered. It was like, “Go away and play with the cats’ eyes on the road.”

“But Dad, why Blue?” Why did they call Dad ‘Blue’? Pete, their neighbour with the swimming pool with the leaves in and the car with no wheels, had called Dad ‘Blue’ every time he passed by. And Pete wasn’t even a very good friend of Dad’s, thought Marti. Pete didn’t even support Liverpool, so Dad couldn’t really be good friends with him.

“Marti, it’s an Australian thing, all right. That’s what they call you in Australia when you have red hair like me, Blue.”

Marti really was confused now. “Well, why don’t they call you Red?”

“Because Marti, it’s Australia and they do things differently here. It’s the other side of the world.”
Marti knew Australia was on the other side of the world from Ireland. Dad had shown him on the map, and on the globe in the library he had shown him where the boat had come across all the ocean and how it was the best money he’d ever spent. He told him the story about how they needed men like him because the country was so big they had to fill it up and he paid all his money for him and Mam to come on a boat from Ireland.

“But why because it’s the other side of the world?” Marti knew he was pressing his luck. Dad put down the paper and tipped back his cap. It was bright sunshine outside and he had been trying to sit in the shade of the coolibah tree and read the news, but he was there so long the sun had followed him and the shadow was on the other side of the tree now.

“Right, Marti,” he said, and picked up the rug he was lying on and moved it into the shade again. “If I explain this thing for you, will you give me some peace?” Marti nodded. “Right, now first things first, get out of the sun – eleven to three, under a tree, remember.” Marti moved over into the shade of the coolibah tree with Dad.

“Now, in Australia everyone – well, mostly everyone in Australia – comes from Ireland or Scotland or the Other Place.” The Other Place was England; Marti knew Dad didn’t like England, except for Liverpool but that was as Irish as Molly Malone he said, whoever Molly Malone was. “So, Australia is on the other side of the world. Australians think this is a funny thing, it’s like everything is the opposite. It’s summer in Australia when it’s winter in Ireland and the water goes down the plughole the other way.” Marti’s eyes widened. “Ah now, forget that about the water, son, that’s a whole other story, but so you see what I’m saying; that’s why red becomes blue in Australia. Do you get me? Do you see it now, Marti?”

He kind of got it. He didn’t know why the Australians wanted to call red blue, but he got the bit about doing things the other way around. It made him wonder because he had black hair like Mam, maybe they would call him white.

He was still a bit confused, then Dad leaned forward and lifted him up on his knee. “Don’t worry your head about this nonsense, son. Sure won’t you get it all for yourself when you go to Ireland.”

“Are we going to Ireland?” said Marti.

“No, son, we’ve no plans to go to Ireland. Australia’s our home now, but sure, won’t you want to go and see the place one day, to see where your mam and dad were born and where the giants come from, and sure won’t you have to try the Guinness on home soil. There’s nothing like a pint of Guinness poured on Irish soil, son – when you’re a man, of course.”

“Will you come with me, Dad?”

“No, Marti, I won’t be going back to Ireland.”

“Never, not even when I’m a man and I get the Guinness?” He knew Dad would never go back to Ireland. Mam had said it was because he was too fond of foostering his days away in the sun, and didn’t Ireland only remind him of himself.

“No, Marti, I never will. Sure why would I want to – would you look at this place? Isn’t it God’s country entirely; you can’t grow oranges in your yard in Ireland.”

“Then I won’t go, Dad. I’ll stay here with you.” Marti hugged him and Dad laughed.

“Son, you’re choking me – that’s some grip you have there. Do you fancy yourself a wrestler?” Dad pretended to bite Marti’s arm, and the pair rolled around on the grass. “That’s enough now. There could be trapdoors around here,” said Dad.

Trapdoor spiders were sneaky bleeders, Mam had said. They bury themselves in the yard and then jump out of their little grass trapdoors to bite you if you’re not careful, she had told Marti.

“Do they have trapdoors in Ireland, Dad?”

“No, son.”

“Then could we wrestle in the yard if we lived in Ireland, Dad?”

“You’d be soaked through in a millisecond, Marti. Sure, there’s no sunny days over there. It’s all rain, rain and more rain. No, this is the place, Marti, God’s country, like I say. Now away and play.”

• • •
Find Tony online --

Website -
Facebook -
Twitter -
Blog -
Amazon US author page -
Amazon UK author page -

To purchase a copy of His Father's Son by Tony Black, please visit Amazon --

Amazon US -- digital or print (available soon)

Amazon UK - digital or print


  1. Hello Tony! Welcome to Heart of Fiction. Congratulations on the release of His Father's Son.

    Where did you get the idea for this story? Did your being born in Australia and immigrating to Ireland play into it?

  2. Sounds like a terrific book, Tony. Best of luck!

  3. Hi Tony - good to read a little about you (I'm in the west of Scotland). All the best with the new book.

  4. Thanks, folks ... and thanks Kemberlee for the terrific interview; yes, you could say I used my own back-story for this one.