After working on his literary debut for a number of years, Cratlagh Wood native William Paul Boyce decided to be proactive and publish without external agencies
Ernest Hemingway said, in an interview with the Paris Review, that “once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it.” For Donegal author William Paul Boyce this sentiment seems most appropriate.
As a student of psychology at the National University of Ireland in Galway (NUIG), Boyce devoted his free time to indulging his ‘greatest pleasure’. Outside of his studies, he worked tirelessly on a fantasy novel depicting the adventures of Alex Treacy, an Irish teenager coming to terms with an abrupt family move to London. Boyce was later accepted into Swansea University to undertake a PhD in October 2011, but, despite embarking on a career in academia, his ‘vice’ continued and on December 2 2013, Rise of the Gigantes was released.
After a year of searching for a publisher, in between conducting research and delivering lectures, the industrious writer decided to self-publish.
“It was a time thing, really,” Boyce says of the decision to eschew convention. “I’d been sitting on the book for two years already and I just wanted to get it out there. Once I finish the PhD I can maybe go down the traditional route.”
Rise of the Gigantes is a tale laden with mythological lore and legendary characters from a wide variety of ancient European traditions, but the setting for Alex’s labyrinthine journey is entirely contemporary. “I’ve used old characters, trying to reinvent them,” says Boyce. “But it’s very much a modern tale, there’s no doubt about that.”
The author’s own journey through life has seen him move to cities such as San Francisco and London in search of work and he is now living in Wales, researching “the perception of space and time across modalities” at Swansea University. As a consequence of his travels Boyce is familiar with the culture of emigration that currently grips Ireland and believes that Alex’s story will have a strong resonance with diaspora and young families who have uprooted their lives in search of a brighter future. After making the move to London, the 12-year-old Alex is comforted by thoughts of home and is often found wielding a hurley stick, which comes to represent a symbolic relic from his native land.
“I wanted to write about an Irish kid because I think the market is bloated by American and British heroes”
“As an adult I moved to London myself and I can’t say I really missed home,” admits Boyce. “But it’s just an interesting experience. I have a kid brother who has moved around a lot. I actually wrote the book, initially, for him and I guess that probably played a part in it too.”
In addition, Boyce feels strongly that there is a significant deficit of modern Irish heroes in fantasy literature. “I wanted to write about an Irish kid because I think the market is bloated by American and British heroes,” he says, reflecting on a genre that includes characters such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson. “There are not many Irish heroes out there, so I wanted to do that, but funnily I felt London was a better location than somewhere like Galway City.”
Boyce traces the genesis of the book back to 2007 to a period when he was unemployed and seeking work in Donegal. He began writing the story at his mother’s home and it soon became a constant obsession wherever he went, be it as a mature student in Galway, visiting a close companion in France or taking up a studentship in Wales.
Interestingly, the first draft was actually completed back at his family home, just outside the town of Milford in Donegal. “I wrote the original prologue on my mother’s laptop in Cratlagh Wood before I moved to Galway,” he says. “And in a nice circular turn of events I finished the first draft in Cratlagh Wood.”
However, his vision is far from complete. Rise of the Gigantes is the first part of a series and he has actually started the second part of the story. So what does the future hold for Alex Treacy?
“Without giving too much away, I guess I’m just going to expand the universe,” hints Boyce. “I’m not going to shift the focus away from Alex, but I’m excited by where the kids are going. It’s not going to follow a traditional route. Most of the story is mapped out, it’s just a matter of actually sitting down. The hard work, as far as I am concerned, is done.”
Rise of the Gigantes is available to buy for the Amazon Kindle at £1.88 on www.amazon.co.uk