I’m Dublin-born and Wicklow-raised, with a degree and master’s degree in Philosophy from UCD. I published a children’s book in Portuguese in 2013, titled O Lago Secou (Companhia das Letras), and have translated over 50 published works, including the novel There Were Many Horses, by Luiz Ruffato (Amazon Crossing), and the non-fiction titles Rio de Janeiro: Extreme City, by Luiz Eduardo Soares (Penguin), and Ideas to Postpone the End of the World, by Brazilian indigenous leader Ailton Krenak (House of Anansi Press).
I live in São Paulo, Brazil, with my wife and daughter.
I have just completed two novels and am looking for a publisher/agent representation:
Hibernaculum (78,754 words): It’s 2039 (but this is not futuristic or sci-fi). Many people cannot afford to live 365 days a year, and the earth can no longer sustain our bloated population. New human hibernation technologies have created what some consider a solution to the problem: 60, 90, or 120-day hibernations in specially-designed Hibernacula scattered all over the world. The novel, set around a Hibernaculum in San Francisco, accompanies four characters with different relationships to the process: Yumi, a Japanese-Brazilian woman who has just come out of a three-month hibernation; Seth, a young misfit who is about to go “Under” for three months himself; Walt, an artist whose author wife is currently hibernating (again); and Meghan, a journalist who is touring the facility in order to write a long-form article about it for a magazine. In a world of blurred boundaries, where much of our fiction is based on personal experience and a lot of our news is fake, this book blurs fiction and non-fiction to create something new.
Jestor (94,241 words): Jestor does not know what he is, nor does anyone else, but he does know what he’s for. He helps/haunts/hounds people into committing their original sins, defined here as “non-transferrable, one-of-a-kind, uniquely yours”. Over the course of the novel he pops in and out of the lives of four very different characters: Mac, a Francisco Goya specialist and non-practicing pedophile; Lucy, a bitter elderly English woman who is pleased to have recently been widowed; Gamal, an Egyptian whirling dervish who performs on Nile River cruisers; and Zé, a Brazilian architect who has a bad case of OCD. The novel is mostly set in Paraty (Brazil), with visits to Orlando, London and Luxor/Cairo. A non-metaphysical novel narrated by an unidentified “we”. Inspired by psychological readings of the tale of Jonah and the whale.
I also write fiction for children, and am currently completing a book on mermaids for the 6 to 1o age bracket. Some of the illustrations are linked to on this site.
From Jestor (novel)
1. The Melting Crown of a Jester’s Hat
Wet footprints are a bitch. They’re treacherous, usually muddy and form lengthy tracks. The lady who looks after the corridors of this apartment block is staring at them with a comical expression. See, it’s not raining, and she left the floorboards spic-and-span earlier. Besides, who wanders around New York in flip-flops in February? They’re definitely flip-flop prints; she has a forensic eye for soles, sharpened over decades on the job. She follows this set up one flight of stairs and stops. The tracks go on, and they’re not getting any drier. We stop with her, because we have this quasi-scientific interest in the expressions people make when they’re absorbed in something. That’s when they let their aesthetic guard down, relinquishing the muscle control that tries, usually in vain, to make the world do what it’s told. The faces of the engrossed form the most wonderful expressions, honest expressions. In fact, expression is not the right word at all— what they are is impressions. The facial impressions of unfeigned confusion, absorption, deep thought, shock, pain, pleasure, desire…those are raw and therefore priceless. Personally, we can’t get enough of them. We thoroughly enjoy them, like now, watching the irked bamboozlement, or befuddled annoyance, of this rather affable lady of maybe sixty, maybe less. We have a wine connoisseur’s vocabulary when it comes to gawpery. We might say, for example, that there’s an undercoat of resignation peeking through the muted tones of anger and light backscatter of disbelief, but that would be pointless; Jestor would call it “wanky”. He has his own favored vernacular. Anyway, we’re idling, because we should be up on the third floor with said Jestor, in apartment 316. We should be, but we really don’t want to be. We don’t like how this particular case has turned out, and we’re squeamish. That said, there might be something interesting gawp-wise when the time comes. Besides, the lady’s taking back the reins of her face, so there’s nothing more to see. So up we go.
APARTMENT, BROOKLYN, NY. 25 meters above sea-level
And we are not disappointed. A man is standing in the shower stall, under a lazily dribbling rain head. His eyes are half-closed, and he’s rocking gently back and forth. Inside, there are waves high as mountains, figuratively speaking, of course. It’s a strange place to sleep, with a storm brewing, halfway between Nineveh and Tarshish, duty and desire, but he’s dozing behind ticking lids. Jestor kicks him awake and speaks his name three times: Jeb, Jeb, JEB! The pale, hairless man mumbles something—Bevel?—, then repeats it— Debil?—, pauses, widens his brown eyes, and tries again—Delve… Sitting on the toilet lid, Jestor makes a chatty reply as he lights a cigarillo:
No, Jeb. I’m not the Devil. Uh-huh. Do you believe in the Devil, Jeb? What?…You do? Never met him, so I can’t say. Belief’s a funny thing, though, Jeb. Let me ask you something sort of chicken-and-egg: which comes first, belief or doubt?
An orange glow sits on the sea-green wall tiles. Streaks of neon shimmer in the bubble-glass window above the shower stall. Some sirens in the street shriek in swirling blue and red. Outside, Brooklyn. Inside, a ship’s hull. Yes, Jeb has given up. There’s nothing more to say. Nothing more to feel. Nothing more to think. Not that there’s nothing more to be said, felt, or thought; but Jeb’s given up. We can see him giving up on speech right this very second, as he mutters something in reply, then lets the tip of his tongue run aground against the lower teeth. We’ve seen dogs do this with their heads up against walls when they’ve had a stroke. It’s a sad sight, like they’re trying to hold the wall up with their dazed heads. Jeb’s tongue has had it.
Sound of patter on the shower curtain. Jestor considers what Jeb’s just sort of said. He always knows what they’re saying. Even when they’re babbling, mumbling, drooling.
No, Jeb. There’d be no belief without doubt. See, belief comes after doubt, which feeds on certainty. You know something, then you doubt it, and then you choose to believe it, despite it all. So belief’s like a double negative that doubts the doubt. I guess you could say it’s like a plucked flower pressed between the pages of a book… No, I’m not the Devil, Jeb…You see a resemblance, do ya? I get that sometimes…
The moment of decision is fundamentally dialogic, so even when the decision taken is expressed only to oneself, the accompanying mien is an expression in the truest sense. Jeb is wearing it now, and there’s a grim beauty to it. It’s the look of a king about to melt his own crown.
JEB’S BATHROOM, BROOKLYN – NIGHT
Jeb is lying naked on the shower floor, his spindly body rendered in odd grisaille. The water is running and blood is streaming into the drain from his slit wrists. His eyes are open, but he’s either dead or very nearly so. See, there it is. The facial impression of death, like a wet footprint.
Now why would Jeb go and spill his own blood? Why on earth would he do that? For a million reasons. None of them particularly good, but one of them sufficiently compelling: he’d be better off dead. The sailors of this good world have picked his name from the hat three times and thrown him overboard. Splashing around in the mad water like Jeb, with waves above you and troughs beneath you, and a dark, dark void down below, you can either cry out for death or for deliverance. Jeb made his wrists scream for the former. He cut two toothless mouths in his wrists and they begged for death through gurgles of blood. Now, a philosopher might be petulant and certainly insensitive enough to disagree that one could ever be better off dead. You see, technically, the dead are nothing at all, only dead. Better off? Not without the verb, and surely the poorest sort of being is still preferable to not being at all? Not to Jeb, so he slit his wrists, deep.
From the bathroom, down the hallway, to the sitting-room
Besides some very poor life choices, Jeb also had questionable taste in decor. His sitting-room has red walls—okay, wine walls—with gilded furniture and showy frames full of filigrees…In one of these frames is a scale reproduction of Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (c.1504). A procession of bills, fins and antlers, and naked flesh. In the earthly garden, sandwiched between Eden and Hell, bodies squirrel into cavities, into shells, into clams, into hollow trees, into warm pools. In a busy pond, a black pheasant-crested woman idles with a red fruit, and a threesome of blondes, apples balanced on their sunny heads, watch the ring-a-rosie of mounted beasts: white hog, pink apis, brown griffin, babbling fish. Everywhere in the great garden people huddle beneath petals of feeling, umbrellas of thought, in bubbles of dream, in the briars and hollow trees of big ideas. They frolic from beast to beast, from flower to flower. Pink rock, blue rock; dark water, clear water; white shell, and, not far yonder, a burning town. On the frozen Styx, the waters of Hell, a naked Jeb claws at his sinking sleigh in a hole of broken ice.
The framed reproduction, on its merlot-coloured wall, hangs just above a chest of drawers, and on that chest, in front of the painting, sits a badly bruised Jonagold apple. Jonagold, New York’s finest. A cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious, presented to the world, like Jeb himself, in 1968.
Jeb gorged himself numb on earthly delights. Once the delight lost its lightness, he had only the drag of earth. And the drag of the earth never wears off.
With a click of the fingers, a puff of smoke:
PARATY, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL. 1 meter above sea-level.