I don’t remember the date, but I know it was a Friday afternoon in late February 2001. I was 22 and working for a Danish Bank in the City of London and I felt like I’d been run over. My body ached and I said to my boss at lunch time that I wanted to go home because I felt like utter rubbish.
He didn’t believe me, thought I was hungover from the night before. I admit I was out for a few drinks but this wasn’t a hangover. I pleaded with him, saying the work I had to do could wait until Monday. He agreed and I got home within an hour and rested up on the sofa in the front room.
I went to bed that night with a headache that felt like my head was trapped in a vice and I was so very nauseous.
That’s the last thing I remember.
Apparently, early Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed, totally unconscious and totally in a state of undress. My mum, who’s a nurse, woke up when she heard the thud and I was rushed to Queen Marys Hospital in Sidcup. I was paralysed down my left hand side, the initial prognosis was that I had a stroke.
Then the rash appeared on my back.
I was diagnosed with having Bacterial Meningitis and was taken to Kings College Hospital in London. There I split my time between High Dependency and Intensive Care Units. The Consultant, Mr Chandler, decided against giving me a lumber puncture because the swelling on my brain was pushing it towards the top of my spinal column and the draining of the fluid would have removed part of my brain and I would have died.
My parents, as Catholic as the Pope, got a priest in to administer the last rites to me, it was that serious.
A shunt was put in the top right of my skull and in the two weeks I was in hospital, drained 9 litres of infected fluid out of my head.
I was then confined to my own room because not only did I have meningitis, but I had caught MRSA, the well know hospital bug that can kill just as well as the meningitis can.
When I was discharged from hospital, I had a dent in my head from the shunt and lost nearly three stone in weight. These were the only physical side effects from the illness. I didn’t realise at the time but I was one of the extremely lucky survivors.
I was off work for three months, recuperating and wrapped in cotton wool by my friends and family. I liked to remind everyone how I had nearly died – they were all fully aware of this and it began to annoy and irritate. I began to annoy and irritate myself.
Mainly to alleviate the boredom and just to see what it would be like. I didn’t know at the time that it would finally become Paddy Nemesis. I wrote two chapters, always only two, then I stopped because I got bored and couldn’t figure out a storyline to keep on writing. I bathed myself in action films and read anything for inspiration and nothing came.
I knew that I wanted to base the book in Ireland, it’s a country I know very well, particularly Dublin and Boyle in County Roscommon where my family are from. The first rule about writing is write about what you know – I was lazy and didn’t want to research areas, so it became my location. I didn’t know who the protagonist was, but I wanted him to be emotionally damaged, because it was how I felt and I wanted him to be on the fence between good and bad, but ultimately the hero.
Then I stopped writing, I was back in work and the idea of writing just slipped to the back of my mind. Every now and again, I would go back to the manuscript, read it, think it was rubbish and write again, making the character harder and more strung out. This would repeat itself until around 2011 when I looked at the 100th rewrite and thought that I had got something there. In the news, the Irish Government and Irish Banks had landed the whole country into a massive recession and I thought I had my perfect muse, the desperation of the people, the undermining of trust and faith in the leaders of the country, the escalation in drug use and rumours of corruption running like a rich vein through all Government Departments. To top it all, people who were once part of terrorist organisations were now running for public office – it couldn’t get any better for me and my story, so I pushed though chapter two and created a story of pop culture, desperation, love, drugs, violence, vengeance and humour, even though it’s the blackest kind.
I sent the manuscript out to agents and publishing houses, not expecting to hear back anything positive but I wanted to give it a shot; and then I discovered self publishing, which although risky, seemed more appealing to me as this book was my baby and I wanted to retain editorial control. I did however, get it independently edited and proof read, which is essential to every self published book.
So now Paddy Nemesis available to all kindle owners, on amazon, globally, which is a mad concept to get my head around – now anyone in the world with a kindle can find out about Jack Clancy and Paddy Nemesis.
I will also promote via twitter and Facebook and run 24 hour periods where if 1000 copies are sold within that period, all royalties will be donated to The Meningitis Trust. I’d appreciate your support.