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Hi Dan, can you tell us a little bit about Deadly Shot, the novel you are in?
Will it take long? You see I really want to practice my “keepy-uppy” moves – you know where you keep the ball up in the air for as long as possible. I’m the best at in Dublin. I’m not boasting or anything. I can easily go to a thousand. I’ve got this new one called “figure of eight” where I bounce the ball on my head, shoulders, knees, and feet, chest. That’s eight parts of the body and…
Sorry to interrupt but just give us a bit of background to Deadly Shot?
I’m twelve, and I live in Dublin, which is a great city. My family aren't very rich or anything. My parents come from different religions, so their own families disowned them when they married. There’s this horrible war going on. It’s a guerrilla war, which is nothing to do with gorillas in the jungle. You see, we want Ireland to be free fro the British Empire, but they won’t let us. So the rebels, led by Michael Collins have this new style of war. We’re an invisible army . . .
Aren’t you a bit young to be in a war? Are you a boy soldier?`
I promised my cousin Molly I wouldn’t ever fire a gun. It’s hard because loads of boys are "in it". The Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries who are the enemy troops on the street are really nasty. But well, can you keep a secret? I’m kind of in the Fianna Boy Scouts. I’m a trusted messenger for the rebel leader Michael Collins. I saved one of his Volunteers at a checkpoint by causing a diversion with my ball skills. So he escaped arrest. Collins saw me and asked me to deliver messages. Our soldiers are all in hiding or on the run. But if my Mam or Dad find out, they’ll kill me – not really, they’ll just be really mad. But my Dad is away at sea, and my mother is stuck in the house looking after my sister poor Josephine, whose sick all the time. So, they can’t keep an eye on me.
Who is Michael Collins?
He’s our leader. The call him the “Scarlet Pimpernel” like the fellow in the French Revolution. They seek him here, they seek him there. There’s a price on his head, and he organizes these hits on spies. He’s really clever. They’ll never catch him. We want Ireland to be a republic, but Britain says we have to stay part of the United Kingdom. We had a vote to leave, the whole country wants to, but they won’t let us. Then they all started fighting. I must admit I don’t really understand it all. And well, I saw all these attacks 21st November 1920. I’m still having nightmares. Collins ordered the shooting of British spies. Fourteen were killed. Bloody Sunday they’re calling it. The British troops shot into a crowd of innocent civilians and killed fourteen. The horrible balance sheet of war. It’s not very nice, this fighting. My cousin Molly hates it. I don’t really want to talk about all that shooting and stuff.
Let’s change the subject. What about schoolwork? Do you read?
I mostly go to school. But there’s this British spy chasing me. He’s a double agent, and I have to go on the run with Molly. That’s the problem – you can’t get away from war.
I don’t always like school, to tell the truth. I’m left handed, and the teacher doesn’t like that. He makes me write with my right hand. But I do like Maths at school. I read Maths books sometimes. It calms my mind. My brother and I love Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. We’ve read them all. That Moriarty is evil. You know that spy who is on my case – he reminds me of Moriarty. Funny thing is Collins calls us messengers his “Baker Street Irregulars’. I love Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stephenson. I wish I could find buried treasure. My father reads poetry to us. He loves John Masefield who wrote this poem called “Sea Fever” about loving the sea. He knew him as he’s a sailor too. The poem reminds me of my Dad. He’s gone missing on his last voyage. I don’t want to think about it. It makes me sad.
Tell us about your cousin Molly.
She told me to keep this diary. She kept one when she was caught up in the Easter Rebellion in Dublin in 1916, and she said it helped her. She’s nearly seventeen now, and she’s a medical student, even though she's a girl. She reads a lot of medical books. She is ace, really clever. During the rebellion, she went looking for her brother Jack. She’s seen a lot of injuries and dead bodies and stuff. So she hates violence. But the rebels trust her. She looks after their fighters who’ve got injured and don’t want to go to hospitals in case they get arrested. If I have a problem, I go to her. She wants me to stop being a messenger. It’s all a bit complicated. You need to read the book to see why.
Who will like reading Deadly Shot?
Boys and girls who like exciting stories. Anyone who wants to know what it’s like to live in a war. I’m very honest about what’s going on, the things I see, the dangers I face. I’m just an ordinary boy, even if I’m good at football, caught up in a dangerous time. It’s nail-biting, full of twists and turns and moral problems, I suppose you’d call them. What's right and wrong when the world is upside down? I’m good at running. But can I outrun a war?
The mean-faced Tan moved forward and cocked a gun in my direction. “You with the ball! Stop, you little Fenian brat, or I’ll shoot!”
He advanced towards me, his eyes flaming down the barrel of the gun. I thought I was going to wet myself with fear.
On impulse, I skied the ball straight up to heaven. It soared higher than the rooftops. Everyone tilted their heads. From the corner of my eye I glimpsed the young rebel making a run for it towards Saint Andrew’s church on the opposite side of the road.
“POW!” a shot rang out.
I prayed it wasn’t the rebel. But the lifeless thud of my ball was almost as bad. The Tan had shot my dearest possession. But they hadn’t even seen the gunman!
FACEBOOK - DEADLY SHOT: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Deadly-Shot-Dans-War-of-Independence-1920-22/852536338133795
FACEBOOK - MOLLY'S DIARY: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mollys-Diary-The-1916-Rising/277254289106782
Buy Deadly Shot – Dan’s Diary at Amazon, Amazon UK, or Poolbeg.
Buy Molly’s Diary at Amazon UK, Amazon, or Poolbeg
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