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July 5, 2016 / peoplesbookprize

paul mcveigh⌈ Vote Now ⌋

In the lead up to The People’s Book Prize 2016 we caught up with author Paul McVeigh to talk about his novel

The Good Son


Born in Belfast, Paul McVeigh is an award-winning writer whose work has been performed on stage and radio, published in print and been translated into 7 languages. He began his career as a playwright before moving to London where he wrote comedy shows, which were performed at the Edinburgh Festival and in London’s West End. His short stories have been published in literary journals and anthologies, read on BBC Radio 5 and commissioned by BBC Radio 4. He is the co-founder of London Short Story Festival and Associate Director at Word Factory. The Good Son, his first novel, was Brighton’s City Reads for 2016, shortlisted for The Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and is currently a finalist for The People’s Book Prize and longlisted for The Polari Prize. It was also shortlisted for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize in 2015 and chosen by The British Council and The Literary Platform to be part of The UK-Russia Year of Language and Literature 2016. Paul has read his work and taught at festivals in the UK and Ireland and internationally – Austria, Australia, Mexico and Turkey. Paul’s blog for writers gets 40,000 hits a month and has had over a 1 1/4 million visitors.

When did you start writing?

I came to writing later than most. I was director and theatre maker first and my passion was creating live work by collaborating with actors. I got into writing plays then comedy shows for stand-ups. Later I started writing prose by attempting short stories and I had some success with those and dove into the novel that would become (after quite a few years) The Good Son.

As an Author, what influences you the most?

That’s hard to say. Perhaps most influential was that I had something to say. The desire to share a story I was passionate about. That drive kept me focused too when I didn’t know what I was doing and getting up at 5am before work and back at my desk when I got home in the evening.

Where did the idea for this book originate?

An editor who was putting together a short story anthology had seen a play I’d written and asked me to submit a piece. I was in my early 30’s at the time and it was my first attempt at prose since school. I followed the ‘write what you know’ advice and wrote a story from my childhood. As I wrote this voice came out that wasn’t really me and from that voice the idea for a novel came.

The People’s Book Prize nominees are voted for by the readers, how important are your readers to you?

Being a slow reader myself, I understand just how much of a commitment reading a novel can be. I feel immensely privileged that someone buys my book and takes the time to read it. It’s humbling. The Good Son was chosen as Brighton’s City Reads and I had the opportunity to visit book groups and meet readers and events around the city. Seeing their faces as they talked about the characters and how they’d felt while reading was such a special experience. I couldn’t believe readers were having this special relationship with the book, doing what I’d done with books throughout my life. I was lucky enough to see this happening with my book with my own eyes. My engagement with readers made the years of writing worthwhile.

We like to think there’s a voice for everyone in Publishing – what is your opinion?

This is my first novel so I can’t say I know the industry that well. I think that good writing always rises to the top (eventually!) and if you keep your dream flexible then you have a chance at getting your book out there. I was told by the big publishers that no-one wanted a book about the Troubles but in time I found a publisher who disagreed and more, they fell head-over-heels in love with the book.

Salt Publishing publishes a variety of brilliant authors, what is it like to be in the company of talented writers?

It’s inspiring and as a first-time novelist it gives you confidence. You hope to bask in the reflected glory.

What book influenced you most as a writer and what are you reading at the moment?

No one book comes to mind but my early reading experiences with books likeCatcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mocking Bird were transformative. Both books made a huge impression on me and when I set out to write The Good Son I hoped to write a coming-of-age story that would achieve even just a little of what those books did. I’m reading two books by Simon van Booy – a short story collection ‘Tales of Accidental Genius’ and his novel ‘Father’s Day’.

What can we expect from you in the future? What are you writing at the moment?

I’m finishing some short stories, working on an idea for a play with Radio 4, a commission for some travel fiction and I’m forming an idea for my next novel.


Find Paul at:


Twitter: @paul_mc_veigh

home pageThe People’s Book Prize is the unique literary competition that is judged by the nation and open to all UK publishing companies.

You Be the Judge: The People’s Book Prize – “The home for new and undiscovered works.”

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