Creating community


What should an Author David H. Millar blog about? What will spark interest and comment from readers? What will persuade readers that handing over a proportion of their disposable income – a commodity in short supply in harsh economic times – will give them a pleasurable experience in return? 
There seems to be two divergent views on this. One perspective is that an author - being a writer should obviously blog about writing, the agonies of getting published, his or her books, the characters and possibly dangle tempting morsels about the plot. Boring, but relatively straightforward to accomplish which I suspect is why most authors travel along this path.
The other viewpoint is that people buy books from authors they “know” and who take the time to get to know them. In this scenario, the “book” is likely the last item on the list of topics for blogs or other social media platforms. In fact it may not make the list at all – unless asked for. Marketing-wise, this strategy is Marketing 101 – know your customer. Social media makes me uncomfortable and I have an intense dislike for reality TV – apart from the Osbournes! However, it does makes more sense that the first option. So do I have a choice?
The remains of the Barbary ape mentioned in Conall: Rinn-Iru (The Place of Blood) were actually uncovered during excavations at Navan Fort (Emain Macha). 
The dating of the ape's remains puts the animal around the time of the story and does appear to suggest that Phoenician and Greek traders were not unknown even as far north as mid-Ulster. 
Interestingly, around 320 BC, Pytheas, a Greek sailor and merchant was said to have sailed to the shadowy Northern Sea and the Tin Island. Unfortunately, only the title of the record of his journeys – On the Ocean – appears to have survived.
In ancient times Great Britain was known as the Tin Island due to its tin mines which were located mainly in what is now southern England. Tin is a key component in the production of bronze. Likely the Celts in ancient Ireland took with some enthusiasm to the Iron Age as Ireland while rich in copper had few if any tin mines and hence the ore had to  be imported. However, iron ore was both plentiful and low-cost. 
How did they curse in 400 BC Ireland? I pondered this one quite some time as it appeared to me that warriors would not have been overly polite prior to stabbing or removing their opponent’s limbs – or indeed of being on the receiving end. Likewise, in their camps conversation would not have been the Queen’s English. Also, I doubt very much whether they would have had the full lexicon of modern swear words. That said, I strongly suspect that phrases such as “Kiss my arse” or “Póg ma thoin” are eternal. 
However, when I tried to translate the seemingly simple “Go to Hell” I discovered that there was no word for “Hell” in Ancient Ireland! Iron Age Celts knew of Mag Mell (the "Delightful Plain" similar to the Roman Elysium Fields), Tir inna n-Óc (Land of Youth) and Tir Tairngire (Land of Promise). There are also vague references to the Otherworld in Celtic literature, but this seems more a place where the aes sidhe, deities and ancestors live as opposed to an after-life. So basically, until Christianity came ashore in Ireland, the Celts had no word for Hell. Makes you wonder, eh!
I’ll close this blog with a quote from the best comedian Ireland ever produced, Dave Allen, “The terrible thing about dying over there [Ireland] is you miss your own wake. It's the best day of your life. You've paid for everything and you can't join in. Mind you, if you did you'd be drinking on your own.”