I started these when I was working in Derry. Hebog is the main character, the undercurrent in all these books. It's the Welsh gaelic word for hawk. The violence in Northern Ireland reminded me so much of the chill violence of a raptor. I based the main character on that pathology of mind set. He is barely able to exist in society. If he hadn't had the backdrop of the Troubles he would have been imprisoned hopefully within months. As it was he was able to perform and disappear into the pathology of the society in which he lived.
I suspect characters very like him populated the legions of killers from all sides of the violence.
Under Benevonagh and Benone Strand are about redemption - sort of. What could happen to someone who lived so far outside the normal human experice? That was what I wanted to explore - but in a way that might carry a message for societies living in and with daily violence.
No clean, simple solutions. Work hard and with dedication and you might win through to peace.
Of course since I wrote these books my home country has acheived peace. We can only hope that the real life Hebog's do not find a way to break it asunder.
I needed a counterpint ot this violence - the normalcy of people trying to make sense of thier lives. Bridget and Paddy are those signature normals caught in events far beyond their control.
But they are not without help.
Violence may be appalling - but we still need to be able to meet violence with equivalent violence - sometimes.
Hence Jon and Fin and, of course, Michael Harkness.
A bit Old Testament? Perhaps, but it is hard to clean the memories of 33 years if living with violence. As a doctor working in Northern Ireland I saw the results of bombs and of shootings and of knee cappings.
Everyone in Northern Ireland knows someone who has been maimed or killed by the men of violence.
And to be completely honest - sometimes, just sometimes, revenge sounds like a good idea.