Tuesday 12 January 2021

There's Only One Danny Garvey by David F Ross BLOG TOUR @dfr10 @OrendaBooks #TheresOnlyOneDannyGarvey Guest Post - The Origins of the Book


There's Only One Danny Garvey by David F Ross is published by Orenda Books - eBook 21 November 2020 and paperback on 21 January 2021.

I've already posted my review of this incredible book, and it was my favourite book of last year.

You can read my review of There's Only One Danny Garvey here.

As part of the Orenda Books Blog Tour today, I'm delighted to welcome the author to Random Things. David has written a fabulous, and personal piece about where the book came from and what it represents to him.

There's Only One Danny Garvey - The Origins of the Book

David F Ross

I once stayed at The Queens Hotel in Leeds. I was there for an extended period, working on a project in the city. It was during an emotionally dark, difficult time for me and the sense of isolation and disconnectedness I felt was very tangible. It wasn’t busy during midweeks and that only reinforced the remoteness. The hotel began to exemplify a type of mental incarceration.

A few years later, I read The Damned United; David Peace’s masterful novel depicting the 44-day tenure of Brian Clough as manager of Leeds United. During this short time, Clough was based in the same hotel. The book describes how his paranoia and loneliness (and irrationality) grow in the hotel. Insomnia takes hold and the Brian Clough of the novel struggles to understand why the skills and practices that made him a brilliant football player - prior to career-ending injury - and then a mercurial manager, have apparently deserted him.

Having experienced a little of this loss of control myself in the same building, I was fascinated by a complex contradiction; people who can focus on performance in a high level, pressurised contextwhile concealing a personal trauma that could be slowly destroying them. For Danny Garvey, it happens that this context is football, but it could easily have been in any other field.

The Queen's Hotel - Leeds

There’s Only One Danny Garvey is a book set against a footballing backdrop, but it isn’t a book about football. Just as The Damned United is a book that examines, through a stream of conscious narrative, the obsessions of a man being played out in the often-illogical, unforgiving, alpha male-dominated, dressing room environment.

Danny Garvey is a troubled individual. His narrative is increasingly unreliable. He isn’t unique in this; we all want people to see the best side of us, perhaps endeavouring to conceal what we are really like. I’m interested in the space between these two presentations of the self. Human frailty is more interesting as a subject to investigate, than untrammelled achievement. As Danny allows himself to care, to become even more vulnerable, he reveals more of his true self and the extent of the childhood trauma that has shaped him.

The books that I love and cherish most are ones which prompt interests outside of the story and the characters; either related to the cultural context or the physical place that they inhabit. I guess that might be to do with my natural interest in the architecture of a book, and in the universal truth that environment influences behaviour. Books which send me off in different directions to discover new things, especially about myself or preconceptions I’ve harboured about all forms of creative human culture are the ones that stay with me longest. The Damned United had this effect. I may have read it fifteen years ago, but There’s Only One Danny Garvey is the flowering of that seed. 

I’ve always wanted my books to be immersive experiences, whether it’s in the identifications of attitudes that characters have for the times in which they live or simply the reinforcement of those times and how they shape actions; all of it is to cement the authenticity of the story for the reader, and to make them feel that my characters are believable and relatable. Their attitudes to music, or film, or literature is an important facet of this; not perhaps to the extent that Patrick Bateman expands on Genesis, as essays unrelated to the plot of American Psycho, but to similarly reinforce personal values.

There’s Only One Danny Garvey is set 1996. It centres on a talented young footballer returning to his home village – and a host of dark and complicated family secrets – to manage his local Junior team after his playing career has ended abruptly. Danny’s loneliness and isolation are reflected in the music he finds solace in. His taste of music – exemplified in a ‘mix-tape’ composition that forms the book’s playlist - helps set the novel’s tone and its atmosphere. The songs are extremely important to Danny, in helping him to articulate feelings and emotions that he doesn’t quite have the vocabulary for.

In terms of my selection as the writer, three songs are probably more notable as the ones that help form the direction of the story. As the novel opens, an old, disorientated man is playing a melody on a discarded piano at the Barshaw village dump. The eight-year-old Danny hears it and he recalls how it made him cry. I imagined that melody to be very similar to this one:

‘Magellan’ by Felt.

As a young footballer, Danny was regularly referred to as a special talent. The word special was used to describe the positive attributes he had on the field. After returning to Barshaw, he comes into contact – and increasingly identifies – with his brother’s ten-year-old autistic son, Damian. Damian (or Damo) is also referred to as special but in a way that has far more negative connotations.

‘I Couldn’t Bear To Be Special’ by Prefab Sprout begins to sum up Danny’s identification with Damo.

The underlying theme of the book is personal isolation; of a gradual appreciation of the difference between loneliness and aloneness, and of trying to find redemption before it’s too late.

‘Isolation’ by Joy Division, and it’s crushing lines - ‘Mother I tried, please believe me, I’m doing the best that I can. Ashamed of the things I’ve been put through. Ashamed of the person I am.’ - were an influential thread running through the writing of the book.

I hope you enjoy There’s Only One Danny Garvey, whether you care for the beautiful game or not. As Albert Camus famously said: 'Everything I know most surely about morality and duty, I owe to football';. I’m sure Danny Garvey – and Brian Clough – would’ve agreed with him.

David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. 

He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. 
His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas and The Man Who Loved Islands. 
David lives in Ayrshire.

Twitter @dfr10

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