Derek Power: Author of "Freezings Greetings"
Updated: Jan 5
Today, we are hitting up Derek Power, the author of the unique story "Freezings Greetings" and creator of the eccentric Filthy Henry. Power's dry wit and one-liners remind us of Eoin Colfer's style.
1. Do you remember the first story you wrote? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The first story I ever wrote was a short story entry for a contest in the university newspaper. They gave you the opening line ‘Everyone thought Pat had died in Rio. They were right…’ and you then had 500 words to flesh out the story. I came up with a crime story about an idiot who had to deliver a briefcase of money to an apartment in Rio and the room blows up, but he manages to survive and keeps the case and goes on the run with the money while everyone thinks he is dead. It won and I got two hundred euro in book vouchers as my prize along with the story printed in the paper. I still have the page, yellowed now from age.
2. The writing community is full of different kinds of writers. Do you consider yourself an author, writer, poet, storyteller—or something else? Why/what’s the difference to you? I consider myself a writer and a storyteller. I’ve always considered authors to be those who get published from the traditional publishing houses. Writers are those who enter the indie style of publishing (i.e. the Kindle era). So, I class myself as a writer. But the storyteller word is because in Ireland to be able to spin a yarn, tell a tale, is a skill that is deep in our history. Originally, I always considered using the pen name ‘Sean Chaí’ which is the Irish word for storyteller (seanchaí) split in two.
3. What is your primary genre and what drew you to it? I primarily write in comedy-fantasy, since you’re supposed to write what you know. For about three years I dabbled in the stand-up comedy circuit in Dublin but life got in the way. I also find it easier to write comedy stories as you don’t have to be so serious all the time. The fantasy side is because one of my favourite series to read was Discworld and I always thought that an Irish based set of books that you could pick up one without reading the ones before was a good idea.
4. What genre would you consider the story you wrote for Winter’s Vindication? Why did you choose to write outside/inside your genre? I wrote a short story using my main character ‘Filthy Henry’ set in the ‘world rules’ of the collection. I wanted to see if I could come up with an entire story, in the word limit, using my established character. Somehow it all came together nicely, including the research portion of the story since a ‘Filthy Henry’ tale must have some root in ancient Celtic traditions and mythology.
5. We had a hard time finding enough fantasy stories to fill the quota. We got SO MUCH science fiction submitted to us! Do you have a theory why so many short stories are science fiction? Sci-fi is popular right now, breaking out of the ‘nerds in the basement’ stigma that used to be
associated with it. The MCU brought comic books crashing into mainstream entertainment. The revival of Star Trek as a movie franchise and tv show, along with all the Star Wars stuff that Disney are producing, means that the market is consuming sci-fi as people branch out to try and get their fix between seasons and films. This leads to people trying to be ‘the next big name’ in sci-fi and writing in this genre. It’s slightly easy to write sci-fi as you can use the old ‘techno babble’ to explain away the magic of how things work. In fantasy, we have to adhere to rules laid down decades before, otherwise, the magic isn’t, ironically, believable.
6. What is one writing quirk you have that you would like to train out of yourself? How are you doing that? I am really bad at treating my first draft as just a bigger version of my plot notes. I spend time plotting each book, chapter by chapter, including how it should all tie together. But I don’t sit and let it soak in before starting on draft one. Instead, as I work through the plot points I might have a ‘new idea’ that would work just as well or even better, so I wedge it into the draft. By the time I get to draft two I have a book that looks like the ramblings of a madman as plotlines diverge or don’t match up, characters get renamed because the joke works better mid-draft, stuff like that. I’m trying to get better so that draft two is more about fixing minor things rather than starting again, just a few steps past zero.
7. What is your favorite story or novel you have written (published or not)? Accidental Legend is my current favourite one. It is a Filthy Henry novel based around an old Irish legend called The Tain. In it, Filthy Henry has to help train a descendant of the original hero Cú Chulainn to step up and save the magical bull again. The only problem is that his descendant isn’t even remotely heroic, something of a drunk and doesn’t believe that Filthy Henry has the right person for the job. It is an important book in the series as not only does it show Filthy Henry not being the hero of the day and relying on somebody else to do that job, but also resolves some subplots that had been brewing between Filthy Henry and his friend Shelly since the first book in the series.
8. Lastly, what are your writing goals for 2021? Currently, I’ve got two on go that I’d like to wrap up in 2021. I’ve book five in the Filthy Henry series that I want to get done and dusted and out into the wild as it has been nearly three years since the last one. The reason for this delay is because of item number two on my list of 2021 goals. I spent two years writing a sci-fi noir story, completely without comedy, to see if I could. Then didn’t do anything with it. My plan is to publish it shortly before Filthy Henry’s book.