Not all Literary Fiction is lengthy, but Irish Firebrands is a big book. Different counters may have varying opinions about what constitutes a “word”: Smashwords counts separated punctuation forms (such as dashes and ellipses), coming up with a total manuscript length of 199,230, when my word processor yields only 196,131.
I write chapters that take around 30 to 40 minutes to read. Chapter word counts throughout the book range from just under 5,000 to 6,250. This means that any four chapters of Irish Firebrands, counted together, total well over 20,000 words. That’s as many words as a lot of modern series novelettes contain.
It was fortunate that it’s not hard for me to write profusely, because my immersion in Irish newspapers taught me that Hiberno-English boasts a large vocabulary, and the natives are not afraid to use it. My challenge was to get the rhythm and flow of the prose correct, with no taint of the stereotypical “stage Irish” that afflicts much poorly researched fiction. That resulted in my copying many thousands of phrases in current usage into a spreadsheet workbook, comparing variants and contexts, and transferring what I learned to the minds and mouths of my characters.
Irish-language purists may want to pick a bone with the Gaeilge pronunciation key, but there is a wide variety in pronunciation of the language across the island. After acquiring four sets of Irish lesson recordings, I learned enough Gaeilge to be dangerous, and did the best I could.
Incidentally, the spelling of Irish names is fluid, too, as any quick survey of contemporary Irish newspapers will reveal. For example, in addition to the Anglicized Maeve, you’ll find Medb and Méadhbh in current use.
The bibliography includes many (but not all) of the research materials I acquired during the writing of the novel. I own printed copies of all but four of the books listed therein. A selection of their colorful covers resides on the Library page, on the menu above.
Are we drowning in legendary Irish verbosity, yet?