Wednesday 1 March 2023

David Jordan on Hyperboreans

I write fast and my books tend to be short. But they are not short on inspiration, I hope. This piece is about the inspirations behind my novel, Hyperboreans, which is published by Beul Aithris.

Probably my main inspiration was the city of Cork, where the novel is based. Especially the city as it was in the 90s, when I was growing up. So, my youth was also an inspiration. Particularly memories of when I was in my late teens – early twenties, gallivanting about the streets of the city with friends and drinking partners. In fact, the book is really almost like a love letter to the city of my youth and the young, lean, slightly crazy cat I was back then. Or, at least, that was how I saw myself. The pubs in Hyperboreans are modelled on real Cork pubs – especially the Liberty, a student pub, which was knocked down sometime around the end of the 90s, I believe. The end of an era, in more senses than one.

Another inspiration, which will be self-evident to the reader, is comic books. In particular, two comic books that were big in the 90s – John Constantine: Hellblazer and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. From Hellblazer , I got the character John Summoner, who is John Constantine with a different name (to avoid any legal issues that might arise) and a particular sensibility that involves an interest in magic and the occult. From the Sandman I got something more valuable: a fascination with stories, especially myths, and the device of putting stories within stories. And so, I put in the three stories that are told by characters in the book.

This leads me to another source of inspiration: Irish mythology. Particularly the legendary Irish hero, Cu Chulainn, who is the protagonist of two of the three stories mentioned above. I have a love of Irish mythology, especially the epic of Cu Chulainn, The Cattle Raid of Cooley, but I really wanted to do something different and original with the character, to show another side to him and make him more human and easier to identify with. I expand on this in my next novel, After the Táin, which is all about Cu Chulainn.

All these things and more inspired me in the writing of Hyperboreans. As I am not good at remembering my own work, I can’t recall every inspiration. But maybe this is a good thing, as they will stay fresh in my mind if I return to these sources of inspiration in the future. Whatever the case, I must acknowledge my debt to these muses and hope that I did them justice in both the conceiving and telling of the story of the Hyperboreans.

For more details of Hyperboreans, click here