Interview with author and playwright Marina Julia Neary

The Last Fenian

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Marina Julia Neary, accomplished

author and playwright of The Last Fenian.

SMB – Thank you for stopping by today, we really appreciate it. Before we

start, let’s give our readers some background. Can you tell us a little bit about


MJN – As my tagline says, I am America’s most Irish author to come out of

Eastern Europe.  That’s all you need to know 😉  I like writing about political

disasters and ethnic tension because I happen to know a lot on that subject.

And they always tell you “write what you know”. Outside of my literary life, I

am a workaholic, caffeine addict and raging cat lover. Yes, I’m that creepy lady

who breastfeeds her furry friends in public and scares the neighborhood



SMB – I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to you before and I know that you’re

an author. How many books you’ve written and where we can find them?

MJN – I have six books with three presses.  Fireship Press has my two Neo-

Victorian novels, Wynfield’s Kingdom and Wynfield’s War, as well as my last

Irish novel Never Be at Peace. All Things That Matter Press based out of Maine

have Brendan Malone (on which The Last Fenian is based) and Martyrs &

Traitors.  Last but not least, Secret Cravings Publishing released my

autobiographical novel Saved by the Bang: a Nuclear Comedy featuring the

sexual escapades of classical musicians in the aftermath of the Chernobyl



SMB – What inspired you to start writing?

MJN-I guess it’s the fear of dying suddenly and taking all those untold stories

to my grave. Both my mom and birth dad are very egocentric and artistically

accomplished, so creative expression was always encouraged. I failed as a

ballerina and as a pianist, so literature became my outlet.

SMB– Your latest project The Last Fenian is a play, what inspired you to go

from books to stage?

MJN-My beloved Irish husband had been nagging me for the past two years.

He kept saying that the novel lent itself to a theatrical adaptation.  And there’s

just so much arm-twisting a girl can take.

SMB– This takes place in the year 1910 in Ireland, how did you prepare

yourself for writing a period play?

MJN-Having worked as a research assistant at a university, I already knew so

much about the era and the nature of the conflict.  While at La Salle in

Philadelphia, I had lived and breathed Irish history for four years.

SMB– Where did you find inspiration for your characters?

MJN– Most characters are composite, meaning they are based on real people

with a touch of Celtic mythology.  The main character, Brendan Malone, is a

real person who identifies himself with Cuchulainn, a mythical hero. Isabel

McCormack is a fusion of Iseult Gonne and Evelyn Nichols. Of course, the

actors add a bit of themselves to the characters.  Mythological figures are very

adaptable, and you can incorporate select elements of their personalities into

the fictional characters you create.  It’s a balance of the unique and the


SMB– The story starts with the father Brendan and his two sons, Hugh and

Dylan on a pilgrimage for the Irish Republican Brotherhood, can you explain

what the brotherhood is?

MJN-The Irish Republican Brotherhood – also dubbed as the Fenian

Brotherhood – was a secret oath-bound society that started in Ireland in the

1860s as an attempt to create an organized revolutionary force. Fenians had

sympathizers on other continents, like North America and Australia.  Pretty

much, wherever you had Irish presence, you had Fenian sympathizers who

funded the nationalistic activities in Ireland.  Because the brotherhood was

run by fervent idealistic amateurs, there were instances of egos clashing. They

all had their own ideas as to what was best for their country.


SMB– Can you give us some insight into this family dynamic? Brendan seems

disappointed in the path that Hugh has taken, why is this?

MJN-Brendan’s parenting style is very consistent with the norms of his class

and era.  It’s a patriarchal culture.  Fathers were not expected to be nurturing

or sensitive to their children’s emotional needs or even overly involved in

their children’s daily lives.  Early childhood education was overseen by the

Catholic Church.  Fathers’ interest in their offspring was purely episodic. Given

that people married early, it was not uncommon for a man in his mid to late

thirties to have children in their twenties.  It’s implied that Brendan and his

wife were teen parents. Kevin Marron who plays Brendan on stage is in his

30s.  He plays slightly older very convincingly.  The two actors who play his

sons, Graham Miles, and Scot Cahoon, are in their mid-20s.  I like the fact that

the chronological age difference between them is minimal. It’s also poignant

that both sons are taller than the father, yet they are still intimidated by him.

The generation gap was minimal though the hierarchy was very clearly

outlined. Physical punishment was very common.  Fathers would often strike

their adult children.  The element of physical violence is addressed in the play.


Given the physical differences between the brothers, it’s Dylan, the older of

the two, who bears the brunt of his father’s wrath. Physically robust though

mentally juvenile and unconditionally obedient, Dylan endures frequent

beatings. Hugh, on another hand, a sickly bookworm whose loyalty to his

country is questionable, manages to dodge his father’s fists. In Hugh’s own

words, “There’s no sport in beating a runt.” Brendan regards his anglicized

younger son with a certain amount of suspicion as something foreign and

potentially threatening. And Brendan should feel threatened, for Hugh sees his

future with the English. He has no interest in joining the Fenian crusade.


SMB– Do you think Brendan will ever accept his youngest son for who he is?

Do you feel Dylan will see peace in his family?

MJN – I hate giving away the ending, but I am not for artificial happy

resolutions where everyone is enlightened and reconciled.  There are no

happy endings in Irish history.  The best you can hope for is bittersweet, and

that’s the best my audience will get from me.


SMB– I have to know, will we be seeing more of the Malone family,either on

stage or in books?

MJN – Absolutely. You can pick up a copy of Brendan Malone: the Last Fenian

and the sequel Martyrs & Traitors.

SMB– Where will we be able to watch this production? And where can we

purchase tickets?

MJN-We are done with principal photography, so we are waiting to have the

final product edited.  I am targeting PBS, but I am also targeting Irish themed


SMB– What’s next for you? What other projects are on your agenda?

MJN-I am staying with the nationalist theme.  Right now I am working on The

Gate of Dawn, a historical novel set in 1880s Lithuania where I spent many

summers as a child. I love the beauty of the Baltic countryside, the richness of

the folklore, and I can’t wait to expose my readers to it.

As you can see, Marina Julia Neary has plenty of experience in weaving tales to delight the senses. Please feel free to check out her work on Amazon and I can promise, you won’t be disappointed. This is an author to keep your eye on, she’s destined for great things.


About darkmoonseries

Shelly Burrows and Michael Stewart have been role-playing together for five years and have decided to bring their characters to life. Both speak sarcasm fluently and love to talk to people about the most random of topics. Feel free to interact!
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