Brian Brennan

Biography

Brian is an award-winning and best-selling author of seven critically acclaimed narrative non-fiction books about the colourful personalities of Western Canada’s past.

One of his titles, Romancing the Rockies, won him the inaugural Dave Greber Freelance Writers Award and a nomination for the Canadian Rockies Award. Another title, Scoundrels and Scallywags, topped the Canadian best-seller charts for more than 18 months and was short-listed for the prestigious Grant MacEwan Author’s Award.

Brian’s latest title, Leaving Dublin: Writing My Way from Ireland to Canada, is a book of memoirs tracing his story from his upbringing in suburban Ireland to his life in Canada as a writer, broadcaster and musician.

His other books include the first biography of renowned Canadian historian James H. Gray, and the first biography of the celebrated 19th century Irish folk poet Mary O’Leary, which was nominated for the Irish Times Literary Prize.

A former staff writer with the Calgary Herald, Brian has written freelance articles and columns for magazines and newspapers across the United States and Canada, including the New York Times, Globe and Mail and Toronto Star.

Born and educated in Dublin, Ireland, Brian immigrated to Canada in 1966 and settled in Calgary in 1974. Over the course of his varied career he has worked as a golf caddy, lounge waiter, customs officer, nightclub pianist, church organist, radio news announcer, and a featured storyteller on CBC Radio’s Daybreak Alberta – a popular program heard across the province.

As a newspaper and magazine journalist, Brian has written on a variety of topics including politics, business, theatre, contemporary music, medicine, education, and travel. He has served on the national boards of The Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Canadian Theatre Critics Association.

Brian has won national and regional awards in Canada for his journalism. They include two Western Magazine Awards (Gold Award Alberta, Science and Technology Award), for stories on regeneration of animal brain cells, and the national Hollobon Award for medical writing in Canada, which he won for a magazine feature story on open-heart surgery.

Smashwords Interview

What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. As a fellow labourer in the nonfiction vineyard, I appreciate the direct and straightforward way she crafts a narrative without resorting to the kinds of stylized writerly flourishes that are more about calling attention to the author's technique than to the story she is telling.
2. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. This is the book of essays that first made me aware of Sedaris, a very funny writer who is also capable of being heart-warming and compassionate.
3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Crime reporting taken to the highest level by an accomplished novelist using the techniques of what is nowadays commonly referred to as creative nonfiction.
4. The Luck of Ginger Coffey by Brian Moore. I read this book in 1966, shortly after immigrating from Ireland to Canada in search of a better life. I enjoyed it immensely, mainly because the central character is also an individual who immigrates from Ireland to Canada in search of a better life. I like to feel I did a bit better than poor Ginger in the sense that I eventually found a way to earn a living from my pen. The best he could find were two demeaning jobs: delivering diapers during the day and proof-reading for a newspaper at night.
5. Puckoon by Spike Milligan. A laugh-out-loud comic novel about a sleepy Irish border village by one of the three comedy geniuses (Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe were the others) who gave the world BBC Radio's popular The Goon Show, generally acknowledged as the inspiration for Monty Python's Flying Circus. My favourite line from the novel: "You can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time, which is just long enough to be President of the United States."
What is your e-reading device of choice?
iPad
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Brian Brennan online


Where to buy in print


Books

Songs of an Irish Poet: The Mary O'Leary Story
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 24,260. Language: English. Published: August 3, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » History » European, Nonfiction » Biography » Literary biography
Brian Brennan's biography of one of the most celebrated Irish-language folk poets of the 19th century. It includes English translations of her entire canon.

Brian Brennan's tag cloud