A former failed accountant, record salesman and wood-cutter, George then became an actor.
After drama school, he joined the Liverpool Everyman, where he met writers Alan Bleasdale, Willie Russell and Chris Bond.
“By the end of the season I’d written a pub show, The Footy Show, followed, the next year, by The Big Soft Telly Show.”
His career had included acting in Unforgiven; Happy Valley and Line of Duty. And, on stage he directed Daniel Day Lewis and Pete Postlewaite.
George started the novel 15 years ago.
“I had no pressure or deadlines. I lost a first 70 pages in a thunderstorm, and failed to find an agent or publisher. Then a friend, Matthew, liked the book, and sent it to his publishers.”
Who is George Costigan.
Date of birth: 1947 in Portsmouth.
Education: Worsley Wardley Grammar School. Drama School in Manchester.
Home: France, though the birth of a grandchild prompted a static caravan in York.
Family: Wife Jooles – Julia North whom he met at The Liverpool Everyman – sons Niall, Tom and Liam, grandson Finn, dog, Sophie, a beagle.
The Day Job: I act.
In Another Life: Music. “The happiest I’ve been professionally, was working on a show of Randy Newman’s music, ‘Trouble in Paradise’, at Stratford East Theatre. I thought, Hey! I’m going to work to sing!”
Favourite Writers: Virginia Woolf; Steinbeck; Richmal Crompton; Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Second Novel: “It needs work.”
Top Tip: Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else!
The Debut: A Single Soldier. Urbane Publications: €10.39 Kindle: €3.45.
It’s wartime France; and amidst the devastation of the German occupation, a young man moves his house six kilometres from one side of his village to the other. He uses just his hands, a cow and a cart. When hostilities cease, can he join his community and find peace?
The idea came when George and his family moved to France to escape Thatcher. Mushrooming with friends, George was shown a house plonked on a steep hill, and heard a man had moved it, brick by brick.
“Nobody in the village knew the reason. I thought if I could invent one, it was a good reason to try a novel.”
The Verdict: A brilliant, emotionally charged doorstopper.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 1st April, 2017
© Sue Leonard. 2017.