Books by Stephen Rea

 

Stephen Rea lives in Dublin and has previously lived in Australia. In addition to his three novels, he has also written award-winning feature film screenplays. Almost A Movement - the local and global story of the 2015 Irish Equality Referendum - was selected in September 2018 by South Carolina's Teadance Film Festival as Screenplay winner.

 

In 2017 the same script was also a finalist at New Renaissance, Amsterdam and the Cannes Screenplay Contest. Also in 2017 his thriller On Message was a Feature Screenplay Finalist at the Oaxaca Film Festival in Mexico.

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His novel Conscience Baton is a story about a World War II American veteran who reveals his eventful European road trip travels to a young Irishman that has discovered a trove of photographs and documents. Meticulously researched with historically accurate place, real minor character and historical document information (that is used by the protagonists to guide their journey), it mixes in some (linked) early Cold War adventures with a societal change story in Ireland: where a war hero arrives in Cork in 1946 with the intention of undertaking a journey of peaceful self-discovery but instead is thrust into the midst of an inciting incident involving an on-the-run child he rescues from an Industrial School (which then takes him on some very different types of journeys - physical and otherwise - in search of wider social solutions that aim for far more societal change on the island of Ireland and beyond).

 

The novel has a time-slip from late 1940s Ireland and reconstruction Europe to today and comes with reference notes that link the characters thoughts and activities to real social commentary, ideas and events that were put forward from both inside and outside the internationally-informed establishment in Ireland at the time and since.

Stephen’s other two novels have settings that mix in some of the chaos of the contemporary world that has evolved from current electoral and administration volatility in Europe, America and elsewhere. Both novels deal with serious subjects but strongly veer away from noir and are told from the perspective of ordinary but enterprising citizen-protagonists who act in the national and international interests of a ‘middle ground’ that they see as ‘needing to hold’ as populism takes an increasingly powerful grip with buffeted elites who struggle to find ways of keeping extremists and over-simplifying opportunists at bay.

 

Schadenfreude Secrets tells a story of a former Aussie Espionage Officer, his American wife, her home town pal, a MI5 guy and a case juggling Russian spy co-ordinator that contain fallout from an apparent ‘contemporary Cold War’ type killing in London that is really a ruse for an ‘Espionage War Game’ that aims to achieve greater toleration and co-operation between the USA and Russia. Set against a backdrop of increasingly socially and politically divided societies, it is a fictional account of how a single trigger event could play out into a scaled story (in a way where the key protagonists are not made aware of any ‘game’ element to a sequence of escalating events that spread out between London, Moscow, American Oceania Territory and a small fictional town in continental America).

The Contango Castle Cafe also involves espionage but none of it is to do with Cold War type geopolitics. Instead it deals with contemporary ‘social disruption’ and ‘suspicion of establishment’ themes that have a little resonance with the Trump Whitehouse and related political turbulence that is in play in lots of western culture countries around the world. Principally set in comfortable cafe culture surroundings in modern Dublin, the novel is about a young wealthy technology entrepreneur who is experimenting with a bohemian lifestyle but also gets mixed up in an intelligence trawl exercise that never gets the better of him. The novel has international characters that travel in and out of Dublin from America, hotspots like Somalia and some other European places. (Although completely unrelated) it is a little like a situation where Mark Zuckerberg is seen as the person to point out to politicians where they should go with ‘out of control’ internet-driven events that really need far more than a springboard of a customer-reach of two billion people, vast personal wealth and customer service centres staffed with young tech-savvy but also maybe not so ‘internationally adept at being invigilators’ for ‘all that the world may throw at them’.

 

The primary story is about a White House that makes an obscure announcement that some data sticks have gone missing and where the few ‘in the know’ people that then ‘take notice’ all end up in an off-grid Warhol factory-cafe place in Ireland where insider experts mix it up with software shakedown specialists – but in an explorative and light-hearted evaluative literary story where a lot more occurs on the ground than might be found on the internet (sometimes in ways that are mirrored in the real ‘interpretative’ world, where art seeks to find its way to reconciling opposites but - as was also the case in the Warhol Silver Cafe of the 1960s - it is not so simple when the objectives of key players are very different from anything that might bring about something that creates a ‘clear social stability’ that also makes ‘most people’ then feel a sense of security in ways that will eventually end the volatility in the worlds of politics and ‘everywhere else’.

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