Arts Q&A: Writer Carlo Gébler on Chekov, The Undertones and Brexit

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Enniskillen-based writer Carlo Gébler

Author Carlo  Gébler pictured in his Fermanagh home.  Picture by Ann McManus.
Author Carlo Gébler pictured in his Fermanagh home. Picture by Ann McManus. Author Carlo Gébler pictured in his Fermanagh home. Picture by Ann McManus.

1. When did you think about a career in writing and what were your first steps into it?

I was at school (about 16 or 17) when I wrote a play for a young person’s play writing competition run by Thames or LWT. I didn’t win: I was second but this spurred me on.

Then, for A Level history, I wrote a paper about my great-uncle, Captain Michael Cleary, who was in the IRA during the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. It was awarded top marks. Doing these two pieces of writing were what really got me going.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

I don’t go to gigs.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

The Undertones.

4. The record you’d take to a desert island?

The Leningrad or Symphony No 7 (Dmitry Shostakovich). This symphony expresses better than any other piece of music that I know what it is to be alive on this planet.

5. And the book you’d take to a desert island?

Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of things past. I’d take it because its long and it would keep me going.

6. Top three films?

The Act of Killing (directed by Joshua Oppenheimer), Elephant (directed by Alan Clarke and produced by Danny Boyle) and Bread Day (Russian film, directed by Sergei Dvortsevoy, about old people living in a forgotten village who wait for bread to come on a train once a week).

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

I can’t remember.

8. Favourite authors?

Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, French author Albert Camus and Jean Rhys.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

Before I was born the sports gene was removed from my DNA helix and replaced with a gene that gave me a love of classical music, ballet and ladies fashion.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

New York.

11. Pet hate?

Brexit, no-deal and the Tory Party.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Lebanese (or Greek or Turkish) vegetarian meze.

Dessert? Mango ice cream with a strawberry coulis.

Drink? Red Bush (Irish whiskey).

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

Mrs Gébler. We met playing Scrabble.

14. Is there a God?


:: Carlo Gébler will be speaking at The Chamber, Bangor Castle on Sunday September 29 as part of The Aspects Festival. He will be joined by Gavin Weston and they will be speaking on Aesop's Fables for Our Times. Allegedly written by a slave in the 5th century BC, this new illustrated collection of fables has been retold by Gébler and Weston and made relevant for our time. For tickets and full programme details visit Aspectsfestival.com.