Arnold Fanning – Screenwriter and Playwrite

Our next stop is Dublin, Ireland.  We are honored to have Arnold Fanning join us today.  A warm welcome to you Arnold!  Tell us about yourself.

Arnold: I live in Dublin, Ireland. I started writing when I was a teenager then kind of abandoned it when I went to college – University College, Dublin where I studied English. After college I worked in theatre and film production. I started writing short stories around then and got some published. Through my film contacts I got interested in film and adapted one of my short stories into a screenplay that got made into a short film (Still Rain, 2000). I also worked in literary management in a theater that got me motivated to write for the stage, and I later had a play produced in the Dublin Fringe Festival (Those Powerful Machines, 2008). These days I mainly write plays and screenplays, although I also have written a novel which I am currently sending out to publishers and agents. I unwind by listening to music and cooking, I go to the theater and cinema a lot, and read voraciously.
Carla: What is your genre? Tell us about your short stories and other projects you’ve worked on.

Arnold: I don’t have a particular genre as such, although most of my work addresses sexual politics to a certain degree, and psychological power plays between individuals. My works whether scripts or fiction are generally dramatic in intent, but I do have a tendency towards black humor. My short stories have appeared in the American journal Crazyhorse, in The Irish Times, in The Phoenix Anthology of New Irish Writing, and been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 amongst other places. I’ve also had three plays produced in various venues in Ireland, and had two short films that have screened at festivals. Current projects include a novel which has yet to find a home, and a feature script which is in development.

From ‘Climb’: Crazyhorse Magazine, Fall 1997:

He’d went around to the other side of the tree. It was time to climb, to climb it to the top, the first and last time. He stood there facing it and touched the hard old bark with his palm like he had done that morning. It had dried since and was warm. The younger boughs at the top, he thought, would be smooth and cool when he got to them.

The first boughs were the hardest to reach, so he stood well back and took a run at them. The first try his fingers hit the hard bark and couldn’t make a grip and he fell back to the earth again. His fingertips buzzed with stinging pain then numbed. He went at it again. This time he made a good clean punt and made it to the knothole at the base of the first big branch. He dangled by one hand a moment and then swung his leg up. For a moment the strain made him grunt as he felt the earth pulling him back. He clenched his teeth and, unable to breathe, pulled his body weight up and then pushed himself against the knothole into a sitting position on the lowest bough of the tree. His hands beginning to sting again, he took deep breaths and sat there a moment before going on. He had started to climb.
Carla: Genre you’d like to tackle but haven’t.

Carla: I would really like to be able to write an out-and-out comedy; something along the lines of a Neil Simon or Woody Allen film, as I admire these writers immensely. I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at horror also, but this is a genre I am less familiar with. But I have always loved comedy everything from Harold Lloyd to screwball comedies to Allen and Simon, so that is what I’d most like to try.
Carla: Most unusual place you’ve found inspiration for your writings.

Arnold: I was at a play once on Broadway and stepped out on to the sidewalk during the interval for a cigarette. I had this idea: what if someone I really didn’t want to talk to now approached me and demanded my attention? How would that work with the time requirement set be the duration of the interval? And I immediately wrote – on the play’s program- a scenario based around this idea: a play set during the interval of a play. This later became my play Shafted, which ran for a week as part of The New Theatre Dublin’s New Writing Week.
Carla: What are your literary goals for the future?

Arnold: I am currently working on getting a couple of theater projects off the ground, working with directors and actors towards that goal. I am actively seeking an agent or publisher for my unpublished novel. And I am working with a director and producer on a feature script. Meanwhile, next year the Focus Theatre, Dublin, is going to stage a revival of my first play, Those Powerful Machines.

Carla: What does a traditional Irishman’s dinner look like?

Arnold: Generally speaking it is ‘meat and two veg’. However I like to cook, so my dinner is seldom traditional…at the moment I am particularly keen on cooking Chinese food.
Carla: Cats or dogs?

Arnold: I’m a sucker for both.
Carla: Best U2 Story:

Arnold: Nope, I’m one of the few Irish people who is not a U2 fan. But I did live near the pub where various U2 members used to go and drink and saw the Edge having a pint there now and then… but I wasn’t that impressed. I’m a Bob Dylan fan.
Author’s Biography:

Arnold’s first play Those Powerful Machines ran in the New Theatre as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival 2008. His other plays are Shafted (New Theatre New Writing Week 2009) and Dumped (Red Door Theatre, 2009). His short stories have been published in Ireland and America and broadcast on radio in England. He wrote the screenplay for the short film  Still Rain which was shown at the Cork Film Festival. He co-write the script for the one hour TV film Making Ends Meet  which was broadcast on Irish national broadcaster RTÉ and seen in film festivals in Ireland, England, and Canada. He has been a resident at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Co. Monaghan, Ireland, The Virginia Centre for the Creative Arts, USA, and the Edward Albee Foundation Residency in Montauk, Long Island, USA as well as a Work-Study Scholar in the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, Vermont, USA. He has participated in writer’s workshops in Dublin and Prague, participated in the Sources 2 script development programme in Germany and Norway, and received several grants from the Irish Arts Council.

Carla: Thank you for stopping by, Arnold.  Best wishes to you!

Contact Arnold Fanning on Facebook –


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