I am so sad about Steve’s death. All so sudden. He was a pioneering writer and publisher, with roots in the self-belief that is a necessity in the writing world. Brandon Books was one of the better Irish publishing houses, standing fair and square with New Island Books, for example, and publishing an interesting and challenging range of books. He has published vastly differing voices in literature, from the novelist Emer Martin to Gerry Adams. The thing about publishers – and I know I’ve written about publishing, but that’s a different matter – is that they play quite a parental role in writers’ lives. They are the dolmens on the landscape that writers can lean against and test themselves on. They are – or seem to be – permanent presences. But of course, they are not, as MacDonagh’s early death demonstrates. I admired his integrity and directness on the few occasions I have had work published with him, or in any of our conversations. Integrity, directness, and an ability to take a decision to publish someone without having to turn to some old fart from a university to help you decide on the ‘risk’ (God help us!) factor, are rarer than you would think. There are few who are courageous enough to stand alone and take their own decisions, few who trust their own judgement and instincts sufficiently to literally publish what they believe to be good. Well, bless Steve MacDonagh for he kept the ground fertile, and sustained so many writers.