Interview: Alex Barclay – Harm’s Reach

harms_reach-140x210

I’ve heard it said that you should never meet your heroes as more often than not you’re likely to be disappointed. Thankfully, with Alex Barclay, that was most definitely not the case!

We first met some years back at an event in Easons, O’Connell Street, and our paths have crossed at numerous writing events since. In The Civic Theatre last year, as part of the Red Line Book Festival, I chaired ‘Ladykillers’ which gave me the unique opportunity to delve into the minds of Alex Barclay, Arlene Hunt, Louise Phillips and former Boulder Coroner (and good friend of Barclay’s), Joanne Richardson. What I found most disconcerting was how angelic they all appear on the outside, while managing to conjure up the darkest of villains and crimes within the pages of their novels.

Barclay is the author of several bestselling thrillers. Her first novel, Darkhouse, was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller while third novel, Blood Runs Cold (the beginning of the Special Agent Ren Bryce series) won the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award at the Irish Book Awards. Harm’s Reach is her sixth adult novel and the fourth in the FBI Agent Ren Bryce series.

Interest in plots and characters (especially villains!) or Homeland or tips for new writers?

Then read the full interview on writing.ie by clicking here.

About Harm’s Reach

FBI Agent Ren Bryce finds herself entangled in two seemingly unrelated mysteries. But the past has a way of echoing down the years and finding its way into the present.

When Special Agent Ren Bryce discovers the body of a young woman in an abandoned car, solving the case becomes personal. But the more she uncovers about the victim’s last movements, the more questions are raised.

Why was Laura Flynn driving towards a ranch for troubled teens in the middle of Colorado when her employers thought she was hundreds of miles away? And what did she know about a case from fifty years ago, which her death dramatically reopens?

As Ren and cold case investigator Janine Hooks slowly weave the threads together, a picture emerges of a privileged family determined to hide some very dark secrets – whatever the cost.

Writing Ego

What type of writer are you? Playing With Space New Writing Space ...

I’m sure every writer would agree that the writing ego, of all professions, has to be one of the most delicate. They’re far too easily deflated, and let’s be honest, with the amount of rejections most of us receive when entering competitions or submitting to publications it’s a wonder that many of us are able to pick ourselves up and carry on. And although as a writer, the more you write the better you become – it appears that self-doubt never fully disappears!

I was shocked to hear so many great authors, with lists of acclaimed books to their credit, admit that there comes a stage in every novel (usually mid-way) where they feel like throwing in the towel. They doubt the current book will ever see the light of day and that even if it is published that it will be torn apart by the critics. But that’s the difference between professional and amateur writers – the professional perseveres regardless, pushing through the pain until they reach that elusive final page. Then, at least, they have the bones to work with – a manuscript they can edit and edit and edit – until it finally becomes the polished work which arrives in our local book shop.

While working on my debut novel the last few years, I’ve entered a number of competitions and submitted to a couple of publications. Sure, they may have taken me away from the novel, but in times of self-doubt, in among the rejections, there have been the highs of being long-listed or short-listed or winning or of having a poem or flash fiction or short story published. They’ve had me dancing around the kitchen, forcing my family to read whatever piece has brought success (that’s if they haven’t already been forced to read it before submission!?!). But more importantly, as two good friends and mentors are fond of saying, ‘success breeds success‘ (Eileen Casey) which helps to ‘keep your bum on the seat‘ (Valerie Sirr). And that’s what keeps you writing.

This week, having just returned from a wonderful trip to San Francisco and Vegas, I was jet-lagged like never before and began a week feeling drained and tired instead of rested and refreshed. But I couldn’t have pictured a better week. On the professional front, the contract in my new job was extended into next year, and on the writing front; my poem, Lavender Scented Memories, was aired by the lovely Brenda Drumm on KFM Radio. Then I received a beautiful, hand-written letter from Rosaleen Thomas (wife of Eamon MacThomais and mother of Shane MacThomais – the wonderful historians and writers) telling me how much she enjoyed one of my short stories which was recently published in My Weekly and wishing me well with my novel. The following day a letter arrived from the Jonathan Swift Awards to advise me that my short story has been short-listed, with the award ceremony taking place next Saturday.

Such an exceptional week really can keep you focused and driven and stuck to your seat, so that you can get words on the page! I’m currently attending the NUI Certificate in Creative Writing for Publication – part short story writing and part novel writing – so right after I upload this blog post I’m signing up to NaNoWriMo. I’ll then be committed, from 1 – 30 November, to writing 2,000 words per day to get my second novel well and truly on the way.

Wish me luck!

Book Launch: A Fascination With Fabric

Arlen House warmly invites you to celebrate the launch of three new books:

Órfhlaith Foyle
Clemency Browne Dreams of Gin
Second short fiction collection

Deirdre Brennan
Staying Thin For Daddy
Debut English-language short fiction collection

A Fascination With Fabric

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Eileen Casey

A Fascination With Fabric
Collection of literary essays

Date:  Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Time:  6.00pm
Venue:  Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2
Admission:  Free

Interview: Stuart Neville – The Final Silence

The Final Silence

“‘An exceptional talent, crime fiction doesn’t get much better,” Lee Child

I first had the pleasure of meeting Stuart Neville at the Killer Books Crime Festival in Derry last November and vowed to catch up on his books as soon as I returned to Dublin. I’m glad I eventually fulfilled that promise – I enjoyed The Final Silence so much that Neville has been added to my ever-growing list of favourite writers.

I found Neville’s writing style reminiscent of Ian Rankin who is quoted as saying, “fast, furious, bloody and good.” While James Elroy commented on The Twelve, ‘the best first novel I’ve read in years. It crackles. It grips you by the throat. It’s a flat-out terror trip. This is some guy to watch out for in a dark alley.”

I’ll be interested to hear what you think.

You can read the full interview on writing.ie by clicking here.

The Final Silence twists and turns like a rollercoaster with a powerful plot at its core. To whet your appetite, here’s the blurb:

Rea Carlisle has inherited a house from an uncle she never knew. It doesn’t take her long to clear out the dead man’s remaining possessions, but one room remains stubbornly locked. When Rea finally forces it open she discovers inside a chair, a table – and a leather-bound book. Inside its pages are locks of hair, fingernails: a catalogue of victims.

Horrified, Rea wants to go straight to the police but when her family intervene, fearing the damage it could cause to her father’s political career, Rea turns to the only person she can think of: DI Jack Lennon. But Lennon is facing his own problems. Suspended from the force and hounded by DCI Serena Flanagan, the toughest cop he’s ever faced, Lennon must unlock the secrets of a dead man’s terrifying journal.

Book Launch: Last Kiss by Louise Phillips

Hachette Books Ireland

are pleased to invite you to the launch of

LAST KISS

by award-winning crime writer

Louise Phillips

As fast-paced and thrilling as a rollercoaster.” Jane Casey

Date:  Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Time:  6.30pm
Venue:  Easons, St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Dublin 2
Admission:  Free

Book Launch: A Fascination With Fabric by Eileen Casey

Birr Library
in association with
Arlen House and
Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival

Invite you to celebrate the launch of:

A Fascination With Fabric

A Fascination With Fabric

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

prose and memoir by Hennessy Award winning writer Eileen Casey.

Eileen Casey has a rich and evocative style which she delivers with great subtlety.
Hugo Hamilton

A reliable witness, Eileen Casey’s work is marked by such a deliberate grace and reverence for the senses.
Thomas Lynch

Date:  7 August 2014
Time:  4.45pm
Venue:  Birr Library, Wilmer Road, Birr, Co Offaly
Admission:  Free but please RSVP Birr Library (057-91 24950)

Writing Competitions

Check out the latest short story and poetry competition listings below, no excuses – get writing!

Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition
Deadline: 31 March 2015
Written Word: Short stories up to 1,500 words
Entry:  £10 per story

The Irish Times : This Means War Short Story Competition
Deadline: 8 August 2014
Written Word: Short stories on the theme, This Means War, of between 1,500 and 2,800 words
Entry:  Free

The Red Line Poetry Competition
Deadline: 15 August 2014
Written Word: Poetry
Entry:  Free

 

Publication: My Weekly

My Weekly

I’m absolutely delighted to have my short story, Photograph Of A Stranger, published in the latest edition of My Weekly magazine.

As a child, I remember flicking though copies of this magazine as I tried to imitate my mother and grandmother who would spend their free time devouring each article while enjoying a cup of tea. Back then I had no idea that I would eventually have a short story appear between its heartwarming pages and on the very weekend of my silver wedding anniversary too – what timing! My mother rang me first thing this morning from Easons in O’Connell Street to tell me that it had hit the stands and she had already purchased two copies.

Here’s a snippet about My Weekly and I hope that when you pick up your copy you’ll enjoy reading Photograph Of A Stranger as much as I enjoyed writing it.

“My Weekly is a warm and welcoming women’s magazine. Our dedicated team aims to bring you a great mix of engrossing reads plus short snippets every week.

The first issue was published in April 1910 so the magazine celebrated its centenary two years ago. Over the years, the magazine has moved with the times as women’s lives have changed – but we never lose our dedication to bringing the best of life to our readers every week. Come to My Weekly for fun, inspiration and love – not nasty gossip and misery!”

 

Flash Fiction: Snared

Lately, I’ve become a huge fan of Flash Fiction – a short, sharp story to get your imagination into a spin. For the writer it offers a challenge to whittle words down to the minimum while still delivering a story worthy of a read.

I’m delighted to have Snared included in the current on-line edition of Brilliant Flash Fiction along with talented writer and friend, Doreen Duffy.

Check out a taster below:

Johnny’s eyes skim the room, finally settling in the corner. It appears darker there; black as ink. Yet he is unable to decipher a shape as his hands feel for the tangled sheet, pulling it over their naked bodies. It is cold and his chest feels as if icy fingers are squeezing his heart. He shudders.

Jennifer? Jemima? Shit! He can’t even remember her name.

If you’d like to read more click here and scroll down to Snared.

And don’t forget to check out Sweet Justice by Doreen Duffy – it just might make you re-think your confectionery choice . . .

Your feedback and comments, as always, much appreciated.

Enjoy!

 

Flash Fiction: Alone Again

I turn my head skyward at the screech of a lone black bird. A crow, if I’m not mistaken, although from this distance it’s hard to tell. The summer evening holds a winter chill. The sky is dark and overcast, like my thoughts. I watch as wings flap and the bird circles round and round in the bleak sky emitting a baleful cry.

I tear my eyes away, resisting the urge to cover my ears.

I remove the gloves, overalls and shoe covers. Naked, as the day I was born, I stuff them into a black refuse sack and push it deep inside the empty plant pot buried at the back of the shed. Replacing the padlock, I take a final look down the garden, before entering the house and taking the first step into my new life without her . . .

 

Compelled to read more? It’s one of the many Flash Fiction pieces to make the cut (excuse the pun!) and published on Flash Flood as part of National Flash Fiction Day.

Click here to read on – if you dare!

And if the compulsion takes hold, give in to it and leave a comment.

Check out Alone Again published today over on Flash Flood.

 

Interview: Joel Dicker – The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair

“The cleverest, creepiest book you’ll read all year. Twin Peaks meets Atonement meets In Cold Blood,” Gaby Wood, Daily Telegraph.

Having finished The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair only days before the interview, I was intrigued to meet Geneva born Joel Dicker, a writer with a novel which belies his mere 28 years. He is hailed as Switzerland’s coolest export since Roger Federer, with rights sold to 45 countries in 32 languages and over 2 million copies sold in less than a year.

For me, minus the supernatural element, it was reminiscent of a great Stephen King novel.

Will you agree?

You can read the full interview on writing.ie by clicking here.

 

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair:

In the summer of 1975, struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard, along with a manuscript copy of the novel that secured his lasting fame. Quebert is the only suspect.

Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon merge into one. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of “The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America.”

But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

Flash Fiction: Killer Smile

A stranger in town – and all the way from the United States of America, no less.

Surely things can only improve for barman, Sean and his impoverished Irish town.

But then again, maybe not . . .

 

Check out Killer Smile published today over on Flash Fiction Magazine.

 

featured

 

250 words that will stop you in your tracks!

Interview: Chris Pavone – The Accident

The-Accident-by-Chris-Pavone

According to Michael Connelly, “Chris Pavone is the new best thing. The Accident proves the promise of The Expats. It is as intelligent and timely as it is relentless and gripping. Pavone is going to be around for a long time and now is the time to jump on the train.”

Moments before I met Chris Pavone, Stephen King had just Tweeted to his 350k+ followers, ‘THE ACCIDENT, by Chris Pavone:if you like real nail-biters, this is the best one so far this year’.

A wonderful writer and an interesting guy, Pavone talks writing, social media and the importance of having a plan. Similar to most avid readers, we have a preference for the physical rather than the virtual book, but his take on eBooks is refreshing – so maybe, after all, there is a place for both to inhabit our world . . .

Whether you’re a reader or a writer, I know you’ll enjoy, hopefully as much as I did, hearing how and where Pavone writes, why his characters are so engaging and what he considers to be the best piece of advice he could offer to writers struggling with their first novel.

Will you agree?

You can read the full interview on http://www.writing.ie by clicking here.

 

About The Accident

Isabel Reed, one of the most respected and powerful literary agents in New York, is in possession of a time bomb and she’s about to give it to her good friend and trusted editor at one of the top publishing houses in the US. Anyone who begins reading the manuscript is immediately struck by the importance of its contents. They can also see that publishing it could be dangerous, but it could also be the book that every agent, editor and publishing house dreams of… What they don’t realise is that reading it could get them killed. On the trail of this manuscript is veteran station chief, Hayden Gray, for him, quite simply, it must never see the light of day.

Interview: Louise Doughty – Apple Tree Yard

Apple_Tree_Yard

Apple Tree Yard is English novelist, Louise Doughty’s, seventh novel. It has sold more copies than Gillian Flynn’s, Gone Girl, (hardback) and rights have sold in twenty-one territories worldwide.
It has been shortlisted for the Specsavers Crime & Thriller of the Year Official Mumsnet Book Club selection for January 2014 and has also been selected as a 2014 Richard & Judy Book Club choice.

Understandably, my expectations were high as I read the first line and I’m delighted to reveal that Apple Tree Yard didn’t disappoint. It’s a slightly different thriller than the norm, with plenty of twists
and turns, but that’s what makes it so utterly compelling . . .

Piqued your interest?

Whether you’re a reader or a writer, I know you’ll enjoy, hopefully as much as I did, hearing how and where Louise writes, why her characters are so engaging and what she considers to be the best piece of advice she could offer to writers struggling with their first novel.

I was a little surprised with the answer!

You can read the full interview on http://www.writing.ie by clicking here.

And remember to heed Doughty’s advice.

 

About Apple Tree Yard

Yvonne Carmichael has worked hard to achieve the life she always wanted: a high-flying career in genetics, a beautiful home, a good relationship with her husband and their two grown-up children.

Then one day she meets a stranger at the Houses of Parliament and, on impulse, begins a passionate affair with him – a decision that will put everything she values at risk.

At first she believes she can keep the relationship separate from the rest of her life, but she can’t control what happens next. All of her careful plans spiral into greater deceit and, eventually, a life-changing
act of violence.

Apple Tree Yard is a psychological thriller about one woman’s adultery and an insightful examination of the values we live by and the choices we make, from an acclaimed writer at the height of her powers.

 

Write That Novel

Writers, by-and-large, are a thoughtful, giving bunch, who do their best to impart nuggets of information that will spur you on to become the best writer that you can be. Crime fiction writer, Louise Phillips, goes out of her way to do that and more – and she succeeds. Two of her students have recently signed with literary agents, one (Jax Miller) with a major six figure publishing deal!

So if you are a writer with plans to start, finish or rework existing novel material (inclusive of memoir) then Louise Phillip’s, Write That Novel course, is for you.

Write_That_Novel_Louise_Phillips

It begins on 30 April in Carousel Creates and costs €120 for the six weeks – but be warned, it’s already booking up fast!

 

Here’s what Jax Miller had to say…

“There was nothing more pleasurable and informative than attending Louise Phillips’ Writing Courses at the scenic and serene enclave of Ireland that is Carousel Creates. Louise’s information and advice helped me to grow as an author and gave more confidence behind my pen. Learning from one of the best crime writers I know (and her reputation precedes her) was an experience I’d recommend to anyone I know who is looking to embark in the literary field, especially crime. I cannot vouch for her enough. She’s proven to be one of the best there is in the field and she certainly knows her stuff. It’s one course I’ll always remember.”

 

Louise Phillips is bestselling crime author of the psychological crime thrillers, Red Ribbons and The Doll’s House, Winner of the Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year 2013. Her work has been published as part of many anthologies, including County Lines from New Island, and various literary journals. In 2009, she won the Jonathan Swift Award for her short story Last Kiss, and in 2011 she was a winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform. She has also been short-listed for the Molly Keane Memorial Award, Bridport UK, and long-listed twice for the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition. In 2012, she was awarded an Arts Bursary for Literature from South Dublin County Council.

Website: www.louise-phillips.com

 

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