According to Peter James, Graham Masterton is “one of the most original and frightening storytellers of our time.” And who could disagree? Masterton was a bestselling horror writer who has now turned his talent to crimewriting. His experience of life in Cork, where he lived for five years, inspired the Kate Maguire series.
Masterton has written more than a hundred novels, across multiple genres, including horror, thrillers, historical sagas, sex manuals and crime fiction. Awards include a Special Edgar by Mystery Writers of America and the prestigious Prix Julia Verlanger in France.
I had heard that Masterton took less than nine months to write his 750 page second novel but I was amazed to find that his first novel, The Manitou, was written in a week! “I generally write quite fast because I was trained as a newspaper reporter from the age of 17 and then went on to become a magazine editor, so I am quite disciplined when it comes to writing and I have never had so-called “writers’ block”. I also imagine “writers’ block” to be some run-down apartment building where sad uninspired would-be writers sit in front of paraffin heaters and wrack their brains trying to think of something to put on paper.” Speaking of his second novel, Rich, he tells me that the reason it took much longer was “because it is a very lengthy historical saga and needed considerable research. By the time I wrote that, however,” he goes on to explain, “The Manitou had sold heaps of copies and movie rights had been sold, so I had the luxury of taking more time to write it.”
It is fascinating to hear this master storyteller explain how he writes and he offers plenty of advice to writers currently struggling through plot lines. “Some days I will write only a couple of pages, other days anything up to ten. It depends on the scene involved and the amount of research necessary. Sometimes it’s worth taking it slowly because it gives your brain time to work out a complicated plot and to ask yourself if your characters would really do what you had originally planned. The last crime novel; about Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire that I have just finished – Buried – took about eight months. I had to do a lot of research into cigarette smuggling in the Republic, as well as Irish history and Garda politics. I love it, though, no matter how much or how little I complete in a day. All I will ever say is, real writers write something almost every day, if they can. They simply can’t help it!”
You can catch the full interview, which includes plenty of tips for writers, over on writing.ie by clicking here.
About Blood Sisters
DS Katie Maguire hunts a serial killer who is targeting nuns, in this gruesome new thriller set in Cork.
In a nursing home on the outskirts of Cork, an elderly nun lies dead. She has been suffocated. It looks like a mercy-killing – until another sister from the same convent is found viciously murdered, floating in the Glashaboy river.
The nuns were good women, doing God’s work. Why would anyone want to kill them? But then a child’s skull is unearthed in the garden of the nuns’ convent and DS Katie Maguire discovers a fifty year old secret that just might lead her to the killer … if the killer doesn’t find her first.
It includes work from a number of guest writers, including (in alphabetical order):
As well as a number of Platform One writers, many of who have won or been shortlisted for writing awards including:
the Hennessy Literary Award, the Listowel Writers’ Week Short Fiction Award, the Cecil Day Lewis Award, the Jonathan Swift Short Story Award, the James Plunkett Short Story Award, the RTE/Penguin Short Story Competition, the Patrick Kavanagh International Poetry Award and many more …
Trish Best, Annette Bryan, Joan Power, Niamh Byrne, Eileen Casey, Susan Condon, Doreen Duffy, Gavan Duffy, Brigid Flynn, Marie Gahan, Sue Hassett, James Hyde, Vivienne Kearns, Brian Kirk, Aine Lyons, Mae Newman, Trish Nugent, Tony Shields and Michael J Whelan.
“To open Circle and Square is like entering the sort of fascinating cafe which every shopping centre should ideally possess: a cornucopia of engaging voices and fascinating stories that any reader would happily eavesdrop on. Eileen Casey has deftly knitted together a compelling ensemble of poets and prose writers whose stories complement each other, as they ripple outwards in increasingly imaginative circles to explore the multiudinous facets of everday living. This is an anthology where a shopping expedition or a Luas journey can also bring you on a succession of intriguing and inventive voyages into the past and future. Prepare to be entertained.”
– Dermot Bolger
There will be a sneak preview of Circle & Square at the RED LINE FESTIVAL
on Tuesday the 13th October, 2015
at RUA RED Arts Centre
from 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm.
Guest writers Joan Power and Kevin Power (Bad Day in Blackrock) along with Eileen Casey will be in company with representatives from local trader organisations. The evening will feature the lyrics of WB Yeats put to music by Tony Bardon together with brief readings from Circle & Square (Fiery Arrow Press).
Admission is FREE, but booking is required via (01) 451 5860 or by email, email@example.com.
The official launch of Circle & Square is due to take place in November – details to follow soon!
Ian Rankin is one of the world’s greatest crime writers, creator of the hugely popular Inspector Rebus novels, as well as a string of standalone thrillers, and we are delighted to welcome him for a first visit to Pavilion Theatre.
Presented by dlr Library Voices Series
on Thursday 26 November, 2015 – 20:00 at Pavilion Theatre
Even Dogs in the Wild, the twentieth Rebus novel, brings back Ian Rankin’s greatest characters in a story exploring the darkest corners of our instincts and desires.
Full Booking Details available here
My eyes scan the luxurious Westin Hotel’s, Atrium Lounge in Dublin and land on the bearded guy in the corner, dressed in black. If it wasn’t for the fact that we’d already met, Stuart Neville would have appeared more rock star than author and my eyes would have moved on. I find later, that if he hadn’t caught the writing bug, that’s who he may have become. Although then he may have swapped his pot of tea for something a little stronger – in keeping with that rock image!
When we get talking about his life before writing he agrees that “it seems to be quite a common thread among writers that they’ll have done a lot of odd jobs over the years before they finally end up as writers. I worked in a music shop and I worked for a long time trying to break into writing music for film. I studied music in college” he tells me, “and then I did score one low budget feature.” He grins, “sort of a musical director – for want of a better word – on a short film with Ardhal O’Hanlon.” It appears that Stuart Neville’s hands have a claim to fame all of their own. In a scene where O’Hanlon has to play the guitar, it’s actually Neville’s hands that appear on screen!
Many readers have authors they admire and would relish an opportunity to chat to them about their craft. And every writer has a number of writers they feel the same way about. I was delighted to find that we were both fans of Stephen King who Neville actually met up with last year. “It was a bit of a thrill to meet him actually,” he says.
You can read the full interview on writing.ie by clicking here.
About Those We Left Behind
Those We Left Behind is the new DCI Serena Flanagan novel from the King of Irish Noir:
When 12-year-old Ciaran Devine confessed to murdering his foster father it sent shock waves through the nation.
DCI Serena Flanagan, then an ambitious Detective Sergeant, took Ciaran’s confession after days spent earning his trust. He hasn’t forgotten the kindness she showed him – in fact, she hasn’t left his thoughts in the seven years he’s been locked away.
Probation officer Paula Cunningham, now tasked with helping Ciaran re-enter society, suspects there was more to this case than the police uncovered. Ciaran’s confession saved his brother Thomas from a far lengthier sentence, and Cunningham can see the unnatural hold Thomas still has over his vulnerable younger brother.
When she brings her fears to DCI Flanagan, fresh back at work after treatment for breast cancer, the years of lies begin to unravel, setting a deadly chain of events in motion.
Those We Left Behind is in bookshops now, or pick up your copy online here.
From The Front Row:
at The Launch of Freedom’s Child
One of 2015’s Hottest Books
At 6pm last Thursday, Dubray Books, in Dublin’s cosmopolitan Grafton Street, became a world filled with crime. But not the usual kind – this was a room buzzing with goodwill and anticipation as published and yet unpublished crime writers, crime readers and friends and family of Jax Miller (Áine O’Domhnaill) came together to celebrate her Dublin launch of Freedom’s Child.
Stacks of her orange and black debut novel are quickly snapped up, like prized possessions, as staff replenish them while topping up glasses of wine and prosecco. The cover is a haunting affair showing a lone figure walking towards you with the tag line:
All She Wants Back Is Her Daughter
Two powerful quotes are emblazoned across:
‘Original, compelling and seriously recommended’
‘A terrific read from a powerful new voice’
There are shouts, hugs and cameras flashes as introductions are made between old friends and new, until suddenly an eerie silence encases the room and all eyes turn.
Jax Miller has arrived!
Read the full article here on
The crowd hushes as Miller reads the prologue from Freedom’s Child.
“My name is Freedom Oliver and I killed my daughter …”
Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller
‘A terrific read from a powerful new voice.’
‘Original, compelling and seriously recommended.’
A heart-stopping debut thriller about a woman named Freedom, who will stop at nothing to save the daughter she only knew for two minutes and seventeen seconds.
Call me what you will: a murderer, a cop killer, a fugitive, a drunk…
There’s a lot people don’t know about Freedom Oliver. They know she works at the local bar. They know she likes a drink or two.
What they don’t know is that Freedom is not her real name. That she has spent the last eighteen years living under Witness Protection, after being arrested for her husband’s murder. They don’t know that she put her two children up for adoption, a decision that haunts her every day.
Then Freedom’s daughter goes missing, and everything changes. Determined to find her, Freedom slips her handlers and heads to Kentucky where her kids were raised. No longer protected by the government, she is tracked by her husband’s sadistic family, who are thirsty for revenge. But as she gets closer to the truth, Freedom faces an even more dangerous threat.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Check out the Killer Reads TEASER TRAILER here.
Check out the latest short story and poetry competition listings below, no excuses – get writing!
the Bridport Prize – Short Story
Deadline: 31 May 2015
Written Word: Short stories up to 5,000 words
Entry: £9 per story
The Sean O Faolain Short Story Competition
Deadline: 31 July 2015
Written Word: Short stories up to 3,000 words
Entry: €15 or £15 per story
Over the years, I’ve read and enjoyed all of Alex Barclay’s books. Darkhouse, up until now, would have topped my all-time favourite books. As an avid reader, that’s high praise indeed – but that was before I read Killing Ways. Don’t worry – I guarantee no spoilers – but if you enjoy your crime fiction gritty with plenty of twists and turns then look no further. Engrossed in the story and the characters, about half-way in I had my first of many “oh, my God” moments, as the tension, along with my blood pressure, ratcheted up.
Sitting on the Luas I nearly missed my stop and couldn’t wait to dive between the pages again on my return journey; half of me wanted to race through the pages to the end while the other half wanted to savour every moment.
It was reminiscent of reading childhood books where I became so engrossed in the story that my real world virtually dissolved. The characters were alive and I felt as if I knew them as intimately as close friends and family; my mind already worrying about their future, long after that final page. Barclay is, most definitely, at the top of her game!
About Killing Ways
In the game of vengeance, he holds a killer hand.
In her most shocking case yet, FBI Special Agent Ren Bryce takes on a depraved serial killer fuelled by a warped sense of justice.
A master of evasion, each life he takes ramps up Ren’s obsession with finding him. Then one victim changes everything and brings Ren face to face with a detective whose life was destroyed by the same pursuit.
Together, can they defeat this monster?
Or will he take them both down?
Dreaming of writing a bestseller?
Five leading agents are looking for you!
They are looking for 75 top quality authors to pitch their work to 5 leading literary agents keen to sign new talent on 16th May 2015.
Submissions to the event will be assessed by Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin and a team of consultants from The Inkwell Group. Experienced literary scouts Inkwell have assisted award winning and bestselling authors to publication and will be reading every application, matching the selected authors to agents including:
- Simon Trewin, Partner and Head of Literary at WME
- Sallyanne Sweeney of Mulcahy Associates
- Clare Wallace, Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film agency
- Julia Churchill, AM Heath
- Paul Feldstein, Feldstein Literary Agency
Don’t forget the closing date for submissions is midnight, Friday, 27th March.
Full details available here – and don’t forget to drop back
and share your news . . .
Ger Holland Photography Exhibition
Now there’s an exhibition not to be missed!
Ger Holland – a young freelance photographer based in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown – has her very first Photography Exhibition in dlr LexIcon running 4 March until 30 April.
I’ve been friends with Ger since we met some years ago in the Irish Writers Centre and although she’s a great writer, she’s an absolutely brilliant photographer with an eye for detail that transforms each shot into a unique and priceless piece of work. Ger has managed to capture shots of celebrity chefs, actors, musicians and writers and most recently has specialised in event photography where she has covered numerous literary gatherings including book launches, signings and festivals.
Ger has been photographing authors who have participated in the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival and also the dlr Library Voices series since 2012.
This exhibition provides an opportunity to highlight the vitality, energy and perception of her portraits.
Date: Wednesday, 4 March – Thursday, 30 April
Venue: dlr LexIcon, Haigh Terrace, Moran Park, Dún Laoghaire
You can catch a flavour of Ger’s work from her website http://www.gerhollandphotography.com and check out what others have to say:
” A joy to work with, Ger exceeds expectations at every shoot, blending seamlessly with guests, unobtrusively getting the shots required. I have used her on countless occasions to supply shots of everything from big busy events with high profile guests, to individual portraits. I cannot recommend her highly enough!”
Vanessa O’ Loughlin, Writing.ie
“It’s always a pleasure to see Ger Holland at my book events because I know that she’ll produce lovely work, and do it unobtrusively and sensitively. She’s a star.”
John Connolly, Writer
“In a relatively short space of time Ger Holland has become synonymous with event photography in the country’s capital. I absolutely look forward to witnessing the many exciting endeavors of this shooting star into the future.”
Louise Phillips, Writer
I was delighted to have Interned featured on KFM Artyfacts, hosted by Brenda Drumm, on 6 August 2014. You can listen to the Podcast here.
Interned was also chosen for inclusion in Original Writing from Ireland’s Own, Anthology, 2012. You can read it below:
Eighty year old, Jim, received a call from his older sister Monica, asking if he could repair the old piano in the parlour of their family home. It was there, hidden inside, that he discovered the bundle of letters. He opened twined knots to release a dozen, off-white faded and torn envelopes. Each with a two pence stamp pasted in the top right corner, the address beautifully penned in fading black ink.
Each was written by his father, John and sent to his mother during the war for Irish Independence, dating from 1921 to 1923, while he was interned in Ballykinler Prison Camp, in County Down. Their formal air spoke of different times, each signed off with “best of love to all at home, from your loving son, John,” with references to Father and addressed to Dear Mother.
“Rounded up and taken” along with many others to Wellington Barracks on 1 December 1920, John had scribbled notes, on scraps of paper, telling his mother that he was okay. He expected to be released soon, as he had “never mixed up in any party” and asked if she could bring a collar and handkerchief for his release. Mother had spoken to a Lieutenant at the Barracks who promised to see what could be done. A meeting with O’Neill & Collins Solicitors in North Brunswick Street had been arranged for 11 December 1920. In October 1921 letters from John were arriving – now from Ballykinlar Prison Camp.
Ballykinlar Camp Orchestra (circa 1921).
The men pictured were detainees in Ballykinlar Prison Camp in Co Down during the war for Irish independence where Martin Walton (far right) formed and taught the camp orchestra.
They rose at 7.30am, eventually retiring at 9.00pm when they would make Bovril, then rosary and bed at 9.45pm. Papers delivered to the camp could be bought for two bob. Camp rules allowed prisoners to post no more than two letters per week, of no more than two pages in length and both to be sent in the same envelope. Most letters were written on Sunday and were four pages long.
Parcels from home would be shared around. No eggs, but supplies of butter, tealeaves, fruit cake, cigarettes and strings – apparently one of his fellow interns was Martin Walton who formed and taught the camp orchestra to play the violin. He was yet to found the famous Walton’s Music Shop and the Walton’s music programme which always finished with the words: “If you feel like singing, do sing an Irish song”. Other internees included Peadar Kearney, co-author of the National Anthem and Sean Lemass who, in 1959, would succeed Eamonn De Valera as Taoiseach.
John requested a kit-bag from home so, that like the four chaps he shared with, he could use it to store his clothes neatly. He frequently requested pencils and colours. Among the letters were sketches he had made from Hut 29. Barbed wire covered the windows outside. Blankets and sheets piled neatly on low wooden cots. Small shelves set high on walls – milk and Liptons tea sitting atop one; a small selection of papers and books lay flat on another, beneath a chess set. Pegs were set into the wall and held coats and hats. Other sketches showed a row of rust coloured huts running down the camp, a dark mountain looming in the background, echoing the atmosphere. Another showed “The Altar, Ballykinlar”. Music notes for “Show a leg” appeared on another page along with a pattern for a suit jacket on the back. The last showed a hut with two crosses, one on either side of the door. The words “Where Sloan and Tormey Died,” written beneath, dated Jan. 17th 1921.
Sports Day arranged for March, 17th, 1921 – St Patrick’s Day – had not been a success due to the weather. “I hope the weather is better in old Dublin, it is wild here, but dry and the sand would cut the eyes out of your head. Talk about the sands of the desert,” he’d written. They had, however, enjoyed a concert that night.
On August, 7th, 1921 he mentions rumours that they may soon be returning home but that he will never forget 1st December 1920. “I think this will be a different Winter. I’ll not forget the 1st of Dec. 1920 in all my life. I don’t suppose any of you will at home. I have a good laugh at it by times, when I think of Father with the blanket round him. I don’t expect he will forget it in a hurry. Does he laugh over it? I don’t think so, but I will make him laugh over my times since, even though they are not all laughable ones I may tell you.”
In the final letter, John was looking forward to returning home and back to his job as a tailor/cutter with Messrs. Scotts.
He asked his mother to be sure that his blue suit would be ready for him to go “clicking.”