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Book Review: Alex Barclay – The Drowning Child

About The Drowning Child:the-drowning-child

When Special Agent Ren Bryce is called to Tate, Oregon to investigate the disappearance of twelve-year-old, Caleb Veir, she finds a town already in mourning. Two other boys have died recently, although in very different circumstances. As Ren digs deeper she discovers that all is not as it seems in the Veir household – and that Tate is a small town with big secrets.

Can Ren uncover the truth before more children are harmed?

The Ren Bryce series continues with, The Drowning Child.

Barclay delivers a gripping crime fiction novel which keeps the reader enthralled from start to finish. The plot, this time based in Tate, Oregon, revolves around a missing child in a town which is already mourning two young boys.

In the wrong hands, the subject matter might have troubled some readers, but it is handled delicately throughout, allowing the readers imagination to fill in the gaps instead of painting a gruesome picture.

Although it can be read as a stand-alone, loyal fans can also enjoy the underlying story running through all six Ren Bryce books. After all, life is never dull for the bipolar FBI agent who has still not come to terms with the recent trauma she suffered in Killing Ways.

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

 

Trouble Is Our Business: An Evening with Ireland’s Finest Crime Writers

Some of Ireland’s best writers take to the stage: Declan Burke in conversation with Declan Hughes, Alan Glynn and Alex Barclay (Presented by Red Line Book Festival / New Island Books).

declan_burke_declan_hughes_alan_glynn_alex_barclay

An evening of discussion on Irish Crime Writing: Author, editor and journalist, Declan Burke, will be leading the conversation to unravel the ins and outs of the crime-writing process, the development of gripping plots and characters and the evolution of Irish crime writing.

Date:  Wednesday, 12 October 2016
Time:  
8pm
Venue:  
The Civic Theatre, Loose End
Admission:  €8/€6 concession

Perfect for crime fiction fans and aspiring authors – but it comes with a warning – as there will be a discussion of crime novels etc. and their content, the panel may be unsuitable for a young audience.

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I’ve my seat booked and ready to go – hope to see you there!

And to really get you in the mood, you might like to re-read a couple of my crime writing interviews for writing.ie :

Alex Barclay (November, 2014)
Alan Glynn (June, 2013)

Book Review: Alex Barclay – Killing Ways

Killing Ways by Alex Barclay

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?

Interview: Alex Barclay – Harm’s Reach

harms-reach

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.

Lady Killers: Ireland’s Leading Female Crime Writers

Lady Killers

Is crime your thing? Crime fiction, I hasten to add! Then mark Friday, 18th October in your diary and get your tickets for LADY KILLERS: Ireland’s Leading Female Crime Writers at The Civic Theatre before they sell out.

If you’re feeling lucky, you might even manage to WIN two tickets to this wonderful night – read on to find out how . . .

Whether you are a reader or currently honing your skills as a writer, this is an event not to be missed. A unique opportunity to delve into the minds of three prolific writers as they divulge the secrets (we hope!) to their success and how they manage to get into the minds of their characters: the victims and the killers.

Feeling lucky? Enter our free competition to win two tickets to Lady Killers. All you have to do is come up with the most intriguing question – so get your thinking caps on and post your questions here. Deadline for entries is 10pm on Sunday, 13 October. The winning question will be put to the panel, on your behalf, on the night. Better still, why not introduce yourself and ask it yourself – after all, dear winner, your seats are already booked and waiting . . .

Crime Writing by Leading Female Authors: Alex Barclay, Arlene Hunt, Louise Phillips and special guest former Boulder Coroner Joanne Richardson in conversation with Susan Condon

A killer evening not to be missed! Some of Ireland’s most popular female crime writers share insights into creating a gripping thriller. Special guest Joanne Richardson, former County Coroner of Boulder Colorado, brings an interesting element to the evening as she shares her experiences in this challenging role.

Alex Barclays first novel Darkhouse was a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller. Since then Alex has written several bestselling thrillers and won the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award at the Irish Book Awards for her third novel, Blood Runs Cold, which was the beginning of the Special Agent Ren Bryce series.

Arlene Hunts dark and atmospheric stories perfectly capture the grimy underworld of Dublin and beyond. She is the author of a series of fast-paced crime-thrillers, featuring John Kenny and Sarah Quigley from Quik Investigations. Her sixth novel Undertow was nominated for best crime novel of the year in 2009. Her current novel – a stand alone set in the US – entitled The Chosen, was voted as TV3′s Book of the Month for November 2011.

Louise Phillips bestselling debut crime novel, Red Ribbons, was shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year (2012) in the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. Her eagerly awaited second psychological crime novel, The Doll’s House was published August 2013

Joanne Richardson was County Coroner in Boulder Colorado from 2003 to 2012 and was responsible for determining cause and manner of death, which indicates whether the death was accidental, natural, suicide or homicide. Despite having what many would perceive to be a morbid profession, Richardson is upbeat, colourful and frank about her work.

Susan Condon is currently editing her debut novel – a crime fiction thriller set in New York City. Her writing career began in 2008. She has won many short story awards and was Longlisted in the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition 2012 and 2013.

Date:  Friday 18th October
Time:  8pm
Venue:  
The Civic Theatre, Main Auditorium
Admission:  €12/€10 concession

 

Don’t forget – the deadline for entries is 10pm on Sunday, 13 October. 

I’m looking forward to your killer questions!

Red Line Book Festival 2013

There’s plenty of events to keep all avid readers and aspiring writers busy over the month of October and more to come . . .

Check out a selection below which includes LADYKILLERS – when, as part of the Red Line Book Festival, I have the opportunity to chat to some of my favourite crime fiction writers – Alex Barclay, Louise Phillips and Arlene Hunt – not a night for the faint-hearted!

Red Line Book Festival 2013:  Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About

Ireland’s leading performance poets take you on an emotional journey about what it really means to be a man. With Stephen James Smith, Colm Keegan & Kalle Ryan.

Venturing where few men have gone before they talk life, love, family and feelings in a show about universal truths, the things that make us human and the things that mess us up.

“…each of the men brings their own energy, tone and distinct poetic style to the composite structure…”**** The Irish Times

Contains some strong language, suitable 15+

This event is supported by Poetry Ireland

Date:  Wednesday 16th October
Time:  8pm
Venue:  The Civic Theatre, Main Auditorium
Admission:  €12/€10 concession

  


Red Line Book Festival 2013:  Against the Black Sky We Listen : an Irish Peacekeeper’s Poems

Michael J. Whelan is a soldier-poet, historian and United Nations veteran. Michael writes powerful, emotive poems of witness, tragedy, friendship & loss brought like baggage from war zones through which many Irish soldiers have passed; he is a voice of moments in the past.

In, Against the Black Sky, We Listen, he writes poems inspired by his experiences and memories as an Irish soldier with the peacekeeping forces during the conflicts in Lebanon and Kosovo.

Michael will read from his collection of poems placed 2nd in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Awards 2011, some of which have been published in New Irish Writing 2013 and other literary journals.

Date:  Thursday, 17th October
Time:  7.30pm
Venue:  RUA RED Arts Centre, Tallaght
Admission:  Free


Red Line Book Festival 2013:  LADYKILLERS

Crime Writing by Leading Female Authors: Alex Barclay, Arlene Hunt, Louise Phillips and special guest former Boulder Coroner Joanne Richardson in conversation with Susan Condon

A killer evening not to be missed! Some of Ireland’s most popular female crime writers share insights into creating a gripping thriller. Special guest Joanne Richardson, former County Coroner of Boulder Colorado, brings an interesting element to the evening as she shares her experiences in this challenging role.

Alex Barclays first novel Darkhouse was a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller. Since then Alex has written several bestselling thrillers and won the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award at the Irish Book Awards for her third novel, Blood Runs Cold, which was the beginning of the Special Agent Ren Bryce series.

Arlene Hunts dark and atmospheric stories perfectly capture the grimy underworld of Dublin and beyond. She is the author of a series of fast-paced crime-thrillers, featuring John Kenny and Sarah Quigley from Quik Investigations. Her sixth novel Undertow was nominated for best crime novel of the year in 2009. Her current novel – a stand alone set in the US – entitled The Chosen, was voted as TV3′s Book of the Month for November 2011.

Louise Phillips bestselling debut crime novel, Red Ribbons, was shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year (2012) in the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. Her eagerly awaited second psychological crime novel, The Doll’s House was published August 2013

Joanne Richardson was County Coroner in Boulder Colorado from 2003 to 2012 and was responsible for determining cause and manner of death, which indicates whether the death was accidental, natural, suicide or homicide. Despite having what many would perceive to be a morbid profession, Richardson is upbeat, colourful and frank about her work.

Susan Condon is currently editing her debut novel – a crime fiction thriller set in New York City. Her writing career began in 2008. She has won many short story awards and was Longlisted in the RTE Guide / Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition 2012.

Date:  Friday 18th October
Time:  8pm
Venue:  
The Civic Theatre, Main Auditorium
Admission:  €12/€10 concession

 

Whether you are a crime fiction reader or currently honing your skills as a crime fiction writer, this is an event not to be missed. An opportunity to delve into the minds of three prolific writers as they divulge the secrets (we hope!) to their success and how they manage to get into the minds of their characters: the victims and the killers . . .

At the end of the night, there will be a chance for you, the audience, to ask those burning questions that have been eating away at you. If you can’t make it on the night and that burning question will not go away, post it here. The most intriguing question will be asked, on your behalf, on the night.

Hope to see you there!

Author Interviews

Crime Scene Interviews on www.writing.ie

Writing.ie is an online magazine for writers and readers of all ages. Developed and run by Vanessa O’Loughlin, a lady with many hats; publishing consultant, literary scout, writer and Vice Chair of the Irish PEN to name but a few; it is a haven for book lovers of every genre, who will find plenty to keep them coming back for more.

As part of the Crime Scene Team – the brainchild of writer, Louise Phillips – I have had the opportunity to interview a few of the many crime fiction writers I admire. Just in case you’ve missed one of your favourites, I’ve compiled them here:

Hope you enjoy getting an insight into how and where each of them write to deliver such fabulous crime fiction that we get to devour in a matter of days!

The Next Big Thing

Recently, I was approached by the extremely talented writer, Valerie Sirr, as she wanted to tag me in an on-line blogging chain – The Next Big Thing – a way for writers to promote their work-in-progress through a series of questions. Valerie, as I’m sure many of you know, is a Hennessy New Irish Writer winner – and if you’ve already read any of her short stories or poetry, then you’ll see why – if you haven’t yet, then you’ve a treat in store.  I’m a big fan of Valerie’s work – and was honoured to accept the challenge along with fellow writers, Celeste Augé and Brian Kirk.

So here goes!

My Next Big Thing:

I’ve been working on my debut novel – a crime fiction thriller set in New York City – for the guts (good choice of word considering my chosen genre!?!) of the last year.

In between, and to keep my writing ego buoyant, I’ve managed to produce a few short stories which have done extremely well – one was Long Listed in the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition, 2012, another has just been published in the Anthology of Original Writing from Ireland’s Own, 2012 and another was awarded First Prize in the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards, 2012.

What is the working title of your book?

My title, as yet, is not set in stone.  I had originally opted for Killer’s Curse.  But on advice from a couple of writers I greatly admire, they figure that when I get published, the right cover will give readers an idea of what’s inside, so a title that’s a little less telling would suit better.  You noticed the ‘when’ – probably why I value their opinion so much!  I’ve a title in mind, but I want to hold it there and savour it for just a little while longer . . .

Where did the idea come from for the book?  

Reading a snippet about a killer and how he chose his victims set my mind racing and my fingers typing and they never stopped until I reached the end.

What genre does your book fall under?

It has to be crime fiction.  I’ve always been an avid reader and I’d read extensively, but I’ve always LOVED thrillers – in any shape or form – the thrill of guessing what’s going to happen next keeping the pages turning late into the night.  Sometimes you get it right and sometimes you don’t and occasionally you come across such a clever twist or turn that you really wish you’d been clever enough to come up with it.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?      

If I could pick any actor, from any era, to play one of my main characters then the first name to pop into my head as the good guy would be a young, Gregory Peck.  Impossible I know, but as a kid I loved watching his movies.  My favourite had to be Alfred Hitchcock’s, Spellbound, with the tag line ‘Will he Kiss me or Kill me?’  I was enthralled from start to finish.  Maybe it’s time to watch it again?  My villain, in this scenario, could have been Paul Newman – those piercing, ice-blue eyes, dismissing any doubts his victims might have.

English: Colin Farrell at the 2007 Toronto Int...

English: Colin Farrell at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And if I had to go modern day, then I’d go with Colin Farrell for my good guy.  My character isn’t perfect – far from it – but in the end, you trust that whatever obstacles lie in his way and no matter how difficult the choices, he will strive to do the right thing.

Matt Damon would be my choice as my charismatic villain – his role in The Departed sealed the deal on this one!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  

Your name appears on a list, along with six others – five are dead!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  

With work and life butting-in, it took me the guts of a year.  But I also did quite an amount of research which I could probably have done during the editing stage to get the first draft down on paper much quicker.  Swings and roundabouts, I suppose . . .

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?   

Some of my favourite thriller writers include; Alex Barclay, Tess Gerritson, Jeffrey Deaver, John Connolly, Harlan Coben, Jo Nesbo, Tana French, Arlene Hunt and Louise Phillips – so I would be delighted if my novel compared favourably to any one of them.  Aiming high, aren’t I?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?   

I’ve always loved books – especially mystery stories – something to keep the brain engaged.  That love of books eventually inspired me to write.  I started with short stories and poetry.  If I’m totally honest here (and shooting myself in the foot in the process!) I prefer to read a book rather than a short story – even by my favourite authors.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy them – I most certainly do – but I feel that you’ve invested your time and interest in their story, you’ve got to know the characters, but then suddenly – it’s over!  With a book, you know you can become more immersed in their lives and if it’s a good story, then you want that.  And that’s why, when this nugget of an idea began to grow, I decided I had to use it to write my debut novel rather than another short story.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  

This novel is based in New York City and contains elements of the occult – just a trifling – but enough to appeal to readers who are excited by something a little different to spice up their thriller.

When and how will it be published? 

Well, first, I need to finish editing so that my debut novel is as good as it can be.  I’ve heard, on more than one occasion, that you only really get one shot with agent’s and publisher’s and I want to ensure that when I come knocking on their door that I have a novel worthy of their time!

And now it’s time to pass the baton.  I’d like to tag three diverse writers who are destined for big things:  Derek Flynn, Jillian Godsil and Michael Whelan, for The Next Big Thing (Wednesday, 9th January 2013).  Keep an eye out for their rising stars!

Derek Flynn is an Irish writer and musician, with a First Class Honours degree in English Literature.  He’s been published in a number of publications, including The Irish Times, and was First Runner-Up in the 2011 J. G. Farrell Award for Best Novel-In-Progress.   He released his debut album, “Do You Dream At All?” earlier this year. His writing/music blog – ‘Rant, with Occasional Music’ – can be found here: http://derekflynn.wordpress.com and on Twitter, he can be found here: http://twitter.com/#!/derekf03

Jillian Godsil is a writer, blogger and freelance journalist.  She went viral in 2010, 2011 and traditional in 2012.  She hasn’t looked back (much) since. Her blog is www.jilliangodsil.com and you can follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/jilliangodsil

Michael J Whelan is a poet, writer & historian living in Tallaght County Dublin.  He served as a Peacekeeper with the Irish Defence Forces in South Lebanon and Kosovo during the conflicts in those countries.  He was 2nd Place Winner in the Patrick Kavanagh International Poetry Award 2011 & 3rd Place Winner in the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards 2012.  He was also short-listed in the Doire Press and Cork Literary Manuscript Competitions and selected for the Eigse Eireann/Poetry Ireland Introductions 2012.  He has written books on the Irish involvement in the Congo in the 1960s and Ex British Soldiers in the Irish Army during the Irish War of Independence and Civil War 1913-1924.  He is the curator of the Irish Air Corps Aviation Museum and a member of Platform 1 and Virginia House Creative Writers.  Follow his blog here: http://michaeljwhelan.wordpress.com/

My Journey to Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch ...

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I arrived in Narnia the evening that I joined my first writing class – never to return.  And what a journey!

I’ve always had to have my daily fix – reading.  As a child, I would be outdoors, playing with friends, but if I didn’t have a book waiting patiently by my bed, then I would feel a little out of sorts.  But the solution was easy – I just began another journey between the pages of a book.  Often, my parents would find me late into a school night, with my head buried beneath the covers with a torch, just finishing those elusive ‘last few pages’.

Although I’ve always written a little, it was when I joined my first Creative Writing Class that I felt as if I’d entered another world – my own, personal, Narnia.  Only this time, there was no wicked witch!  Instead, fellow writers I’ve met, at every stage of their career, have been nothing but a delight.  In Narnia-speak, pure Turkish Delight – but without the catch.  Every one of them has offered nuggets of advice, at the exact moment I needed them most, to push me forward.

And so, armed with all this knowledge, I talked about writing a novel, incessantly.  Then I finally began.  Taking on board, tips from Alex Barclay and John Connolly, I began again – this time changing the location from the streets of Dublin to those of New York.  It is October 2012 and I’ve finally done it – I’ve finished my debut novel!

Now, before we all get too excited – I do know it’s still only the first draft.  I know that I’ll probably have close to ten drafts before I’m entirely happy with it – so still a lot more work to be done.  BUT, at this moment in time, I am so happy to have 90,000 words which I have managed to spin into a story, printed and sitting on my kitchen table.

Maybe you’d care to follow my journey through Narnia as it continues or comment about your own writing journey.  I’d love to hear . . .

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