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?
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.
There’s plenty of events to keep all avid readers and aspiring writers busy over the next few weeks and plenty more to come. Check out a selection below.
Hope to see you there!
Trinity College Dublin and Glucksman Ireland House, New York University are holding a festival devoted to Irish crime fiction, featuring more than a dozen of the most exciting Irish crime novelists. This will be a memorable weekend, devoted to a key genre of contemporary Irish writing, so please make plans to join us.
Among the confirmed participants are Conor Brady, Declan Burke, Jane Casey, Paul Charles, Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Conor Fitzgerald, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, Gene Kerrigan, Kevin McCarthy, Brian McGilloway, Eoin McNamee, Stuart Neville, Niamh O’Connor, Louise Phillips, and Michael Russell.
We’re particularly pleased to announce that our weekend will conclude with a major event: for the Irish launch of his newest novel, The Gods of Guilt (Orion Books, November 2013), Michael Connelly will be interviewed by John Connolly. After the interview, and questions from the audience, Michael will be signing books, which will be for sale on the evening. Tickets are required for this final event, and they are €6 (inc. fees) from eventbrite.com.
Date: Friday, 22 – Saturday, 23 November 2013
Venue: Trinity College Dublin
Admission: Free events (€6 for Closing Event)
From the time she was born, Emma Byrne was different from other children. Shy and reclusive, her world revolved around animals, so much so that by the time she was 15, Emma was a much sought after horse trainer.
So who would try to harm this gifted young woman? Who was shooting in Crilly Woods on that fateful August day?
Emma’s twin brother, Anthony, is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to his sister, and in the course of his investigations makes a terrible mistake, one that will change all their lives forever.
The Outsider: sometimes those who love us most hardly know us at all.
Date: Thursday, 7 November 2013
Venue: The Gutter Bookshop
Crime Scene Book Club Reviewers over on www.writing.ie
Who could possibly argue with Louise Phillips, author of Red Ribbons, when she compared us – Joe McCoubrey, Mick Halpin, Triona Walsh and little ‘auld me – as similar to the X Factor panel! Just as discerning – and possibly even more dangerous – all of this in our roles as part of the Crime Scene Book Reviewer Panel over at www.writing.ie . . .
As avid readers, I know this is a role we are all enjoying immensely.
You can find links to a number of my reviews below to whet your appetite:
The Doll’s House by Louise Phillips
Headstone by Ken Bruen
In The Darkness by Karin Fossum
The Chosen by Arlene Hunt
Bad Moon Rising by Frances de Plino
Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes
And don’t forget to check out what Joe, Mick and Triona are reading and reviewing.
A selection of photos with writers, from all genres, that I have had the privilege to meet.
I admire them all, not only for for their work, but also for their attitude and their willingness to help fellow writers.
And lots more to be added soon, I hope!
The National Emerging Writer Programme
Dublin City Library and Archive
9 January, 2013:
#TXS2 at The Westin Hotel
November, December 2012:
After Crime Night at the Civic Theatre
Three Voices/Three Forms
Loose End Studio, Civic Theatre
14 November, 2012:
Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards
Saggart Heritage & Arts Centre
SDCC European Week Against Racism Poetry Competition
SDCC County Hall
27 March 2012:
Tallaght Library Writers Group
SDCC Bealtaine Short Story Competition
SDCC County Hall
28 May 2010:
City of Dublin VEC Creative Writing Competition
Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square
29 April 2010:
Out and About at Writing Events:
Launch of Red Ribbons by Louise Phillips
Hughes & Hughes Bookshop (5 September 2012)
Photo by Ger at Taken by Titch
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.
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/
I was delighted to be one of the seven tagged by Rob Kitchin to take part in the 777 Challenge!
Now all I had to do was choose seven sentences from either page seven or page seventy-seven from my work-in-progress and post it here before passing the challenge on to seven more writers I admire.
My 7 from 77 starts here:
‘You could say that,’ said Lisa, with a bitter laugh, ‘but not really by choice, I just had to know – I needed to find out what could make him do what he did.’ She looked up into John’s eyes as Charlie placed a fresh coffee in front of her. She took a few sips, holding the Styrofoam cup between unsteady hands.
The room was silent as a morgue.
‘The reason that I joined the force was . . .’
‘Jesus Christ, are the two of us the only ones doing any work around here while you lot sit around having afternoon coffee,’ said Stephen, ‘good job we brought these so,’ he sniggered, dumping a box of donuts beside the coffee pot and helping himself.
I’ve chosen seven writers who I hope will take up the challenge (no pressure). Check them out here: