Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Self Publishing Podcast

I’m writing this blog post as I listen to the Self Publishing Podcast (SPP), episode #158. In previous posts I’ve talked about online tools that are designed to improve sales. SPP covers that sort of thing on a regular basis. However, it is presented by three self-published authors, so while they discuss the business side of things they also tend to drift into conversations about the craft of writing as well. And in the spirit of this podcast -- which regularly and joyfully indulges in straying off the chosen topic -- here’s a quick diversion:

I consider myself a writer above all things. Thinking like a businessman can hamper my creative side, which is why I haven’t tried to start a publishing business. However, I do think it’s important to have an understanding of the business side of my chosen creative art. I might not want to devote my time to numbers and spreadsheets, but it’s dangerous to be clueless about something that can severely impact your writing. Ignore the numbers for the sake of your words and it won’t be long before you can’t afford to write anymore...

The rest of this blog post can be found over at my wee patch of the HASTAC website. Click here to get there.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Five Questions -- Steve Cavanagh

Steve Cavanagh was born and raised in Belfast and is a practicing lawyer. He holds a certificate in Advanced Advocacy and lectures on various legal subjects (but really he just likes to tell jokes). He is married with two young children. The Defence, has been chosen as one of Amazon's great debuts for 2015, as part of their Amazon Rising Stars programme. In 2015 Steve received the ACES award for Literature from the Northern Ireland Arts Council. 

Steve writes fast-paced legal thrillers set in New York City featuring series character Eddie Flynn. The Defence is his first novel. 

Find out more at or follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

Eddie Flynn, lawyer, con man, drunk. How much of this is autobiographical, Steve? I know you're a lawyer. Two out of three wouldn't be too bad...

Well, while I was at University, and probably for a good few years afterwards, I would've been a man with a powerful thirst. One of my best mates, Mark, is a guy from my QUB Institute of Professional Legal Studies class, and the only reason I know him is because we both liked to turn up to the pub an hour before any social event began so that we could have a few before the crowd arrived. We didn't arrange it or anything, we just happened to be men with similar approaches to an evening's entertainment. I remember somebody once handed me a pint, the glass was soaking and the pint simply slipped right through my fingers. I had my order in for another one before the glass hit the ground. Now I have two small children. The rock and roll days are over. As for con man? There is a certain amount of sleight of hand in any good cross examination. That's where the overlap is between the courtroom and the back alley. Eddie straddles that line precariously.

I noticed that you used US spelling (eg color rather than colour) in the UK edition of your book. What's the craic with that?

Glad you spotted that. It was my editor's suggestion. As the book is in US English anyway with an American narrator, may as well go the whole hog. I think it helps a little with authenticating the American voice that I'm going for. I've noticed it before in John Connolly books and to be honest it's fine with me because it means I don't have as much work to do for US publication.

Ah! The mighty Connolly. It must tickle you that you're likely to be stocked out pretty close to him on the crime fiction shelf. Recommend one of his works, for the uninitiated. Please?

There is so much to recommend, but for the crime fan you simply have to read the Charlie Parker series. You can read them out of sequence, I have a little. But you get a far better experience reading them in order. Start with Every Dead Thing and work your way up. EDT is one of the best crime debuts you'll ever read. And the books just keep getting better. That's rare in series fiction. Yeah, I'm stoked that I get to be on a shelf with one of my heroes.

Your story in Belfast Noir was top notch and it featured an actual Belfastian solicitor. Any plans to set a novel in Belfast?

Yes, a solicitor and a barrister with the story focussed on barrister, Mack. I loved writing that story. It's a weird thing, I wrote The Defence as an escape, primarily for me. I was going through a hard time and I wanted to try writing again. If I had come home from a day's work being a lawyer in Northern Ireland and sat down to write for two or three hours about being a lawyer in Northern Ireland I think I probably would've gone insane. At the time I wanted to escape somewhere else for a few hours, into a different world. After I wrote The Defence I knew I wanted to write another book with Eddie Flynn - I find him very interesting and I can pretty much accomplish everything that I want to do right now, in fiction, using that character. If I ever give up the law, I may write a book set in NI but not at the moment. I have a few ideas, but for now I want to concentrate on Eddie's story.

You know we're pretty sold on The Defence at CSNI. Care to share a tag line for the next instalment?

This is the hard part, I'm terrible at writing blurbs. I can tell you that this next book is currently titled The Plea and, among other things, it looks at international money laundering, the grand jury system, and welcomes back some of the characters from The Defence. In the new book Eddie Flynn has two clients. Two cases. Both very different. One client is innocent and the other is guilty. He can only save one of them. It's an easy choice for most lawyers, but what if the guilty client was Eddie's wife? Will he sacrifice the life of an innocent man to save his wife? He's got 48 hours to decide. But no matter what choice he makes, the only certainty is that at eight o'clock on Saint Patrick's Day Eddie Flynn will die.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Award Season

Last week, Stuart Neville filled me with pride and envy at the same time. Pictured below, you'll find our Stu amongst a murder of Edgar Award shortlisters. All scribes pictured have, of course, earned their place on that list. However, it'd be disingenuous to be less than gobsmacked by the presence of Stephen King in this picture. STEPHEN FECKIN' KING!

L-R: Ian Rankin, Stephen King, Karin Slaughter, Stuart Neville and Wiley Cash

As it turned out, King nabbed the prize for his novel, Mr Mercedes. I'm reading said novel right now. Whether or not I'll enjoy it as much as or more than Neville's The Final Silence remains to be seen. So far, it's pretty good, though. I've looked through the King novels listed at the start of Mr Mercedes. Of the 57 books in the list (includes those written under the Bachman pseudonym, the non-fiction books and the Dark Tower series), I've read 47. I read IT when I was 13 years old and have dipped in and out of his work since then. And enjoyed the vast majority of them. Hence my envy, Mr Neville!

Anyway, I got over that tinge of jealousy and remain proud of the fact that one of the writers that I know and respect has hit this level of recognition. You can consider this the official CSNI message of congratulations to one of the leading lights of the Northern Irish crime fiction scene.

Now, from Stuart Neville to Anthony Quinn.

Anthony Quinn at the launch of The Blood Dimmed Tide earlier this year

I learned today that Quinn has been long-listed for the 2015 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. You can see the longlist in its entirety over at the Shotsmag Confidential blog. You'll notice that Lee Feckin' Child (along with other top class scribes with the affectionately given middle name of Feckin') is included on this list. However, Anthony Quinn is the only Northern Irish entrant. This makes me sad and happy at the same time. I'd like to see more names from the NI crime fiction set on the longlist, but I also like the fact that I don't have to split my cheerleading attention on this one.

So, here at CSNI, we (by which I mean me, myself and I) are urging you to vote for Anthony Quinn's Disappeared to make it onto that shortlist.

It's a big feckin' deal.

We (and this time I mean everybody reading this)  can't actually vote until the shortlist is announced, but we can show Anthony our support by making a lot of noise about his achievement. So, if you could share this blog post on social media, look for Anthony on Facebook and Twitter so you can congratulate him, or -- most importantly -- READ THE BOOK, that'd be pretty cool of you.

I read Disappeared a few years ago (I got my hands on the US version which was published long before the UK version) but, despite the fact I highly recommend it, I failed to find the time to write a review. Other people have reviewed it, though. Get Googling, people!