Thursday, 26 February 2015

The BelTel Backs The Defence

Image taken from Belfast Telegraph website.

Janey Mac, sure it's nearly March.

What does that mean?

An end to the shite weather?

Probably not. It's Northern Ireland.

A mega session on St Paddy's Day?

Unlikely. I usually spend the day with the kids, and will do until they don't want me to.

A new book from the Northern Irish crime fiction set?

Actually, yeah. A debut. And there's plenty of buzz surrounding The Defence. For instance, check out this mega feature in that there Belfast Telegraph (first printed in yesterday's edition).

There's also plenty of good word coming from early readers (of which I am one). Two opinions in particular stick out. Both Brian McGilloway and Stuart Neville, CSNI favourites, have this to say:

A full-on thrill-ride that hits the gas on page one and doesn't let up until the end. Steve blends a taut legal thriller with a ticking-clock suspense plot and throws in a great protagonist in the form of Eddie Flynn that readers will want to see again and again. A terrific debut (Stuart Neville)

Like Mickey Haller and Mitch McDeere before him, readers will love lawyer Eddie Flynn, the star of this high-octane, hugely entertaining legal thriller. On the evidence of this blistering debut, we'll be hearing much more of Steve Cavanagh (Brian McGilloway)

I had a little something to say about it too.

So, you interested? If you're geographically able, I highly recommend you get in touch with Dave at No Alibis and book your seat at the launch. It's on the 12th March at 6.30pm.

You'll kick yourself if you miss it.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Disorder in Order

Following a meeting with my PhD supervisor yesterday, it would seem that my novel, DISORDER, is on the right track. There is more work to be done (isn't there always?), but not quite as much as my worst-case-scenario thoughts might have suggested. It's all good.

So, now follows a period of thinking time before I tackle it again. This will be facilitated by the kind folk who will be sending me their thoughts when they get a chance to look at the early draft. A few have even gotten back to me already. Many thanks, you absolute stars.

And so, mostly because I can't just sit on my arse ALL day and think about one book, I have other things to get done. Most of them involve sitting on my arse and typing. Thankfully, I'm back at the gym following an injury that became an excuse to be lazy long after it was healed, so I'll spend some time on my feet (and my back) as well.

Again, paranoid that if I release too much info on any of this stuff it'll curse it all, I'll be a little vague for this next paragraph or two.

I still need to seek out and woo agents of various stripes. My screen and stage writing badly needs representation. I have two television scripts, a movie script and I'm working on a play, but I have no idea what to do with this stuff. And while I would like to have a literary agent again, I can get by without one for now, so I haven't put much energy into securing a new one yet. So, maybe this would be a good time to look at agencies that could accommodate all three of my writing streams. Certainly, there's been little response to my half-assed "can anybody recommend an agent?" approach that I sometimes indulge in on Twitter or Facebook.

And while I know that the agent thing is important, I try not to allow myself too much time off from writing. That is the number one concern for a writer, surely? It might also be the reason why I've got stuff on my computer that I keep forgetting to send out to be read/considered/rejected. On the bright side, it also means that I'll be able to release a fourth novel through Blasted Heath this year. Not another Cormac Kelly just yet (but that's coming, trust me). I have a new character to put out there first. Detective Shannon McNulty's first adventure will be available in the near future. No actual date yet, but I'm hoping it'll hit virtual bookshelves by the summer.

So, that's an update that ran longer than I intended. It was my intention to simply list the books that were very important in the writing of DISORDER but I got a little chatty. Here's the list anyway:

The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
The Glass Key, Dashiell Hammett
The Friends of Eddie Coyle, George V. Higgins
The Hunter, Richard Stark
Cotton Comes to Harlem, Chester Himes
The Prone Gunman, Jean-Patrick Manchette
Interface, Joe Gores
The Man With the Gloved Hand, Joe McKimmey
Stumped, Rob Kitchin

Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction, Patricia Highsmith
Writing Mysteries, ed. Sue Grafton
Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon
The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield

There may be one or two books that I've forgotten about that contributed directly to the writing of DISORDER, but if they come to mind later I'll slip them into the list. I read quite a bit of academic non-fiction as well, but that was for the critical component of my PhD, and so it's not really relevant to this particular post. I'll maybe put a full bibliography on the blog when I've completed the whole thing in another year and a half, but the above will do nicely for now.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Back to the Future Sacrifice of Fools

At last! Ian McDonald's Sacrifice of Fools can be purchased again.

I wrote about it on CSNI before (in 2008! Jesus, how long have I been doing this?), and mention it quite regularly when asked about great crime fiction novels set in Northern Ireland. Ian McDonald's contribution just happens to involve aliens. From space, like.

McDonald further proved his crime fiction street cred in 2014 with his contribution to Belfast Noir. So it's a good time to go back and check out his futuristic vision of Northern Ireland, though we've already caught up with the projected date, and still there are no damn hoverboards.

Anyway, you can get it and three other McDonald classics through one of his new ebook publishers, Open Road. I applaud the company for its good taste.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan

This is a much delayed review/shout-out. I made the mistake of buying a signed first edition as soon as it was released and didn't like the idea of reading it on planes, trains or buses (obviously I can't read it while operating an automobile). However, I'm glad I finally found enough time at home to get around to it. Here are a few thoughts:

The Dead Ground starts out with a scene involving a pregnant woman that'd make most sane people squirm. This vicious opening pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the more grisly elements to the tale, which is the function of a prologue, right (ed - I know what Elmore Leonard thinks about them, be cool (thank you, I'm here all week))?

Public service announcement: The Dead Ground might be better read after your baby is born, should you or your partner be expecting. And maybe you should go in open-minded with regards to the politics behind the book. Surprisingly, this novel, set in a fictional NI town, is less concerned with the traditional tribal tripe that is usually associated with Northern Ireland. It's got important stuff in it. And this is why we need more writers like Claire McGowan focussing on Northern Ireland. She, through her characters, raises many relevant questions on feminism and, more precisely, the issue of abortion.

I'll just leave that there for now. The book, if you want to try to figure out its stance on the subject, is available from all good book retailers.

You can find the blurb and whatnot on the publisher's website.

For my money, this is an excellent addition to the contemporary canon of NI crime fiction that's been building faster than Celtic Tiger houses in recent years. The Paula Maguire series has oodles of potential. Yes, it's crime fiction. Yes, there is mystery, suspense and heartache. Yes, it's the second of a series that I believe should be continued (at the very least) to a third instalment. But it offers more than just a cheap thrill ride. Like all good books should, this one will leave you thinking. And in my case, it'll leave you wanting that third part.