Saturday, 18 April 2015


Delighted to learn that the good people at Blasted Heath have secured a BookBub ad for UNDERCOVER this coming Monday to promote the Amazon UK giveaway. When they did this for FIREPROOF the results were pretty pleasing. Thousands of people took advantage of the freebie and sixteen of those readers took the time to review it. To put that in perspective, the most recent review before the ad was sixteen months old. Post-giveaway sales increased too (which wouldn't be hard since it was my worst-selling title). All good.

And now, the novel that I think of as my most commercial to date is going to get the same opportunity. This, right now, is the magic moment where I can let my imagination run wild and believe that Monday will be the key moment in my writing career.

It won't be, but it does no harm to dream, does it?

Get your copy of UNDERCOVER here, UK Kindle readers.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Death in Devon - No Alibis

We at No Alibis Bookstore are very pleased to invite you to celebrate the launch of Ian Sansom's latest novel 'Death in Devon', on Thursday 26th March, 7pm, at Established Coffee, Belfast.

Join Ian for the second instalment of his County Guide series, this time taking readers to County Devon.

Swanton Morley, the People’s Professor, sets off for Devon to continue his history of England, The County Guides. Morley’s daughter Miriam and his assistant Stephen Sefton pack up the Lagonda for a trip to the English Riviera.

Morley has been invited to give the Founder’s Day speech at All Souls School in Rousdon. But when the trio arrive they discover that a boy has died in mysterious circumstances. Was it an accident or was it – murder?

We cannot wait to celebrate this event, hope to see you all there!

If you're a Facebooker, stop by the dedicated events page and let the event organisers know that you'll definitely be there. Because you will, right?

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Fireproof Freebie

So, Blasted Heath have secured a BookBub ad for my novel, FIREPROOF. The ad went out today as part of this week's BookBub newsletter. Interesting timing, this being St Patrick's Day. St Patrick was tasked with spreading Christianity to Ireland's heathen shores. And the rest of the island, like. The protagonist of my book is on a mission for the other guy. It's up to Mike Rocks to spread Satanism 'round these parts.

So, today I'm celebrating Anti-Saint Mike's Day. And the novel in question is free. If you haven't gone out and got yourself so drunk that your own ma' would be ashamed of you, then maybe take a minute to check it out. Probably not for the religiously sensitive, but then, I'm not seeing a whole lot of Christian behaviour going on today, either. Seems more like heathen mischief to me. More power to the revellers.

Contrary wee bastard that I am, if I do have a drink tonight, it'll be a dram of Scotch (though to be totally honest, I've a wild hankering for an Irish coffee).

Happy Booze Day, people.

If you're not signed up to BookBub, you can get Fireproof for free directly from the Kindle store.

Some Amazon links:


Unconvinced about the premise? Check out what the master wordsmith, Ken Bruen had to say about it below. If that guy can't convince you, I may as well burn the damn thing. Except it's Fireproof. Tee-hee.

“…Also, I'm in a monogamous relationship, so I don't really agree with orgies."
"Sacrifices and orgies have nothing to do with the religion. All that shit was developed by people who wanted to kill things and shag a lot. That's not what it's all about."
"That right?"
"Yeah. I've been working hard to try and shake that kind of misconception."
"Working as what?"
"A representative of Lucifer. I was s
ent here to build a Satanic Religion."
"Okay. Why did Lucifer think a tattoo parlour was the best place to start?"

“This is just one of the various scintillating hilarious surreal chats in Fireproof, the new novel from the excellent Gerard Brennan.
Phew-oh, GB's d├ębut was terrific but this is a huge leap forward, an assured fully-formed artist in total control of his art.
Equally hilarious and jaw-droppingly violent at once.
Reading this novel was a total blast.
Catapults GB to the very first league.
And… you'll never… ever see Cadbury's n' Nestle in quite the same or indeed sane fashion again.
Thanks, Gerard, for a wondrous read.”

From Ken Bruen, Shamus award winning author of much genius.

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.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Disorder and Reorder

This image (from The Belfast Telegraph website) hints at the subject of DISORDER

I'm still a little discombobulated following the completion of my novel, DISORDER. Now, I say completion, but there will be more work, no doubt. Even if my PhD supervisors, by some great miracle, consider it a work of genius, they'll have suggestions for improvement, as will the small band of beta readers who have received the manuscript over the weekend. That's the thing with books. You'll find something to tinker with right up until the day it's published, and sometimes after that.

But back to the discombobulation (I'm getting my mileage out of that word -- yeah spellcheck, it's real). I happen to be a good chunk into another manuscript already and have ideas for another book that I'd like to start and finish this year. There are other projects in the works as well, but since the best way to hear God laugh is to announce your plans (hat-tip to Sam Hawken for that little pearl of wisdom) I'll not go into any detail about what they might be or how quickly I need/want to complete them.

So what's the point of this post? I don't know, really. Maybe I just want to mark the occasion of having completed another novel. Could be I'm procrastinating because today is the day that I plan to get neck-deep in my other novel-in-progress. Most likely I just want a reader or two to give me a virtual pat on the head and say, "Well done, Gerard."

In other news, my reading pile is diminishing at a quicker rate than it did in 2014. That was an example of God laughing at my plans, I think. I'd set myself the task of reading 100 books in that year. I stopped counting about five months in because I was running way behind schedule, but I'm sure I didn't make it to 100. Probaly closer to 50, truth be told. I did start reading faster after I stopped counting, though. A revelation that probably means something. I should note a few stand-outs that I never got around to reviewing. Just the NI ones for now:

Blue is the Night by Eoin McNamee

The FANTASTIC conclusion to McNamee's 'Blue' trilogy. I'm not sure what McNamee has planned next, but I feel like I could go back to the start of the 'Blue' trilogy and read it again before his next work of genius comes out anyway. There was a distinct closing of the circle at the denouement of this novel that drew my mind back to the The Blue Tango and Orchid Blue. I just wonder if I'll get around to that reread before the next McNamee becomes available to me.

The Final Silence by Stuart Neville

The Final Silence is the fourth of what has been dubbed the 'Belfast' series. I read this one during a busy time (hence the lack of review), and blazed through it. Neville publicly 'fessed up to a long bout of writer's block a little after the release of this novel. It was The Final Silence that bore the brunt of his dry patch. I'll not make light of the difficulties he experienced (which Neville outlines in this very honest blog post), but what I will say is that The Final Silence eventually became an excellent novel. A fine example of how to write a thriller. In fact, it's my favourite of his works now, a spot previously occupied by Collusion (which Neville also had trouble completing, if I remember right). The Final Silence very recently picked up an Edgar nomination. It seems I'm not alone in realising that this is a particularly strong book.

The Blame by Michael Nolan

Nolan does not see himself as a crime writer, and neither do I. However, due to the subject of The Blame (the aftermath of a bad batch of Ecstasy tablets), the work cannot help but touch on criminal activity in Northern Ireland. But this novella is not about the crime. It's about the protagonist trying to figure out if he is to blame for the death of a friend. And it's not just himself he has to convince. The question still remains unanswered for many in his circle of family and friends and those within his wider community. It's a fast and energetic read and a wonderful showcase for Nolan's developing writing talent. I hope to see a novel from him in the near future.

There may have been other NI novels that I failed to review, but they've yet to occur to me, and this post is getting too long as it is. In my next post, I'll simply list the books that inspired and facilitated the writing of DISORDER.

Currently reading The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan, by the way. I'd started it before the new year. Before I went to LA, in fact. The only reason I stopped after the first few chapters is because I didn't want to bring it on my journey to Bouchercon. It's a signed hardback, y'see. More on that one when I finish it.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty

The fourth book in the ongoing Sean Duffy series was released this month. Gun Street Girl is set in 1985, and again, Adrian McKinty uses actual events from Northern Irish history as a backdrop for the tale. While the story starts out as a murder investigation -- and one that could have been tidied away quite quickly if a team of shittier cops were handed the case -- it isn't long until DI Duffy and DS McCrabban find themselves embroiled in something much bigger.

As you would expect from McKinty at this stage, Gun Street Girl is a wonderful read. The books seem to get funnier as the series progresses, but they're balanced out with plenty of gut-punching moments of darkness. McKinty is a master of emotional manipulation. If you don't feel something when you read this one, you might be dead inside. Book an appointment with you GP tout feckin' suite.

I wish I could pinpoint exactly why I find McKinty's books so readable, but I haven't quite figured it out yet. What I do know is that in the few days that I gorged on this one, my copy was never more than a few metres away from me. Sean Duffy is my favourite series character right now, and it'd take a hell of a lot to knock him off the top spot. Gun Street Girl is a stunner, plain and simple.

As a side note, it's interesting that McKinty has gone beyond a third part for this series. He called time on the Michael Forsythe or "Dead" series of books because he felt that the character had had his fair share of adventures and a further foray would stretch his readers' suspension of disbelief a little too far. I presume that the fact that Duffy is a cop makes it more believable that he'd get into more scrapes, especially a cop employed at the height of the troubles. Whatever the reason, I'm delighted to have read another Duffy book and hope to read more of them in the future.

Also, I love the fact that Duffy is ageing at the same rate as me. We're both 35 this time around! That's really cool.