Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 Books


I didn't review a lot of crime fiction for the blog this year so I figure I'll use what I did review as a top whatever-the-amount for 2011. It was a funny year for reading. I took on the entire Booker shortlist for an event at Derry Library and critiqued a lot of unpublished fiction from classmates on the creative writing MA at Queens. Oh, and there were five novels on the essential reading list for one of the modules. But here's the skinny on a bunch of cracking crime fiction:

The Burning Soul by John Connolly - This is an outstanding novel. It’s chockfull of dense and powerful prose that isn’t intimidating but, in fact, is addictively consumable. The portrayal of a violent and unpredictable Boston Irish mob (post-Bulger) in constant crisis is chilling. And the supernatural twist? Cross your heart and bless your burning soul. This one’s coming to get you.

Truth Lies Bleeding by Tony Black - Truth Lies Bleeding is a brutal read; dark as the author's name, some of the characters will haunt your thoughts for a very long time after turning the last page. Gritty, urban and heart-wrenching, Black has discovered a darker shade of noir.

Collusion by Stuart Neville - Neville proves yet again that he is a writer to be reckoned with. His writing style pulls no punches and he is a master of creating tension. This Belfast thriller will take hold of you like a fire ravaging a stately home. Brutal, ruthless, breathtaking... Collusion is a blistering read.

Bloodland by Alan Glynn - Bloodland follows the trend set by Glynn’s previous novel, Winterland. It explores the far-reaching ramifications of corruption in politics and global business right down to the frontline casualties. Shit runs downhill. Glynn’s writing is engaging and urgent. Each line counts as he expertly develops his characters and plot without sacrificing his wonderful skill for evocative prose. Bloodland will enrage that sleeping anarchist within. More of the same, please, Mister Glynn.

Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway - Little Girl Lost is quite a different book from anything McGilloway has written in the Devlin series. From the protagonist to the writing style, McGilloway has made a lot of changes, and all for the better. It should come with a warning, though. This one tugs, pulls and gnaws at your heart strings. Prepare to invest a lot of emotion into this read and don't expect to be paid back with the perfect Hollywood ending. McGilloway has gone all out. Little Girl Lost is darker than a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Word on the street is that this is the start of a new series (though we can expect a new Devlin book in the coming year) and this book proves that DS Black will be a welcome addition to the Northern Irish crime scene.

The Back of Beyond by CJ Box - Back of Beyond is an expertly plotted and paced wilderness thriller; a great example of Box’s literary forte. He brings Yellowstone National Park to life and impresses upon the reader the awesome power of nature with his skill for descriptive prose. But he is equally adept at exploring the darker side of humanity. He constantly juxtaposes the beauty of nature with the brutality of mankind and vice verse. Tense, tumultuous and ever-twisting. Back of Beyond proves yet again how C.J. Box is worthy of the prestigious crime fiction awards he’s collected over the course of his career.

I also reviewed a couple of books for Culture NI this year:

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (technically science fiction but there's a tonne of crime and a boy detective in there) - McDonald serves up a master class in writing that would give the literary elite the sweats. The novel doesn't rely on high concepts or geeky gimmicks to sell itself (although the ‘cepteps’ the characters wear are an enviable projection of smart-phone techno-joy). McDonald is, above all, a wordsmith. Interestingly, since his novels rarely stray too far ahead of the present day, we’ve already caught up with his early novels. Sacrifice of Fools portrays a pretty bang-on version of Northern Ireland in the early 2000s (sans the aliens) and yet it was written in 1996. If McDonald's observations and predictions about trends in technology, politics and sports in The Dervish House have even a grain of truth to them there are exciting times ahead. If you read one science fiction book this year, pick this one. McDonalds fans already have.

Falling Glass by Adrian McKinty - McKinty takes advantage of this being the most contemporary setting of his canon to dabble in social commentary; in particular the global economic recession, how it affected Northern Ireland’s property crash, and the place of Irish Travellers in contemporary Irish society. He provides a measured and intelligent account of Irish Traveller life, which might go some way to debunking the lazy, sensationalist drivel churned out by that awful reality TV show that shall not be named. Falling Glass cuts deep and leaves its mark. If you haven’t discovered McKinty yet, brace yourself and pick this one up.

I kind of wish I'd kept a better track of my reading this year. I know I read (and in most cases enjoyed) a hell of a lot but I just didn't get time to review them all... I should keep a list in 2012 but I can't be arsed with resolutions.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas from CSNI


Well now... just a quick post to wish anybody who stumbles upon this page a very happy holiday season (whatever the heck ye choose to believe or not believe) and urge you to remember to take the opportunity wherever you can get it to power down for a few days at least. Go on. You know you deserve the break.

I for one am in a terribly good mood. This is the first time I opened the laptop today. The baby is in bed, the older two kids are about to go brush their teeth after the Phineas and Ferb Xmas special and the first piece of feedback I've gotten on Wee Rockets can be read here (bottom right-hand corner).

It doesn't get much better, folks.

Friday, 16 December 2011

CSNI Social Satire?

Brennan’s Existentialist and (not so) Literary Bollocks

Waste of Space Department

Minutes of a meeting of the Waste of Space Management Team (WoSMT) held on Tuesday 31November 2011 at 2.00 pm in Meeting Room 7

Present: Gerard Brennan (Chair), Aaron Aardvark, Angel, Michael Jackson, MC Hammer, JoJo Monkeybrains and Nigel Zombie

Apologies Sam Adams Beer

1 Previous Minutes

The minutes of 31 September 2011 were considered to be a true record.

2 Matters Arising from the Minutes of 31 September 2011

Classified.

3 Existentialism Reports

3.1 Gerard Brennan reporting

GB posed the question: What the fuck’s the point, really?

Board Members told him to shut up. GB threatened to take the ball home and tell his ma. BM reminded GB of his flexisheet projections and extended teabreak violations. GB huffed and refused to participate further.

3.2 Aaron Aardvark reporting

“Apologies. Am apparently absent and apathetic. Am attending attitude alignment and astrology assembly afterwards.”

Ah.

3.3 Angel Reporting

Angel wished to raise a personal issue. When reminded by the chair that this was not the venue the chair was in turn reminded that he was on huff leave and so had surrendered all pretences of actual power in a system that rewards diligence and enthusiasm with career dead ends and panders to the ineffective through legislation and fear of anachronistic unions. GB returned to huff leave.

Angel regained control of the meeting. She reminded the chiefs (and by assumption all their indians) that it is against inequality legislation to remark that there is space at the top of the Christmas tree in a knowing and (allegedly) humorous manner. Attending chiefs (and by association all their indians – including those on long term sick leave, disciplinary suspension and suicide watch) apologised profusely. Nigel Zombie offered a pedicure and fellatio as a quantitative measure of repentance. He was referred to HR for a refresher course.

3.4 Michael Jackson Reporting

MJ complained that he wasn’t taken seriously… It was close to impossible to make out anything else he said after this point as the board members began to mock him in high-pitched harmony. GB’s PA believes that he may have said something along the lines of “Sha-mon” but reserves the right to withdraw this remark should evidence be presented to the contrary. Fortunately, MJ has had to develop a sense of humour since he came to the organisation on a graduate entry scheme and he isn’t really entitled to the same level of respect as wee Mickey No-Stars who should have gotten the job, in fairness. Mickey’s been loyal to the organisation since his ma pulled the glue bag out of his hands and pushed him through the door in the early seventies. People don’t even mind his nervous tics anymore.

3.5 MC Hammer Reporting

Stop. Hammer Time. Just for a minute, the board members did the bump. Do-do-do-do-do dooooo dooooo.

3.6 JoJo Monkeybrains reporting

JM apologised for throwing faeces at the last meeting. GB remarked that it had become a regular feature of the meetings that, though unpleasant, was almost bearable so late in the fiscal year. JM asked if her duties could be revaluated. MJ sniggered and said, “You said doodies.” JM threw faeces at him and the BM approved the motion.

3.7 Nigel Zombie Reporting

Austerity Report Workshops: Workshops to help departments with their austerity reports are ongoing. The Waste of Space department’s workshop took place on 31 November and it was reported to have gone very well. A workshop will be held for other equally wasteful departments on 32 December. Staff are getting used to the new format and it is hoped to carry out a quick review of austerity for 2012/13 after Christmas. This will contribute to society in no way whatsoever, nor will it imbue participants with a feeling of job satisfaction. It will, however, justify the inflated salaries of the upper-middle and middle-upper management drones. This will strain the economy a little but eventually improve consumer spend in Marksies. However, GB is still not permitted to camp out on Writers’ Square with all the interesting-looking hippies who have pet dogs on strings and instant barbeques bought from ASDA (AKA Walmart) using JSA payments funded by the 99 percent who are actually at work and not really to blame for the global deficit, whatever that is. #occupybelfast

Admin Review: Officers noted that AA and JM represented the Waste of Space department on the working group set up to conduct a review of the board’s administration. AA offered JM a prayer book. JM said something very off-colour about AA’s higher power.

4 Strategic Issues

4.1 Keep the staff demotivated.

No need for further clarification. Staff wouldn’t understand it.

4.2 Savings Delivery Plan:

‘Strategic’ redundancy payments will save money in twenty years time.

4.3 Severance

GB explained that there had been a number of expressions of interest for voluntary severance across the organisation and that business cases had been submitted to the ether. Fortunately, many of the applicants did not read the small print. Medical research will be very interesting this year.

4.4 Vacancy Control

Sick Pay has been cast as the bad guy to distract from the real forces of deceit at play. Smoke and Mirrors, baby.

4.5 Business Cases

GB extended his thanks to A for her work on the business cases for voluntary severance and for the refreshments provided at the meeting. He did not get the irony intended in serving finger foods.

On behalf of the finance management team, GB wished all staff a very happy and peaceful Christmas. HR will issue him with a memo to reprimand him for only wishing Christians a happy holiday season.

There being no further business and an absence of Sam Adams Beer, the meeting ended at 3.20 pm.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Culture NI

I'm getting a bit of attention over at Culture NI. And they were kind enough to feature both the digital reading from Wee Rockets and this here Blasted Heath vid.



What with this and the radio bit with Arts Extra I'm feeling like Media-Man today. Thank the higher power that so many other people have the talents that allow me to show up and start talking, eh? I'd never get so many opportunities to spread the word about my books without those kind souls in my life. Thank you all.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Arts Extra


I was on BBC Radio Ulster's Arts Extra programme today. Here's a link to the Listen Again thing.

I forgot to mention that:

Signed copies of The Point are available at No Alibis.

I will be doing an author event in Waterstones Belfast on Saturday 17th December at 2PM and Waterstones Ballymena on Monday 19th December at 6:30PM. These events have been postponed. Details of new dates to be confirmed.

The kindle edition of Wee Rockets has popped up on Amazon a little ahead of its release date in the UK and US.

I'm a terrible salesman.

Still, it was nice to chat to the delightful Marie-Louise Muir.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Wee Rockets Reading


Jeezum Crow. It's December. Probably a good time to point out that my novel Wee Rockets will be released by Blasted Heath in less than a month! If you fancy a taster of said novel, have a listen to this here reading:


You gotta love the way these Blasted Heathens roll, right?

For those of you who don't know, or have forgotten (highly likely given my absence from the blogging world these past weeks), the official release date of Wee Rockets is 1/1/12. And here's what some rather excellent writers have said about it.

“The Wire? This is Barbed Wire. A cheeky slice of urban noir, a drink soaked, drug addled journey into the violent underbelly of one of Europe’s most notorious ghettos, Wee Rockets make The Outsiders look like the Teletubbies.” - Colin Bateman

“Gerard Brennan stands apart from the Irish crime fiction crowd with a novel rooted in the reality of today’s Belfast. The author’s prose speaks with a rare authenticity about the pain of growing up in a fractured society, shot through with a black humour that can only come from the streets. Wee Rockets is urban crime fiction for the 21st century, and Brennan is a unique voice among contemporary Irish writers.” - Stuart Neville

“In Wee Rockets Gerard Brennan has written a fast paced, exciting story of West Belfast gang culture; brimming with violence, authentic street dialogue and surprising black humour. This is a great debut novel. Brennan takes us into the heart of Belfast’s chav underclass, in a story that lies somewhere in the intersection between The Warriors, Colin Bateman and Guy Ritchie. This is the first in what undoubtedly will be a stellar literary career.” - Adrian McKinty

Feels like Santa's already pulled some strings for me...

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Point on Kindle



Here it is! My first Kindle outing.

Kindle UK

Kindle US

The Point, a novella by Gerard Brennan

Small time crook Paul Morgan is a bad influence on his brother, Brian. When Paul crosses one thug too many, the cider fuelled duo flee Belfast for Warrenpoint, the sleepy seaside resort of their childhood memories. For Brian a new life in The Point means going straight and falling in love with Rachel while Paul graduates to carjacking by unusual means and ‘borrowing’ firearms from his new boss. Brian can’t help being dragged into his brother’s bungling schemes but Rachel can be violently persuasive herself . . . and she isn’t the only one who wants to see an end to Paul’s criminal career.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Willard Grant Conspiracy - A No Alibis Event


No Alibis Bookstore and Strange Victory present an evening of spoken word and music with The Willard Grant Conspiracy and Ian Rankin on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th November at 8:30PM. Doors for this unique event mixing the finest in Indie Americana with the best of writing in the crime genre will open at 8:00PM. Tickets are now on sale, priced £12.50 (£8.50 concession) for each night.

We're pleased to announce that BBC Radio Ulster’s Ralph McLean will be on stage, interviewing Robert and Ian. Ralph will be in his element as a lover of all things Americana and a devotee of Crime Fiction.

Willard Grant Conspiracy is an alt-country band currently based near Palmdale, California. Originally formed in 1995 in Boston, Massachusetts by Robert Fisher and Paul Austin, the band operates as a collective, with vocalist Fisher the only permanent member. Up to thirty other musicians occasionally contribute to the band, both in the studio and during live performances.

The band toured extensively in 2005 and 2006 visiting twenty-three countries, including a showcase at the South by Southwest music festival. Fisher's voice and Americana style have been compared to both John Cale and Johnny Cash, with most songs being acoustic. Their 2003 release Regard The End, featuring Kristin Hersh as well as Chris Eckman of The Walkabouts, received critical acclaim with UNCUT magazine naming it album of the month.

Robert Fisher will be joined on stage by James Youngjohns (Viola) (Anna Kashfi/Last Harbour).

Ian Rankin needs no introduction...born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960,he graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into twenty-two languages and are bestsellers on several continents.

His latest novel “The Impossible Dead”, will be available on the night and Ian will of course be signing copies.



Malcolm Fox is back...

Fox and his team are investigating whether fellow cops covered up for Detective Paul Carter. Carter has been found guilty of misconduct, with his own uncle - also in the force - proving to be his nemesis. But what should be a simple job is soon complicated by a brutal murder and a weapon that should not even exist.

A trail of revelations leads Fox back to 1985, a year of desperate unrest when letter-bombs and poisonous spores were sent to government offices, and kidnappings and murders were plotted. But while the body count rises the clock starts ticking, and a dramatic turn of events sees Fox in mortal danger.

Malcolm Fox returns in the stunning second novel in Ian Rankin's new series...



TV presenter, Radio DJ, respected arts commentator, producer, scriptwriter and newspaper columnist; Ralph has done it all in his impressive career. His life long passion for music and the arts has served him well as the popular presenter of entertainment TV shows such as First Stop, 11th Hour, Belfast Festival At Queens and many more.

On radio he has presented his own two hour roots show, the ever popular McLeans Country, for more than five years now on BBC Radio Ulster and made more series and one-offs than even he cares to remember.

He is 6 feet 4 inches tall and dreams of the day that Liverpool FC will win the Premiership.

Well a man can dream can’t he?

We expect this event to be very popular, so avoid disappointment and book your tickets now. Tickets can be obtained directly from the Crescent Arts Centre's event page.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Press Your Point


Today I bought copies of three local papers that had three different but equally flattering pieces on the release of The Point. If you can, pick up copies of The Newry Democrat, The Mourne Observer and The Newry Reporter. You'll get enough change for a decent jar of coffee if you pay with a fiver, or the Kindle edition of The Point. Fair warning. The £1.14 price for the Kindle edition is only going to be available for another week, possibly two, so don't put off buying a copy if you want to get it cheaper than chips. It'll still be cheap as a curry chip when the price goes up to £2.29, but why pay double when the novella is just a click or two away?

While I'm on the topic of publicity, I may as well throw out a question about self-promotion. How much is too much? The topic of this blog has narrowed somewhat in the past few months. It's been mostly about me. And sure, most blogs are completely about their authors, but this particular one was originally set up as a means to draw attention to the growing community of Irish crime writers; and lend a little more focus to those writers from the North. That's still something I'm keen to do, but in reality, I'm just not as good at it as Declan Burke over at Crime Always Pays.

Every so often, Declan will post an 'advertisement' for one of his books. That's great. It's only his blog, like, but he's subtly excusing his own intrusion onto it. But take today as a snapshot. I scroll down his blog and he's got a post about Stuart Neville, then Lee Child, then his own Irish Book Award nominated novel Absolute Zero Cool, an interview with some tube and a post about Colin Bateman's excellent Starkey series. Five posts in five days and only one of them about his own novel. Me? Bar a great interview with Nigel Bird (who isn't one wee bit Irish, BTW), my last five posts have been all about The Point and I haven't even posted those daily.

Now, don't get me wrong, Dec's cool and all, but I'm more than happy to be me and for him to be him. It's just that his is the most obvious blog to compare mine to. I'm sure if I looked at Rob Kitchin's very cool blog, The View from the Blue House, as a further example I'd be equally outclassed. But I'm too lazy to do that. And hey, I'm not beating myself up here. My mood is pretty damn chipper right now. I'm just wondering if this blog has really got anything to offer its remaining reader(s) these days... It's something I'll think about when I'm driving, I guess.

But hey! I won't end this on a bum note but instead (big surprise) I'll make this post all about me and my writing -- here's a link to the super swanky Blasted Heath website. Have a wee look around and you might find a little bit of it with me reading from Wee Rockets. Or just go here and you will find it.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Quick Report

Thought I'd rattle out a short blog post for those interested in how the No Alibis launch went last night. It will be short, though. I've to get to Uni pretty soon and things might get uncivilised here after this episode of Barney ends.

Anyway, thanks, as always, to Dave Torrans who let me and Arlene take over his shop for the evening. No doubt the talented and successful Ms. Hunt is well used to this sort of thing but it was a real treat to act like a proper writer for a few hours and sign copies of the book. Was delighted to see Sheila, Martina and Michael from the MA there as well as some of my favourite writers, Stuart Neville and Ian MacDonald (too surreal and awesome for words). And of course, I have a tonne of gratitude for the family and friends who took the time and spent the money. I'm a lucky guy.

Great night. Thank you to all who came.

Gotta go.

Friday, 28 October 2011

No Alibis Event - Arlene Hunt and Gerard Brennan

No Alibis are pleased to invite you to celebrate the launch of two books by two of Irish crime fiction's rising stars. Dublin-based Arlene Hunt will be launching her latest novel, THE CHOSEN, while Northern Ireland's Gerard Brennan will be launching his novella, THE POINT. This event will take place in No Alibis bookstore on Botanic Avenue at 6:00PM on Monday 31st October.



Arlene Hunt is a unique voice in Irish crime fiction. Her dark and atmospheric stories perfectly capture the grimy underworld of Dublin and beyond. She began writing at the age of 27, and produced her first novel, Vicious Circle, within the year. This book was eventually published by Hodder Headline at the end of April 2004. Her 7th novel, ‘The Chosen‘ will be published in October 2011. It is a standalone thriller based in the USA.

Arlene has contributed to various anthologies, including Down These Green Streets – edited by Declan Burke, Requiems for the Departed – edited by Gerard Brennan, and Moments – a book to raise money for the Asian tsunami. Arlene is an avid reader and enjoys the works of Robert Crais, George Pelecanos, James Ellroy, James Lee Burke, John Connolly and others.

She lives in Dublin with her husband, daughter, 3 cats and faithful basset hound.



On a hot summer’s day in the sleepy American town of Rockville, Jessie Conway, a teacher at the local high school, notices a car driving slowly around the school grounds.

Twenty minutes later Jessie is fighting for her life and Rockville is plunged into living nightmare after a gun-toting student unleashes bloody mayhem.

For Jessie the horror is just beginning. Traumatized and hounded by the media she retreats to her home and tries to rebuild her shattered life.

Caleb Switch watches the developments in Rockville with interest. A skilled and diligent killer, his recent selections have disappointed him, offering challenge to a man of his predilections. Jessie Conway interests him: for she is no ordinary woman and a fine choice for a less than ordinary man.

As Jessie struggles to hold onto her marriage and her sanity she has no idea that she has become The Chosen.



In October 2006 Gerard Brennan was selected to partake in the Belfast Creative Writers Network’s Mentoring Programme, where he worked with award-winning Northern Irish writer, Ian McDonald.

He was commissioned by Morrigan Books to co-edit a short story anthology. REQUIEMS FOR THE DEPARTED is a collection of crime fiction stories based on Irish Myths. It was released in June 2010 and won the Spinetingler Award for Best Anthology in 2011. In October 2010, he performed a short one man show at the Black Box in Belfast. The play was based on his short story, AN IRISH POSSESSION which was adapted for the stage by the director, Conor Maguire. Among numerous short story publications he counts as his most prestigious to date a place in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME edited by Maxim Jakubowski (Constable and Robinson), released in April 2011.

DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS (Liberties Press), edited by Declan Burke, features his article on Northern Irish Crime fiction.

Earlier this year, he signed with Pulp Press to publish his novella, THE POINT, set for release in October 2011.





Small time crook Paul Morgan is a bad influence on his brother, Brian. When Paul crosses one thug too many, the cider fuelled duo flee Belfast for Warrenpoint, the sleepy seaside resort of their childhood memories. For Brian a new life in The Point means going straight and falling in love with Rachel while Paul graduates to carjacking by unusual means and ‘borrowing’ firearms from his new boss. Brian can’t help being dragged into his brother’s bungling schemes but Rachel can be violently persuasive herself...and she isn’t the only one who wants to see an end to Paul’s criminal career.

“Gerard Brennan is a master of gritty violence.” - Colin Bateman

“...a Coen Brothers dream, via Belfast... Gerard Brennan grabs the mantle of the new mystery prince of Northern Ireland..." - Ken Bruen

"The Point is the real deal -- the writing is razor sharp, the characters engaging, the ending a blast. From start to finish it's true Northern Noir, crafted with style and wit." - Brian McGilloway

"It needs to said that Gerard Brennan’s The Point is terrific. Scorchingly funny, black humour at its finest and the most inventive car theft ever!" - Arlene Hunt

"The Point is top stuff. Engaging from the start, the characters are loveable, the story is strong and the pace never lets up." - Adrian McKinty

"Noir from Norn Iron! A lean slice of grindhouse from Belfast's new crime hack." - Wayne Simmons

Book your spot now by emailing David (david@noalibis.com), or calling the shop on 9031 9607.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Spinetingler Rocks



Check out this post on Spinetinger. The mighty Brian Lindenmuth gives THE POINT a high recommendation, which fairly put a spring in my step for the day.

Nigel Bird (interviewed here yesterday) gets the same treatment. With the kind of prices our publishers are charging, why not pick up both and see if you agree? You know you want to.

Pulp Press

Trestle Press

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

An Interview - Nigel Bird


46 years. It's been a long journey. I've been a primary school teacher for almost half of them, moving from mainstream to exceptional needs to additional support needs. I'm most happy with and most proud of my own family. Second to them comes my involvement in writing and peripheral projects. I co-edited the Rue Bella magazine for 5 years or so and am mighty proud of that too. Recently I've been more involved with writing my own pieces. I've been lucky enough to find spaces for some of my work and I'm hoping that one day I'll write a novel that's worthy of publication. I've given up gambling, alcohol, smoking and any kind of unnatural highs over the past few years and am looking for a new compulsion - maybe I've found it in Twitter. Yep, 45 years. I haven't always known it, but I've been a very lucky man.

What are you writing at the minute?

Very unusually, I’m on a break. Really.

It’s the first time in at least seven years that I haven’t had something on the go. My novel is out with readers gathering helpful tips (feedback so far, so good) and as soon as my novella SMOKE was finished it was put out by Trestle Press.

When I realised I had no new ideas or work on the plate, I decided I’d take a month just to chill. A week in and my empty head is filling with thoughts I’d rather not be having, like metal weights collecting there and telling me to go for a swim (come on in the water’s fine), so I’ve come to conclusion that breaks are for bones and for poorly-matched couples.

Can you give us an idea of Nigel Bird’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

I get up around 6:45 and check in with sales and emails. ‘Dirty Old Town’ continues to clock up a handful of sales a day, so it’s not quite as crazy as it seems. Lately I’ve been following ‘Into Thin Air’ in the Waterstone’s top 10 short story chart (it’s currently at number 7).

Work and family will keep me very busy from then until about 8pm.

Tea cleared away, packed lunches made for the next day, a token effort at housework done, I set to writing. I’ll be knackered and way past my best, but I force myself (starting’s the hard part, the rest falls into place).

An hour later, I stop and move on to the writing-related aspect of things – emails, blogs, Tweets, interviews, Sea Minor, cover-design, editing, Face-booking and the like. If I’m lucky, I’ll have something really exciting to work on such as Pulp Ink – that was a real buzz.

I might have time for a bit of TV then, but I’m a real believer in the importance of reading, so I try and read something (anything) before getting back on to the computer to much around (much the same as I did earlier) and then it will be time for bed.

Somewhere in that time, my wife and I say hello. At least I think we do.

Basically, writing has all my spare time and steals a little more of the rest than it should.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

As my life concentrates upon offering my children rich experiences of the world, that’s what I spend most of my time doing, mainly in the role of facilitator it has to be said. A big part of that is the experience of nature (sounds really naff) whether by the sea or on walks or making dens and pretending to cook things that are really leaves and berries and twigs.

I also spend a lot of time coming up with clever tricks which will allow me to sneak onto the computer (on far too regular a basis).

Solitude, reading and nature are important to me. Damn.

Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the genre fiction scene?

If you want to write genre fiction, make sure you enjoy the genre. Read lots of the best available within that genre and plenty of work of the people who are freshening things up. Connect with people who write and read similar things and keep in touch. Above all, write to the best of your ability and then raise your ability.

Which writers have impressed you this year?

For the purposes of this question, I’m sticking to work I’ve read this year which is also pretty new.

Heath Lowrance did a fantastic job with ‘The Bastard Hand’ and ‘Dig Ten Graves’; Simon Logan produced ‘Katja From The Punk Band’ and it left me breathless; Eric Beetner and JB Kohl wrote something very special indeed in their collaboration, ‘One Too Many Blows To The Head’. Paul D Brazill and Darren Sant are Trojans at Trestle; Josh Stallings sets the page on fire and ‘The Adventures Of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles’ by David Cranmer is very special indeed.

Each and every one of the contributors to Pulp Ink, the collection I edited with Chris ‘Death By Killing’ Rhatigan (a writer whose work I also love) gave me a buzz. Each and every contributor in there is a hot potato with salt and butter.

One writer in there who always excites me, whether it be poetry, micro, flash or short fiction is Bill (AJ) Hayes. The guy is ripe for the picking and I hope some publisher out there gets a sniff of him before I force him to act himself.

What are you reading right now?

I’ve just finished ‘Bucket Nut’ by Liza Cody. It’s a remarkable book in so many ways and I can’t believe I haven’t come to it earlier – it was released in 1994 (I think) and if I’d read it then, I think it would have changed my direction to crime fiction much earlier.

The amazing thing is that I felt I was reading something that had influenced my own work. I guess it must be that she had a big impact on other writers whom I love to read and I’ve benefited second or third-hand.

Plans for the future?

Plans and dreams are things I easily confuse.

My pleams are that I’ll be able to give up a day or two more of my teaching time in order to be able to work on my writing during the day. Being fresh and alert must improve output, and I really want to do little else but improve as a writer and to expand my readership as I do so.

With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

I don’t think I could have, no.

Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

It’s not a zap-pow moment or anything.

My worst writing experience is the novel ‘Orinoco Pony and his Dandelion Adventures’.

It’s a novel you won’t know because it will never make it. It will never make it because to do so, I’d have to change so much it would be a different story.

It soaked up all the emotional and physical reserves I had for over a year and the fact that some of my best friends were never to breathe life was devastating.

On the plus side, it did interest one of my favourite authors, Allan Guthrie, and without writing it that would never have happened.

Things were slightly better with my second attempt at a novel. I managed to salvage the novella ‘Smoke’ from it and managed to keep a little more of a distance between me and it as I set about it.

Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

What am I most excited about? No question – Blasted Heath’s launch in November. It’s going to be my favourite publisher, I just know it. And I can hardly wait.

Thank you, Nigel Bird!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Oh Lordy, Ken Bruen's Bringlodi



Psst, did you know that Ken Bruen has a new blog?

His first post was dedicated to Adrian McKinty's next novel, Cold, Cold Ground.

His second?

The Point!

Go see.

No Alibis Event - Michael Connelly

There won't be many tickets left to this event so phone David Torrans now to avoid dissapointment - 02890 319601


No Alibis are very pleased to welcome Michael Connelly back to Belfast, and invite you to spend an evening with him, to celebrate the launch of his latest novel THE DROP, on Thursday 27th October at 7:00PM in the Lecture Theatre of the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast. Tickets, priced £6 each, are now on sale.

Michael will be interviewed by Brian McGilloway.

Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing, a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.

After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.

After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles , was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly has followed that up with 18 more novels. His books have been translated into 31 languages and have won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Shamus, Dilys, Nero, Barry, Audie, Ridley, Maltese Falcon (Japan), .38 Caliber (France), Grand Prix (France), and Premio Bancarella (Italy) awards.

Michael lives with his family in Florida.

Harry Bosch is facing the end of the line. He's been put on the DROP - Deferred Retirement Option Plan - and given three years before his retirement is enforced. Seeing the end of the mission coming, he's anxious for cases. He doesn't have to wait long. First a cold case gets a DNA hit for a rape and murder which points the finger at a 29-year-old convicted rapist who was only eight at the time of the murder. Then a city councilman's son is found dead - fallen or pushed from a hotel window - and he insists on Bosch taking the case despite the two men's history of enmity. The cases are unrelated but they twist around each other like the double helix of a DNA strand. One leads to the discovery of a killer operating in the city for as many as three decades; the other to a deep political conspiracy that reached back into the dark history of the police department.

Brian McGilloway is author of the critically acclaimed Inspector Benedict Devlin series. He was born in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1974. After studying English at Queen’s University, Belfast, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College in Derry, where he is currently Head of English.

His first novel, Borderlands, published by Macmillan New Writing, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger 2007 and was hailed by The Times as ‘one of (2007’s) most impressive debuts.’ The second novel in the series, Gallows Lane, was shortlisted for both the 2009 Irish Book Awards/Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year and the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2010. Bleed A River Deep, the third Devlin novel, was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of their Best Books of 2010. Brian's latest novel, Little Girl Lost, which introduced a new series featuring DS Lucy Black, won the University of Ulster's McCrea Literary Award in 2011.

Brian lives near the Irish borderlands with his wife and their four children.

The event will take place in the Lecture Theatre in the Ulster Museum. Entrance will be gained through the Stranmillis Road entrance (opposite Cafe Conor).

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Booker Night in the City of Culture



So, it was announced last night that Julian Barnes won the 2011 Man Booker Award. Not a huge surprise to the bookies who had him pegged as the favourite. For the first time this year, I read all six of the shortlisted books and if it were up to me (stranger things have happened) I'd have gone for Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch with Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan and The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt coming in at joint second place. I know that Garbhan Downey, Kate Newmann and Kevin Quinn would disagree with me, but hey, they disagreed with each other as well.

As per the previous CSNI post, I attended the Derry Central Library annual Booker event having blagged my way onto a spot on the panel. Another great learning experience that allowed me to witness how something like this should be done and then try to imitate and hope nobody sent me home under a hail of No Alibis-supplied Booker tomes. It was all right on the night, though, and I realised that I can be politely disagreeable without resorting to name-calling. Should be a given to most decent people but it's an achievement for me.

Thanks to Kevin Quinn who organised and moderated the event and seeya later to the panelists, novelist, Garbhan Downey and poet, Kate Newmann.

If time allows, I'll post some thoughts on each of the shortlisted novels over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

No Alibis Event - Stuart Neville

No Alibis are pleased to invite you to celebrate the launch of Stuart Neville's latest novel, STOLEN SOULS, on Friday 14th October at 6:30pm.




Stuart Neville has been a musician, a composer, a teacher, a salesman, a film extra, a baker and a hand double for a well known Irish comedian, but is currently a partner in a successful multimedia design business in the wilds of Northern Ireland. STOLEN SOULS is his third novel, the followup to the hugely successful and award winning THE TWELVE and COLLUSION.

It is snowing, she’s barefoot, but Galya runs. Her captors are close behind her, and she won’t go back there, no matter what. Tricked into coming to Belfast with the offer of a good job, all she wants now is to go home to her family. Her only hope is a man who gave her a cross on a fine chain and a phone number, telling her to call if she escapes. He seems kind. She puts herself at his mercy, knowing she has nowhere else to turn.

Detective Inspector Jack Lennon wants a quiet Christmas with his daughter. When an apparent turf war between rival gangs leaves a string of bodies across the city, he knows he won't get it. As Lennon digs deeper he discovers the truth is far more threatening. Soon he is locked in a deadly race with two very different killers.

Book your spot now by emailing David, or calling the shop on 9031 9607.



Please note, this event has been moved from The Crescent Arts Centre to No Alibis Bookstore.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Pulp Press

So, you wait your whole life to see what the cover for a book you wrote would look like, then two come along in the same week...

Behold, THE POINT!



Ain't it a beauty? The scene depicted actually happens in the book (something you can't always assume with some covers) and Pulp Press couldn't have done a better job with it. Right down to what the characters are wearing, it's as if they reached into my head and pulled that image right out.

So now I'm two for two with wicked covers I love. Best week ever, and it's only Tuesday.

The Point will be available on Kindle as of tomorrow and in print from 31st of October 2011 when I'll launch the novella from No Alibis Bookstore, Belfast. If you can't make it on the night, drop in to No Alibis before or after the launch. If anybody is going to have it stocked early, Dave Torrans will.

I'll post the link to the Kindle edition as soon as it goes live.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Blasted Heath

My novel, WEE ROCKETS, has found a home. Blasted Heath, the ebook publishing house with an 'indie record label' vibe (to quote Anthony Neil Smith and Kyle MacRae), has adopted my little tale of Belfast spides/chavs/neds and, once nursed back to health following a lifetime of abuse and emotional trauma, will set the feral little beast on the general public in January 2012.

Ladies and gentlemen, the cover:




I love it, don't you?

Now, Blasted Heath is brought to you by Allan Guthrie and Kyle MacRae. Click here to visit the holding page for the site. You'll find an intro video and a timer that ticks off the seconds to the release of the five launch titles on the 1st November. We're talking books from Anthony Neil Smith, Ray Banks, Douglas Linsay, Gary Carson and Brian Pendreigh. It's gonna be epic. Bookmark that site now.

What's that? Yes, Al was my agent but to become part of this revolution, I had to opt out of our contract. A crying shame, as Al has been a terrific influence in my writing career, but we've put a lid on that aspect of our professional relationship to eliminate any potential conflict of interests that might arise from the new venture. Feck it, though. I'm delighted to be part of Blasted Heath and I look forward to the future.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Motivation



It's been a turbulent few weeks. I've started my course at Queen's and found it to be a little more challenging than I expected but also a little more enjoyable, so that's kind of balanced out nicely. Having to fit it around my day job has been a little trickier, but I think I've hit my stride today. This sudden adjustment to the aul work-life balance hasn't been without it's problems and I've been close to losing my temper on more than one occaision. Once or twice I let it off the leash for a mad dash and snarl but managed to keep it in sight so most people didn't even notice. My missus always notices, though. You get to know a person when you're as close as me and Michelle are. But she's been brilliant throughout this wobbly patch and made me smile when I needed it the most. Pretty impressive as she has our three kids and the fluffy puppy to deal with as well. This week alone she's faced down chicken pox, tonsilitis and a flu jab. I'm a lucky man.

Another wee thing I've drawn serenity from is the picture above (if you haven't seen Office Space, seek it out). The message may not be very positive, but I'm totally digging the vibe. It's now my desktop wallpaper on my computer at the day job. Everytime I log on, it makes me smirk.

Friday, 30 September 2011

A Wee Review - The Burning Soul by John Connolly




Randal Haight is at wits’ end. Somebody is sending him pictures that prove you cannot escape your past. You see, Haight hasn’t always been Haight. The person he was before – the child he was before – murdered a little girl. And now the town he’s settled in is in a frenzied uproar over the disappearance of a fourteen-year-old girl. Cue Charlie Parker, a private investigator with a tragic past, as Haight’s protector. The only thing is, Parker doesn’t believe his client is as innocent as he claims.

John Connolly’s latest, The Burning Soul, is a Charlie Parker thriller (number 10). Excellent news for fans of the series, but equally great news for those yet to sample Connolly’s work (if there’s anybody out there who hasn’t, that is). This is a very self-contained book that is faithful to the series but is not loaded with back story. Parker’s arc as a character continues but there are no huge developments in a broader sense that require chronological reading from the very start of the series. If you’re not on the Connolly train already, this is your boarding platform. But set aside some time. You’ll want to make this a round trip.

This is an outstanding novel. It’s chockfull of dense and powerful prose that isn’t intimidating but, in fact, is addictively consumable. The portrayal of a violent and unpredictable Boston Irish mob (post-Bulger) in constant crisis is chilling. And the supernatural twist? Cross your heart and bless your burning soul. This one’s coming to get you.

Monday, 26 September 2011

KREEPED OVT RELIGIOUS KVLT KOOL


"The artist and curator, Miguel Martin, speaks to Gerard Brennan on Platform Arts' latest exhibition."

Read the interview over at Culture NI.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

I'm getting too old for this shhh.


An interesting day today. I enrolled in the Queen's University Belfast MA for creative writing. It was a bit of a challenge to get to this point. First the stress of getting accepted onto the course. I applied thinking it was a long shot but in the time it took to get word back I began to believe that I needed that offer more than anything in the world. I'm good at torturing myself that way. But the offer came and then I had to figure out a way to actually attend the classes. Turned out I would have to take a demotion at the day-job if I was going to make the classes. After considering the finances and whatnot, and with the support of my perfect wife, it looked like it would be a reality. Then I had to pay the fees. Not easy on my newly reduced income. But we worked it out.

And I got what I wanted in the end. So today I spent a lot of time marvelling at the fact that I'm so much older than the majority of folk milling about the Queen's campus during freshers' week. I passed down many an offer for a free shot at a nightclub or a reduced rate pizza from young hipsters armed with a stack of coupons positioned at strategic points on campus. And I accepted the reality of the work I'll have to put in to gain that piece of paper that will validate me as a serious student of creative writing. And I got a student card that will entitle me to money off clothes from shops I wouldn't dare set foot in.

But hey, now I can dream of a day-job in the arts sector. And I feel accomplished.

In other news, I got a further ego boost when I read an article in the Belfast Telegraph that names me as a writer to look out for in the future. Gob bless Colin Bateman and read the article here.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Kill List Review



I reviewed a movie called Kill List for the Culture NI website. At first glance it looks like the kind of thing I'd love. Did it satisfy or disappoint? The answer is only a click away.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Wayne Simmons on Point


And today's blurb has been brought to you by Northern Ireland's leading zombie expert, Wayne Simmons. The only thing cooler than Simmon's tattoos is his writing. And to get an endorsement from this dude just plain rocks. Here's what he had to say after reading The Point:



"Noir from Norn Iron! A lean slice of grindhouse from Belfast's new crime hack." - Wayne Simmons, bestselling author of Flu and Drop Dead Gorgeous


I really like the idea of myself as a 'crime hack'. Though hacking usually takes on a more sinister meaning in Simmons' work. Thanks, Wayne! I'd buy you a pint if you hadn't absconded to Cardiff.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A Wee Review - Truth Lies Bleeding by Tony Black



Following a spell as a desk jockey, DI Rob Brennan is back on Edinburgh's mean streets. And his first case could very well unravel all the emotional healing done during his recent psychiatric leave. A murdered teenager, dismembered and found in a dumpster puts him through the mill. He has a lot to prove and minimal support from his colleagues but he is determined to show them all that he can handle the job.

Truth Lies Bleeding, a police procedural, is a bit of a departure for Tony Black who, until now, has written a series of PI novels starring Gus Dury, an alcoholic ex-journalist turned crime-fighter. Brennan isn't as likeable a Dury, which is strange as one's an upstanding citizen and the other isn't all that good at standing quite a lot of the time. However, like him or not, Brennan is an interesting character and Truth Lies Bleeding is Black's most cereberal novel to date. The narrative works hard to present the tangle of thoughts and emotions that haunt and fuel Brennan on his quest for justice and respect (though not always in that order).

Truth Lies Bleeding is a brutal read; dark as the author's name, some of the characters will haunt your thoughts for a very long time after turning the last page. Gritty, urban and heart-wrenching, Black has discovered a darker shade of noir.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Michael Connelly - A No Alibis Event

Michael Connelly
Thursday 27th October at 7:00PM
Tickets: £6
Venue: Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast







No Alibis are very pleased to welcome Michael Connelly back to Belfast, and invite you to spend an evening with him, to celebrate the launch of his latest novel THE DROP, on Thursday 27th October at 7:00PM in the Lecture Theatre of the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast. Tickets, priced £6 each, are now on sale.

Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing, a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.

After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.

After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles , was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly has followed that up with 18 more novels. His books have been translated into 31 languages and have won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Shamus, Dilys, Nero, Barry, Audie, Ridley, Maltese Falcon (Japan), .38 Caliber (France), Grand Prix (France), and Premio Bancarella (Italy) awards.

Michael lives with his family in Florida.



Harry Bosch is facing the end of the line. He's been put on the DROP - Deferred Retirement Option Plan - and given three years before his retirement is enforced. Seeing the end of the mission coming, he's anxious for cases. He doesn't have to wait long. First a cold case gets a DNA hit for a rape and murder which points the finger at a 29-year-old convicted rapist who was only eight at the time of the murder. Then a city councilman's son is found dead - fallen or pushed from a hotel window - and he insists on Bosch taking the case despite the two men's history of enmity. The cases are unrelated but they twist around each other like the double helix of a DNA strand. One leads to the discovery of a killer operating in the city for as many as three decades; the other to a deep political conspiracy that reached back into the dark history of the police department.

The event will take place in the Lecture Theatre in the Ulster Museum. Entrance will be gained through the Stranmillis Road entrance (opposite Cafe Conor).

One third of the tickets for this event are already gone. To avoid disappointment, we recommend that you book your ticket now, by emailing David, or calling the shop on 9031 9607.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Brian McGilloway on Point



Another day, another blurb. Brian McGilloway made me smile on this grey, dreary, damp day in Belfast.



"The Point is the real deal -- the writing is razor sharp, the characters engaging, the ending a blast. From start to finish it's true Northern Noir, crafted with style and wit." - Brian McGilloway


Brian's work is top notch, especially his latest offering, Little Girl Lost, which just about broke my black heart. As with the previous blurbs I've received for The Point, I've been reading this one over and over and pinching myself to make sure I'm not having some sort of cruel coma dream. It all seems legit, though.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Arlene Hunt on Point



The good vibes are still coming. Today Arlene Hunt tweeted (as @arlenehunt) her opinion on my novella, The Point, and it's all good!


"It needs to said that @ The Point is terrific, scorchingly funny, black humour at its finest and most inventive car theft ever!" - Arlene Hunt

I'm continually bowled over by the generosity of the Irish crime fiction set. These are the writers I admire the most and they're taking the time to read my wee novella. And they actually seem to be enjoying it. It's just awesome, man.

Check out Arlene's website for more information on her books and upcoming author events.

Web Slingin'



My author website -- http://gerardbrennan.co.uk/ -- has just been revamped by my old pal, Gareth Watson. His own personal website -- http://comickata.com/ -- showcases some of his awesome comicbook art (such as the image above) and opinions on new comics and graphic novels. Kind of a Comic Scene NI angle, if you will. Hop on over there for a nosey (but visit my site first).

One of the coolest features that the G-Wat has included in the site is that I control ALL the content. So, in the coming weeks I'll be adding new links and some more short fiction. If you want to get in on the link-love, drop me a line here, through the website or shoot me an email.

Friday, 9 September 2011

A Wee Review - Collusion by Stuart Neville

Collusion is Stuart Neville's second novel. Following on from the chaos created by Gerry Fegan in The Twelve (or The Ghosts of Belfast in the US), a police officer, Detective Inspector Jack Lennon, needs to track down his estranged daughter and her mother before they become casulties of the war between Gerry Fegan and Bull O'Kane. But O'Kane has employed the Traveller, a foul-mouthed terminator, to 'take care of' all the players involved in his feud with Fegan. So Lennon has to untangle the web of lies and collusion that leads to his daughter before the Traveller can track them down.

Neville proves yet again that he is a writer to be reckoned with. His writing style pulls no punches and he is a master of creating tension. This Belfast thriller will take hold of you like a fire ravaging a stately home. Brutal, ruthless, breathtaking... Collusion is a blistering read.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Adrian McKinty on Point



Got a most welcome email from Adrian McKinty this morning sharing his thoughts on my novella, The Point.

The man said:



"The Point is top stuff. Engaging from the start, the characters are loveable, the story is strong and the pace never lets up." - Adrian McKinty


Nothing could tickle me pinker than the seal of approval from one of my favourite writers. This week I got it from two of my favourite writers! Everything's coming up Milhouse at the moment.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Ken Bruen on Point





The publication date of my novella, THE POINT, is getting closer. It’s due out on the 31st October 2011 and it’s really just starting to sink in that I’m going to have an actual book to plug that I wrote myself (as opposed to plugging Requiems which in my mind isn’t really my book but that of the contributors).

Anyway, to get a bit of a head start on said plugging I thought I’d share the blurb I received from, Ken Bruen. He said:



“Brian and Paul Morgan would be a Coen Brothers dream, via Belfast.
But our shifty small time crooks have to get out of Dodge and fast and take their shabby hilarious act to Warrenpoint...
The Point.
Hooking up with the lethal Rachel.
And a mad Mick in every sense, hot on their cider-ed trail.
What a joy of a novel, with a perfectly timed setting of unexpected violence every six pack of Special Brew or so.
And the book is moving in ways that sneak up on you.
The ending is pitch perfect, a Mexican stand off that is NI to its complex core.
Gerard Brennan grabs the mantle of the new mystery prince of NI and the appeal of the novel is wide ranging as it is peppered with the Belfast wit.” - Ken Bruen


Needless to say, I’m floored. I mean, this is Ken “GODFATHER OF IRISH CRIME FICTION!!!” Bruen we’re talking about here! And he’s writing about my wee novella… the mind boggles.

Just wow, man.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Friday, 2 September 2011

Another Fine Night

Yesterday I attended the No Alibis launch of John Connolly's The Burning Soul and Alan Glynn's Bloodland with a musical intro from the uber-talented Isobel Anderson. The authors drew such a crowd that David Torrans had to pull a few strings and get the event moved to the Crescent Arts Centre for the sake of public safety. And I'd wager that every person who showed up enjoyed the evening as much as I did


I've been to a number of John Connolly readings and he was as charismatic and entertaining as usual. His talk raised more than a handful of chuckles, though it was a few shades darker than his usual quasi-stand up routine. But it was a fitting tone, considering the hard-hitiing nature of his latest tome


Alan Glynn read two stand-out passages from Bloodland. He fared very well in the company of the seasoned Connolly and his excerpts drew perfect responses from the tuned-in audience. What really made my night was his introduction, though. He quoted from my review of his most recent offering! Little hat-tips like that can be a powerful motivator to continue my often waning mission to spread the word about the quality Irish crime fiction that is out there. I was chuffed to bits

David Torrans then hosted an interview with the scribes that covered a range of subjects. From Alan Glynn's Hollywood experiences on the set of Limitless to John Connolly's eye-opening episodes amongst the London Irish in the years he worked as a journalist, the content was far-reaching, to say the least. What really captured my imagination was the subject of violence in crime fiction and the degrees of responsibility utilised within the genre. Fascinating stuff.

Author spotters would have been delighted to see Stuart Neville and Brian McGilloway in the audience.

Can't wait for the next event!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

No Alibis Event - John Connolly and Alan Glynn

No Alibis are very pleased to invite you to celebrate the launch of John Connolly's latest Charlie Parker novel, THE BURNING SOUL, and Alan Glynn's latest novel, BLOODLAND, on Thursday 1st September at 6:00PM. A musical introduction will be provided by Isobel Anderson.

Please note: due to unprecedented demand for this event, it will now take place in the Crescent Arts Centre, rather than the shop. If you have already booked a spot, you do not need to do so again, as we have already transferred the reservations.


Randall Haight has a secret: when he was a teenager, he and his friend killed a 14-year-old girl.

Randall did his time and built a new life in the small Maine town of Pastor's Bay, but somebody has discovered the truth about Randall. He is being tormented by anonymous messages, haunting reminders of his past crime, and he wants private detective Charlie Parker to make it stop.

But another 14-year-old girl has gone missing, this time from Pastor's Bay, and the missing girl's family has its own secrets to protect. Now Parker must unravel a web of deceit involving the police, the FBI, a doomed mobster named Tommy Morris, and Randall Haight himself.

Because Randall Haight is telling lies...


A private security contractor loses it in the Congo, with deadly consequences, while in Ireland the ex-prime minister struggles to write his memoir.

A tabloid star is killed in a helicopter crash and three years later a young journalist is warned off the story.

As a news story breaks in Paris, a US senator prepares his campaign to run for office.

What links these things and who controls what we know? With echoes of John Le CarrĂ©, 24 and James Ellroy, Alan Glynn has written another crime novel of and for our times – a ferocious thriller that moves from Dublin to New York via West Africa, and thrillingly explores the legacy of corruption in big business, the West’s fear of China, the fate of ex-military, the role of back room political players, and the quick fix of online news.

Alan Glynn is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where he studied English Literature, and has worked in magazine publishing in New York and as an EFL teacher in Italy. His second novel, Winterland, was published to huge acclaim in 2009, while his first novel The Dark Fields was released as the film Limitless - starring Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro - in Spring 2011.


Isobel Anderson will be providing a musical introduction to the evening.

As usual with John's event, we expect this one to be extremely popular, so please do book a spot to avoid disappointment. Book your spot now, by emailing David, or calling the shop on 9031 9607.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A Wee Review - Bloodland by Alan Glynn


Alan Glynn’s Bloodland begins with the mental breakdown of a private security operative in the Congo and then follows the shockwaves that it creates in Ireland and the US. An out-of-work journalist is warned off writing a book about Irish TV star, Susie Monaghan. An ex-Taoiseach gets knocked off the AA wagon. A once-successful property developer skates along the brink of bankruptcy. A US senator with presidential aspirations needs all the spin his people can provide to explain a broken hand. The senator’s brother wants the respect of his octogenarian corporate mentor. And they’re all linked by a helicopter crash that claimed Susie Monaghan’s life.

Bloodland follows the trend set by Glynn’s previous novel, Winterland. It explores the far-reaching ramifications of corruption in politics and global business right down to the frontline casualties. Shit runs downhill. Glynn’s writing is engaging and urgent. Each line counts as he expertly develops his characters and plot without sacrificing his wonderful skill for evocative prose.

Bloodland will enrage that sleeping anarchist within. More of the same, please, Mister Glynn.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Wee Review - Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway


Brian McGilloway gives Inspector Ben Devlin a bit of a holiday and introduces us to his new protagonist, DS Lucy Black of the PSNI Personal Protection Unit in Derry. During an investigation into the kidnapping of a local businessman's teenage daughter DS Black discovers a little girl wandering through a forest on a snowy night in nothing but her nightdress. It soon becomes apparent that the girl has been witness to something incredibly traumatic. So traumatic, in fact, that she retreats into herself and is unable to communicate. DS Black takes it upon herself to take the girl under her wing and try to get her to speak, but can she deal with an additional responsibility? She already cares for her senile father and has more than enough on her plate trying to crack the kidnapping case.

Little Girl Lost is quite a different book from anything McGilloway has written in the Devlin series. From the protagonist to the writing style, McGilloway has made a lot of changes, and all for the better. It should come with a warning, though. This one tugs, pulls and gnaws at your heart strings. Prepare to invest a lot of emotion into this read and don't expect to be paid back with the perfect Hollywood ending. McGilloway has gone all out. Little Girl Lost is darker than a Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

Word on the street is that this is the start of a new series (though we can expect a new Devlin book in the coming year) and this book proves that DS Black will be a welcome addition to the Northern Irish crime scene.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Writers' Writers (a short report)

Adrian McKinty and Declan Burke made for an awesome double act at last night's No Alibis event. Both writers opted not to read from the books they were there to launch (McKinty's Falling Glass and Burke's Absolute Zero Cool). Instead they entertained the audience with a frank and oft times scathing dialogue about the state of the modern publishing model. A lot of what was said I wouldn't dare write about here for fear that I might be sued for libel. What I can tell you is that it was a fascinating insight into the minds of a pair of excellent writers who are masters of their trade.

Incidentally, Stuart Neville, David Park and Andrew Pepper were among the crowd. I wish I had the presence of mind to snap a few pics but I haven't been at the top of my game this week. I'm sure they'll pop up on the No Alibis website and/or Facebook page at some point. I'll post a link when they do.

If you didn't get to the event you should make it up to yourself by buying Falling Glass and Absolute Zero Cool as soon as humanly possible. Both books are a master class in crime fiction that doesn't conform to the old and tired model.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

No Alibis Event - Burke and McKinty



Declan Burke and Adrian McKinty
Thursday 18th August at 6:00PM
Tickets: FREE

No Alibis are very pleased to invite you to celebrate the launch of Declan Burke's latest novel, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, and FALLING GLASS, the latest novel from Adrian McKinty, in the shop on Thursday 18th August at 6:00 PM.

Declan Burke was born in Sligo in 1969. He is the author of EIGHTBALL BOOGIE (2003) and THE BIG O (2007). He is also the editor of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY. His new novel, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, is published by Liberties Press in 2011. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Aileen and baby daughter Lily, and hosts a website dedicated to Irish crime fiction called Crime Always Pays.


Absolute Zero Cool is a post-modern take on the crime thriller genre. Adrift in the half-life limbo of an unpublished novel, hospital porter Billy needs to up the stakes. Euthanasia simply isn’t shocking anymore; would blowing up his hospital be enough to see Billy published, or be damned? What follows is a gripping tale that subverts the crime genre’s grand tradition of liberal sadism, a novel that both excites and disturbs in equal measure. Absolute Zero Cool is not only an example of Irish crime writing at its best; it is an innovative, self-reflexive piece that turns every convention of crime fiction on its head. Declan Burke’s latest book is an imaginative story that explores the human mind’s ability to both create and destroy, with equally devastating effects.

Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Carrickfergus. After studying philosophy at Oxford University he emigrated to New York City where he lived in Harlem for seven years working in bars, bookstores, building sites and finally the basement stacks of the Columbia University Medical School Library in Washington Heights. In 2000 he moved to Denver, Colorado where he taught high school English and started writing fiction in earnest. His first full length novel, Dead I Well May Be, was shortlisted for the 2004 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and was picked by Booklist as one of the 10 best crime novels of the year. In mid 2008 he moved to Australia. He is currently working on a new crime novel for Serpents Tail called The Cold Cold Ground. His website can be found here.


An old associate of regular McKinty hero Michael Forsythe, Killian makes a living enforcing other people's laws, collecting debts, dealing out threats. Now Forsythe sets Killian up with the best paid job of his life. A prominent, politically connected, Irish businessman, Richard Coulter, needs someone to find his ex-wife and children - for half a million. Reluctant to take it, but persuaded by the money, Killian travels across the world for his briefing from Coulter himself. Once on the trail, Killian discovers the real reason Coulter's ex is running, and helps her take refuge amongst his people - a community of Irish Travellers, who close ranks to look after them. McKinty is at his continent-hopping, pacy, evocative best in this new thriller, moving between his native Ireland and distant cities within a skin-of-his-teeth timeframe.

We, expect this event to be very popular, so avoid disappointment and book your spot early. You can email David, or call the shop on 9031 9607.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A Wee Review - Plugged by Eoin Colfer



Dan McEvoy was once an Irish soldier. He did two tours of the Lebanon -- by choice -- which resulted in him spending a little time with the army shrink. A few years later, he left Ireland and found a job at a seedy casino in Cloisters, New Jersey. And there he worked until the day his friend (to use the term loosely) Zeb disappeared. Then Connie, a stripper he had a crush on, ended up dead in the casino parking lot. Now Dan has to find his missing friend-by-default and his dead nearly-girlfriend's killer. Unfortunately, this is going to lead him into the path of a brutal gangster, Mike Madden. And now that his friend Zeb has somehow become the voice of his concscience and a constant companion throughout the adventure, the question is, can Dan hold it together long enough to survive? And what the hell is going on with his hair?

Plugged is Eoin Colfer's first novel aimed at adults and this read will leave you wishing he'd gotten around to this career move a hell of a lot sooner. The characters (especially the protagonist) are big, brash and a bucket-load of fun. The story shoots off on tangents quite regularly yet never seems to drag towards the gut-punch ending. The tone... well, it's got to be read to be fully appreciated. Pick this book up ASAP. The opening pages accost the reader, drag them to all the worst places and charm their metaphorical pants off along the way.

Top shelf.