Tuesday 29 April 2014


First off, thanks to Steve Cavanagh for the kind invitation to contribute to this bloggy chain-letter-type thing. Steve is Northern Ireland’s latest crime fiction success story, and if you want to find out more about him, go read his Writing Process blog post, right here. Then read more of his blog posts. They’re always good. You’ll notice that he’s one of those writers who does things the right way. That’s how come he’s got a swanky deal with one of my favourite publishers, Orion. Lucky (hardworking) fecker.

You back from Steve’s gaff yet? Sound. Here’s my post:

a) What am I working on?

Thanks for asking! Today I finished up a short story for an anthology I was invited to contribute to. It’s a noir piece with a bunch of supernatural stuff loosely based on the Morrigan myth. It would have fit well with the Requiems for the Departed brief, but I chose not to contribute to the Irish myth/crime fiction anthology because I co-edited the book and that seemed like a liberety.

Other than the short story, I’ve got a creative writing PhD keeping me busy, for which I must produce a new and ‘highly original’ crime fiction novel along with a critical piece on some old school greats. And I’m working on a Northern Irish police procedural during all those awesome university holidays.

b) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

People tell me I have a unique voice, so I guess I’ve set myself apart stylistically. I’m quite proud of myself when somebody says that, actually, so it must be important to me. I set pretty much all of my stuff in Northern Ireland, though I tend to avoid the Troubles. That’s not to say I won’t examine the Troubles in the future. In fact, I plan to do just that. But for now, that’s something else that readers point out as somewhat original. Also, my work has a noir quality to it. The great Stuart Neville once described by work as Norn Noir (a play on the term Norn Iron which is how some of the natives pronounce Northern Ireland). A shame that many agents and publishers aren’t interested in the Northern Irish noir sub-genre at the moment, though.

c) Why do I write what I do?

Writing is a long and solitary process. If I wasn’t spending time with the type of characters I create, I’d get bored very quickly. In fact, I’d jack writing in if it didn’t entertain me. So I guess it’s just a case of writing the kind of stuff I’d like to read.

d) How does your writing process work?

Most of the time it doesn’t work. I get distracted really easily, unfortunately. However, in those moments when the writing machine is firing at full tilt, I’ve found I do my best work in the morning, so long as I’ve prepared a little the night before. And the preparation doesn't have to be all that time consuming either. If I have a decent outline written, I can read the beats for the chapter or chapters I hope to write the next day. Sometimes I'll add additional notes to clarify the beats or to incorporate a new idea. Then I can get cracking on the actual writing the next morning. This is a relatively new process for me, but it helped me write my latest novella, BREAKING POINT, in less than a month. That's an output record I want to beat in the summer, after I've met my PhD deadlines in May.

There’s a writer called Sean Platt who penned a great blog post that describes a process similar to mine right here. This guy’s output is pretty stunning; he’s much more productive than I am. So read that, and you’ll find out how I’d like my process to work.

Right, so, the three writers that I’d like to continue this chain-letter-type bloggy thing are:

I met both Michael and Caroline on the MA in creative writing at QUB a couple of years ago. Their writing rocks and they’re starting to get the recognition they deserve. I met Mark McCann at No Alibis and again at Kitty Daly’s pub in Belfast. Turns out he’s a good friend of a good friend of mine, and he’s a rather funky author of supernatural noir. What’s not to like?

Keep ‘er lit, folks!

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