Friday 27 June 2008

Carlo Gébler Creative Writing Course

From the CWN Weekly Newsletter

5 day Intensive Creative Writing Course

Duration: 1 week (5 days)
Date: 28 July – 1 August 2008
Time: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Course tutor: Carlo Gébler

Course Details

This is a week-long course for experienced practitioners. The purpose of the course will be to help those who want to advance or finish a novel. In order to facilitate this, participants must bring the manuscript they would like to advance or finish, plus a short three written description of this novel and a summary of its plot. It must be stressed it does not matter what type or genre of novel participants are writing: all types of fiction will be welcome. Participants must also expect to read from their work-in-progress during the week.

Each morning will start with an informal presentation by the tutor on a novel or short story he admires and that he believes has something to teach those who want to write.

After the informal presentation participants will read from their work. Everyone will be expected to read to the group in the week. Each reading will be followed by a discussion, led by the tutor, on what has just been read aloud. These group discussions will form the heart of the workshop. Individual tutorials will also be part of the programme if there is enough time.

By the end of the week, participants will have a much clearer idea of how to advance or finish a complex piece of work.

Please note that it will not be possible during the course for the tutor to the read the work of participants either in or out of course hours.

The course runs from Monday 28 July to Friday 1 August 2008. The course hours are 10.00 to 4.00 daily with an hour for lunch. The course tutor prefers if participants attend for the full duration of the course. The number of participants is limited to 10

The course sounds brilliant, and I'd love to have that kind of time to spare. I've an old manuscript that could do with this sort of attention. Alas, I must work to earn a crust, and have little Brennans that I don't want to abandon for that long.

The newsletter doesn't mention how much the course will cost, but I imagine the details will be on the Irish Writers' Centre website soon enough.

Thursday 26 June 2008

Jumping The Gun

I posted some amazing news a few days ago, claiming that I'd landed my first novel publication. At that point I'd seen a contract that needed a slight alteration and was waiting to meet with one of the editors from the publishing house to sign the final agreement. I had asked if it was okay to start spreading the word and got the go ahead. And some lovely folk gave me lots of praise and encouragement. Thanks, guys.

Unfortunately, at the 11th hour, the whole deal fell through. We'll call it a result of creative differences. So, it's back to square one for my little manuscript.

I've had a day to get over the shock of it, and I'm fine now. This post isn't intended to be a complaint. I'm just informing all you good people who took the time to comment that things aren't quite going as planned.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

A Wee Review - Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen

CSNI's international man of mystery, Mike Stone, is back with another review. To you, Mr Stone...

Honey Santana is not a woman to be messed with. Her employer Louis Piejack finds this out when he grabs her right breast at work. He gets his nuts pulverised by a mallet for his troubles. He’s not alone. Boyd Shreave, a Texan telemarketer, is tricked into going to Florida to meet Ms Santana, simply because he insulted her over the phone. He’s accompanied on the plane by his bimbo girlfriend, Eugenie Fonda and, unwittingly, a PI hired by Mrs Shreave who is after *ahem* penetrative film footage of the wayward Mr Shreave and Ms Fonda.

Then there’s Sammy Tigertail, on the run because he believes he will be blamed for the death of a white tourist, and Gillian, who despite Sammy’s pleas, insist on being his hostage.

What ensues is a romp around the Everglades’ Ten Thousand Islands, where at some point in the story everybody is kidnapped by somebody else.

I’ve read a dozen or so of Carl Hiaasen’s earlier books and they’re nearly all cut from the same cool, mozzie-repellent linen. We’re in the balmy, mosquito- and crime-infested Sunshine State, check. Our hero or heroine is a tough-as-old-boots eco-warrior, check. The villain is a deformed, demented, accident waiting to happen, check. And don’t forget the sprinkling of corrupt politicians, alligators, and hopeless city folks flailing in the Everglades, check, check and check.

Is that a taciturn Seminole Indian, I see? Oh good. Check.

Not that this is an entirely bad thing. It’s a bit like settling down to watch the latest Bond flick. You know there’s going to be gunfights and vehicle chases, spectacular gadgetry, gorgeous girls and a megalomaniac (usually with a murderous henchman) bent on world domination. They are the vital ingredients for a successful Bond film, although even the most ardent Bond-fan will admit it can all get a bit samey sometimes.

And so it is with Hiaasen.

I had difficulty differentiating the characters of Nature Girl from those in previous books. Hiaasen sometimes reintroduces characters from previous works and I did wonder whether I was meeting old characters whose names I’d forgotten. But no, this was an all-new cast; any likeness was purely coincidental. For the first few chapters or so I was thinking, “Oh hum.” The story jumped around with only tenuous links between the characters, and it felt like the links, when they formed, relied a little too much on coincidence at times.

All of which would make for a rather negative review. Except, around page fifty, Hiaasen’s magic started to kick in and [reviewer’s hyperbole] my doubts were swept away by a tide of cartoon violence, glorious innuendo and madcap capers. [end reviewer’s hyperbole] Things get seriously crazy and it’s all heady stuff. There might be times, though, when Hiaasen takes things too far. Such as when Louis Piejack’s fingers are pinched off by jumbo-sized stone crabs and surgically re-attached by a surgeon. There is a comedy of errors and the fingers get sewn back onto his hand but in the wrong places.

Hiaasen’s dialogue, though, is never less than 100% real, whether he’s writing from the POV of a city-slicker from Texas, a sorority girl from Massachusetts or the 12-year old son of a crab fisherman. I grew fond of Honey Santana and her son, Fry, and Sammy Tigertale and Gillian. You even end up feeling sorry for schmucks like Boyd Shreave.

Do I recommend Nature Girl? Well, that’s a tricky one. It’s like someone asking you if James Bond is any good. Well, is he?

If you’re a stranger to Hiaasen I’d recommend you try Skin Tight or Sick Puppy first. If you’ve read them, well you’re a probably a fan anyway and have Nature Girl on your bookshelf. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Four stars.

Michael Stone was born in 1966 in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Since losing most of his eyesight to Usher Syndrome, he has retreated from your world to travel the dark corners of inner space. To put it more prosaically, he daydreams a lot.

Read more about Michael and his fiction here.

Monday 23 June 2008

Rumour Millar

It's been too long since we last mentioned Sam Millar, and although Crime Always Pays scooped this info on Sunday, (while I was rubbing sleep out of my eyes and considering a life without drink, no doubt) here are some reviews for Mister Millar's BLOODSTORM.

“Bloodstorm is a classy, on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller. Relentlessly violent, it may be, but nevertheless delivers - in bloody spades - what it tells you on the cover. A sure-shot hit from Belfast’s most controversial writer…”

Sunday Life

“Sam Millar’s latest book Bloodstorm is a gripping, disturbing read shot through with elements of dark humour. You will find yourself still reading at three in the morning not wanting to put the book down except to go and check that the doors and windows are really secure. What Millar is clearly very good at is telling a story and in doing so he creates set piece scenes which will stay in your head for years to come.”

Ulla’s Nib

“Bloodstorm is a first in a series of books by best-selling and award-winning Belfast author Sam Millar, featuring anti-hero and Belfast private investigator, Karl Kane as the leading protagonist. It is classic crime noir, and has to be the freshest and most original piece of writing to come out of Belfast in years. The book is peopled with characters straight out of a Cohen Brothers movie and is a gripping, disturbing read…”

UTV, Book Review Club

So there you have it folks. If you're one of the ten people left on the island who've let BLOODSTORM pass you by, shame on you! Why haven't you read this book yet? Word on the street is, Karl Kane is back early next year in BLOODSTORM's flollow up, The Dark Place, so get a copy of part one in preparation for it.

Also, Albedo One, the genre fiction magazine from Dublin are running an interview with him. If you've a spare couple of yoyos you can download the PDF for a shuftie. It's got a bloomin' nice cover (right) hasn't it?

Friday 20 June 2008

The Friday Project - The Salesman by Joseph O'Connor

Declan Burke, thon ragamuffin from CAP alerted me to this project, spear-headed by Patti Abbot. Seems like a just cause. So, feast your eyes on the latest CSNI offering.

Joseph O'Connor shot to fame after his book, Star of the Sea, was featured on The Richard and Judy Book Club. But before he penned this historical fiction, O'Connor wrote quite a few novels and non-fiction books that enjoyed a decent cult following. Among them, the crime story titled The Salesman.

Some blurbage...

It's Dublin, June 1995, the hottest summer since records began. But Billy Sweeney, a middle-aged salesman with a failed marriage, a faltering career and a tumbledown house, has more than weather on his mind. His youngest daughter lies in a coma in hospital following a mysterious attack on the petrol station where she worked. Devastated by the unfolding consequences of that hot, violent night, frustrated by officialdom and failed by the system, Billy finally tires of seeking legal justice. He decides to take the law into his own hands...

Personally, I'd probably recommend this over his more successful Star of the Sea. But sure, Judge for yourself some time. Pick up one of his books. Most likely to be found in Dublin Airport.

Thursday 19 June 2008

Window Shopping

I took a dander out to Waterstones and Eason during lunch today. At Waterstones I was delighted to see Adrian McKinty’s Bloomsday Dead, Aifric Campbell’s The Semantics of Murder, Declan Hughes’s The Dying Breed and John Connolly’s Reapers all on the 3 for 2 table. Not that long ago I was complaining that McKinty’s work wasn’t getting enough high street exposure. I even emailed his Publicity Manager at Serpent’s Tail to ask why it was so hard to get his books in Belfast. Of course, I doubt it made any difference, but god damn it, at least I tried! And I’m sure Hughes and Connolly are no strangers to the 3 for 2 table, but to see Campbell’s debut on the table was very cool.

Eason, on the other hand, was showing much love to the NI writers, Bateman and Brian McGilloway. Their most recent offerings were on their 3 for 2 offer. And all of Sam Millar’s fiction could be found in the crime section. They only had Bloodstorm at Waterstones.

Now, all this being said, I still prefer to buy my books at independent bookshops, such as No Alibis. The guys that work for the bigger chains just don’t have the knowledge or passion of a true-blue book-geek. No offence intended, some of the sales assistants are nice people, and good at their jobs, but they’re trained SALES assistants, which doesn’t mean they’re book lovers. Their skills could, in many cases, transfer to record shops, makeup counters or even used car forecourts. But you can’t ignore the power the high street shops have to make or break a writer’s career, so I was happy to see all these quality Irish writers holding their own amongst the Cobens, Connellys and Hayders.

And so, I headed back to work with a spring in my step.

Well... not quite. One small detail did depress me a little. Outside Eason, a queue of women, girls and a smattering of bored boyfriends were queued from the bookshop’s entrance right around the pretty distant corner. What were they there for? Westlife were coming to sign their new book at 5.30pm. Now, I was out and about at 12.30. For those of you reaching for your calculators, that’s a whole five hours before the collection of crooners were set to make their appearance. A bloody crime against fiction, if you ask me. Nobody ever does, though.

Wednesday 18 June 2008

Pimp My Ride NI

Can't come up with a caption funnier than this pic.

Tuesday 17 June 2008

I'm a Crime Writer!

Yes indeedy, folks. You heard it here first. The next Northern Irish crime writer will be... me! (Unless some other bugger I haven't heard about gets in there first.)

The most excellent people at Guildhall Press will be publishing my West Belfast crime novel, Piranhas, some time before Christmas 2008.

Holy crap!

Guildhall also published Yours Confidentially by Garbhán Downey. I'm in pretty damn good company.

Monday 16 June 2008

An Interview - Carlo Gébler

Carlo Gébler was born to the writers Edna O’Brien and Ernest Gébler in Dublin in 1954, was raised in London and currently lives in Northern Ireland with his wife and five children. He has written a wide range of novel and plays. His most recent work is A Good Day for a Dog, published by Lagan Press.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

I’m working on an illustrated children’s version of The Crocodile by Dostoyevsky. It’s the story of a man swallowed by a crocodile. He survives and becomes a celebrity.

In the non-fiction field, I’ve been interviewing people about suicide and their experience of suicide, these are people who have been affected personally by it, and from their testimonies I am constructing a book.

And finally, I have a play that is very near completion. It’s a work of fiction based on Brian Nelson and Freddy Scappaticci and their life experiences as they ran in parallel.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of Carlo Gébler’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

Up at six-thirty to prepare breakfast for the family. I bring tea and toast to my wife in bed. Then it’s out for a swim. After that I come home to write for two to three hours, and hopefully in that time, I’ve produced a good 1000 words. That brings me up to noon and I spend the rest of the day doing all the admin that comes with writing.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Garden, walk, slowly become my dad. All the ordinary things. I don’t watch much TV, and I would go to the local cinema more often if it played more of the kind of films I like.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

Read, read, read!

Q5. Which crime writer(s) have impressed you this year?

Edward Bunker always impresses me, and I’ve just got my hands on his new one, Stark. I also very much enjoy Georges Simenon, a Belgian author who wrote in French. I’m a big fan of his Maigret novels. And I recently reread The Trial by Kafka, which I very much consider to be a crime novel.

I also consider William Roughead one of my greatest influences. He was an amateur criminologist who went to trials to write up and publish the transcripts. He covered the trial of William Joyce, AKA Lord Haw-Haw and wrote an essay on the Burke and Hare Murders.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

Edward Bunker’s Stark and Colum McCann’s This Side of Brightness.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Really, before I start anything else, I’d like to finish up my current projects, and then we’ll see. I have a lot of teaching to do over the summer, but I also want to work on a new idea I’m very fond of. It’s a crime story based on a mid 19th century Irish agricultural murder.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

I would have been less recklessly promiscuous and not written in as many forms as I have. It would have made it easier for people to classify me as a playwright, novelist or children’s writer but I’ve made these hard by doing all of these. On the other hand, by doing all of these, I’ve never been bored.

Q9. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

Yes, I’d like to make a point regarding my writing advice. Reading. Writers should read because it exercises the imagination. The imagination is the organ that produces literature. You can train it by reading, much like you train a muscle through exercise at the gym. Read and you become much more adept at using words and images to create powerful work.

Thank you, Carlo Gébler!

Happy Bloomsday!

And to celebrate, I've got one signed copy of Adrian McKinty's The Bloomsday Dead, released just a few days ago through Serpent's Tail, that will go to a lucky CSNI reader.

What do you have to do? First person to name the book's protagonist gets it. Just put your answer in the comment box. Easy Peasy.

Then email me at gerardforpresident(at) with your postal address, and I'll send it off to you ASAP.

You know you want it.

Please note, this is the third in a trilogy and due to my abhorrence of spoilers I highly recommend that you read Dead I Well May Be before reading The Bloomsday Dead.

Sunday 15 June 2008

A Wee Review - The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom

For as long as I’ve been reading, I’ve never encountered a protagonist who uses the words “erm” or “aaggh” more often or more effectively than Israel Armstrong; the hero of The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom. Did I say hero? Well, yes. But this young librarian is a hero of a very different kind. One you’ll be hard pressed to meet the like of again. So please, do yourself a favour and pick up this book.

Not convinced yet? All right, then. Read on.

Israel has come from trendy north London to the small Northern Irish town of Tumdrum, County Antrim, to take up the very important post of head librarian. Unfortunately, upon arrival, he finds out that the library has been closed. Naturally worried that he is now out of a job, he goes to see his direct line manager, Linda Wei, of the Tumdrum town council. She assures him that he can rest at ease. The council have decided to reinstate the old mobile library, and Israel’s contract allows him a post as the mobile librarian. Great! Except that Israel believes the mobile library languishes at the bottom of the library hierarchy, the actual Bedford bus-type van-ish vehicle is a death trap and all 15,000 library books have gone missing. As the head librarian, it falls under Israel’s remit to solve the case of the missing books. Unfortunately, he is quite probably the worst amateur detective ever.

Ian Sansom is an Englishman living in Northern Ireland himself, and I wonder how much of his own experiences are invested in the excellent job he has done of creating our Israel Armstrong. As the blurb says, Israel is an intelligent, shy, passionate, sensitive sort of soul: he’s Jewish; he’s a vegetarian; he could maybe do with losing a little weight.” This is how Israel sees himself, and to be fair, it’s a pretty accurate summary. But when he’s not wondering where his next espresso is coming from, or what on Earth the locals are actually saying, or why his girlfriend isn’t phoning him or returning his calls, he seems a nice enough sort. A perfect example of a librarian, but no action man. Still, he does what he can to recover the missing books, and treads on all sorts of toes while he’s at it.

Sansom’s prose is brilliant. Simple and seemingly effortless – an incredibly difficult style to do right. As a reader I had a vivid picture of Tumdrum in my head and each character seemed entirely real. I loved how he took the time to look about. And Sansom is definitely the king of the long sentence. It’s not that he’s guilty of superfluous writing – he simply likes to take a little time to impress upon the reader a very definite thought, feeling or image. And fair play to him, because it works so sickeningly well.

And then there’s the humour. Mostly it’s in the form of Israel’s bumbling while attempting to acclimatise to his new surroundings. However, some of the locals are just wickedly funny. Take Ted, the mobile library driver. This is your typical Northern Irish hard man approaching his autumn years. He’s getting old enough to mellow out a little, but not so old that you can relax too much around him. In fact, he threatens to blacken Israel’s eye the first night they meet. But he’s also the source of many laugh-out-loud moments through deadpan dialogue and old school wisdom.

The Case of the Missing Books is a fantastic introduction to The Mobile Library series. As a recurring character, Israel Armstrong could well become one of my favourites. By the time I get through the next two, I’ll know for sure.

Mr Bateman? Sir? You better watch out for this Ian Sansom fellow. He’s a serious contender for the NI Comedy Crime Writer crown.

Friday 13 June 2008

The Friday Project - Father's Music by Dermot Bolger

Declan Burke, thon ragamuffin from CAP alerted me to this project, spear-headed by Patti Abbot. Seems like a just cause. So, feast your eyes on the latest CSNI offering.

This week's choice cleverly coincides with Father's Day weekend. I'm wild smart, aren't I?

Father's Music is a book that may slip under most crime aficionado's radar's as Dermot Bolger is better known as a literary novelist. However, this offering is crime fiction through and through. I read this years ago; not long after I discovered Colin Bateman and Joseph O'Connor, in fact. I thought it was a real cracker, but it's not fresh enough in my mind to do it justice review-wise. Luckily, that geezer Critical Mick has written a great review of it. Go read it. Bet you're intrigued.

Thursday 12 June 2008

Last McKinty Post of the Day

Yesterday I attended the Belfast launch of Adrian McKinty's The Bloomsday Dead. The venue was the super-cool No Alibis. As usual, Dave Torrans was the host with the most. As usual, I had to turn down the free wine. Damn my respect for the drink driving laws! But seriously, I can't say this often enough; Dave owns the best independent bookshop I've ever been to. And you'll have a hard time finding a friendlier, more knowledgeable shopkeeper.

Adrian McKinty read very little from his Serpent's Tail release of the third book in the Michael Forsythe trilogy. Instead he told the very funny story of how the book came into existence. Then he read one of the few short excerpts that didn't contain swearing, sex or violence (his mother was in the audience).

After a very interesting Q&A, I hijacked the fellah for about ten minutes, and we chatted about the booming NI crime fiction scene while he signed my Forsythe trilogy. I gotta say, the guy's a gentleman, and not just as scary as I thought he'd have been. I had a great night, listening to his hilarious anecdotes, his answers to the questions fired at him by the crowd, and getting the opportunity to shake his hand and have a quick natter with him.

Many thanks to Dave Torrans and Adrian McKinty. You rock.

Released Today - The Bloomsday Dead by Adrian McKinty

Taking a leaf out of Declan Burke's blog, I've republished my review of The Bloomsday Dead (below) and also wish to draw your attention to a recent interview. Click here for the BBC Radio Ulster, Listen Again page. Find Arts Extra on the A to Z listings and click on Wed. Don't delay now. These Listen Again spots only stay on the site for seven days.

Go on, do it, or you'll piss off the guy on the right.

P.S. McKinty's intrview starts on the 15th minute, so if you're pushed for time, click on the forward 5min button three times and Bob's your mother's brother.

A Wee Review - The Bloomsday Dead by Adrian McKinty

Impressed as I was with Dead I Well May Be, I jumped right in to the next Adrian McKinty book I could get my hands on; The Bloomsday Dead. This is the final part of McKinty’s Dead trilogy featuring the un-effing-killable protagonist, Michael Forsythe. For a full appreciation of the novel, I highly recommend that you read Dead I Well May Be first. And as rumour would have it, so does Mr McKinty, actually. Oh, and see his extended interview on Crime Always Pays for a real insight into his whys and what fors in writing the trilogy. A CSNI review of The Dead Yard will follow in due course, but since the Serpent’s Tail paperback of The Bloomsday Dead is set for release on the 12th of June, I thought it’d be a good idea to give you readers time to crack open those piggy banks and get to buying McKinty’s work.

On with the review!

The Bloomsday Dead finds Michael Forsythe living it down in Lima, Peru. He’s on the run from the New York Irish Mob through the FBI Witness Protection Programme. His past sins against the mob include a bunch of spoilers for Dead I Well May Be, so forgive me for not going into further detail. Just know that this book takes us from Lima to Belfast with some flashbacks to Forsythe’s time in New York. And again I’m impressed by McKinty’s skill at painting his surroundings vividly by showing rather than info-dumping a knowledge that he’s obviously gleaned through personal experience. Google and read up a thing or two about Adrian McKinty and you’re not long figuring out he’s a wandering soul, as is his protagonist from the Dead Trilogy (though for slightly differing reasons – I hope). However, Forsythe’s love/hate relationship with Belfast is made all the more real, I suspect, by the fact that McKinty has not lost touch with his Northern Irish roots.

Michael Forsythe’s role has matured as has his characterisation. He’s no longer the white-hot fury that scorched the pages of part one. That’s still part of his make-up, but he’s also developed a world-weariness that is put across expertly. And revenge is not his sole driving-force in this final part. He has taken on the part of an investigator. A badass, heavy-handed and morally complex investigator, but all the more interesting because of it. So many times in this downward character arc I was convinced the guy had to give up the ghost and lie down for the next two hundred, then one hundred, then fifty then ten pages of the book. Michael Forsythe struggles towards the denouement scrapping, spitting and cursing, always considering surrender but finding it beyond his nature. A fascinating thing to witness.

The ending, I can’t really talk about (I’m anti-spoiler, remember?), though at one point Forsythe compares it to a Spanish Soap Opera, which is hard to argue against. And as the reader wrestles to suspend his disbelief and allow the impact of the surprise twist, so does the protagonist. A risky way to play it, as some critics could argue that McKinty’s having trouble believing it himself, but I personally think it works. And it makes for some real emotional writing from the expert in heart-wrenching that is Adrian McKinty.

And so, this bastard child of Tony Soprano morality and James Joyce literacy ends the Michael Forsythe trilogy. I’m sad to see the thug go, but hey, everything has to end some time. And we’ve Adrian McKinty’s Fifty Grand to look forward to in the not-so-distant future.

Incidentally, Adrian McKinty is journeying all the way from Australia to launch the release of The Bloomsday Dead at No Alibis Bookshop, Botanic Avenue, Belfast. The event is set to start at 6.00pm on Wednesday the 11th June. Not a kick in the arse off the actual Bloomsday date, 16th June (A James Joyce related celebration). Be there! But if you can’t, he’ll be in England as well. Will post dates and locations soon for you English McKinty fans.

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Jump Around - News and Links

Here's a few good places to visit for some word on the NI crime scene.

First off, stop by Colin Bateman's site. In his "Latest" section, he's made one of his rare blog updates. Among the news, "I'm working on a TV project for Sky at the moment, which is based on the crime novels of Stephen Booth... The latest children's book, Titanic 2020: Cannibal City is either in the shops (in Ireland) or about to hit them (everywhere else) and I've been doing my bit to promote that... I'll be interviewing the esteemed Ian Rankin on stage." And there's something on there about penile dysfunction... ahem.

Moving on, there are some articles of note over at the Verbal Magazine website. Carlo Gébler gives us a great insight into his latest novel, A Good Day for a Dog. And if you click on the Issue 14 pdf you'll find an article by CWN's Tammy Moore on the John Connolly and Declan Hughes event held at No Alibis last month. You'll also find a wee review of Garbhán Downey's Yours Confidentially written by some glipe.

And Ian Sansom is getting some much deserved attention over at Detectives Beyond Borders. He's the subject of a post on 10th June 08 and forms part of a very interesting question on the entry dated 11th June 08.

So have a wee surf about there, folks. And remember where you read it first!

Tuesday 10 June 2008

No Alibis Event - Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty

Wednesday 11th June at 6:00PM

No Alibis Bookstore is pleased to invite you to an evening with Adrian McKinty on Wednesday 11th June at 6:00PM, to celebrate the launch of his latest novel, THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD.

Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, when terrorism in Ulster was at its height. Educated at Oxford University, he then immigrated to New York City, where he lived in Harlem for five years, working in bars and on construction crews, as well as a stint as a bookseller. He is the author of Hidden River and Dead I Well May Be, which was short-listed for the Crime Writers' Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Michael Forsythe might be unkillable, but that doesn’t seem to deter people from trying. He’s living in Lima, reasonably well-hidden by the FBI’s Witness Protection Program, but Bridget Callaghan, whose fiancé he murdered twelve years ago, has an enduring wish to see him dead. So when her two goon assassins pass him the phone to speak to her before they kill him, Michael thinks she just wants to relish the moment. In fact, out of desperation, she is giving him a chance to redeem himself. All he has to do is return to Ireland and find her missing daughter. Before midnight.

Tenacious and brutal, with the hunted man’s instinct for trouble, Forsythe leaves a trail of mayhem as he tries to end the bloody feud once and for all. The Bloomsday Dead pulsates with break-neck action and wry literary references; McKinty’s distinctly Irish voice packs a ferocious punch.

To book a spot for this event, call the store on 9031 9607 or email David.
Adrian will also appear at Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green on Friday 13th at 6.30pm.

Monday 9 June 2008

An Interview - Ed Lynskey

Ed Lynskey’s third P.I. Frank Johnson title, Pelham Fell Here, will be released this summer from Mundania Press. The previous titles were The Dirt-Brown Derby and The Blue Cheer.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

My work-in-progress is a post-Sopranos Mafia noir titled Skin the Game. It’s set in Washington, D.C. where the Mob never really took root in the Feds’ backyard. This family runs a boutique loan shark racket below the Feds’ radar. A deadbeat client doesn’t pay up and things unravel from there.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of Ed Lynskey’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

I like to start out with the pre-dawn patrol when things are still quiet around the place. When I’m off on a new novel, I’ll work through until mid-morning and maybe again in the evening if there’s some time left.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I do my damnedest to not think about what I’m writing. In the summer, we watch too much baseball. Walk my legs off to keep off the pounds. My other work involves writing, too, so there isn’t a real break in the action. Could it be some sort of writing is always at work in us?

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

My advice is probably worth the proverbial two cents. Stubbornness comes into play, I believe. A thick skin is good, too.

Q5. Which crime writer(s) have impressed you this year?

Craig Holden wrote a noir titled Matala I enjoyed reading. As for goldie-oldies, I’ve liked some noirs Gil Brewer wrote in the 1950s. Hard Case Crime and Stark House have brought the reprints.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

I just started a Reid Bennett police procedural by Ted Wood that came recommended on DorothyL list group. Mr. Wood is a Canadian writer and retired cop. So far, it’s been a good read.

Q7. Plans for the future?

As for future big projects, I’m casting about for a few ideas and will go from there. That’s not a very definitive answer. A lot of this seems fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

The only thing that comes to mind is writing more fiction earlier on than I did.

Q9. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

Thanks for the opportunity to rattle off some words on your blog, Gerard.

Thank you, Ed Lynskey

Friday 6 June 2008

You couldn’t make it up - Garbhan Downey Guest Blog

Yours Confidentially author GARBHAN DOWNEY bemoans the difficulties of writing satire in a crazier world...

I have to say I was completely taken aback this week by Iris Robinson’s admission that she had a “very lovely psychiatrist” in her offices who helps “turn around” homosexuals.

It an illustration of why it is becoming so damned hard to write satire in Ireland.

And no, I’m not getting up on my high heels here at the DUP’s Christian fundamentalism – we know exactly what we’re getting when we (or some of us at least) vote them in.

Rather, I am staggered that Mrs Robinson’s actions are such a classic case of life imitating art.

You see, three years ago, I wrote a novel Running Mates, a comic-thriller set against a cooked race for the Irish presidency. And in it, I dreamed up a trenchant rightwing contender, whose sidekick was a Jesuit psychiatrist with a speciality in, you’ve guessed it, “curing” homosexuals.

In creating the character of Monsignor George Behan – who became known to all as Bend ’Em Back Behan – I sketched the most awful, outlandish fascist I could possibly imagine, before nudging him a few notches further into the realms of the improbable.

Iris, I fear, however, has now knocked me right off the chart.

For the record ‘Benders’, as I fondly refer to him, was the president of Saving Ireland from Sodomy. In one scene, he tells one client: “You’re no deviant. I can tell by the cut of you, you’re no nancy-boy. You don’t gel your hair, you bite your nails and your tie and socks don’t match your suit. You’re not a homo, this is just a minor wiring problem and I’m the electrician who’s going to fix it. From my experience, only about one percent of the men I meet are genuine, un-savable poofters.”

As a first step in curing the client, Benders then gives him a copy of a magazine called Readers Wives and orders him to pick out one of the prettier ladies and pretend that he’s married to her.

Can I stress, stress and re-stress, that my intentions here were to lampoon and excoriate the excesses of the far right. To shame them for their intolerance and to mock them for their self-righteousness. Not give them ideas.

But every time you dream up something ridiculous about Irish politics, something so satirical that it could never ever happen, you pick up a newspaper to find some senior minister has just gone and knocked your efforts into a tin hat. Martin McGuinness writes goodbye poems for Ian Paisley, Hillary Clinton refuses to withdraw her nomination on the grounds that Obama could still get shot, and a Tory MEP indignantly stands over his decision to pay his wife three-quarters of a million pounds out of the public purse.

In my world, at least, Bend Em Back Behan gets just desserts, and his candidate ends up well, let just say, there’s some poetic irony involved. And that’s the real beauty of fiction – and why I prefer it a thousand times to the real world. You can at least pretend there’s some sort of karmic order there – and, if you don’t like the characters and you think it’s time they left the scene, you can mete out your own justice.

Garbhan Downey

Mr Downey, from all of us here at CSNI, thank you, thank you, thank you. Although this article puts us to shame in style, content and wit, we are honoured to host this exclusive opinion piece.

Wednesday 4 June 2008


Right, this is getting ridiculous. After I finished reading and thoroughly enjoying The Big O by Declan Burke I gazed upon Mount Brennan-Reading-Pile, now seriously competing with the Mourne Mountains as a tourist attraction in my area. I scratched my head and wondered which of the fine books I should read first. I’ve a number of intriguing specimens lined up for the CSNI dissection treatment, but also a stack of other books outside the crime fiction genre that have been neglected since I started this blog. Decisions, decisions.

I picked up Dublin Noir edited by Ken Bruen. Thought I’d read the first story and if it sucked I’d mercilessly toss it over my shoulder. Eoin Colfer got the opening spot, and his hilarious yet brutal tale, Taking On PJ, left me with no doubt that I’d read the whole collection. Of course, I forgot to bring it to work the next day. I had a copy of John Connolly’s Nocturnes in my backpack though. Ach sure, a wee read of that then. Finished the opening novella and now I feel committed to the damn thing.

Two books on the go? Yeah, I can cope with that. Of course, I had a nosey at Ian Sansom’s opening book from The Mobile Library series last night. Read the first two chapters. Very addictive. Now I want to get stuck in to that.

So, as of last night, three books on the go. I’m an intelligent little fellah. I’ll give it a go. Oh, wait! Aren’t I reading Declan Burke’s new internet novel, A Gonzo Noir? Ah come on, people, you’re killing me! Well, at least that’ll be updated once a week... wait a minute! He’s bloody updated it three times since last Thursday! Feck. No worries though. It’s great stuff. I’ll make time. But I’m leaving it at that. Seriously. I’m not even going to read a road sign until I’m done with one of these things.

But guess what? After a rather scary journey to work, a colleague plonked a copy of John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas on my desk. Told me it was great. Said her daughter was going to read it next, but would have taken a long time to read it, so I should just read it first. I took it without thinking. Said I’d get it back to her in a few days. But, I’ve forbidden myself from even reading the blurb.

Curiosity’s killing me though.


Monday 2 June 2008

An Interview - Peter Clenott

Peter Clenott seems to be the type of guy who does his own thing. The rascal even had the audacity to reword my interview questions and wrote a bio in the first person! However, since he's been writing for longer than I've been breathing, I'll allow it this once. The fact that he's sent me a free hardcover of his recently released novel, Hunting The King, is just gravy. Take it away, Peter!


BIO: I was born in Portland, Maine along the Atlantic Ocean in New England. I didn’t begin writing until I graduated college, in the age of notebooks and typewriters. Wanting to live in the big city, I moved to Boston and somehow found myself in the non-profit world, helping homeless families find affordable housing. It took me 34 years of rejection slips to finally find a publisher and get my first novel published. In the meantime, I got married and picked up three kids who are looking to their father to support them better than he has been able to so far. Here’s hoping.

  1. What are you writing at the minute?

My latest novel, which I am writing on lunch breaks, is called ALBERTVILLE. It is a departure from what I have been doing. It focuses on Jesse Westcott, a young black girl growing up near Albertville, Alabama in the American south of the 1940s and 1950s. After a traumatic event, she moves north, completes her education at a prestigious New England institution. She wants to move to Europe and become a novelist. Instead, she is recruited by a former lover to join the US State Department. She is assigned to the Belgian Congo in 1960 at the time of that nation’s independence. The follows the descent of the Congo into decades of chaos at the same time the UNS is going through its own period of racial unrest. I am hoping this is Oprah material.

  1. My writing day:

It certainly isn’t the typical writing day. I work two jobs to support my family and at this time can only write during lunch breaks or during my weekend overnight job or whenever I can sneak on the computer without my boss looking. Like now. I don’t think this is how Hemingway did it. My current novel is fully outlined at least, so I can generally move quickly when I have the chance. I start the process by rereading whatever I wrote yesterday to build up momentum into today.

  1. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Unfortunately, working. I have my 8 to 4:30 Monday through Friday job and my overnight job on Friday and Saturday nights. Then I have my kids. I enjoy sports, movies, dining out, but rarely get the chance these days. Now I need to promote my published novel as much as possible, so that is an added task that gets squeezed in somehow.

  1. Advice to greenhorns trying to break in?

You’re asking someone who took 34 years to break in. I think things would have been easier for me had I been aware earlier in life that I wanted to be a writer. I would have gone to a college better prepared to take the right course of studies and to better use alumnae who had entered the writing field ahead of me. Contacts seem to be so important. If you entered the field of journalism, the fact that you write professionally is an important inroads to an agent or publisher. When you send a cover letter to an agent of publisher, you generally try to state something about yourself that would leap out at the person you’re trying to attract. If you’re writing a crime novel and you’re a cop, for example, that helps. I think in crime fiction more than in any genre, you have to create a uniqueness of character or plot, something that will stand out from the crowd of very talented writers who are also trying to break in. I have a published novel but I just got another rejection slip from a publisher because I don’t yet have an agent. Certainly, you have to persevere, be willing to have your work critiqued, and be willing to listen to that criticism. Kunati Books, my publisher, is very open to first-timers with cutting edge material. They have published crime stories, so try them.

  1. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

I have little time to read for pleasure these days. I am reading two books that are research material for my current novel. I am also reading a detective novel from a friend JB Kohl, who is also trying to break into the business. My publisher, Derek Armstrong, whas written two crime novels. His latest is MADicine. That’s why you budding crime writers should consider sending material to him.

  1. What are you reading now?

In order to do justice to my novel ALBERTVILLE, I am reading a book by Thomas Kanza, who was a Congolese politician at the time of independence and another book by Larry Devlin, who was CIA station chief in Leopoldville. JB Kohl, aka Jennifer, is a writer I met while trying to promote my novel. We struck up a friendship and she has sent me her latest novel to read. I am doing that just after the kids go to bed and just before I do.

  1. Plans for the future?

Hoping to get out of debt and become a writer whose name people will remember. After ALBERTVILLE I intend to write a story about the Puerto Rican nationalist who shot up the House of Representatives in 1953. It will be called COMRADE LOLITA. If any of my books are made into film, I will be looking to occupy the casting couch.

  1. Would I do anything differently regarding my writing career?

I would have done things differently had I known, as a teenager, what I wanted to do. But most teenagers don’t. Maybe I would have gone into journalism as an inroads into the writing field. But that’s all retrospect. I can’t change what happened. All I can do now is keep writing and hope that HUNTING THE KING opens doors that were and have been closed to me up until now.

  1. Anything else?

Writing can be very discouraging. Trying to get recognition, at least. I don’t know if anyone has worked as hard and as long as I have to make it. I’m sure they are out there. Don’t give up. I understand the frustration and bitterness of the struggling writer as much as anyone can. That I finally made it should give cause for hope for all of you others out there. People like Gerard and the community of writers and readers they generate are very important. Join that community. Believe in yourself and your work and never stop.

Thank you, Peter Clenott!