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 (, 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


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.