Tuesday 23 July 2013


Wee Danny by Gerard Brennan

Wee Danny

by Gerard Brennan

Incarcerated in a home for young offenders, Wee Danny Gibson has learned how to act in front of his teachers, his educational psychologist and the institute's supervisors. And if he continues to keep his nose clean, he could be rewarded with a day-trip to Castle Ward.

But good behaviour is no easy task when his fellow inmates are determined to get in his face. Then there’s Conan 'The Barbarian' Quinlan, a gentle giant who Danny feels compelled to look out for.

Friend or liability? Danny can't be sure, but he knows he needs to stay focussed on that little taste of freedom.

If you've read Wee Rockets, you'll love Wee Danny!

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Coming to iBooks soon...

Monday 22 July 2013

An Interview - Desmond J. Doherty

Left to right: Eamon McCann, Garbhan Downey, Desmond J. Doherty

Desmond J. Doherty was born in Derry and has worked there all his life. He is married with two daughters. Valberg is his debut novel. Visit his website here.

What are you writing at the minute?

A Valberg stand alone.Two pathologists are arguing about the ‘gold standard’ of the final exam a human being is involved in – their autopsy. Abigail Burns is on holiday and Valberg needs straight answers. He doesn’t like the two pathologists arguing but one has used the phrase ‘the whole gamut of a criminal investigation’. Valberg likes the word ‘gamut’. He’s focusing on that word to stop him losing his temper. He needs Abigail. I’m just wondering if I will bring her back or not.

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

Endlessly rocking. I’m always working things out, making notes and drawing diagrams. My drawing is terrible but my notebooks are full of them. In between the law, two kids and my beautiful wife I keep at it. Always drawing on ideas from people I meet and situations I’m in. I go to bed late and get up early. I write a lot early in the morning.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Thinking about what I’m going to write. I work out quite a bit in my head before I put pen to paper or fingers on a keyboard. Thought processes are endless. Someone could be talking to me and I’m thinking why the body of the deceased, in an idea I have, weighs more after death. What’s inside the body of the deceased? Or why does another body weigh less? I play guitar in my band Revivor. We are putting the finishing touches to our new album, The Diving Bell. That takes up a lot of any free time I can get. Then there’s the kids…

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

Don’t worry about style. Like Bruce Lee, be no style but all styles. Be formless and adapt. Get the story down. Get your plan solid. I can’t stress that enough. You must have a plan and for me, diagrams. Write about what you know about. Be truthful to yourself. It makes writing so bloody easy then. In fact, as bloody as you want. Give your characters quirks. All the usual stuff. Don’t make them boring. Make them human and vulnerable.

Which writers have impressed you this year?

Brian McGilloway impresses me every year. Dave Duggan, Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo and Lee Child. But how could you not be impressed by that list?

What are you reading right now?

Robert Bolt’s play ‘A Man For All Seasons’ not only for pleasure but research. That whole thing about the devil being entitled to due process of law is just fantastic. But I’m enveloped in Spanish criminal law books and visiting Malaga soon for research! It’s my second trip for a short conversation Valberg has with a Spanish counterpart in Malaga. I want to get the details perfect and have a holiday with my family at the same time. Everyone a winner!

I’m only really this year coming to terms with Human Chain by Seamus Heaney. I just read, read and read it again and every time I find something new.

Plans for the future?

To improve my writing and get better and to learn from others who I admire. I’d love to be able to learn to play La Villa Strangiato by Rush on the guitar. I wish I could write as well as Alex Lifeson plays the guitar. I really mean that.

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

No. No regrets. I believe this is the right time for me. I’ve amassed a career of experiences in the dark art of law but I feel youthful enough to realise I am still learning more every single second I am alive. I feel confident about my work and my writing now and I have the brilliant Guildhall Press in Derry and the Arts Council to thank for all their support.

Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

That’s easy. I walked into Guildhall Press one day full of confidence for an edit meeting. Instead of a greeting the Managing Editor, Paul Hippsley, gently reminded me I could not have a character checking CCTV footage and photographs if he had already been murdered and buried. Yes, I thought, good point well made.

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

A colleague was asked that question once at the end of an interview for a judicial appointment. He got the job but has told me he’s still trying to think of a more detailed answer to the one he gave. I will give the same answer he gave and it is no. But I will think about it if we can agree on that and I will get back to you.

Well just one last thing.There is no truth in the rumour that when I returned William Peter Blatty’s ‘The Exorcist’ to the library in Brooke Park Derry that it caused it to burn to the ground. Wasn’t my fault. I’m not apologising.

Thank you, Desmond J Doherty!

Monday 8 July 2013

Toilet Humour

At one of the Grand Opera House performances of The Sweety Bottle, a lady remarked, "This is all bad language and toilet humour!"

Unbeknownst to her, she relayed this discovery to one of the co-writer's sisters who then relayed it to the co-writer sitting beside her. Rumour has it that this particular co-writer* smiled as if he'd read the remark in a five-star review.

Toilet humour, like? From such a sophisticated mind? Really?

Go away and shite.

Enjoy this randomly selected snippet from The Sweety Bottle.

*The co-writer was me.

Thursday 4 July 2013

We Need to Talk About...?

I had bookmarked David Mitchell's article in The Guardian about his son's autism earlier in the week. Finally got around to checking it out today. It really moved me. I highly recommend reading it. I imagine you'll identify with a lot of it if you know somebody who is dealing with autism. And even if you don't, a little empathy wouldn't hurt ahead of any possible future encounters.

One of my sons (fondly referred to as the mancubs on Twitter) has special needs. He isn't autistic. His diagnosis has been recorded as Global Developmental Delay (GDD) in the absence of a more accurate description. He does display some behaviours consistent with autism and attends a special school with a number of other autistic children, however.

I wrote about my son for a Life Writing assignment during my MA in creative writing. It was a therapeutic experience and I've toyed with the idea of working on a non-fiction book about him. But I'm not sure how fair it would be. He didn't choose to have a father that happens to be a writer. Is it ethical to write about somebody who hasn't given you permission to do so, and if he did, might not understand the consequences of such a book going to publication?

Perhaps I could change names to protect the innocent and try to sell it under a pseudonym. It might not help to have a crime fiction writer attached to the project anyway. Could even be detrimental.

But this is a book that keeps asking to be written.

What to do?

All suggestions/opinions welcome.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Val and Pals

Left to right: Eamonn MCann, Garbhan Downey and Desmond J. Doherty

Derry lawyer launches debut crime novel

Desmond J. Doherty, one of Ireland’s leading human rights lawyers, has turned to crime – crime writing, that is.

The Derry solicitor’s fast-paced debut novel ‘Valberg’, which is published by Guildhall Press and supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, will be launched by the veteran journalist Eamonn McCann on Thursday 27 June.

Set in contemporary Derry, it features damaged detective Jon Valberg and his colleagues on the trail of a brutal assassin, who is creating mayhem around the historic city-centre.

“This is a particularly atmospheric city to set crime fiction,” said Doherty. “There are so many fascinating locations that can serve as a backdrop for the action – the city walls, the old Elizabethan churches and many other historic landmarks.

“In all, eight murders take place in the city in the space of a week, committed by a man who is seeking revenge on various individuals he believes have inflicted a serious wrong on him.

“There’s a challenge for the reader here to get inside the mind of a killer and see if you could agree with what he’s done – or have any type of empathy at all with him.”

‘Valberg’ is the first of a trilogy. The sequel is already completed, and Doherty is currently putting the finishing touches to book three.

Fiction-writing, however, is a considerable departure from the author’s busy work schedule, which includes running his own law firm and serving as a member of international courts, such as the Special Tribunal for the Lebanon and the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia. Doherty has previously been a representative at high-profile inquests and at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. He also was involved in the Iraqi Special Tribunal and the inquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings.

‘Valberg’ is also be available in eBook form for Kindle.

Guildhall Press are releasing a number of video trailers, developed at the new Digital Arts Studio in Rath Mor, as part of the book's promotional package. These include interviews with the author and can be viewed on the new book's bespoke website http://www.jonvalberg.com

‘Valberg’ by Desmond J. Doherty is published by Guildhall Press – http://www.ghpress.com

END 24 June 2013