Tuesday 19 December 2017

Disorder Launch

If you can make it, you should. It's going to be mega.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Thursday 5 October 2017

Three Weeks!

So, it's only three weeks to go until NOIRELAND kicks off. Holy smokes! It's flying in.

You'd think that they'd have run out of major announcements at this stage, but you'd be wrong. Just last week they revealed that Aidan Gillen would be interviewed by none other than the New York Times best-selling author, Brian McGilloway.



This is going to happen on Saturday 28th at 19:30, by the way. From the NOIRELAND website:

"PLAYING IN THE DARK: Aidan Gillen talks Crime with Brian McGilloway*

Internationally renowned actor Aidan Gillen will be discussing the influence of crime fiction on his life and career, from the books and television shows Gillen enjoyed growing up to the award winning roles he has become renowned for. Aidan Gillen has earned an international reputation as one of Ireland’s finest actors. Gillen has starred in some of the most iconic and influential crime dramas produced in recent years, including the multi-award winning The Wire and RTÉ’s Love/Hate. He will be appearing in the new series of the BBC's Peaky Blinders, which starts this autumn.

*Subject to schedule"

I wonder what they'll announce next?

Oh, and don't forget that I'll be hosting a workshop on the Friday morning before the festivities kick off. Look!

So, like, if you can't make it to the Aidan Gillen thing, my hair's nearly the same colour, and my mother says I'm really handsome too. So you're sorted either way, really.

Thursday 28 September 2017

Workshop Workshop Workshop

Well now. That aul' saying about waiting for a bus all day and two come along at once seems to apply here.

Tonight I start my eight-week crime fiction course at The Duncairn in Belfast. Really looking forward to getting stuck in. I always find that teaching makes me more energetic when it comes to my own writing, and the book I've been trying to finish for the last few weeks could do with a wee boost.

But here, there's more (hence the two busses thing). You know that Noireland thing I was telling you about in the last post? That crime fiction convention you've been hearing loads about on Facebook and Twitter and all? Well, they've recently announce an addition to the programme. A day full of writing workshops! And I'm part of that. Here's what it says on the Noireland website:

Friday 27th October, 10:00-13:00  


Gerard Brennan will begin the day by introducing you to some of the fundamentals of writing a crime novel. From plotting, writing a crime character and then on to creating a three act structure for your novel.

Gerard Brennan recently earned his PhD in Creative Writing from Queen’s University Belfast. His publishing credits include Undercover (2014), Wee Rockets (2012) and The Point (2011); winner of the Spinetingler Award for Best Novella in 2012.

Snazzy, right?

And the super-talented Claire McGowan is taking the afternoon shift:



Now that you've gotten to grips with the basics, Claire McGowan will talk in more detail about character, viewpoint and dialogue. She’ll address how you create suspense in your novel and what to think about when writing a crime series.

Alongside a successful career as a novelist Claire McGowan runs an MA in creative writing at London’s City University. She regularly gives workshops and talks at festivals and has taught in the Guardian Masterclass series.

How cool is that? Go register for it. Now.

Friday 1 September 2017


There's a new crime fiction festival on the circuit. And it's in Belfast! Yeeeooo!

NOIRELAND is brought to you by David Torrans of No Alibis Books, and considering his standing in the crime fiction community, here and internationally, that's so fitting.

I could talk it up here, but you don't need me to. All you need is this link to their snazzy website and you'll get all the information you need. Maybe sign up for their newsletter as well to make sure you don't miss any updates. I did, and I got a sneak-peek at the events programme. Some major names in there!

And you can follow the Twitter handle here.

I'll be there, soaking it all in. It's going to be class.

Thursday 31 August 2017

There's Only One Conor McGregor

Mayweather beat McGregor. Fact.

More facts: McGregor lasted longer than most educated boxing fans thought he would. He landed more shots than any other Mayweather opponent except for Canelo Alvarez ("But that's because Floyd changed his style..." SHUT UP! He changed his style because he had to.). And millions of self-proclaimed boxing fans won't bother watching Canelo Vs Triple G. Criminal.

And an opinion: McGregor brought more attention to boxing than anybody else who faced Mayweather in recent years. I'm not talking about the real boxing fans who know loads of facts and figures (yawn) about the sweet science. I'm not even talking about the fair (May)weather fans or the new McGregor UFC disciples. It's the people who were drawn into Mystic Mac's spell after a lifetime of not knowing a jab from a cross. Who did that? The one and only Conor McGregor.

Right, that last sentence, and the title of this post are both a bit misleading. As the Facebook group, Spide Pride, pointed out before the fight, his son is called Conor as well. But let's leave cute Conor Og (or Junior) alone for the sake of decency. If you want to be shitty, you can find a comments section somewhere else that'll welcome you with open arms.

Spide Pride were gently taking the piss out of Mick Konstantin's excellent song of the same name when they posted:

there's only one Conor McGregor🎶
Is BALLIX......sure his kids called Conor also?

That's cool. And the singer probably didn't even notice. He was busy. McGregor invited Konstantin to Vegas off the back of that, and in the candid videos that followed, I couldn't help but smile at the idea that Konstantin was a bard of sorts, leading an army of ne'er-do-wells in green football shirts through Vegas. Now, in reality, a lot of that army was probably felled by alcohol poisoning, sunburn, and beaten dockets by the time Mayweather stopped McGregor in the tenth round. BUT I doubt Konstantin and the pasty troops will think about their heat rashes and other unfortunate self-inflicted health issues when they tell their part of the story in years to come. They'll talk about taking over as one rather than taking part as individuals.

The lyrics of Konstantin's song include a reference to McGregor knocking out Mayweather. That didn't happen in this reality. But that still doesn't mean it was impossible.

I've read and heard plenty of arguments against that last statement. And I saw Mayweather school McGregor in boxing live; with bleary eyes; fuelled by black Irish coffees, and a promise to my kids that I'd wake them before dawn and heat up pizza for breakfast.

But I still believe McGregor could have knocked out Mayweather. He could have. Anything's possible.

In another version of this world, Conor said, 'Feck da money!' and wheel-kicked Floyd. Just for the craic. In yet another reality, Floyd agreed to step into a cage instead of the square circle. There's even a scenario in the infinite universes in which the fight won't happen until 2018, and people will still argue that Floyd isn't too old to outbox an MMA fighter. And they might be right in that timeline. Or wrong.

But that's not how it panned out here in this reality on the 26th of August 2017. The 27th, even, where I was sitting.

And yet, a short YouTube video in which my family paid homage to Mick Konstantin's song, is approaching 7,000 views at the time of writing this post. After the fight. The loss. The lack of knockout on Conor's part.* That's double the views from the week before, when McGregor's win was still a possibility.

There are also surprisingly few shitty comments on the video as well, considering it lives in YouTube, the spiritual home of the lowly shit-poster. Now, I'll admit, I deleted a couple of the first negative comments because I felt a responsibility towards my children and their feelings. I forgot for a minute that they're tough, and confident, and (unlike me) they don't read the comments. So now I just let them hang there. Trolls and keyboard warriors will do what trolls and keyboard warriors do. My eldest already knows that, and she's been stung a lot worse by sham friends than shit-posting strangers. Her brothers don't give a fuck about anything. The three of them will be fine.

So I'm relaxing on that hair-trigger of parental guilt and Irish temper. The safety is on.

And I welcome you to sample a wee bit of craic with the Brennans:

#DownWithTheMayweathers #CarefulNow #AndStillTeamMcGregor

*Technically, Mayweather didn't knock McGregor out either, but I'm glad the ref stopped it. That ref gifted McGregor a longer career. Love him or hate him, you know you want to see what McGregor does next.


Just me, is it?

Aye. Dead on.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Don't Forget What Got You To The Dance

Writing got me to the dance. I need to be a respectful partner, and apologise for stepping on one or two toes as and when I stumble.

That's a clumsy metaphor, by the way. I'm not doing a whole lot of literal dancing right now.

It's the middle of the summer holidays. I have a knee injury that's keeping me away from the gym, but I can bend my leg enough now to fit it under my desk for more than ten minutes at a time. The kids are at summer schemes, so I'm getting a few hours a day of undisturbed laptop time. Mostly I'm catching up on admin-type things ahead of a burst of academic writing, exploring funding opportunities, and trying to finish writing a second Shannon McNulty novel. You'll meet her at some point in the future. My agent, Svetlana Pironko, is doing all she can for her. Watch this space for publishing news.

While I'm used to multi-tasking (or taking a scatter gun approach to my workday), every so often I have to remind myself that the most important thing is the actual writing, both creative and critical. And while blogging is less popular (or maybe less necessary) among writers these days, I'd still like to keep Crime Scene NI alive and jiving in some shape or form. After all, it was instrumental in putting my work on the Norn Iron Noir map when I started it back in... March 2008!?

I'd published some short stories back then, and had no idea where writing would take me. A little over nine years later, I've built an impressive writing CV, and I had a period of three years in which I didn't have to show up to the 'dayjob' at all. Currently, again thanks to writing, I only have to show up three times a week at the most. And I have a PhD. In English (made up of creative and critical crime fiction components). I also hold an MA in Creative Writing. Like, I literally have two degrees from Queen's University Belfast to rub together. I didn't even have one at the start of this nine-year twist.

So, basically, I'm a writer, I introduce myself as such now, and I've learned enough about the business of writing to know that there's a lot to be said for the security of a steady job. Hopefully I'll land a better part-time job that's more directly related to writing than the current one. That's more of a reality now than ever since I now have teaching experience. Because if I'm not writing, reading, or talking about writing and/or reading (i.e. teaching), I'm not really working. I'm passing time, waiting for the band to tune up.

Oh, look. Here's something worth stretching for:

Northern Ireland: Writing Crime Fiction with Gerard Brennan

This blog has been a patient and loyal dance partner from the start, and to honour it, I'm naming my eight-week, Belfast-based crime fiction course, Crime Scene NI (AKA CSNI). And it starts on Thursday 28th of September. If and when I start a writing podcast, I'll use the blog's name there too.

I want you to click that link above, so that's all the information you're getting for now. The course content is currently being planned out (I like to get started early), but at a tenner per two-hour workshop, I give you my solemn oath that you'll get your money's worth. And I'm friendlier than most of my author pics would suggest.

NB, I read comments, here and on social media, so if you have any questions about the course, go ahead and ask them now so I can start humming a tune and working out the steps.

Friday 14 July 2017

Episode 38 of Two Crime Writers and a Microphone

I love podcasts. They entertain me in traffic, they help me sleep. And when I'm in the house on my own (as rare as that is during the summer holidays), they keep me company during coffee breaks.

So it was really cool to actually appear on one. Especially one that let me talk about crime fiction, with a dash of boxing and MMA. If you know me, you'll know these are a few of my favourite things. I also got to read an excerpt from my recently re-released novella, The Point (hence it's appearance in the lovely collage above, which I swiped from the @TwoCrimeWriters Twitter feed).

Here's a link to their iTunes page. I'm in Episode 38. The other 37 are great too. I know because I've been listening from the start. I've subscribed to the series. You should too. Maybe review it as well, if you're feeling generous. Podcasts chart better when they're well-reviewed. Messrs Cavanagh and Veste finance this gig out of their own pocket, to give us free entertainment. Pay them back with a little love.

If you use an Android phone there are many ways to get the podcast. Here's one.

Listen, become a fan, thank me later.


Friday 7 April 2017

Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty

I finished reading this one over a week ago, but I've been too lazy to write about it. Apologies for that. But luckily, this book has left a lasting impression on me. Adrian McKinty is officially the best in the business. Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly is the sixth instalment of the Sean Duffy series. When I read Rain Dogs, number five in the series, I proclaimed it the best of the lot. And, somehow, McKinty has found a way to make this one sing even louder.

The crime aspect of the novel is a nice puzzler, but for me, the investigation plays second fiddle in this novel. What I really enjoyed more than anything was the continual development of Duffy's character. Although he exists in the 80s (this particular mystery set in 1988), Duffy has been ageing at roughly the same rate as me since his debut in The Cold, Cold Ground. He's just turned 38 in this novel and seems much more world-weary than my bright-eyed and bushy-tailed self. I did find myself sympathising with his grumbles quite often, however.

Please God, let there be more Sean Duffy novels. It's officially my favourite police procedural series, and I hate the prospect of not spending more time with the wry bastard. If nothing else, we need to know what future titles Adrian can convince his publisher to make room for on his covers. Can he sell one even longer than Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly?

Blue Boy Tour Dates

Check out the tour dates for The Blue Boy of Glenmore:

The Brennan family lived very close to the area that this play takes place. When I was six, we moved to Warrenpoint, the town on the other side of Carlingford Lough. Joe Brennan has had a lot of time to reflect on his version of Omeath, and the surrounding areas, over the last thirty years. Expect brilliance.

Friday 31 March 2017

Simon Maltman - An Interview

Simon Maltman is a Best-selling crime fiction author from Northern Ireland. 

Please check out the books available on Amazon and stay in touch through the links below.


@simonmaltman on twitter

What are you writing at the minute?

1. I’ve just had my short story collection published last week, it’s called More Faces. That’s been taking up a lot of my time recently. I’m also working on the follow up to my novel, A Chaser on the Rocks, and have finished the first draft. The series is about a modern day PI with mental health struggles, who also writes about a 1940’s PI and the books function as a story in a story. I’m also trying to do anything but start the second draft because I start to lose interest and will eventually have to discipline myself to do it!

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

2. I’ve recently left my job as a health care manager and am looking after my kids full time during the day, and trying to write in the evenings. Usually I’ll get an hour or two at it most nights and I always have small goals in my head of what I want to get done. In-between tantrums and poo during the day, I try to do a bit of the networking and promo side of things. I keep a notebook and like to jot stuff down. I usually have a rough idea of where I want something to go, but the fun thing for me is definitely in the sitting down and writing and seeing where things end up.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

3. I like devouring TV series with my wife, though we usually take it turn about to fall asleep by about the second episode. I like writing and recording music and I love movies, particularly old Film Noir. I’m also very partial to going out for coffee and something sweet. Coffee, generally, is a big part of the day.

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

4. I think that once you have worked at it and think you have something decent, then the main thing is to put yourself out there. You have to also expect a ton of rejection, because that’s just the way it is. If you send enough emails and try enough times, you’ll get there if you have something in the first place that others will enjoy. You just have to put the work in, in every aspect.

Which writers have impressed you this year?

5. I’m not great at keeping up with the trends. I wish I found time to read more actually. Recently, I’ve been enjoying some of my favourites who I hadn’t read in a while- Raymond Chandler and Richard Stark. I read a couple of Rebus’s recently too. I’ve just finished the crime anthology Dark Minds, which I was very fortunate to be included in and there are forty great writers in that who I hadn’t read before. I have a huge list of authors I want to get into more.

What are you reading right now?

6. I’m reading an ARC of the indie author Frank Westworth’s new novel- The Redemption of Charm- I think it’s actually released today. He’s very good.

Plans for the future?

7. I need to start redrafting this novel and put it to one side haha. There’s a novella that I want to finish from a while back too and I’ve got the starting point for a new standalone novel. Hopefully I’ll be getting started on them in some way in a few weeks. I like to keep busy and don’t like things I want to do piling up in my mind!

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

8. I’m not sure, not particularly. I really think it’s all about building things up all the time and there’s a lot of pressure on authors now to manage every aspect of that. I’ve only really been writing fiction for about four years, so I just want to carry on and hopefully build up more of an audience as I go.

Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

9. Haha I’m not sure what that would be. My pet hate is going through pages and pages of track changes from my publisher- I’ll do anything to avoid that! Maybe the worst experience was talking to my Nana and Aunties after they had read my novel with all those ‘naughty words!’

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

10. No, I don’t think so, cheers. Thanks very much for having me along and thanks to everyone who has been supporting me along the way, take care!

Thank you, Simon Maltman!

Thursday 23 March 2017

Blasted Heath Pull the Plug

I'm sad to see Blasted Heath go. Not just because they've published a lot of my books (three novels, three novellas and a short story collection), but also because they've published so many great stories from a great bunch of writers. I read fantastic work from Anthony Neil Smith, Ray Banks, Heather Hampson, Elaine Ash, Nigel Bird, Damien Seaman, Gary Carson, Len Wanner... as I list these names I remember their worlds, and I hope to read many more of their words in the future.

Quick shout out to the Heathens above: sorry if I've missed anybody. I read a lot, and some of those books might be tucked behind another memory.

But the real point of this post is to thank Al Guthrie and Kyle MacRae for helping me reach readers. It's been a Blasted blast indeed. Thank you, good luck, and don't forget to write/email/Tweet. Do either of you still do the social media? It doesn't matter. You guys rock and always will.

Here, remember I got that Heathen tattoo? Still don't regret it, feckers. And it's not wrinkly yet.

Anyway, the books are going to be available for a few more days, I think. You can't keep good talent down, so they won't be unavailable for ever, but if you want the Blasted Heath version of any of their great titles, you need to move your hole. I'm no mathematician, but you can get my entire Blasted Back-list for less than a tenner. I think. Somebody else can run the numbers and let me know for sure.

Heathen love, peeps. Watch this space for news of future projects. You'll know when I know, and right now I know sweet feck all.

Keep 'er lit.

Thursday 16 March 2017

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone, Stuart Neville's first novel under the pen name, Haylen Beck, will be published by Penguin in the summer. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced review copy. The novel marks a new direction for the Northern Irish crime writer, and I delighted in following it.

The novel is set in Arizona, a far cry from Belfast, the backdrop usually favoured by Neville. And it's an idea that's simply too big for the wee city. In the opening chapters we learn that the protagonist, Audra, is driving across America to escape her abusive husband. She's about to start her new life, with her kids safely in her care. But an encounter with the law in a dying town in Arizona results in Audra's worst nightmare. Her children were here, and now they're gone. And the world is convinced that she's to blame.

While writing as Haylen Beck, Neville makes great use of the talents he honed in writing his Belfast-set books. The multi-POV narrative, and glimpses into the minds of the villains as well as the heroes, are delivered in short, breath-taking chapters that spur the reader on to make one more cup of coffee and read just three or seven more passages. The work isn't as dark as the preceding Neville canon, but it's going to get your heart pumping with suspense and well-placed action.

To be honest, I feel sorry for the readers who have to wait another three and a bit months to get their teeth into this one. Keep an eye out at your local independent bookstore for copies of Here and Gone that slip through before the release date. And thank me after you've read it. I know it won't take long.

Friday 3 March 2017

The Blue Boy of Glenmore, by Joe Brennan

Love this poster.

It's getting closer. My dad's latest play. I'm really looking forward to seeing this one. To date, I've only read the script. Seeing it, with the high standard of acting long associated with Brassneck Theatre Company, will make for a fantastic experience. And yeah, all right. Because I'm family, it's likely I'm biased, but I know that of the four plays he's written on his own since we co-wrote The Sweety Bottle, this one best showcases Joe Brennan's strengths as a playwright. Can't wait to see how Tony Devlin's vision of it comes out on the stage.

Check out the Brassneck Theatre Company website for updates on venues, ticket sales, etc. If you can't make the opening run at the Roddy McCorley Social Club you might find a tour venue that suits.

So did you click it? Go on. Need more convincing? Check out the pitch:

Winter 1978. Cooley Mountains, Ireland.

Jemmy John is a tortured soul. The sheep on the glen and the farm are his life, but his younger sister Colleen yearns for something much more.

With the help of a local car mechanic, Colleen is determined to escape Glenmore for the chance at a better life... but her older brother Jemmy is having none of it! The life-long conflict between these sibling rivals is the catalyst that ignites the shocking events that unfold.

An absorbingly haunting and sensational dark-comedy, 'The Blue Boy of Glenmore' is a truly unmissable piece of theatre from the multi award-winning Brassneck Theatre Company, who brought you 'The Holy Holy Bus', 'Man in the Moon' & 'A Night With George'

Now click the link.

Sunday 22 January 2017

Ian Sansom's Latest

[Insert preamble about being behind on my reading here]

[Insert claims that 2017 is a good year to catch up on reading]

[Get to the point]

Did you know that Ian Sansom had a new book out? I've known for over a week, and I'm only telling you now. Sorry about that.

I have been reliably informed that this novel is available from all good bookshops. It's definitely stocked by the greatest bookshop, a shop that nurtured this series in more ways than one.

And we're getting close to payday.

Get thee to No Alibis and buy a book by my favourite genius, Ian Sansom:

Essex Poison (The County Guides)

About the Book:

October 1937. Swanton Morley, the People’s Professor, sets off to Essex to continue his history of England, The County Guides. Morley’s daughter Miriam continues to cause chaos and his assistant Stephen Sefton continues to slide deeper into depression and despair.

Morley is an honorary guest at the Colchester Oyster Festival. But when the mayor dies suddenly at the civic reception suspicion falls on his fellow councillors. Is it a case of food poisoning? Or could it be murder?

Join Morley, Miriam and Sefton on another journey into the dark heart of England.