Friday, 21 February 2014

Researching and Writing Historical Fiction

Hello, folks, long time no write.  Actually, I've been writing a good deal, which is why I've been absent from this blog for the past two months but that's the way it should be, I suppose.  I sometimes wonder where other writers get the time to write any fiction at all what with their voluminous web output on FB, Twitter and the rest, but hey, to each his own.  My time is taken up with the day job, family, sports (my own and the kids'), reading and the writing.
Writing...more important to me than table tennis...but only just
Sometimes, the writing rises to the top of the hierarchy, especially nearing deadlines or when things are really cranking (though never, really, above the day job as my kids do fairly put away the grub and my wife and I do occasionally like to pay the mortgage, so...), but mostly it just hums along somewhere above my passion for soccer and table tennis and reading other people's books (especially on my new Kindle which I have come to love in a way I wouldn't have thought possible before my wife and kids got it for me as a birthday gift, along with a bathrobe/dressing gown; again, I never knew I needed one when ratty tracksuit bottoms and fleeces seemed to do just fine, but now I can't imagine having lived without one; I'd wear it to work if I could!) and somewhere below, as I said, the day job and of course, family.  (Kids...who'd have thought they'd require so much of your time...and attention...and money?)  Social media, for me, therefor falls into a level just below that of my own personal laziness and beer time.  Not to say I don't like it but if it comes down to a choice between actually writing fiction or writing the blog or drinking beer or playing table tennis, blogging and Facebook lose every time.

So, mea culpa mucho.  (See, I knew you were angry!)
Beautiful Fingal--The Irish Sea coast at Donabate. It's always sunny
like that, honest!

Anyway, just to let folks know, I've been asked to give a talk for the Fingal County Archives on 'Researching and Writing Historical Fiction.'  It's on Tuesday in Swords and I'm delighted to be doing it as it is for the local county council who, much maligned though county councils are in Ireland these days, are (county council, plural or singular?  hmmm...) really great at maintaining this wonderful part of the world that is County Fingal/North County Dublin.  I'm honoured they asked me.  Come along if you're around.  Details are here!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Irregulars Hits a Best of 2013 List in the USA...Where It Still Ain't Published! (J'accuse!)

Been a long time folks.  Out with the old and in with the new and all that.  Just a quick post here with a link to the Kirkus Reviews site where Irregulars has been chosen as one of J. Kingston Pierce's Top Ten Crime Fiction Reads of 2013.  It's a serious honour as Mr Pierce knows his stuff, being the curator of the seminal Rap Sheet blog.  He's one of the best in the business, is Mr Pierce.  Gracias, sir!

Here's the link:

Zola's Courageous Attack on the Army
for Wrongly Convicting Dreyfuss of Treason
Historical Fiction at its Finest
Also got a chance over the holidays to catch up on some novels I've been wanting to read for a while but wanted to savour.  Any fan of historical fiction could do far worse than Robert Harris's new tome on the Dreyfuss Affair, An Officer and a Spy.
 Much like the story of the assassination of Heydrich in HHhH that I wrote about in a previous post, I knew the bare bones of the Dreyfuss affair--Zola's involvement, the antisemitism rife in the French Army and right wing press at the end of the 19th Century etc.--but I didn't know the details and ultimately, the outcome.  Harris does not invent characters or events in the book--dialogue and some incident, I imagine, but according to his afterward, he sticks as close to the published record as he can to explore the case.  The result is a novel, an historical thriller, that is gripping to the end and at times, very well written.  A totally different approach to historical fiction than that taken by Binet in his HHhH and equally fine in my opinion.  More than one way to skin a novel!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Gigs and Gowns Galore!

Photo: Wanted men....Kevin joins the usual suspects for yesterday's entertaining and thought provoking seminar on Irish Crime fiction at Trinity College.
Eoin McNamee, Conor Brady, Stewart Neville, myself and Michael Russell
on the Historical Crime Fiction Panel at Trinity College's Irish Crime Fiction: A Festival.
I'm the one with the beard...
Well it's been some kind of week for yours truly, I have to say. Saturday was Irish Crime Fiction: A Festival, hosted by Trinity College, where I was lucky enough to be invited to join a panel of writers to discuss Historical Crime Fiction.  It was an honour to be included among the likes of Stewart Neville, Conor Brady, Michael Russell and Eoin McNamee.  As I've written here before, Eoin is one of the best writers in Ireland--in any genre--and he did a great job moderating the panel.  The turnout, as well, was brilliant.  There's many a time I say, 'Oh, yeah, I'll definitely hit that gig/reading/match at 10 am on a Saturday morning and...well...don't.'  Fair play to the folks for turning out and I hope the early morning was worth it.  There were great panels throughout the day, as well as a surprise screening of the yet to be released...Homeland?  Something? I can't remember the name of it though I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Stallone on the pen and Stratham kicking serious amounts of unreconstructed ass...need I say more?  No doubt you'll find it on Netflix soon.

John and Michael Connolly, gentlemen both and a fantastic interview...
They should have used the thrones behind!
But the highlight of the day was John Connolly's interview with Michael Connolly.  Now, one might say that's far too many Connollys in one building (and you'd probably be right) but the interview was insightful, entertaining and warm.  Michael must do hundreds of them and yet John was able to get him to open up in a way--about Bosch, books and jazz, among other things--that felt like he was saying it to an audience for the first time.  It's said that it's a bad idea to meet your heroes.  At the post-gig drinks put on for participants/panelists, I got a chance to do just that and Michael was a gentleman.  People say some mad things, altogether.

Photo: Kevin McCarthy & his wife Regina

Picture copyright of Ger Holland Photography
Me and the Missus at The Bord Gais Energy Book Awards
And then Tuesday was the awards banquet for the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards for which Irregulars was shortlisted in the Crime Fiction Book of the Year category.  Well, Irregulars didn't win--Louise Phillips won for her very fine novel, The Doll's House--but it was brilliant to be shortlisted in such august company.  The shortlisted authors, Jane Casey and William Ryan, both of whom have been nominated before, continued the tradition of the nominated crime writers meeting for a drink before the official drinks and hopefully this will carry on in the future.  The nicest part of the evening for myself and Regina by far, was meeting--some for the first time, others again--the other crime writers.  To my knowledge, none of the other categories does this.  (Can you imagine the celebrity chefs in the Best Cookbook category getting together for canapes?  'These canapes are shit...did you make them?' Meow!)
Some hours after the glitz and glamour and shortly before they shut the residents' bar...

Congrats to Billy Callaghan, a fellow New Island writer who won in the Single Short Story category for his story The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind.  Click the link to read it.  Brilliant story, smashing guy.
Myself, eyes closed, Eoin Purcell, Commissioning Editor at New Island,
his partner Blanaid, Billy Callaghan and his father at the Irish Book Awards. Well done Billy!

Also, congrats to Niamh Boyce for winning best newcomer award for her historical novel--set in Irish midlands, 1930s and meant to be brilliant; it's on my Christmas list--The Herbalist.  Regina and I had a lovely drink or two with herself and her partner Paul and she is now up for overall Irish Book of the Year.  Vote here!

Anyway, a great night was had by me and my beloved.  Not a lot of writing got done the next day, it must be said...but Manchester United beat Bayern Leverkusen (sic) 5 nil. Two great days in a row...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Lisa Reads Books and Interviews Yours Truly

Hi folks. An interview with yours truly over on Lisareadsbooks blog.  It was really fun to do, actually, forcing me to think back on my early reading habits, my working (or lack thereof) habits etc. It's a great blog. Check it out here:

Also, I'll be among some real greats of Irish crime writing this Saturday at the Irish Crime Fiction: A Festival at Trinity College. Really looking forward to it.  Details here:

Friday, 15 November 2013

Historical Crime Fiction and Khloe Kardashian...Who Woulda Thunk It?

Had a really interesting morning today, appearing on (Crime Fiction Book of the Year sponsor) TV3's Ireland AM show alongside my new besty, (sic) (bestie?) (how do you spell the stuff you hear your kids say?) Khloe (Chloe?) Kardashian, discussing historical crime fiction.
I got the rock! And I was on telly with Kevin McCarthy! 
Ok, we didn't discuss historical crime fiction.  And...ok...I didn't exactly appear alongside said Khloe.  Or appear in the same building...or country...or continent.  Actually, I think they recorded her interview in LA or somewhere else I wasn't.  And actually, I didn't discover Khloe was on the show until just now when I was looking for the link...and watching my own interview.  Come on, you have to watch yourself, if only to cringe, really.  You have to!  (Do I really sound like that?) 

All of which is to say, Sinead Dempsey and Anton Savage and all at TV3 were very friendly and relaxed, making me, in turn, slightly more friendly and relaxed than I otherwise might have been.  And I got a muffin to take away in the car on my way into the day job where I suffered unmerciful slagging.  Fair deal!

Here it is:


Friday, 1 November 2013

Irregulars Shortlisted for Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year...Author Not-So-Secretly Delighted

Well, folks, I've actually got some real news for once here on the auld blog:  Irregulars has been shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year 2013.  I'm really delighted by the news, I have to say, and, if nothing else comes out of it, me and the missus will get to go to the awards banquet and avail of the open bar...  What? No open bar?  Well...

Yours truly and Mariel Deegan,
Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator for New Island Books at the
Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards
Shortlist Announcement--Photo courtesy of Ger Holland, a real pro

 Seriously, it's nice to be nominated, really nice, actually, and it will keep Irregulars on the shelves for awhile longer at least.  It's an honour to be on a list with the 5 other writers.  I've only read one novel by one of the other writers, to my shame, The Holy Thief, William Ryan's first novel in his Kolorev series, set in 1930's Russia. It is a great read and no doubt his shortlisted The Twelfth Department is equally good.  So, again, a real honour.

If you want to vote for Irregulars, here's the link below.  Thanks!

Following the announcement of the shortlist at the Bord Gais Energy--see that? a plug for my gas company!--Theatre, it was into a taxi and over to the ILAC Centre Library for my reading in the Crime and the City series put on by Dublin Libraries.  It was hectic, running from one place to the other but the turnout was great at the ILAC and the Q&A was one of the most interesting I've done to date, with questions covering everything from civil war history to writing routines and much else as well.  I'd never done a lunchtime gig before and I really enjoyed this one.  Thanks to Padraig, Susan, Mary, Bernadette and all at Dublin City Libraries for their support!
Reading at the ILAC Centre library in Dublin as part of the Crime in the City series.
(My mate Oscar looking suitably bored!)
Nice tie...

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Talking History

Newstalk 106-108 LogoHey folks, just a few lines here.  I did a short piece on Newstalk Radio's Talking History programme on the 21st of October.  My interview starts at around 27:30 in the link but listen to the whole show if you get a chance.  It's one of the best history shows around.  Many thanks to Patrick Geoghegan and Susan Cahill--producer on Talking History and host of her own show, Talking Books on Newstalk--for having me on.  Here's the link:

Also, will be reading on Thursday, October 31st at 1pm at ILAC Centre Library as part of the Crime and the City series.  There are details in a post below.  Come along if you're in town and fancy something other than the usual hang-sanger and bottle of red lemonade for lunch!