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:  http://lisareadsbooks.blogspot.ie/2013/11/kevin-mccarthy-interview.html

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: http://irishcrimefiction.blogspot.ie/

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!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Gigs and Reels...Some Upcoming Readings

Crime and the City
A quick post here re some readings I'll be doing this and next month. Both of them look really interesting for anyone interested in crime fiction...ie there will be many other writers beside myself reading at them! 
On October 31st I'll be reading at the ILAC Centre library in Dublin as part of the Crime and the City series. Here's the skinny courtesy of Dublin City Libraries:
Crime in Dublin: It's Kind of Love/Hate Relationship
Crime is serious business in Dublin and we love to read about it. From novels about detectives to accounts of serial killers, from gangster biographies to analysis of social issues, we have an appetite for all of it. 'Crime in the City: Crime and History' is a series of talks and readings looking at the broad issue of crime in Dublin through the ages.
This series of events brings together writers from fiction with historians, researchers and bloggers to inform, entertain and promote discussion.
Events take place over the five Thursdays in October at 1pm and will consist of lunchtime readings, talks and discussions.

You can find details here:  http://www.dublincity.ie/RecreationandCulture/libraries/library_events/Pages/autumn_2013_city_crime.aspx

Trinity College Dublin
The second event is the New York University/Trinity College Irish Crime Fiction Festival, held this year at Trinity College Dublin over the weekend of 22/23 November. I'm really looking forward to this one as I'm on a panel with several writers of historical crime fiction whom I really admire. Also, Irish American crime novelist Michael Connolly is launching his latest novel, The Gods of Guilt, on Saturday evening where he will read and be interviewed by Irish crime novelist John Connolly. (A veritable clatch...coven(?) of Connollys!) Michael Connolly's series of Harry Bosch novels is a real favourite of mine and, now that I think of it, were a real influence on my O'Keefe novels. Really looking forward to it.
Michael Connolly's Harry Bosch novels a real influence on my Sean O'Keefe series

Here's the official bumpf:

Irish Crime Fiction: A Festival
Friday 22 November and Saturday 23 November
Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin and New York University are holding a festival devoted to Irish crime fiction, featuring more than a dozen of the most exciting Irish and Irish-American crime novelists. This will be a memorable weekend, devoted to a key genre of contemporary Irish writing, so please make plans to join us.

We're particularly pleased to announce that our weekend will conclude with a major event: for the Irish launch of his newest novel, The Gods of Guilt (Orion Books, November 2013), Michael Connelly will be interviewed by John Connolly. After the interview, and questions from the audience, Michael will be signing books, which will be for sale on the evening. 

Books by all of the authors will be available for purchase at the festival throughout the weekend.

Tickets for 'An Evening with Michael Connelly' are €6 (inc. fees), and tickets for Friday evening and Saturday daytime events are free. Tickets for all of the festival events are available here

Friday 22 November (free tickets)
Long Room Hub, Trinity College

7.00pm-8.30pm: 'A Short Introduction to Crime Fiction: Why We Write It, How We Write It, and Why We Read It', featuring Trinity College alumni. 
Panelists: Jane Casey, John Connolly, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, and Eoin McNamee.

Saturday 23 November (free tickets for daytime events)
Long Room Hub, Trinity College

10.00am-11.15am: 'Historical Crime Fiction'. 
Panelists: Kevin McCarthy, Eoin McNamee (chair), Stuart Neville, Peter Quinn, and Michael Russell.

11.30am-12.45am: 'Irish Crime Fiction Abroad'.
Panelists: Declan Burke (chair), Jane Casey, John Connolly, Conor Fitzgerald, Alan Glynn, Arlene Hunt.

12.45pm-1.30pm: lunch

1.30-3.30pm: Surprise Film Screening

3.45pm-5pm: 'Crime Fiction and Contemporary Ireland'.
Panelists: Paul Charles, Declan Hughes, Gene Kerrigan, Brian McGilloway (chair), Niamh O'Connor, Louise Phillips.

Saturday 23 November, Closing Event
6pm (doors open 5.30), Exam Hall, Trinity College (€6 tickets)
'An Evening With Michael Connelly'.

John Connolly will be interviewing Michael, who will be signing books, including his newest novel The Gods of Guilt, which will have its Irish launch at this event.

All the deet's, tickets etc. here:  http://irishcrimefiction.blogspot.ie/

Friday, 20 September 2013

HHhH..ell Yeah!

Makes a great doorstop! Or weapon! Or gift!
Long time no speak, y'all.  Things fairly quiet on the Irregulars front.  No reviews recently to speak of though I've a gig or two coming up in the near future, more on these anon.

Anyway, with summer over and a proper job--thank God--to return to, I've not been doing too much structured writing.  Just a few bits here and there: notes, half-scenes, snatches of dialogue etc.  I have been doing some reading around the subject of my novel in progress, namely  the Indian Wars of the late 19th Century in Wyoming/Montana etc.  (And yes, I'm aware that calling the rampant, blood-soaked expansionism and treaty breaking of the period 'the Indian Wars' might, in some ways, be injudicious, but I use it as short hand.)

Aside from research, I've also just finished a fantastic book on the very nature of historical fiction: the very post-meta-modern-contemporary-historical 'novel' by Laurent Binet, HHhH.  (Talk about short hand!  The 4 h's an acronym for Himmlers hirn heisst Heydrich or 'Himmler's brain is called Heydrich')  Don't let my description put you off.  This book should be required reading for anyone interested in reading or writing historical fiction.
Post-Meta-Mod-Contempo Historical fiction...and quite brilliant as well
 HHhH is an (I assume) autobiographical account of Binet's attempt to write a novel about the assassination of Reinhardt Heydrich, Hitler's very own Butcher of Prague, by Czech partisan operatives sent from London.  The story itself I was familiar with, having read a non-fiction account at my parents' house several summers ago.  The ironic--and pleasantly fortuitous--thing is that I never actually finished the account.  It came time to leave before I got as far as the assassination--baggage weight limits mitigated against my taking a hardback in my luggage--and, though I knew the outcome of the action from other accounts etc., I didn't know what became of the assassins, brave, bold, patriots that they were.  (And I mean that without the slightest tint of irony.  Heydrich was as evil as they come, even by Third Reich standards, and his treatment of the Czechs made him deserving of his fate and then some.)  This made reading Binet's HHhH a particular pleasure because he treats the story--the true story-- of the assassination with the reverence it deserves. And as a story it is beyond parallel in terms of suspense, action, treachery, love.  It's a rare book that can make you think about the process of the story being told while maintaining its grip on the story, and the reader. HHhH is a book you can't put down and yet it makes you stop and contemplate the very nature of its telling.

Laurent Binet, author of the brilliant HHhH--if you're an historical novelist or reader of historical fiction, read it.
In fact, the whole book--while telling the story of the operation, of Heydrich and Czech and Slovak history, among other things--is a reflection on the historical novelist's right to co-opt historical events and real people for the sake of fiction.  This had a particular impact on me as I've wrestled with this myself as a novelist.  Oh, I've wrestled with it...and then simply left the ring and wrote what I wanted.  But like Binet, I was wary of putting words into the mouths of characters from history.  As he says in HHhH:  There is nothing more artificial in a historical narrative than...dialogue--reconstructed from more or less firsthand accounts with the idea of breathing life into the dead pages of history...When a writer tries to bring a conversation back to life in this way, the result is often contrived and the effect the opposite of that desired: you see too clearly the strings controlling the puppets, you hear too distinctly the author's voice in the mouths of these historical figures.

On the other hand, like Binet, I am equally compelled to tell the stories that, for whatever reason, have lodged themselves in my conscious and subconscious mind.  As Binet says:  I don't want to drag this vision around with me all my life without having tried, at least, to give it some substance.  I just hope that, however bright and blinding the veneer of fiction that covers this fabulous story, you will still be able to see through it to the historical reality that lies behind.

What I'm saying, I suppose--and perhaps I'll write more about this in another post--is that the writer must treat the subjects he has chosen, the historical personages--characters if you will--with the respect they are worthy of.  Not the best sentence there, but you get my drift.  Binet has been brutally honest about the doubt and the conviction; the obsession, the honesty and dishonesty that go into a work of historical fiction.  The above quote could, in fact, serve as a manifesto of sorts.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Two Of The Greats Are Gone

In the past two weeks, two of my favourite writers passed away.  Great artists both, I never met either and yet both had a profound influence on how I write. In fact, both were so good at what they did that they could put the fear of God into lesser writers like myself.  Reading them as a writer could make you stop and shudder in wonder--How does he do that?--and, occasionally, despair--I might as well chuck it in because nothing I write will ever, ever match this...  

Elmore Leonard and Seamus Heaney might not, at first glance, appear to have much in common other than that they were both 'writers'.  One American, the other Irish.  One a novelist, the other a poet etc. etc.  But what they both shared was a love for, and profound trust in, the language of the common man.  Both had a gift for rendering the sound of speech--whether Detroit or Miami, Bellaghy or Belfast-- as it is locally spoken.  And not merely the turns of phrase, the quip or curse or colloquialism, but the rhythms of speech.

Two examples, just chosen randomly:  Heaney, from his poem
The Flight Path: "When, for fuck's sake, are you going to write/Something for us?/If I do write something,/Whatever it is, I'll be writing for/myself."  And here's Leonard from his novel, City Primeval-High Noon in Detroit:  "'Yeah, it's dark in here,' Clement said, looking around Uncle Deano's, at the steer horns on the walls and the mirrors framed with horse collars. 'Darker'n most places that play Country, but it's intimate. You know it? I thought if we was gonna have a intimate talk why not have it in a intimate place?'  Clement straightened, looking up.  'Except for that goddamn pinball machine; sounds like a monkey playing a 'lectric organ.'

One a sharply brilliant political, autobiographical poem and one a fiercely brilliant, mordantly humourous crime novel, but in both you can literally hear the men in them talking. Like they were sitting with you on the train, as in The Flight Path or in Uncle Deano's in City Primeval.  Both writers, both geniuses.  And may they both Rest In Peace.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Keeping Up With the Times...The Sunday Times Review

And while I'm at it here at the auld blogging, here's the review of Irregulars published yesterday in the Sunday Times.  So far, the critics have been more than kind.  I was kind of delighted with it.

Sunday Times Culture Section 21.07.13

Irregulars by KEVIN McCARTHY
New Island £13.99 pp383

It’s Dublin, 1922, and demobilised Royal Irish Constabulary man Seán O’Keeffe is at a loose, fragile and unemployable end. He drinks too much, he’s lonely for any kind of companionship, he is spooked by memories of combat in Gallipoli and in Ireland’s ‘’Tan War’’, he is mourning the death-in-action of his younger brother, and he is guilt-ridden at not seeing his parents for months even though he lives less than a mile from the family home. A chance meeting with a doctor alerts O’Keeffe to the fact that his father – also a former policeman – is ill. Three days later, after a skinful of booze and with the vague recollection if ‘’a heady miasma of perfume and sweat....the laughter of women and a crackling gramophone’’, O’Keeffe finally returns home.
His father, now drifting in and out of early-onset Alzheimer’s, burdens O’Keeffe witha moral debt that must be repaid to Ginny Dolan, a powerful brothel keeper in the city’s infamous Monto area. For some unknown reason, Dolan had O’Keeffe’s father in her pocket, and it is now the turn of his son to take that place. Ginny Dolan’s request? O’Keeffe must find her beloved teenage son, Nicholas, who has taken up with republican guerrillas (aka the ‘’irregulars’’).
With a nod to fellow Irish-American writer Dennis Lehane, Kevin McCarthy – whose 2010 debut crime Novel, Peeler, also featured the character of O’Keeffe – blends a rigorously researched, factually based storyline with an array of crime-novel characters, only a few of which come across as hackneyed.
O’Keeffe stalks his prey through the main thoroughfares and back streets of Dublin, via detention camps in Gormanstown. Dolan is embittered and quick-witted: ‘’Only in Ireland can men let politics come between them and a screw,’’ she notes.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a strong interest in Irish history – McCarthy writes such an involving, oft-times harsh story that lack of knowledge neither intrudes nor undermines they enjoyment. The contextual mood seems realistic for the times that are portrayed. Depression and disappointment, poverty, prostitution and child abuse are all here. No pretty pictures are painted and Irregulars is all the better for it

Tony Clayton-Lea

Monday, 15 July 2013

Up the Dubs! A review of Irregulars on the RTE Ten Website

Spotted a great review of Irregulars on the RTE Ten website today. http://www.rte.ie/ten/news/2013/0715/462563-irregulars-rte-ten-review/  It's short enough so I'll post it here.  I have to say I'm delighted.  Irregulars is my own twisted love letter to Dublin and the reviewer really felt the love.
Dublin Coddle...not on tourist menus for a reason.
Looks awful, tastes great!

I love the title (sub heading?) too. New Jackeen City...classic!  (Jackeen, for those who might not know, is slang for a denizen of Dublin.  According to the eminent Dr. Charles Wikipedia its origins are thus:  Jackeen is a mildly pejorative term for someone from DublinIreland. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "A contemptuous designation for a self-assertive worthless fellow," citing the earliest documented use from the year 1840.[1]
Ice T, Wesley Snipes, a young Chris Rock? A movie charting the rise and fall of
a Dublin drug lord.  Or maybe not...

The review, by Henry Guerin, is printed below.

    New Jackeen City
Kevin McCarthy's Dublin-set thriller Irregulars has just been published by New Island. Harry Guerin says this case is really worth investigating.

It takes some kind of author to make you see your native city in a new way, but after reading Kevin McCarthy'sIrregulars the streets, alleys and ghosts of Dublin Past will never seem the same again. Long before you finish devouring the chapters you'll be planning a walking tour of your own.
Set in 1922, Irregulars tells the story of Seán O'Keefe – ex-soldier, ex-Peeler – who's thrown head-first into a pitch black coddle of missing children, murder, stolen money, Civil War politics and a family debt that must be honoured, with plenty of beatings and bodies before he can.

As O'Keefe goes from front parlours to tenements to lodging houses, he's joined by 'Just' Albert; Monto muscle with a personal interest in the case and an unshakeable belief that he can fix any problem with his hands. After he and O'Keefe pay a visit to the internment camp at Gormanston you're ready to believe him, and that's just one of a number of brilliantly realised set pieces amidst the twists.
Like George P Pelecanos with his DC Quartet, McCarthy has made Dublin his own, populating it with heroes, shooters, spies and street urchins who look good for two decades and a dozen books, all far from The Gathering crowd.  4.5/5 stars.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Another Review of Irregulars...or...If You Can't Stand the Heat, Stay Out of the Kitchin...

Another review of Irregulars, this one by author Rob Kitchin over at his great Irish crime fiction blog, The View From the Blue House.  Rob's an author himself and it's always rewarding to be reviewed well by one's peers.  The link to it is here:  http://theviewfromthebluehouse.blogspot.ie/2013/07/review-of-irregulars-by-kevin-mccarty.html

The View from the Blue House

Monday, 1 July 2013

First Review of Irregulars

You hear that some writers don't read their reviews.  Well...with all due respect...bullshit.  What's the old adage about 99% do it and the other 1% is lying?  All of which is to say that the first review of Irregulars was published last week on the fine history website, The Irish Story, and a really interesting review it is, too.  It's very good, mostly, and some of what the reviewer didn't like, I can agree with.  Still, waiting around for reviews can be a bit hard on the auld nerves.  Firstly, you are hoping for any reviews at all.  It's reviews what sell books, for better or worse...even worse, apparently, though I'd not like to test it out.  And of course any reviews you do get, you really want to be positive but then again, bad reviews are part of the job of work that is novel writing.  'It's all in the game,' as the late, great Omar Little once said.  But still, you hope they'll be nice.  Generally, Peeler was well reviewed.  No real negative ones and some fabulous ones but reviewers are kind to first novels, I think, unless they're six figure deals or written by a glamour model or some such.  Second novels, particularly in a series?  The gloves are off, I'd say.  But I will post the bad with the good on here and here's hoping for the good...
I wrote a novel and a hockey game broke out...the gloves are off for the reviewers of Irregulars

Also, there's a cool blog post re Irregulars over at Peter Rozovsky's brilliant blog, Detectives Beyond Borders.  I've written about his blog before but I'll say it again:  there isn't a smarter, funnier or more erudite book blog on the web.  The fact that Peter is a stand up guy only helps.  Check it out here.

Novelist Declan Burke of Crime Always Pays blog
and author of the mega-meta-masterpiece Absolute Zero Cool
And finally, over on Declan Burke's equally brilliant, Irish Crime Fiction blog, Crime Always Pays, Declan has included Irregulars on a list of books eligible for Irish Crime Novel of the Year 2013.  Now, I've only read two books on that list but am proud that Irregulars is hanging with such a cool crowd.  Honoured, I am.

Irregulars Out Now!!! Get It While It's Hot...or Before the Reviews Come In!

Ok, it's official, I'm the world's worst blogger.  I just see that I've posted nothing on here since May and really, for some weeks there was nothing to report and then, suddenly, now, loads to report.

Firstly, Irregulars, the second Sean O'Keefe novel, is now in good bookshops everywhere or can be purchased also here or, preferably, here at the New Island home site.

We launched it last week at the Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar.  Booker listed author Ed O'Loughlin was kind enough to shove the book into the world with a speech that was too kind by half and a real honour for me.  I have to say I've been well served by the two writers who've launched my books, Ed this time and Cormac Millar, who launched Peeler in 2010.  A real honour, seriously.  And a word here about the Gutter Bookshop.  If you're ever in Dublin and need a book, go there.  Bob, the owner, took the bold step of opening the shop during the worst recession this country's ever seen and, through a genuine love of books and insider knowledge of the publishing world, has brought the shop from strength to strength.  I love all bookshops, really, and will shop in any one I find myself in, but wherever possible I try to shop in independent bookstores.  They are being eaten alive by those guys I've linked above...the online retailer, not Ed and Cormac...and we still need places that care about art (I'm making no claims for my books, just sayin'...) rather than just product.  And now I'll climb down off my soapbox and tell you that the party then moved next door to the Turk's Head pub for further refreshments and a fine time was had by all...or by me.  And here, let me thank everybody who came out to support the book at the launch.  I really appreciate it and owe you a drink or three.
Myself and Ed O'Loughlin at the launch of Irregulars

Friday, 3 May 2013

Good Evening, This is Phizzfest Calling...

I had the great, good fortune to be interviewed on the Arena Arts Show on RTE radio last night alongside fellow scribbler Ed O'Loughlin.  The show was done live from the Woodstock Cafe in Phibsboro--a great little spot, incidentally; lovely food and hospitality and it's tripping distance (next door to) one of Dublin's finer pubs, The Hut.

The occasion was the launch of this year's fabulous Phizzfest, the Phibsboro Art Festival, at which Ed and myself are doing a gig, titled Crimes of the State.  We'll be chatting about genre, state terror and other stuff brewed up to make a bank holiday weekend just that little bit better.  It's on upstairs in the above mentioned Hut at 5 p.m. on Sunday.  There will be pints after...or during should you need them.  (You just might!)  So, RTE was in the Phib last night with a live broadcast to launch the Fest.

Now, I've done some radio in the past.  Ok, I've done radio twice in the past, the first time being in Aberdeen, Scotland of all places.  The occasion was the Aberdeen International Football Tournament and my team were to play the Aberdeen F.C. junior side.  (Just remembering this now, I wonder was Alex Ferguson then senior manager at Aberdeen...this was in 1985 so...no idea...would have to Goggle it,)  Anyhoo, local radio wanted one of our number for an interview in advance of the match and myself and another lad, a Columbian named Mauricio, were volunteered for the gig.  Mauricio was delighted and told me and everybody else how wonderful he'd be on the radio...in Spanish.  So it was down to me and Mauricio, who piped in now and again with 'Si, si...', to field the questions.  The first one was about the name of our team.  How was it, the presenter asked, that a team from Tampa Florida came to be called Blackwatch Tartan FC?  In my wisdom, I answered that perhaps we were named after the Tartan Lager beer that we had enjoyed on the train up from London.  The presenter laughed.  I laughed.  Mauricio said, 'Si, si...cerveza...' and laughed.  And the next day the warm and welcoming fans of Aberdeen FC showed their warmth and hospitality by showering us with empty Tartan Lager cans every time we took a throw-in or corner.  'Here's yer Tartan Lager, ye wee Yankee strip of shite!'  My teammates, needless to say, thought it was a whole can of laughs, me and my radio schtik.
These hurt when thrown.

The second time was a few weeks ago, on the History Show on NearFM which I linked in the last post.  Needless to say, no one threw cans of anything at me the next day.

All of this to say that radio is fun but nerve-wracking in its own way, particularly live radio.  The presenter is everything on radio and the man behind the mike last night, Arena and Lyric FM's Sean Rocks, made everyone feel at ease.  He's a real pro, as is his researcher, Nuala O'Neill.  So all in all, a fine evening, followed by even finer pints of the black stuff in the Hut.  And no one has thrown anything at me today or called me a 'wee Yankee strip of shite'...yet.  A podcast of the show can be found here.

Ed O'Loughlin
Incidentally, the Booker nominated Ed O'Loughlin has just published his latest tome, an Irish zombie political satire cum gorefest, titled All You Can Eat.  He's going all new-fangled and high tech and launching it into the Kindle-sphere himself.  It's a steal at the moment.  Get it here.  I read an early draft and it's bloody, pulpy, and bloody well brilliant.
This is not the cover to All You Can Eat...but it should be!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Radio Daze or Recent Developments and The Terrifying Sound of One's Own Voice

I know, I know, it's been awhile and still no sign of Irregulars.  Like the proverbial boy who cried wolf, I can now safely say that, yes, the wolf is at the door.  Or something like that...

Late May Release Date
I spent a week over Easter doing the final galley edits and then there was some waiting for blurbs to come back from the very kind folks who agreed to read proof copies so sadly, Irregulars won't be out in time for my In Conversation gig with Ed O'Loughlin at the Phizzfest  but it will be out in late May, definitely!

We've called the Phizzfest gig Crimes of the State and as the title should tell you, it'll be a ball of laughs! (No, actually, it should be quite funny.  Ed's satire is both razor sharp and quite hilarious.  And sure, what else would you be doing on a Bank Holiday Sunday in May?)

In the meantime, I was interviewed  by John Dorney and Cathal Brennan, both of The Irish Story.com on their fine History Show that airs on NearFM in Dublin.  If you're faced with a choice between Geordie Shore re-runs or something vaguely more edifying, here's a link to a podcast of the show.  I heartily recommend any of their podcasts to history buffs.  John and Cathal know their way around the clusterf...the labyrinth that was the Revolutionary/Civil War period in Ireland and are all round great guys who bring both lucidity and enthusiasm--a rare mix, certainly--to Irish History.  Their show on the 1913 Lockout in Dublin is particularly fascinating.  Here's the link:  https://soundcloud.com/nearfm/the-history-show-episode-15#play

And lastly, RTE Radio 1 Arts Show Arena will open Phizzfest this Thursday, May 2, with a live broadcast from Woodstock...  http://phizzfest.ie/2013/arena-launches-phizzfest-2013/...the cafe in Phibsborough not the farm in upstate New York, though I was thinking of playing Purple Haze in lieu of rambling on about using crime fiction as a Trojan Horse of sorts to address the use of terror in the founding of nation states yadda, yadda, yadda....  Listen in if you've the time or inclination.  Or, click the link on Purple Haze above and listen to Jimmi playing it at Woodstock...the farm, not the cafe...

Arena Launches Phizzfest 2013I'll be back in the next week or so when I've a firm date of release and launch details for Irregulars, information on pre-orders etc.  Until then, enjoy the sunshine...(alright, I know...that's not funny, I've crossed a line there...)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Go Ahead and Judge a Book...Part Deux

So here it is, the cover for the new book.  I have to say, I'm delighted with it.  The skyline you can see through the open window is, in fact, Dublin.  I love this fact.  It brings what's inside the book and what you see on the cover together in some way I can't explain but which works.

I'll say it again:  Emma Barnes, the cover designer over at Snowbooks is a pro.  We went through four or five drafts total, with New Island kindly letting me look over each one and kick in my two cents.  Some of what I suggested was taken on board, some of it wasn't and thank God for that!  I suggested adding blood, a la Peeler. Bad idea.  It's not that kind of book, though it is bloody in places...  I suggested this font or that font.  I was ignored.  Rightly, properly, and strategically ignored.  But isn't it my work?  Shouldn't I know what's best in a cover enshrouding my precious work? No, actually.  Not at all.

You see, writers write.  I know something about writing, something about what's inside books--novels, anyway.  When it comes to cover art, I know what I like, as the saying goes.  But what book designers/cover artists and publishers know is why I might like what I like. It's not an exact science, obviously, or every author would have sales like James Patterson or JK Rowling, but there is much expertise employed in the presenting of the product being sold in the form of the packaging.  I know, I know, I hate that way of speaking about books, novels in particular.  They're art, they expand the consciousness, tap the senses, mine the emotions and...they only do these things if people bleedin' buy them.  And people buy books based on the cover art.  Not always and not alone this, but often.  I do it and you do it too.  The packaging is important and, though I know what I like, I really know nothing about what sells books or why.  So I leave that to the experts at New Island and Emma Barnes over at Snowbooks.  Blood you say?  Ummm, yeah...we'll look into it...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Go On...Judge A Book By Its Cover...

So, it's February and you might be wondering where that promised follow-up to Peeler is.  What?  You weren't?  Not to worry.  It's coming, next month.  April at the latest.  Irregulars, it's called and I've been beavering away at corrections and editorial suggestions as of late.  We're expecting galleys back soon for a big, old final peruse and just yesterday I received a first draft version of the cover design which was very, very cool.  I won't post a pic of it up just yet as it is in early form.  (No more would I publish any of my own work in draft form.)  When we get a more finalised version, I'll post it up.  Needless to say, it's always a great moment when you're sent cover art for your book.  It makes it all seem real somehow, cheesy as that might sound.

I think I've mentioned cover art before, but I'll say it again here:  it's really important in selling a book, whether in print or ebook form.  New Island were kind (and savvy) enough to accede to my request to once again use cover designer Emma Snow of Snowbooks in the UK for the cover.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  She's exceptionally talented and if you're in the market for a cover, get in touch with her at the above linked sites.

Featuring a modified(?) Banksy...must've cost a bomb.
My friend Ed O'Loughlin's most recent novel, the brilliant Toploader, published by Quercus, has my favourite cover of recent years on any novel, featuring a booby-trapped version of Banksy's iconic donkey/soldier image from the West Bank Wall/Barrier to great effect.  Read the novel and see how apt the cover is.

Cover art for Declan Burke's
Absolute Zero Cool is...well, cool
Same designer for Slaughter's Hound... 
I've also recently been hugely impressed by the covers on Declan Burke's novels for Liberties Press.  They're hip, retro and indicative of the wiretight mayhem on the pages inside.  (Is that possible?  For mayhem to be wiretight?  Hmmmm...)  Anyway, they're great.  I was told the name of the woman who designed them but for the life of me I can't remember it.  When I figure it out, I'll post it here.
...and Eight Ball Boogie

Anyone know of any recent crime novel covers that have impressed?