Monday, 22 July 2013

Saving the World in one Paragraph

I normally interview others, but the tables have been turned. Please visit Jeff Gardiner's lovely blog to read about me, my writing and how I would save the world in one easy step.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Bad Moon Rising recommended alongside J.K. Rowling’s latest

Now, there’s a blog post title I never thought I’d be able to write, but it’s true!

The wonderful people over at Triskele Book Club have put together a list of their recommendations for summer reads.

Bad Moon Rising and The Cuckoo’s Calling are rubbing virtual spines on their Hot Summer Reads Page, with only a single book to separate them. To say I’m thrilled is the understatement of the year.

The only way to find out if the two books are worthy of such high praise is to read them both. I’d love it if you posted your comments after you've done so. It's not every day I can claim to be on the same page as such a celebrated writer.

Ten facts about … Luke Murphy

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
Actually it happened by accident. Growing up I never thought much about writing, but I was an avid reader. The only time I ever wrote was when my teachers at school made me. I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period.

It was the winter of 2000, my second year of professional hockey, and I was playing in Oklahoma City.  After sustaining a season ending eye injury (one of the scariest moments of my life), I found myself with time on his hands.

My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, was attending a French college in Montreal. She received an English assignment to write a short story, and asked me for some help.

I loved the experience—creating vivid characters and generating a wire-taut plot. I sat down at my roommate’s computer and began typing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and before I knew it I had completed my first manuscript.

I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing.

Thirteen years later, I still write for pleasure—and I still love it! The fact that I am being published is a bonus.

How long does it take you to write a book?
My story is rare, and not necessarily on behalf of other writers. Writing is not my full time job. I only write as a hobby, when I have free time. But here it is:

In the winter of 2007, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write Dead Man’s Hand. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of my novel.

The first person to read my completed manuscript was my former high school English teacher. With her experience and wisdom, she gave me some very helpful advice. I then hired McCarthy Creative Services to help edit Dead Man’s Hand, to make it the best possible novel.

I joined a critique group, teaming up with published authors Nadine Doolittle and Kathy Leveille, and exchanging manuscripts and information. Working with an editor and other authors was very rewarding and not only made my novel better, but made me a better writer.

When I was ready, I researched agents who fit my criteria (successful, worked with my genres, etc.) and sent out query letters. After six months of rejections, I pulled my manuscript back and worked on it again. Then in my next round of proposals, I was offered representation by the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

After months of editing with Jennifer, and more rejections from publishers, my dream was finally realized in April, 2012, when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books (Edmonton, Alberta). I’m hoping the next one (if there is one), doesn’t take quite as long.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
These days I don`t have one. Right now, I have a full time job (teaching), a part-time tutoring job, and three small children. I`m too busy playing ring-around-the-rosie and duck-duck-goose to write.

But when I do write, I find that I am most productive in the morning, and I always have to have a mug of steaming coffee in front of me.

Before I even sit down at a computer, I have hand-written notes of ideas for my book. This could be anything from plot, scenes, setting, characters, etc. I always write in the mornings, this is my most productive time.

Once I sit down, I just write. No editing, no looking back, I just let it flow. Unless I`m certain, no title until after I`m done. As I write, I keep notes by hand on the timeline.

When my first draft is complete, I go through it twice, once for the creative editing process and the next for flow, repetition, etc. Then I have my former English professor read it over and she gives me her thoughts. I edit it myself again. Then I send it to my agent for her thoughts, then I edit it again myself. Only once my agent and I feel ready do we send it to publishers.

How many crime novels have you written?
I’ve completed three manuscripts but only one novel has been published.

Which is your favourite and why?
That’s hard to say. Dead Man’s Hand is my only published work to date, and I have been getting exceptional reviews. It took me over six years from writing the first word to seeing it in print, so I spent a lot of time with it.

But my first manuscript is my baby. It was what drew me to writing, what ignited the passionate fire in me to write. It also brought my wife and I closer together (we were just dating at the time and she helped me a little).

Tough call.

Where do you get your ideas?
There is not a single moment in time when this idea came to be, but circumstances over the years that led to this story: my hockey injuries, frequent visits to Las Vegas, my love of football, crime books and movies.

Dead Man’s Hand became real from mixing these events, taking advantage of experts in their field, and adding my wild imagination. The internet also provides a wealth of information, available at our fingertips with a click of the mouse.

Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
Without a doubt, Calvin Watters.

A 6’5”, 220 pound African-American Vegas leg-breaker.

Watters faces racial prejudice with calmness similar to that of Walter Mosley’s character Easy Rawlins. But Watters’ past as an athlete and enforcer will remind other readers of (Jack) Reacher of the Lee Childs series. The Stuart Woods novel Choke, about a tennis player who, like Watters, suffered greatly from a dramatic loss that was a failure of his psyche, is also an inspiration for Dead Man’s Hand.

When thinking about creating the main character for my story, I wanted someone “REAL”. Someone readers could relate to. Although it is a work of fiction, my goal was to create a character who readers could make a real connection with.

Physically, keeping in mind Watters’ past as an NCAA football standout and his current occupation as a Vegas debt-collector, I thought “intimidating”, and put together a mix of characteristics that make Watters appear scary (dreadlocks and patchy facial hair), but also able to blend in with those of the social elite. Although he is in astounding physical condition, handsome and well-toned, he does have a physical disability that limits his capabilities.

He’s proud, confident bordering on cocky, mean and tough, but I also gave him a softer side that readers, especially women, will be more comfortable rooting for. After his humiliating downfall he is stuck at the bottom for a while, but trying hard to work his way back up.

He has weaknesses and he has made poor choices. He has regrets, but Watters has the opportunity to redeem himself. Not everyone gets a second chance in life, and he realizes how fortunate he is.

Calvin Watters is definitely worth rooting for.

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Probably one of my favourite characters in a novel is Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch. HE is so classic. Tough and bright, experienced and unbroken. I love Bosch’s sense of humour and his ability to adapt to any situation.

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Wyatt Earp. I love westerns, love reading and watching about stories of the Wild West. Obviously with the title of my book, Dead Man’s Hand, is taken from Wild Bill Hickok of the Wild West. It was so wide open and care-free back then.

What are you working on now?
I don`t have much time to write, but when I get a chance, I do all I can. It could take some time, but eventually I would love to write a series of novels, featuring Calvin Watters. But I will not limit my novels to Calvin Watters, as I would like to write a different series of novels, all in the crime-thriller genres. I’m currently working on a new crime novel, but my wife and I just had our third child, so the process has been stalled and is going quite slowly. Eventually I would love to write more books, including a sequel to Dead Man’s Hand.

Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three daughters and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man’s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

For more information on Luke and his books, visit:, ‘like’ his Facebook page!/AuthorLukeMurphy and follow him on Twitter!/AuthorLMurphy

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ten facts about … Louise Phillips

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I also wanted to be a singer, even though I don’t have a note in my head! The writing dream stayed with me, despite me ignoring it for a great many years. It was always waiting in the wings.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I’d say 12 months, more or less. The first draft probably takes about four months, another two months working on honing in the overall structure and text; the same again after editorial feedback is received. After that, it’s copyediting and final bits and pieces. However, the story germinates in my mind for a long time before I start writing. The idea and general theme come first, often with a particular character in mind. Other bits then fall into place, so I have a firm grounding by the time I put pen to paper. Even more of the story unfolds as I write, and there are always surprises.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
It varies. In general, I tend to write early mornings, starting around 6 a.m. I like working before the rest of the world gets up, and then I’ll work until early afternoon. After that, the other day job and family kicks in. During editing, or if I’m close to a deadline, it’s every hour in the day that I can possibly manage. Large cups of coffee and sugary treats are often required, which is why, when I can, I try to go out walking as part of the routine.

How many crime novels have you written?
My first novel, Red Ribbons was published last year. My second novel, The Doll’s House will be out August 1st, and I’m currently working on the next one. I’d attempted novel writing before Red Ribbons, on two previous occasions, but lost courage halfway through. I don’t regret that. It was all part of the journey,

Which is your favourite and why?
I think stories, especially stories which span the length of a novel, are like your children, each of them being special in their own way. You spend at least a year of your life thinking about them and then writing them, so they all have a strong place in your creative heart.

It’s always important to be excited about your current work, so if I was pushed for a favourite, it would be the current story, only because it is unfolding all the time.

Where do you get your ideas?
I read somewhere recently that there’s no such a thing as writer’s block, it’s more ‘idea block’. I’m not sure about that, but as I mentioned earlier, usually something will grab me creatively and will stay in my head for a long time. When it does, I know it’s there for a reason. I hope my novels are emotionally charged, and it’s the emotional story or potential consequences which takes hold. I don’t focus on being overly clever with regard to plot. I’m willing to let the characters develop into the story, although the end result is a multi-layered plot.

Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
Gosh, that’s a hard one. Dr Kate Pearson, the criminal psychologist, who appears in each of the novels, is evolving at all time, so she’s particularly interesting. When new characters are brought in, I tend to align with the main protagonist more than others. For Red Ribbons, The Doll’s House, and the current novel, the main protagonist is written in first person. I think this allows me go deeper into their mind-set. I like the bad guys too. As the writer, I don’t set myself up as judge and jury over them. They have their own light within the dark.

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
The one that instantly jumps to mind is the character of Hannibal created by Thomas Harris, but there are many more. I tend to link to characters who bring you places you haven’t been before.

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Fictionally, the character of Sherlock Holmes would be rather good! I love the old puzzle solving aspect, and he certainly got himself into all kinds of interesting scenarios.

I wouldn’t like to be anyone from history who did evil things. Writing about them, and being them are totally different. So I’d be happy to be any one of the good guys!

What are you working on now?
The working title of my current novel is Last Kiss. There is something of a clue in the title! I don’t tend to say too much about a work while it’s evolving, mainly because you can lose some of the magic unfolding in your mind. Ask me again in six months, and I’ll give you lengthy paragraphs.

Born in Dublin, Louise Phillips returned to writing in 2006, after raising her family. Louise’s work has been published as part of many anthologies, including County Lines from New Island, and various literary journals. In 2009, she won the Jonathan Swift Award for her short story Last Kiss, and in 2011 she was a winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform. She has also been short-listed for the Molly Keane Memorial Award, Bridport UK, and long-listed twice for the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Competition. In 2012, she was awarded an Arts Bursary for Literature from South Dublin County Council. Her bestselling debut novel, Red Ribbons, was shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year (2012) in the Irish Book Awards. Her second novel The Doll’s House will be published August 1st 2013.

Places to find Louise

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ten facts about … Catriona King

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve written in some form since I was a child, whether for work or pleasure. The first time I realised that I wanted to try to be published was in 2010. That was when I started to write the D.C.I. Craig thriller series

How long does it take you to write a book?
That’s an interesting and difficult question. It really depends on whatever else is going on in my life. If I have time then I can write the first draft of a novel in somewhere between eight to ten weeks. Editing could take another month. If I don’t have time it could take forever! I find writing sequels easier than writing new novels with completely new characters.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I start writing in the morning as soon as I wake up. That could be anywhere between 6am and 8am, depending on the day’s schedule. Then I write; until lunchtime on a bad day and around five o’clock on a good one. I tend to think it terms of how many words I’ve written that day rather than the hours –on a good day the words come easily, or a bad day it’s like pulling teeth. I know when I need to stop writing in a particular day because the typos start piling up!

How many crime novels have you written?
I’ve written four novels in the D.C.I. Craig series and I’m writing a fifth novel in a completely new vein at the moment. The new one is a spy/ espionage thriller, set in New York, rather than a crime novel.

Which is your favourite and why?
I really like book two in the D.C.I. Craig series The Grass Tattoo because of the Russian Mafia characters. The Russian mafia are fairly secretive so research was a challenge.

Where do you get your ideas?
From anything and everything I see. I can be sitting in a café when a random idea will occur to me and I’ll jot things down. I have notebooks full of them which I forget about and then discover. But my handwriting is dreadful so I often can’t work out what I’ve written!

Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
I like the lead character Marc Craig. I think if I were a man I would be like him. And the second lead Liam Cullen, because he’s so politically incorrect and (hopefully) funny.

Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Doctor Who without question. Given that you can be anywhere in time and space, the potential story lines are limitless.

If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Sherlock Holmes. He was so eccentric and so brilliant.

What are you working on now?
A new stand-alone thriller set in New York. It’s called The Carbon Trail and is about love, espionage and science!

Catriona King trained as a doctor, and as a police Forensic Medical examiner in London where she worked for many years. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police on many occasions. In recent years, she has returned to live in Belfast. She has written since childhood, fiction, fact and reporting.

Published works
D.C.I. Craig Belfast's Modern Thriller Series