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Read about WALKING ON RIPPLES in The Irish Times here.
Please no more charity shops! Recently I had the good fortune to read A TALE OF TWO CITIES on my Kindle. Not having read Charles Dickens since being force-fed by the Christian Brothers in school many years ago, I found myself reading an action-packed novel featuring great and unforgettable characters such as Sydney Carton and Madame Defarge. Best of all, the text has hardly aged since Dickens published it in 1859. If only that were the case with all books especially three I recently bought in charity shops. I must stop buying books in charity shops. They are in there for a reason – they are unloved. Since Dickens, my summer reading from these shops has been downhill all the way, consisting of a novel from the 1980s, one from the 1990s, and a short story collection from the 2000s. All three have been, like the Cork hurling team, largely disappointing – a pity because these are biggish names (Jeanette Winterson, Peter Robinson, Claire Keegan). I have formed a resolution now – to buy a brand new book fresh off the shelves of a proper bookshop. At least then the money (to be more correct: a tiny fraction of the money) may end up in the author’s back pocket rather than in the pocket of some other deserving cause. A triple review, capsule-reviews of sorts, can be found here
The nights are closing in – but the West Cork Literary Festival is only weeks away! I’m looking forward to a night in the Bantry Bay Hotel followed by a reading the morning after. Here are details of my programme: the event will open with two short factual extracts about fishing abroad – no worries, this is about the countries visited rather than fish caught. Then it’s straight into the fiction with “Lost Notes” – one of the chapters from WALKING ON RIPPLES. This short story won the Maurice Walsh Award some years ago and, like the rest of the book, has a watery theme ideal for West Cork. Towards the end of the story I pause to talk about the art of writing, which goes down well as most attendees will be into writing as well as reading. The event will round off with two light-hearted factual excerpts describing fishing related events – an amusing note to end on, to balance the rather darker “Lost Notes” short story. That’s the plan – whether we stick to it is another matter. The whole thing should take about three quarters of an hour. Hope to see you there. Here’s the venue & details:
BANTRY BOOKSHOP, WILLIAM STREET, MONDAY JULY 18, 11.15 am
Writers Beware! Been meaning to put this item up for weeks but only getting around to it now. All the talk in the literary world lately has been the horrendous story of how Belfast author Eilis O’Hanlon’s work has been plagiarised on Amazon. Along with husband Ian McConnell, O’Hanlon co-authored (under the pseudonym Ingrid Black) a series of four detective novels published by Penguin and Headline from 2003-08. The first of these, THE DEAD, sold well and won a Shamus award in the USA. Eventually it went out of print only to re-emerge in August 2015 as an e-book called TEAR DROP written by a Joanne Clancy. Both books are identical, though characters’ names and background settings were changed or transposed in none too subtle a fashion. Not only was THE DEAD plagiarised, so were its sequels. All four were scheduled to appear as e-books on Amazon. The first book generated Kindle sales in excess of $15,000, making it one of Amazon’s most downloaded books at the time. Happily, Joanne Clancy’s ‘work’ has now been disappeared. That is of little consolation to the real authors and serves as a salutary lesson to all writers. The sorry saga reads like a real-life whodunit. Startling and gory details, including fascinating text comparisons, are available here.
I’ve been invited to appear at this year’s West Cork Literary Festival to be held in Bantry, Co Cork. The festival runs from July 17-23. My slot is scheduled for the Bantry Bookshop at 11.15 on the morning of Monday July 18. Billed as a solo reading, it will most definitely centre on extracts from WALKING ON RIPPLES. The exact nature of the extracts will be revealed in early July. All I know for certain now is that my schedule is for 45 minutes which is great, plenty of scope there – a scoop of good old Rebel Red will go down well after an event that length, you may be sure. Festival details here.
On a separate note, an old magazine article about the chapbook BROKEN HEROES is now online on this site. The article, which appeared originally in Sensor, can be accessed by scrolling to the end of the Two Chapbooks page here.
The USA podcasting service Pseudopod reports that the short story I sold them in January will go live on July 29 (a link will appear here once the story goes onstream). Meanwhile, Overload, winner of the Best-in-Issue prize way back in Albedo One #17, has made a welcome re-appearance in the reprint anthology DECADE 1: THE BEST OF ALBEDO ONE, which was finally published last month. Mention of all things Albedo leads to the delightful news that four Albedo One’rs (current editors Frank Ludlow and Bob Neilson, plus two eds emeritus: John Kenny and myself) will be in attendance at Eurocon in Barcelona from Nov 3-7. The flights are already booked – four nights in Barca! Who knows, fingers crossed, with a bit of luck, Messi & Co might be playing a home match in the Camp Nou that weekend.
Another short story sale to report from the USA. This latest, a short piece of under a thousand words, was written a couple of months ago and has been taken by Pseudopod – the online podcasting service that, happily, pays their authors a pro rate. More news on the date the story goes live when I get word from the States. I’m looking forward to the podcast being available, and also to the appearance of “The Street” in Space and Time, ‘the longest, continuously-published, small press genre fiction magazine still in print!’ – according to the contract letter, no less. My new novel, working title MOUNTAIN FALLS, has been through several drafts and is now as good as I can cook it. Of course it’s not commercial enough to readily find acceptance in this very commercially-driven publishing world, but it’s out there fighting for a place in a difficult climate – more power to its literary elbow.
Being a sucker for all things South American, specifically magic realism, I recently snapped up a copy of a novel by Argentine writer Pablo De Santis. VOLTAIRE’S CALLIGRAPHER first appeared in translation in these parts in 2010. It’s a short but tough read. Once the story gets going though, the reader is enveloped in a fascinating eighteenth century world full of secrets, automatons and of course – calligraphy. One of the reasons I picked up the book is because of the following quotes on the back cover: ‘Murder and mayhem … colourful characters and cases create a hazy atmosphere of intelligent escapism’ (Washington Post) & ‘A beguiling historical whodunit’ (New York Times). These quotes appear under a brief (and accurate) synopsis of the plot of VOLTAIRE’S CALLIGRAPHY and would appear to refer to the above-named novel. However, when I got home and began to read, I discovered that the above newspaper quotes referred not to the book I was holding in my hands but to another, and better known, novel by De Santis called THE PARIS ENIGMA. This ‘secret’ is not revealed on the book’s covers. You have to read the interior praise-pages to discover that you are, in fact, being hoodwinked by the manner in which these quotes are used. Now I know what to do for my next trick: I’ll gather all the ace quotes from the best reviews of my past titles, put them on the back cover of my next book and not reveal their attribution until the opening pages. Should result in a few extra sales! As for VOLTAIRE’S CALLIGRAPHER, HarperCollins should know better – there goes my chances with them, I guess.
All of last year’s posts are now on the News Archive 2015-2011 page above.