Saturday, 14 November 2015

Inside the Artist's Studio (sort of)

At one of the recent library sessions, one of the questions asked was about where I worked.  I explained that the garage had been converted into a study and that's where I usually wrote.  I also promised to post pictures as, for some unknown reason, someone wanted to actually see it.  So, without further ado (and suitably positioned to skillfully cut out all the crap lying around on the floor) here it is.

The desk - with assorted geek add-ons and hanger-outs (bonus points for spotting a Chelsea FC stress ball, Judge Dredd graphic novels and a Pink Floyd CD).

The bookshelves to the left of the desk including a complete set of Empire magazines (bonus points for spotting the Borg mug, the Millennium Falcon and a Balrog!)

More books, my collection of boardgames, RPGs etc and a mostly obscured window- hence the need for artficial lighting (bonus points for spotting Junta, Arkham Horror and Mansions of Madness) .

So there you have it.  Not too exciting but it's comfortable, warm and all mine.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

October is Children's Book Festival Month

October in Ireland is Children's Book Festival Month and writers, artists, illustrators and all the great and good of Irish (and other) writing get to, among other things, visit libraries and schools.  These visits are always great fun, the audiences are generally attentive, eager to get involved and can ask a variety of interesting questions.

This year I was invited down to Kerry to talk to school groups in three of their libraries: Cahirciveen, Tralee and Killarney. They even produced a spiffing guide to go with it.

Much fun was had in all three locations, the kids were fantastic, the staff kept me topped-up with essential coffee and biscuits and, despite the awful weather, the drive through west Kerry to Cahrciveen was spectacular.  Huge thanks to all who looked after me and everyone who made the trip so enjoyable.

More of this sort of thing!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Oh You Name Dropper

Over the years I've been lucky in that, not only do I get to interview other authors, but in all cases they were writers that I was a fan of  anyway.  Talk about a busman's holiday! The various interviews have been published  in Inis magazine so I've taken the opportunity to put links to them here (or at least those I could find!).

Charlie Higson: The title came about as seeing as both my youngest son and I were huge fans of his The Enemy series, I took the opportunity to ask him to sign his latest book (at that time) for my son.  Die Sicko Die was the dedication he wrote, which thrilled my son no end and, in the context of the series, was singularly appropriate.

His latest - and final - book in the series The End is out at the end of this month and we're both waiting with bated breath.

Darren Shan: readers of the blog will probably noticed I'm a big fan of Darren Shan too.  Here's the interview I did with him a few years back.

John Connolly and Jo Nesbo: this was a very interesting one as I got to ask two of my favourite crime writers the challenges and experiences of changing genre and writing for younger readers.  Their very different approaches make fascinating reading.
Trouble is I can't find any trace of the article or the issue of Inis it featured in!!  Once I do I'll post it.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

Just checked and, wow, it's been the guts of three years since I last blogged.

Am I lazy? Partially - but much more has transpired since.  Let me summarise:

The Third Pig Detective Agency: The Complete Casebook was published earlier this year.  It's, as the title suggests, all three Harry Pigg books in one nice, self-contained paperback.

More importantly:

Went to doctor, discovered by accident I was ill.  Work, tiredness, sleep, work, tiredness, sleep.  Zero opportunity or inclination to write. Rinse and repeat.
Got worse, went on dialysis (can you guess what was wrong yet?), work, tiredness, sleep etc.
Then, mirabile dictu (one for the Latin scholars), kidney transplant last year (thanks Andy), recovery, no more tiredness, back to real life (writing, blogging, watching sports, gaming etc).

So, there you have it.  The last three years in a nutshell.

More blogging to follow - and hopefully sooner than three years.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Reading Away the Days

The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed the somewhat eye-catching, flowery and very non-Third Pig banner currently decorating the top of the blog.  Reading Away the Days is a month long children's books event hosted on Megan McDade's book blog, Reading Away the Days.  All through September she'll have interviews, giveaways, articles, reviews and compos so it'll be well worth dipping your toes into.

I'll be interviewed on the site on September 12th and I'll be answering questions, among others,  on Harry Pigg, my own influences and encouraging kids to read.  Promises to be good fun so drop in and say hello.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

A Nice Write Up

Somehow or another I had missed this article in The Sunday Business Post when it appeared in July.  It's short but pointed and I like the reference to engaging boys in reading - which is something I do feel strongly about (next post will also reference this).


Apologies for quality of the scan; I suspect the scanner bed needs a good clean.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

We came, we saw, we launched.

The launch of The Curds and Whey Mystery went off well (no one died, the place didn't burn down and no-one mistook me for Hilary Mantel).  A decent crowd turned up and many books were sold and signed.

A huge crowd struggles to stay awake

After some avant-garde experimentation with microphone feedback, I took the opportunity to thank everyone, slagged off the Leinster and Manchester United supporters in the crowd, accused my youngest son of cheating in FIFA 12 (how else can he consistently beat me?) and signed loads of books before retiring to licensed premises to watch Germany/Italy.

O'Mahony's Bookshop put on a great show (wine, snacks and professionalism) and there were loads of pig-shaped sweeties.

All in all, a great evening.  Thanks to everyone who showed up.

And you said he couldn't do joined-up writing!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Harry Pigg is Launching

The Curds and Whey Mystery should be hitting the shops this Thursday, June 21st.  The first copies have already arrived on the publisher's desk so I'm eagerly awaiting the postman to drag his sorry ass up the driveway with my copies.

As we've never had a formal launch of the earlier books, we thought it'd be a good idea to mark the occasion of the release of the third book with 'a bit of a do'.

Sooooo, Thursday 28th June, O'Mahony's Bookshop in Limerick are hosting the launch.  It's at 6 pm so if anyone is in the vicinity, do drop in and say hello. You'll be more than welcome.

I'll be the guy cowering in the corner, plaintively squeaking 'buy my book, please'.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Composite Covers

With the arrival of The Curds and Whey Mystery imminent (June 21st), I thought it might be nice to show all three covers together in all their glory.  So, without further ado...

Don't they play well together?

I liked it then I still like it now, so there! #2

Possibly one of the finest pop songs ever written...(just ignore the Noel Edmonds waffle at the start!)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Review: Brothers to the Death by Darren Shan

The Saga of Larten Crepsley (of which Brothers to the Death is the final volume) has been a thoughtful and restrained series.  It still has many of the horrific set pieces that the author is famous for, but they're not as prevalent as in his other series, allowing more time for character development . Focusing more directly on a single main character, Shan has given us a well thought-out and flawed hero, plagued by self-doubt and a blind urge for vengeance but with a strong, albeit somewhat different to ours, moral code.

Without giving too much away, the story itself encompasses the latter half of the 20th Century, particularly World War II. When the Nazis seek an alliance with the Vampires, it's Crepsley's outburst that ultimately determines the Vampires' decision - a decision that will have huge repercussions for the main character and drives the events of the latter half of the book.

book cover illustration courtesy of the book zone 

Complex family relationships are explored, questions raised in earlier books (and series) are adroitly answered and familiar characters appear (and in some cases have their origins explained) and there's a neat twist towards the end that I never saw coming (and I'm usually good at spotting them!). 

One of the things I've always felt that Shan does well is his endings and this one is no exception.  Avoiding pathos he skillfully wraps up a big story with a small set-piece that is not only moving but brings the saga full circle, tying it in very neatly with the original Chronicles of Darren Shan.  Regular readers will end the book with a smile on their faces.

Overall, this has been a series to savour.  Full of great characters, a centuries-encompassing storyline and a truly memorable conclusion, the Saga of Larten Crepsley is a worthy addition to the ranks of great horror series for younger readers.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Sequelmeter

I read a lot - especially when I should be writing! This means I get through a lot of books, many of which are the first in a series. I've now worked out a very non-scientific, very-subjective, it's-my-system-and-I'll-use-it-if-I-want-to method of working out if I really enjoyed any book in a series: do I really want to read the sequel/next volume. With that in mind and utilising the hard-science method of my system, here's a run down of some of the books that have been passed through the Sequelmeter - with a yes/no/maybe response as the output!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: No. Very underwhelmed by this one. Cannot see what the fuss is all about. Derivative, predictable and dull. Does have a strong main character though. Absolutely no urge to read any more in this series.

The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith: Yes. A novel take on the zombie story with exciting set-pieces and some really good ideas. Pity I'll have to wait a while for the next one.

Gone by Michael Grant: Definitely yes. Four volumes in and it shows no sign of flagging. A simple idea developed into a very meaty series.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson: Definitely yes. Another twist on the zombie trope where some of the infected have limited intelligence so present more of a threat than the usual shambling brain-seeking mob.

The Dreaming Void by Peter Hamilton: Maybe. I'm a Hamilton fan but 300 pages in and I'm still not sure where this one is going. I'll read on and see what happens.

The Equivoque Principle by Darren Craske: Yes. A belting old-fashioned thriller set in Victorian England and beyond. Great story-telling, great characters and great fun.

The Afrika Reich by Guy Saville: Definitely yes. Possibly the best thriller I read in 2011. Cannot wait for volume 2.

The Istanbul Code by Laurence O'Bryan:  Maybe.  Enjoyed the book, just not sure I want to read more.

The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman: No.  Dull fantasy with a middle section where nothing happened and took ages to do so.

Night of Knives by Ian C Esselmont: No.  His first foray into the Malazan world is competent but not a patch on his buddy Steven Erikson.

Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber: No.  The first fifty pages promised so much; the next five-hundred failed to deliver.

Son of Heaven by David Wingrove: Yes, although this is a rewrite and expansion of his massive Chung Kuo saga, which I'd read quite a few years back, so I know what to expect.

Monday, 19 March 2012

The End is Nigh (well, one of them at any rate)

Caroline Smailes (a fellow Friday Project author) is an immensely talented lady. Should you require proof, check out her books In Search of Adam or Black Books (those are the ones I've read) or Like Bees to Honey.
Her latest book, 99 Reasons Why, is, however, a book with a difference: it is only being published as an e-book and comes with 9 different endings which readers can navigate using multiple choice questions on their Kindle or via a spinning story wheel on their iPad or iPhone.

So what, I hear you say. Well, there are also two more endings: One will be handwritten by Caroline and auctioned for charity, the other is being shared across the web on a number of blogs - one of which is mine.


It's certainly a neat way of promoting the book and hey, if you don't like the ending below, well there are 9 others to choose from. The book is available for both Kindle and iPhone/iPad (via iTunes).

So, roll of drums and trumpet fanfare, I give to you 99 Reasons Why - the Ending!

99: the reason why I was only worth ninety-nine quid

It’s been six days since the little girl in the pink coat went missing and me Uncle Phil’s in me bedroom.

We’ve been watching the little girl in the pink coat’s mam on the news. She was appealing to the public for witnesses.

‘Didn’t realise she had a mam,’ I says, looking at me telly.

‘Everyone’s got a mam, pet,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘She sold her story to The Sun,’ I says, looking at me telly.

‘Got a few quid,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I nod.

‘She wanted nowt to do with that bairn before all this,’ me Uncle Phil says, looking at me telly.

‘Do you know where she is?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘Belle?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.

I nod.

‘She’s safe,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘Your mam’s keeping an eye on her.’

‘Can I be her mam?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘No, pet, you’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I nod.

‘Can you make Andy Douglas come back, Uncle Phil?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

Me Uncle Phil shakes his head.

‘I love him,’ I tell me Uncle Phil.

‘Andy Douglas is your brother, pet. You didn’t seriously think Princess Di was your mam, did you?’ me Uncle Phil asks me.

I nod.

‘You’re a cradle snatcher just like your mam,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I nod.

‘Your mam miscarried when she found out I’d been banging Betty Douglas. Betty was expecting you,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I don’t speak.

‘When you was born, your mam went mad and I ended up buying you from Betty Douglas for ninety-nine quid,’ me Uncle Phil says.

‘Ninety-nine quid?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘I paid a hundred but got a quid change for some chips for your mam and dad’s tea,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘You bought me?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

I’m a little bit sick in me mouth.

‘It was the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me. ‘I got Betty Douglas pregnant straight away with Andy.’

‘I’m pregnant,’ I says to me Uncle Phil. ‘I’m pregnant with me brother’s baby,’ I says, and then I throws up on me purple carpet.

‘You’re a filthy whore,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘What am I going to do?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘You’re going to have the baby,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘Have me brother’s baby?’ I asks me Uncle Phil.

‘Then I’m giving it to Betty Douglas to bring up,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘You what?’ I says to me Uncle Phil.

‘It’s the right thing to do,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

‘I can’t—’ I says to me Uncle Phil.

‘It’s either that or I’ll make you disappear,’ me Uncle Phil says to me.

I don’t speak.

I’m thinking, they’re all a bunch of nutters.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Cover Me

I'm not sure if this is the final draft or not, but below is the current cover for the Curds and Whey Mystery. Look, cogitate, weep, laugh hysterically etc etc