Friday, 28 March 2008

April's Publication

The second Inspector Devlin Mystery . . .
Taking its title from the name of the road down which condemned Donegal criminals were once led, Gallows Lane follows Inspector Benedict Devlin as he investigates a series of gruesome murders in and around the Irish borderlands. When a young woman is found beaten to death on a building site, in what appears to be a sexually-motivated killing, Devlin’s enquiries soon point to a local body-builder and steroid addict. But days later, born-again ex-con James Kerr is found nailed to a tree – crucified – having been released from prison and returned to his hometown to spread the word of God.
Increasingly torn between his young family and his job, Devlin is determined to apprehend those responsible for the murders be-fore they strike again, even as the carnage begins to jeopardise those he cares about most.
Gallows Lane is the heart-stopping follow-up to Brian McGilloway's acclaimed debut Borderlands.

'Brian McGilloway joins the roll-call of excellence in Irish crime fiction' - Marcel Berlins, The Times

About the author:
Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1974, and teaches English at St Columb’s College, Derry. Previously he has written plays and short stories. He lives near the Borderlands, with his wife and their two sons.

Hi, Brian, tell us a little about your novel, Gallows Lane.
Gallows Lane is the second Devlin novel. It deals with a number of interlinking cases including murder, robbery and drugs thefts, ex-cons, murdering ministers and crucifixion. I suppose the book is really about forgiveness and faith. For Devlin personally, promotion comes up and he has to question his place within the station. Caroline Williams plays a much bigger part, as does PSNI man, Jim Hendry. The novel also raises issues of concern here at home, not least of which are the planting of evidence by police officers and the mixing of religion and crime. That said, despite what I’ve written here, it’s not a Troubles novel!

Gallows Lane is your second book published by Macmillan New Writing. How has your life changed since they published Borderlands in 2007?
changed things significantly more than I’d ever have thought. The response to the book itself boosted my confidence in myself as a writer as did the CWA Dagger nomination. In addition, on the strength of it my wife has been able to take a year or two out of work to spend with our children, which in itself makes things much easier for us and means the kids are very happy. Borderlands also allowed me to meet authors I’d always admired on a different level and revealed to me just how bloody nice both Macmillan New Writers and crime writers and readers are.

What is your typical writing day?
My typical writing day starts usually around 8.30 pm. I work full time in Derry which means I leave the house at eight in the morning and get home after five most days. Having a young family, little is done about the house until after the children go to bed around eight. Then, a mug of tea, a quick check of e-mails and I get started. I write for an hour or two per day for the months during which I’m actually writing. I aim to write 1000 words per day, though frequently I manage 2500, and sometimes I struggle to make 250. I tend to write most during the summer holidays, generally late at night.

Four random facts:-
Worst thing about writing:
Working on your own and the feeling of having a complete lack of control over the book’s fate.
Best thing about writing:
Borderlands was published around the time my son, Ben, started learning to spell. Any time we were in a book shop he’d open Borderlands up at the dedication page to read his name. It was my proudest moment with the book.
Writers you most admire:
Mostly crime – James Lee Burke is right up there, as are Ian Rankin and John Connolly.
Most ludicrous moment in your life:
When I was a student, I got a winter job playing a shopping-centre Santa. The first night I was driven through the town dressed in the full regalia, sitting aloft a fire engine, while the local kids shouted ‘Oi, Santa, you fat bastard.’ It was fun – and the only experience I was able to provide of working with children when I applied for teaching.

Thank you, Brian, and all the best with Gallows Lane.
Gallows Lane is published 4th April, and is available from all good bookshops.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Since it's Easter Sunday, let me ask my fellow MNW writers a question that I might not otherwise get away with. To what extent does religion have a role to play in your writing? In my case The Herring Seller's Apprentice is pretty much a faith-and-ethics-free zone. Reality Check does however have Descartes proving, to his own satisfaction at least, the existence of God. But I don't think anyone will be going to my novels seeking enlightenment.

I suspect that, for a number of you, issues of faith and philosophy are rather more central to what you do. Doug I know has promised us "God & whiskey, forgiveness & redemption". Frances certainly deals with one man's personal faith in Dead Ernest. In Michael's The Manuscript, there is a philosophical mystery behind the blood and mayhem. And it's difficult to write anything about the Irish Borderlands without religion coming into it somewhere.

Anybody feel up to responding to this one?

Happy Easter, anyway!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

just curious

'Wondering how many, if any, of you write full-time, or have day jobs to pay the bills and feed your families. And, for those of you with day jobs, what are those jobs? Myself, I'm a magazine editor, which helps support my family (four daughters — two of whom are still at home, plus my wife, who makes a great deal more money than I do). Finally, how long did it take you to finish your book(s)? Mine took 30 months, though there was one long stretch of about three months when I didn't write (because of the damn day job...).


Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Cover the Mirrors goes Romanian!

(Cross-posted from my own blog, but it's only a quick 'un.)

I just received an email from Liz from Macmillan's rights department, informing me that Leda would like to publish Cover the Mirrors in Romania. Needless to say, I am extremely giddy about this prospect, and can't wait to see how the Romanian edition turns out. My first foreign sale!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

J.K. Rowling "bashes" unauthorised Harry Potter encyclopaedia

I just posted a little rantlet on this subject in my blog, and thought I'd draw attention to it here for those of you who don't subject yourself to my ramblings on a regular basis. Whoever would have thought that writers would want to protect their own material, eh? Cheeky sods.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Doing It Naked

I've never been the type of person who shied away from lowering the tone of the proceedings, so I thought I'd raise a question that's been bothering me since my launch party.

During the wild, drunken evening and just before I spilled red wine all over the floor, I was talking to Matt Curran about the trend charity workers seem to have developed regarding photographing each other naked and turning said photos into amusing calendars. We mooted the possibility of a Macmillan New Writing Calendar in a similar style, given that we are all already allocated months (so this would seem to be a natural fit... yes, there was alcohol involved in this discussion, obviously...) For instance, Matt would be Mr January and I would be Ms February.

So, since then, I have been considering where I would be photographed and what objects I would use to block the camera's vision in order to retain what was left of my dignity. The obvious choice for the location would be the runway at RAF Lyneham, and carefully placed coffee and walnut sponges would be involved, I think. Given that I'm Ms February, this would probably be quite a cold and uncomfortable photo shoot, but I'm willing to do it for the best charity in the world - the MNW Poor Author Benevolent Fund.

So, playmates, where will you be photographed? And what objects will you use over your privates in order to best promote your book?

Nobody said this marketing lark was going to be easy.

Friday, 14 March 2008

More help!

Can anyone tell me why I can't post a comment ('incorrect password') but can post a blog? As things are, I'm cluttering up the blog with silly little queries rather than hiding them away among the 'comments'. I've written some inspired comments only to have them rejected. Help (again) would be much appreciated. This query doesn't deserve to have blog limelight, but it's the onlyway I can comunicate with you all!

Thursday, 13 March 2008


Having found my way back onto the blog, I lost it again. I've spent half the afternoon deciphering squiggles and remembering passwords, and now I'm here (IF I'm here) I don't know what to say. Except that the cover of Faye's PB looks great. Does anyone else have the kinds of technical problems I have (apart from Mags - thank you for your comment!)? And can anyone tell me why we have to decipher those squiggles before blogging? Is it to prove we can read? Or simply to keep us amused while we're not writing our novels?

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The Obligation to Tell the Truth

Hi folks

Just wanted to stir up some pre-release publicity for Gallows Lane and the Pan paperback of Borderlands, which will be on sale from 4th April.
Crime Always Pays has posted the first review of Gallows Lane here.

In addition Shots Magazine are running a feature on the books here.

Finally, Declan at Crime Always Pays has allowed me to guest blog. My first posting follows and deals with the obligation to tell the truth in crime fiction. I’m interested to know what non-crime writers think about this? Do you feel a similar obligation in your particular genre (if you are a genre writer) to tell the ‘truth’?

‘The Obligation to Tell the Truth’
This past week in Strabane, a twenty seven year old man was abducted, taken just over the border, shot twice in the chest, and left to die outside a small Catholic church. The man’s murder caused outrage and rumour in equal measure in the local area.
Twenty miles away, a man having served eight years of a sixteen year sentence for the rape of a 91 year old woman who died two weeks later of a heart attack perhaps precipitated by her ordeal, was released from prison and moved into a small farmhouse near a community with a number of lone, aged females. Those in the surrounding area have no control over who has moved into their midst. Some argue that the man has served his sentence. Others argue that his seeming lack of remorse and refusal to comply with police procedures make him unsafe in such a community.
These two events have unsurprisingly featured highly in our local media this past week. However, on a more personal level, in recent days, over a dozen of my colleagues have smiled knowingly at me and said; ‘That’s the plot of your next book taken care of then, eh?’
Whilst the comment was, for the most part, intended in a good-humoured way, and I’m not in the least egotistical enough to see a link between the two things, it did set me thinking. Firstly, I found the recent shooting both shocking and deeply frightening. Strabane/Lifford is a small, fairly tight-knit community. Murders happening in large cities are somehow more anonymous, though none the less horrible for that. In a small community though, it’s perfectly possible that the man who pulled the trigger that killed the 27 year old Strabane man, or who raped a 91 year old spinster, could be standing behind my wife and children in the corner shop, could be the person who drives the bus into town, offers you the Sign of Peace in Church. Someone who thought little of taking another person’s life in such a brutal and violent manner.
Secondly, the quip about the Devlin books also gave me pause for thought. As I started drafting book 4, The Rising, I found myself questioning the use of violence and crime in the books I write and those I read. In a time when Hollywood seems preoccupied with violence as the new pornography, is there something deeply flawed in using crime for entertainment?
But that, to my mind, disregards the purpose of crime fiction. I wrote my first novel around the time of the birth of my first son. I am convinced that that event was at least a catalyst in my writing. Nothing creates an awareness of the threats of the world quite as much as a new-born child. Particularly in post-Troubles Ireland, where a mixture of the Ceasefire and increased affluence has, paradoxically, seemed to create more criminal activity. And as the cases of this week show, all too often justice is not done, or those who commit crimes not necessarily brought to justice in a manner most people would like.
Yet crime fiction allows that to happen, imposing some form of morality and order on a world that seems increasingly lacking in both. Our detectives in books achieve clearance rates massively above the average in Ireland. And perhaps offer us some vicarious hope that good will always triumph. The books themselves allow us to safely face our fears, safe in the knowledge that some form of resolution will be imposed in a manner unlike real life, much as the ancient Greeks experienced catharsis watching dramatic tragedies.
Whilst I wouldn’t claim that crime fiction necessarily matches Greek Tragedy, its purpose and its appeal in raising difficult issues to a wide reading public far outstrips most literary novels. James Lee Burke argues that it is the artist’s obligation to ‘tell the truth about the period he lives in and to expose those who exploit their fellow man.’ I believe few genres are as well placed to do this in modern Ireland than the crime novel and so, as I started writing The Rising today, I did so, not with a voyeuristic use of violence, but a dedication to deal truthfully with issues that affect myself, my children, and those who live in Ireland in 2008. In this I believe I am no different from any other writer named in this blog over the past year.
And I am proud to be among their ranks.

Congratulations Eliza

I have been trying for weeks to send my congratulations to Eliza for her amazing achievement, but being a technophobe (and pretty incompetent ) have been unable to break through the passwords, squiggles etc to get this far.. But - belated congrats, Eliza. I'm so impressed.

PB cover

Since it's now up on Amazon, I might as well show you the cover for the paperback edition of Cover the Mirrors:

The geniuses of Macmillan's art department strike again...

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


I just posted a bit of waffle about notebooks on my blog, and I thought I'd ask my MNW brethren how you all keep track of your research. What are the most interesting (or odd) things you have notes on? The dullest?

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Stand up, Peter Anthony

Stand up, Peter Anthony, and take a bow for getting a very nice write-up in the Borders' New Authors hand-out from none other than Susan Hill, best-selling British novelist:

A Town Called Immaculate
'A heavy snow storm in rural America and one man saves the life of another. The past, love and loyalties surface through the storms... a touching and satisfying human story.'

This Month's Publication

(Note from David and Matt: We have not been able to contact Mr. Bird; therefore there is no interview this month. If you happen to know how to contact him, please invite him to join the group!)

An extraordinary story of treachery, tenacity and tea.

When the late Edward Butler’s Will informs his spoiled heir that his sole inheritance is a sprawling coffee plantation in distant Ceylon, young John Butler resentfully decides to travel there from his home in Manchester to sign the deeds – and sell the estate as soon as possible (in order to repay his vast gambling debts).

But his plans soon go awry. Taunted by brutal plantation-owner William Paget, John rashly determines to make a go of it. Soon after his arrival in sweltering Ceylon, a storm ravages the estate and destroys what remains of his already blighted coffee-crop. John is about to give up for good and go home when he discovers among the ruined trees a sturdy crop of tea-bushes.

Soon, Butler’s tea plantation is thriving, he has fallen in love and he is starting to feel at home in his new life. But John has made an enemy of William Paget, and the older man will stop at nothing to see his rival’s business founder. When the bank from which John has borrowed money collapses, he is forced to risk everything he owns and loves on one final, epic gamble.

One Man's Empire is a bracing piece of storytelling, a suspenseful and action-packed adventure and a gripping tale of one man's coming-of-age during the heyday of the British Empire.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

World Book Day results

Well, it's World Book Day today and the organisers of Spread the Word have announced the winner of the Search for Hidden Talent: Jonathan Trigell, author of Boy A. Congratulations, Jonathan.

Thanks to everyone who voted for me, especially my fellow MNW authors. It was a privilege to be on the shortlist.