Q: How would you describe your debut novel, THE BONES OF IT, to someone who hasn’t read it yet? Did you have a specific readership in mind when writing it?
THE BONES OF IT is a psychological thriller about a twenty-two year old man, Scott McAuley, and his strained relationship with his father, Duke: who was a paramilitary and now is a counsellor for prisoners. It is, at the heart of the story, about family tensions, and in the wider sense about societal strains that still ripple under the surface.
The novel is set in present day Northern Ireland and deals with the Good Friday Agreement. The kernel of the idea came from a speech about the peace process, about people during the Troubles being swept up by the brush of terrorism. That phrase made me wonder what things nowadays bring a young person to crime. But that is merely the backdrop, it is a book about nature versus nurture.
As for a readership, I hoped the novel would appeal to everyone, whether they read crime fiction or not.
Q: You’ll be reading as part of our ‘Fresh Noir Voices’ event – do you think there is a new wave of writers in the noir/crime genre? Who do you like reading? What inspires your writing?
There are definitely more noir voices coming through now. There have been seismic changes in our society in recent years that are now forcing writers’ pens in this direction.
I read wide and varied, for crime: James Lee Burke, Brian McGilloway, Louise Phillips. I love short stories, especially Annie Proulx and Edith Pearlman.
I must confess that the poet in me loves beautiful language and stunning imagery, but if I’m reading a novel that has no message, I won’t be inspired by it. I love books that haunt me after, and make me change how I look at something.
Q: As well as being an author yourself, you are also the editor of The Incubator literary journal, and so are well placed to offer your assessment of the standard of new writing in Ireland today?
The new writing I see is very experimental. People are trusting their own voice and having the confidence to tell a story their own way. There are amazing new writers coming through that we at The Incubator have big hopes for.
Q: You’re currently working on a new novel and also a collection of short fiction – what can you tell us about those? Do they follow in the same vein as THE BONES OF IT?
I’ve recently put my short stories together into a collection and I can see that overall it probably has the same grittiness and black humour that you will find in THE BONES OF IT. Now I am trying my hand at a police procedural from the point of view of a female detective, again this is set in N. Ireland but the style of this particular project feels very different to me.