A Conversation with Author Sharon Dempsey

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Sharon Dempsey, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Sharon, please introduce yourself:

Sharon Dempsey

I’m a Belfast based crime writer. The first in my new crime series, ‘Who Took Eden Mulligan?’ was published in February by Avon Harper Collins. I am also a PhD researcher at Queen’s University, exploring class and gender in crime fiction.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I work in the crime fiction genre. Crime fiction is above all else concerned with the study of human behaviour. When characters are placed in an extreme situation it is fascinating to see how they react. But at the same time as a writer of crime fiction I feel a responsibility to treat my characters justly and for my victim and their family to have space and room to explore their grief.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I read everything. I would never limit myself to one genre though crime fiction is probably my go to comfort read. I have just finished The Last House on Needless Street by Caitriona Ward and it has totally blown me away. A strange gothic tale that pushes boundaries and creates new spaces metaphorically for the self. Truly hair raising, inventive and compelling.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?  

Traditionally published.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Probably crime writer Tana French. I love her murder squad series. Faithful Place was my favourite. Her latest book, The Searcher, is a wonderful novel that proves that literary fiction and genre fiction can go hand in hand.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

Yes, definitely. I grew up in Belfast during the Troubles and we are a society ripe with stories and now, post-conflict, is the time to tell them. I feel strongly that exploring society through a fictional lens is the best way to get to the emotional truth. But my work doesn’t always have the Troubles backdrop. My stories have universal themes. Northern Irish crime writing has really come into its own with writers like Claire Allan, Kelly Creighton, Brian McGilloway and Stuart Neville. I am proud to be part of that new wave of crime writers from here.

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

I suppose the editing is my least favourite part. The first draft is often the most exciting part, where you are telling yourself the story and it’s fresh. I’m learning to appreciate the editing part too.

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

Whatever you are writing finish it! I think starting out we all have many unfinished projects. You can’t submit something until it is finished.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

Usually mornings but I work at all hours. Pre lock down, I usually wrote during school hours, but I am always thinking about the story and will happily record notes on my phone or iPad at all times of the day and night. There is no switch off button when I’m writing.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I’d probably still be in journalism. As long as I’m writing, I’m happy.

If a movie was made of one of your books, who would you like to play the lead roles?

Oh, good question! I think I need to give that some thought.

You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?

Gerald Durrell books Corfu books, My Family and Other Animals. Michael McLaverty’s  Call My Brother Back (1939) describes the uprooting of 15 year old Colm MacNeill from Rathlin to a Belfast in the grip of the Troubles of the early 1920s. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Tender by Belinda McKeon, and Margaret Attwood’s Alias Grace. Sorry that’s six!

Please tell us about your latest published work.

Who took Eden Mulligan? is a modern day murder investigation

wrapped in a historical cold case.

‘They’re dead. They’re all dead. It’s my fault. I killed them.’

Those are the words of Iona Gardener, who stands bloodied and staring as she confesses to the murder of four people in a run-down cottage outside of Belfast. Outside the cottage, five old dolls are hanging from a tree. Inside the cottage, the words “WHO TOOK EDEN MULLIGAN?” are graffitied on the wall, connecting the murder scene with the famous cold case of Eden Mulligan, a mother-of-five who went missing during The Troubles. But this case is different. Right from the start. Because no one in the community is willing to tell the truth, and the only thing DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey can be certain of is that Iona Gardener’s confession is false …

If you would like to know more about Sharon and her books, please check out her links below:

twitter @svjdempz

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SharonDempsey13

Instagram sharondempseywrites

https://dempseymail.wixsite.com/mysite/home

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