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In the Library with Irish Author Susie Murphy @susiemwrites

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Susie Murphy, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as a debut author.

Susie MurphyYou are very welcome, Susie, particularly as you are a fellow Irish historical fiction author. Please introduce yourself: 

I have been writing stories since I was eleven years old so publishing my first novel this week is a dream come true for me! My book, A Class Apart, is the first volume in my six-part series A Matter of Class.

Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I have a vivid memory of me at age seven climbing a stairs and going through big double doors into a library in Waterford. The awe that I felt in that moment was when my love of books began. I was a voracious reader in those early days (a lot of Enid Blyton and Ann M. Martin), and my mother says my most common phrase at the time was ‘I finished the book’. That carried on through my teens (I read The Lord of the Rings twice in a row in the few months running up to my Junior Cert state exams…), but college was my period of drought – I read a grand total of two books in three years. Since then, however, I am never without a book. My Kindle goes everywhere with me in my bag and I always have an audiobook in the car.

While historical fiction is my favourite genre, I do enjoy a lot of fantasy and young adult books too. I’m open to reading anything but love stories are my hook. So if the book has even a small romantic storyline you’ll have me invested in it, no matter what genre it is.

 Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I am a self-published author. I did make attempts to go down the traditional publishing route and received my fair share of rejections, all of which I value because I used the feedback to make my book better. Over time, self-publishing became the more appealing option to me as I love the idea of having full control over my book. I get the final say on the edit and cover design and promotion, and that’s very appealing to me.

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write historical fiction set in the 1800s. I find the past a truly captivating place to escape to. I especially love  the 19th century because it’s near enough to modern times to be somewhat relatable and yet is still so different to the way we live now. The customs of the time fascinate me – I adore the idea of writing a letter with a quill, stepping into a horse-drawn carriage to go to a ball, marking the name of a dashing gentleman on a dance card. Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions about the hardships of the era! Of course there were many inequalities and poor conditions, particularly for the lower classes. But I do love to daydream…

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series. I just discovered her books in the last three years and can only wonder how I ever survived before that. Remember how I said I’m hooked by love stories? Well, I believe Outlander is the greatest love story out there. I really admire Gabaldon for the way she tells such a gripping tale, and evokes the time period with amazing detail, and makes a reader feel like they will burst if they don’t read on. I have learned so much from her about characterisation and structure and historical settings. Reading her books made me realise that I had been writing my own series in a little bubble. Outlander showed me the scale of historical fiction and gave me the encouragement to expand my series beyond the limited boundaries I had originally set for it. And Gabaldon’s writing style is exactly the kind I like – while I can’t emulate it, I can strive to make my own better because of it.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

I’m from Ireland and my book is set in Ireland, so yes! The 19th century was a turbulent time in Irish history and I felt it served as the perfect backdrop to the story I wanted to write. They say ‘write what you know’ – I obviously haven’t lived in the 1800s, but I studied Irish history in school, and I learned how to speak Irish, and I know what it feels like to walk around my grandparents’ old Irish cottage and smell a peat fire, and those kinds of things were definitely helpful in crafting my story.

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

Writing without editing. When I’m drafting brand new sections, I itch to read back as I go along to make sure what I’ve written is making sense and properly punctuated. But that’s the best way to blunder to a halt and never make any forward progress. I have to just put the head down and remind myself that I can edit later. Oh, but what did I say three paragraphs ago— edit later. Oh, but just one quick look— edit LATER.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

I gain a certain satisfaction from writing first thing in the morning and achieving some small goal while still in my pyjamas! Then the day is off to a good start. However, I have also had some special writing sessions burning the midnight oil, when only myself and my characters are awake.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

The best thing is having a reader react positively to what I’ve written, whether it’s a blog post, a short story or a novel. It makes me so happy to know I’ve accomplished something that has resonated with someone else.

The worst thing is the crippling self-doubt. Who am I to think I can write anything? But getting the type of reaction above is the boost that encourages me to keep going.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I recognise social media as an essential aspect of being an author in this day and age, but I don’t view it as a chore. I think it’s a privilege to get so close to other authors and readers in what was once quite an isolated occupation. I do wish I was better at it though! I agonise over every post and tweet before I hit send. Of all the forums, I enjoy Twitter the most as a place to discover interesting links, read entertaining tweets, and interact with lovely people!

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

As my writing career is only just taking off, I still work by day as a piano teacher. One of the nicest parts of my job is walking down the school corridors and hearing music coming from every room (even if there’s still some scope for improvement…!).

For years I have devoted all my free time to developing my writing, but if I wasn’t doing that I think I’d like to join a choir for fun. I’m no opera singer but I can hold a tune and love to sing harmonies. I’ve been in choirs in school and college and there’s a great joy in hearing the different vocal parts combine to make one beautiful sound.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

 Just one? A cruel question, if ever I heard one! I have always had a huge affection for Watership Down by Richard Adams as it was my favourite book to read as a child. Although I think I would probably get some strange looks to have my nose in a book while it’s raining fire from the sky.

Please tell us about your debut novel: 

A Class Apart, is available in both ebook and paperback from July 10th. Set in Ireland in 1828, it’s the first book in my six-part historical fiction series A Matter of Class. The series follows heiress Bridget and stable hand Cormac who are on opposite sides of the class divide – and because of that, society says they shouldn’t fall in love. Keep an eye out for the second volume, A Class Entwined, coming in 2019!

Buy Link: Amazon UK

 

Thank you very much for having me today, Pam!

I am sure we would all like to wish Susie the very best of luck with her debut release tomorrow and her future writing career. It was a pleasure to chat to her this evening.

If you would like to know about Susie and her work, please check out the links below:

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In the Library with Author Sarah Dahl

This evening in the Library we have Sarah Dahl, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

Sarah, you are very welcome. Please introduce yourself:

Sarah Dahl Author

I live on the edge of the rural German Eifel and write historical fiction primarily set in the Viking age. I’m interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. I don’t focus on the kings and chieftains, but the very people battling to love and survive. The “You & Me” of previous centuries, because to them I can relate most. Find my books on sarah-dahl.com

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

I’ve always been and still am an avid reader. I always read half a dozen books simultaneously: on the desk and floors: research books and articles, on the desk and nightstand: histfic by authors I adore (try Nicola Griffith), and on the nightstand and my phone, for pure relaxation: some cosy crime or thrillers. I can’t read in exactly my own genre, which I would describe as sensual histfic romance – I’m too close to it. I can’t relax, I analyse, criticise, I am too brutal or too envious, in case the writing is rubbish or really great. It’s a Berufskrankheit (trade disease) as we say 😉

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write historical fiction, mainly set in the Viking age. But why? I was always drawn to the North, its people and violent but advanced culture. Vikings were the most daring and adventurous of people and also the most sophisticated in many aspects of daily life, such as tolerance, equality, and concepts of respect and honour. I’m fascinated by their mindset and world view and the daily challenges they faced at home and abroad, on new territories. Plus Vikings were fearless fighters, which makes them really sexy – so I can play with all those aspects and explore gritty topics in a sensual context.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

I’m releasing sensual short stories in the collection Tales of Freya. It is a collection of short stories set in the Viking Age:

In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives — all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives. So far, I have released five Tales, and the sixth releases July 6:

Tower – Unchained by Love is about young Viking Myskia, who sets out on a revenge mission which turns from bloody to sensual.

Tell us about the story, Sarah:

PrintYoung Viking Myskia lands on Irish shores to rescue his lover Adisa from the clutches of his family’s enemy Raven. After a fierce duel, Myskia finds himself in the confined walls of a strange tower, facing Adisa. Their reunion turns out to be very different than what he imagined. Can the passion they once shared break down the walls that have grown between them after months of slavery? Or has she changed in ways he’s unprepared for?

Set in the Viking era, this is a stand-alone, adult read with a HEA.

Buy links: Amazon UK & Amazon US

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

Maybe not my writing as such, but definitely my work ethos. Germans show up, and on time. We tick off to-do lists. We also make our own lives hell if we do NOT deliver … and here’s the downside of being freelance; I sometimes hate my inner editor and my inner boss.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

I have the freedom to be creative and within my own schedule. I can throw in a nap or tend to a sick kid. But I also carry the workload and pressure of releasing on my own: When I get ill (and I was seriously ill with the flu this year) everything gets derailed, and I’m the one who has to get it all back on track, on my own. If I decide not to work on a certain day, it can feel amazing to be that free – but it will come back to haunt me when I’ve been too lenient with myself. So I carry this constant bad conscience and an endless inner to-do list.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I enjoy social media more than I initially thought: Everyone tells new authors to “get out there” and socialise to promote their work in an nice way. But I found that I love connecting with people on Facebook and Twitter, which are two very different outlets. I see the benefits in both and finally have gotten the hang of them. I try to be professional (no family pictures and rants) and interact with real interest in others and much gratefulness. I found real friends there who I can rely on and who can rely on me – and some of them became “real-life” friends whom I regularly meet. It’s fascinating – as long as you don’t get sucked into the currents too much. A healthy distance is necessary to stay sane, of course. (See Sarah’s social media links below)

Facebook:

Twitter:

Pinterest: (The visual inspiration boards, come in and browse!)

Goodreads:

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

Definitely something creative, because in hindsight I’ve never been an office type, even while I was “the boss” at a translation agency … something inside me rebelled against having to be at an exact place at a specific time every day to serve the needs of stressed superiors. I always wanted to be my own boss, and free. To have the freedom to be creative when and how I need to be, at nobody’s short notice — that’s the reason why I chose to go independent … and the German mindset helps getting shit done, and on time. I’m my own worst boss.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

I wouldn’t be able to read … but would grab my real Viking axe, go out and fight like a true Viking before I see Valhalla 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Fiction Cover Winner June 2018

What draws you to a historical fiction book cover? 

Each month I will be choosing my ‘Pam’s Pick’. Hopefully, you will be intrigued enough to look beyond the covers I feature and find your next favourite author. If a cover interests you just click on the link to learn more about the book. Continue reading “Historical Fiction Cover Winner June 2018”

A Conversation with Author Patricia Asedegbega

This evening in the Library we have Patricia Asedegbega, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Patricia, please introduce yourself: 

24I live in sunny Spain and have been writing for about six years now. I started with a collection of cat stories to raise funds for a shelter and then moved on to my first suspense novel. I write both in Spanish and English and have series in both languages. Though I am a biologist, writing is my true passion. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love. Continue reading “A Conversation with Author Patricia Asedegbega”

A Conversation with Author Mimi Matthews

Today in the library, I have a very special guest; fellow Victorianist and historical fiction author, Mimi Matthews. I have been following Mimi’s super blog posts for ages and always been impressed by her knowledge of the Victorian era. Having read two of her novels (which I can highly recommend), I am looking forward to the release of her newest book on Victorian beauty and fashion in July. Her novel, The Lost Letter is on special promotion at the moment (a cracking read); see details and link below.

You are very welcome, Mimi, please introduce yourself: 

I’m an author of both historical non-fiction and historical romance. My books include The Pug Who Bit Napoleon, The Lost Letter, and The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter.

Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I was a total bookworm as a child. I read everything available—literally everything—and still do. My tastes are pretty broad. I love historical romance and historical non-fiction, of course, but I also really enjoy epic fantasy, horror, and classic literature. Suffice to say, if it’s well written, I’ll read it.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I’m a hybrid author, which means that some of my books are traditionally published and some are published as an indie author.

Which genre do you write in and why?

I write both historical non-fiction and historical romance. Why? I simply love the 19th century. I’ve been researching and writing about it for quite a few years. There’s nothing I enjoy more than discovering some quirky bit of Victorian history.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

So many authors! Jane Austen, the Brontë’s, Elizabeth Gaskell, Georgette Heyer, Amanda Quick. I’ve also been lucky to have lots of positive influences on my writing in regular life—from my first literary agent to college and law professors. The most consistent influence has, of course, been my mom. She’s always been encouraging, even when I was very young and wouldn’t let her read my novels.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

The Viscount and the Vicar Daughters by Mimi Matthews, Review CoverI’m an American—or, more specifically, a Californian—but I don’t think it’s had much influence on my writing. My non-fiction books deal primarily with 19th century history and my novels are set in Victorian England. It’s all very different from where I live in real life!

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

It’s often really hard for me to make time to write, especially during times of stress. I don’t usually prioritize my writing unless I have a deadline. Having a firm deadline really helps me to stay on track.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

Mid-morning to mid-afternoon is my most productive time. But if I’m inspired, I’ll write whenever I can.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

For me, the solitude is both the best thing and the worst thing. I really like being alone and quiet so I can focus on my work, but too much solitude can be a little depressing.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I was never on social media until my literary agent said I had to join in order to establish an “author platform.” Initially, I really resented it. Now, however, there are definitely parts I enjoy. Twitter is my favorite, but Facebook is better for sharing images from my research or posting news about my books.

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

I’m a lawyer in real life, so I’d probably just continue doing that.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

Oh gosh. Probably The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The final lines are pure poetry. Then again, if the earth was facing oblivion, I’m not sure I’d be in much of a reading mood…

Please tell us what you are working on at the moment:

My next non-fiction book A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty is coming out in July Click here to pre-order.

A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty by Mimi Matthews, Review Cover

My next Victorian romance The Matrimonial Advertisement is coming out in September. Click here to pre-order.

In addition, Tantor Media will be releasing the audiobook version of my Victorian romance The Lost Letter later this month. To celebrate, The Lost Letter ebook is on sale for 99p/99¢ from June 4-10. Click here.

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews - Book Cover

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

Website: https://www.mimimatthews.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/

 

 

Historical Fiction Cover Winner May 2018

What draws you to a historical fiction book cover? 

Each month I will be choosing my ‘Pam’s Pick’. Hopefully, you will be intrigued enough to look beyond the covers I feature and find your next favourite author. If a cover interests you just click on the link to learn more about the book. Continue reading “Historical Fiction Cover Winner May 2018”

A Conversation with Author Kevin McManus

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Kevin McManus, creator of the Ray Logue Mysteries, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.

You are very welcome, Kevin, please introduce yourself:61lGYAKTLTL._UX250_

I am a crime fiction writer from Leitrim in Western Ireland. I graduated from Maynooth university in 1998 with an MA in History and a Higher Diploma in Education. I have worked as a secondary school teacher since then.

In 2016 I was awarded the Leonard Trophy for my writing and in 2017, my third novel: Under the Red Winter Sky was voted the best Crime Novel of the year and 5th best Indie published novel of the year out of 2000 nominated books.

I support Aston Villa FC and I love Classic Rock music from the 70s. I played Bass guitar in Rock Bands for over 20 years.

Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I started out as a kid reading comics, I had my head permanently stuck in Marvel and Sci-Fi magazines. Later as a teenager I graduated to fantasy and horror books by Robert E. Howard, Harry Harrison, Michael Moorcock and James Herbert. From there on to literary and crime fiction.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

I am traditionally published with Sharpe Book.

 Which genre do you write in and why?

I write in the crime fiction genre, it wasn’t a conscious decision. My first novel The Whole of the Moon, started out as standard literary fiction but it morphed into crime fiction. I continued that trend for my next three books.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Jo Nebo, Dennis Lehane, Ken Bruen, Ian Rankin and George V. Higgins.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

Absolutely, all of my novels are set in Western Ireland. The storylines are shaped by the culture, music, weather, landscape, dialect and particular sense of black humour.

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

Finding time to write. I am a full time school teacher. So I only really get time to write during school holidays. It can be difficult then just to turn on the tap and get yourself into writing mode.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

Evenings are best for me generally.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

Writing is really enjoyable when you get in the zone and everything starts to flow but getting started is difficult. The first four chapters are a chore after that it sort of takes off. Editing and rewrites get tedious after a while. You can only rewrite so many times but you eventually have to just let it go.

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I only realised after I published my first book that you end up spending more time on social media trying to market yourself than you do writing. But It’s a necessary evil.

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

A Rock Star. LOL.

It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?

The instructions of how to build a nuclear fall out shelter.

Please tell us what you are working on at the moment:

My latest published book is New Blood. The second Detective Ray Logue book and the follow up to Death Rains Down. They are both published by Sharpe Books. At present I am working on the very early stage of a third Ray Logue Book which I hope to publish late 2018 or early 2019.

Death Rains Down Final CoverNew Blood Final Cover 2

If you’d like to know more about Kevin and his work, please check out his links below:

 Website: https://kevinmcmanusbooks.wordpress.com/

 Twitter:   https://twitter.com/bassbreeze

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Books-by-Kevin-McManus-1075444599167606/

Amazon page:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kevin-McManus/e/B01E4GF0GY/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1