This book has a bit of everything. The most powerful thing it does possess; soul. Good, old-fashioned, soul. – Margaret Madden, Bleach House Library and Irish Independent reviewer.
Hello and welcome to my website! I write mainly historical fiction, my particular interest being World War One. I have a burning desire to rip through the saccharine, sentimentalised, packaged narratives of this era, and tell powerful stories that will keep any reader enthralled.
Quickly, because while I would like to discuss in greater depth, I have an actual real life job I need to attend to:
The Trans Writers Union have requested that people join them in complaining about a review Emily Hourican posted in yesterday’s independent of a book called Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier. Details can be read on the thread, but after reading the review I would (relatively gently) suggest that Emily Hourican has taken an insufficiently critical approach on what is widely known to be a deeply incendiary argument, based on many theories now discounted – and which also has, since 2019, been stoked by the rage of radicalised online TERFS (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists.) Given that trans people are very frightened and unsupported these days, I’d really love for an opportunity to revisit this topic to take their very valid concerns into account. This is not a denunciation by any means. Good people can make mistakes.
I’ve locked my account because I detected the beginnings of a TERF swarm against me, and I honestly don’t have time for that today. It’s why I don’t plan to make my complaint/request right away either, since both Emily and her senior editor at the Independent will probably now be swarmed with TERF “support”. (They have my sincere sympathies!) Critic Barry Pierce is already having to deal with them.
I would ask all Irish authors and critics of good spirit to find a way to express solidarity with the Trans Writers Union and their genuine concerns. Trans people have had a bit of a rough time recently and the depth of the sentiment raised against them has been alarming. If mentioning is not a comfortable option, I know a like, follow, or DM would mean a lot. They are under siege, and truly don’t deserve it.
I have a surprise coming for readers in the next few weeks and I’m very much looking forward to sharing it with you all 🙂 to that end I’d like to announce that I won’t be continuing with the mailing list freebies any more and won’t be promoting the list either. The truth is, while all the DIY book selling gurus swear by it as a marketing tool, it didn’t really work for me when it comes to building a community of readers. I apologise to those who kindly did sign up and enjoyed my infrequent missives – I might still do some from time to time – but for now I think it’s time to move on for the time being.
You can always follow my blog or get me on social media 🙂
Many thanks all and am looking forward to unveiling the surprise soon.
Telegraph journalist and chair of the Lucy Cavendish Novel Competition Allison Pearson has engaged in appalling behaviour on Twitter today. Another tweeter made an angry, hasty tweet about her attitude to the NHS and she launched a barrage upon him, finding out and looping in his employer, threatening to sue him for defamation and telling him “You’re finished”.
He swiftly deleted the tweet and apologised, but she did not let up. Showing no remorse, mercy or compassion, even after he begged her to stop, offered to donate money to charity and said he was battling suicidal thoughts and was caring for his young son who had special needs, she continued to shout and roar at him, haranguing and taunting. I’m sure she thought she was a great warrior altogether. It was utterly shocking to read. I hope that gentleman is doing ok and wish him all the best. I doubt he’s finished. I’ve worked for large companies including pharma and I strongly doubt this would be considered a HR matter.
What Pearson did this morning, on the other hand, was vile and unconscionable. No writer of integrity should have anything to do with such behaviour. It is incumbent on everyone who has had any association with the Lucy Cavendish novel competition to publicly disavow Allison Pearson’s obnoxious and cruel behaviour, especially as she has shown no remorse.
Entered the An Post Awards, got precisely nowhere, but it motivated me to get the book into some bookshops, which is fantastic 🙂
Started formally attending a welcoming church after realising two years ago that atheism wasn’t for me. (When I say “formally attending”, thanks to Madam Coronavirus that means in practice logging into a facebook livestream in the couch in my jammies with a cup of coffee. She made a lot of things hard, but some things very easy. The Rev Mike is sound – he’ll understand.)
Did all this while employed in a real job, and with ongoing commitments
There’s another accomplishment, but that spills over into 2021…stay tuned 🙂
Reinforced my political commitments after a hiatus
2020, although positive in many ways, was an arduous year all around, with some personal things too that were sad and difficult for our family to carry. The US election hopefully marks a turning point where things slowly, painfully and partially improve. That’s my prayer, and to do what I can do make it happen.
A few days ago, just after Solstice Eve, my onetime choir director, musician Elizabeth Hilliard, responded to the reintroduction of stern Covid-related restrictions with a lovely renditioning of “In the Bleak Midwinter”. I remembered singing that same version (Darke, 1911, though the Holst version is better known) but in the alto line, so I sang it along her Youtube clip, and promptly ran out of breath!
This carol is mentioned in Lucia’s War. Close to Christmas 1918 Lucia is in a café on the Strand, London, with Lilian when she hears a tenor she knows giving a recital on the street outside, surrounded by a gaggle of schoolboys. He is singing – I think, haven’t got the book to hand to check – the third verse of Christina Rosetti’s lyrics, which refers to the little baby Jesus being content with “a breastful of milk and a mangerful of hay”. This is very emotional for Lucia to hear and she goes into a trance.
This winter has not been an easy one, for me personally or for the country and world at large. The unrelenting cold and rain, and the endless restrictions, are telling on our spirits – just as wartime London in all its grimness tell on Lucia’s at the beginning of the book. It’s hard to see any joy or miracle. All I can say is – it’s not over till the last line.
If anyone fancies listening to a great range of Irish writers, look no further than the Fiction at the Friary podcast, which Danielle McLaughlin and Madeleine d’Arcy have compiled, with thanks also to JP and Kieran for production work.
I’m on Episode 9, which also features Eimear Ryan (whose debut novel is out next year!) and Andrea Carter. I have been a featured FATF author before and do you know what, I’m not a pub person but if there’s one thing I miss from pre-corona days, it’s the monthly gathering with the marshmallows and Hula Hoops and the glass of white served by Mike at the bar. It’s been a wonderful little space in the heart of Cork.
To listen to my extract, the link is below and I’m about halfway through. The extract I chose was in the middle of the book where Sybil is sent with Roma to the front line and they surrender to their attraction to each other in the front seat of a pigeon van with shells exploding all around them…
Delighted to announce that Lucia’s War has been awarded an Honourable Mention in the Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the Year, in the Modern Historical Fiction category. A medal to be worn with great pride, thank you Mary Anne Yarde! Congratulations to all the winners, and a special haddock around the chops to the troll with 0 followers who told me to “grow up, love, and get a grip” yesterday 😀
Read the Coffee Pot Book Club review of Lucia’s Warhere.
Moved from Twitter thread because taking up too much space. (Edit – this after several accounts with 0 followers and nearly 0 tweets were created solely to shame me about my refusal to take the high road re the Irish literary establishment. I suspect these are ppl who are on the scene and have been watching my account for some time. I think it’s pathetic beyond believe that grown women – as I suspect – consider it worth their time to troll a stranger, or hide their identities. I have no intention of changing anything I do in response to this.)
I really really REALLY could not give a tuppenny damn if speaking my truth makes me appear bitter, unattractive, ungracious or uncouth to a certain clique of literary ppl and their hangers-on. I cannot underscore enough how little these…people’s opinions mean to me.
I have seen people, good decent people, whose work was torn apart by spiteful folk with worthless opinions. And how they never published another novel since. And their dignified silence did not help them. Their better nature did not make things better for them, so I would rather be a roaring, ungrateful, undignified,resentful thorn in the side of a literary establishment than just conspire in my own erasure and meekly lie down. I don’t owe these people my respectful silence. I don’t owe them a damn thing. And I’m writing PURE FIRE right now.
Truth is, there’s a lot more going on with me than just Fight The Power, but I don’t put all my business out there, you’ll be surprised to know.
And when I do finally break through… and I can taste it, I feel closer to it than I have in a long time… I don’t want the narrative to be obscured or made nice. Because everything I’ve achieved this year, I’ve had to fight for. And fighting implies adversaries.
Irish society dislikes anger and discourages dissent. That’s the root of it. We say “women should be angry”, but then, “no, not like THAT”.
Anyway what will remain of me, God permitting, will be the work. “I may be a vulgar man, but my music is not.”
Well it looks as if Biden is pulling ahead now, so some cause for cautious optimisim. Though how that other creature got as many votes as he did, even giving the shenanigans the Republicans were up to with voting, is a sad mystery. Racism, spite, a morbid fear of any kind of state compassion for anyone being “socialism”? Christ knows.
Anyway, the giveaway of Lucia’s War mentioned in the previous entry is still open – go to my facebook or twitter and drop a comment and you’re in to win. Like Joe 🙂