Featured

Welcome

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.

Read more about my books here.

Lucia’s War – One Month On

So the book has been out a month now – published, launched and announced – and it’s been an interesting contrast with the last time! In the meantime, Ireland has gained a new government, and of course the covid-19 epidemic has inevitably shaped this publication story, just as its 1918 counterpart affected the book’s storyline.

Also the nature of publishing something independently mean all the work is down to you. Sales and recognition are not going to come to you like you’re a pearl-pale waif with a work of wistful plotlessness and a six-figure advance – you have to go out and work hard for them!

Reviews

Life has inevitably got in the way of this – I’m pretty poor on time and mental energy right now – but I’m proud to say that Lucia has managed to win its share of praise. I have inserted a few of the reviews on the landing page but more keep coming in. I’m so grateful to the reviewers who have taken the time to put words to the page about Lucia’s War.

Podcast

Also the amazing ladies at Chick Lit 4 Life have done an entire episode on the book! To say I’m touched and delighted would be the understatement of the century. (There are also tangents on the Korean pop group BlackPink and a lovely reading of Warsan Shire.) It’s a very clever and artful podcast, and extremely funny. I would also recommend listening to the Mansfield Park episode and the other Austen ones (“Mr Collins cruising for b*tches!”) the link is above.

LoveReading

Later this month, LoveReading.co.uk will be doing a promotion with the book, so keep an eye out for that.

And with that, stay well everyone, and while a bombazine cloak and veil will not be necessary, a mask when indoors in public places would be an excellent idea 🙂

Curiosity piqued? Click here

Lucia’s War – New Live Date June 5

Hello all, just an FYI that Lucia’s War launch will now be on Friday 5th June, not Monday 1st June, to give time to get proofs uploaded. Those who have pre-ordered a copy will be notified. A virtual launch will take place on Friday evening GMT, details to be confirmed.

Thanks for your patience. The last few weeks have been so deprived of time to do even the smallest thing that I can barely manage this post, to be honest. Lockdown time has thieved me of the ability to do extra. Jobs left undone, the place is a tip… but as Mozart said in the film, “forgive me your Majesty, I am a vulgar man, but my music is not.” This is a special book and I cannot wait to share it with you all.

“A Symphony as Beautiful as It Is Violent” – Lucia’s War ARC Review

I’m proud to announce that Lucia’s War has won a Recommended Read Award from the Coffee Pot Book Club, along with a first review I could only dream of. I had to blog this as soon as I could, so elated I was after reading it.

A month or two ago, as an independent author green about the gills, I saw what a great service this blog was doing for similar authors such as Pam Lecky and Catherine Kullmann, and asked Mary Anne Yarde of Coffee Pot Book Club to review the ARC. She kindly agreed, and to my joy, she really liked it.

Some excerpts that are particularly heart-singing:

Oh, this book, where do I even begin? This is a story that swept me away in all of its brilliance. With soaring arpeggio’s that scream of disaster and triumph seemingly in the same breath, Lucia’s War is a novel that mesmerises. Lanigan has done the impossible and somehow weaved the language of music into this evocative story in such a way that it was almost as if I was listening to a poignant symphony that was as beautiful as it was violent.

and

We do meet some historical characters in this book […] but it is the attention to the historical detail where Lanigan excels. Like all gifted historical fiction authors, Lanigan has portrayed the era this book is set in seemingly without any effort. This is incredibly hard to pull off, but Lanigan has done it most admirably.  Lucia’s War […] is an exceptional work of scholarship. It is in all ways a historical fiction masterpiece. This is a book that is deserving of your time.

Read the full review here. Please note that it contains major spoilers for its predecessor, White Feathers.

Lucia’s War – Pre-Order Available

Delighted to announce that pre-orders are now available for Lucia’s War in e-book format. I’ve been working hard on this – and work continues to be done! – so it’s a delight to make this announcement.

Pre-order here for Amazon UK

Pre-order here for Amazon US

Also viewable on Goodreads if you would like to add it to your list!

I currently have the ARC being reviewed by the Coffee Pot Book Club so hopefully that will spread the word. I also have an ARC list who have received an electronic copy. I haven’t had the opportunity to do much marketing because I’ve had a full-time job, a lot of commitments and of course lockdown restrictions to contend with. So I’m ramping that up a small bit now.

But Where’s The Paperback?

I’m going to say this because it’s going to get asked – I have actually managed a good workflow with generating a PB with a very early draft and Richie the ever-patient designer at More Visual. But the process is pricey and I’d have to try it again with a local printer. I need to give myself a bit of financial breathing space because I’ve spent quite a bit on the editorial side, rightly so. And then there’s Spanish Flu Mark II which means all the bookshops are shut anyway. However I know there are many of you who prefer paperback and there WILL be one – it just might be three months down the line.

I honestly have no idea how this will all pan out. I hope as I learn on my journey I can share it. However it is a rather exciting adventure and I am so glad Lucia got her book. She so deserves it! I’m very lucky to have the wisdom of Liz (editor) and Lyeanne (expert reader) to keep pushing me onwards towards making this book the best it can be.

When’s the E-book out?

1 June. I did say 30 May but figured the other side of the weekend wouldn’t make that much difference. There’s plenty of work to be done but I think it’s a reasonable schedule.

So that’s it. Do please spread the word. And there’s a killer last line. Did I mention the killer last line? 🙂

 

Launch Date for Lucia’s War

Hello everyone,

As discussed on twitter and here, Lucia’s War will be soft-launched online on Saturday, May 30, 2020. This will be done via a Live Event. Time and other details tbc, but the event will operate under the presumption of full quarantine restrictions. I am hoping everyone can raise their glasses / Godspeed messages to the screen when this ship sails. (The opening scene is of launching warships!)

I doubt if a PB will be available as distribution channels are down at present. I have been able to hold a PB for a previous draft of the novel in my hands, and the printer isn’t Amazon KDP (not liked by booksellers, understandably!) so perhaps some limited distribution will be available. But ARCs will definitely be out in ebook format.

The ARC is taking longer to issue than planned for the simple reason that I am doing this myself, I recently resumed full-time work, and ambient conditions became severely inconducive for a while. My application to the Arts Council for a bursary was disqualified, so I must work outside writing and have a day job. This has always been the case for me, and I can live with it, but it’s caused me difficulty lately. I thank readers for understanding.

I’ve done a tiny bit of promotional work too, so I will highlight that when the time comes. Being kept from my work is a major block for a lot of that, especially so close to the end, but I know that one way or the other, it will be worth it.

Thanks all and please boost. I am but a small figure in a vast forest but as the quote says in Amadeus “Forgive me, your Majesty, I am a vulgar man – but my music is not.” I think Lucia would approve of that signoff.

An Appeal to Goodreads Reviewers

Hello everyone, and particularly the kind readers who have reviewed me on Goodreads. I want to invite you to read and honestly review the ARC of Lucia’s War when it comes out in April. Alas, the rules of Goodreads expressly forbid me from asking you there, even though you have already read White Feathers. So I am doing so here instead!

This offer is open to everyone who has reviewed White Feathers on Goodreads, regardless of rating. If you would be interested in reviewing the ARC of Lucia’s War, which is in the White Feathers universe but standalone, please drop me a line at contact AT susan lanigan DOT com and I will be delighted to add you to the ARC list. Thank you 🙂

The Story Behind “Unfortunate Stars”

 

Four days ago, just as the coronavirus restrictions really began to kick in, I published a long short story, “Unfortunate Stars”, on Amazon. It is about 10,000 words, or half an hour’s reading and is set in 1938 and 1915 – a story of the war just gone, and the war yet to come. I wanted to see how it would get on. The results have been pleasantly surprising. OK so it’s on free promotion but still, 130 downloads isn’t bad.

This story is special to me. Publishing it is not about earning any money; had I my way it would be forever free, but Amazon don’t let you do that alas. However it will always be free to those who subscribe to my mailing list at the link above, so if the promotion is over and you fancy reading it for free, by all means give it a click. To find out why it means a lot to me, please read the afterword in the story 🙂

The background to Unfortunate Stars was that it was a précis of a much longer novel. This novel, about an ethnic German Bohemian WWI veteran who, in spite of his long marriage, falls unsuitably in love just as the next war threatens and his own country is overrun, was a beautiful mistake. A glorious mistake that I spent over three years pursuing before finally giving up. There were too many strands, too many conflicting stories, and I lacked the grand, overarching artistry to bring them together. Much of the fictional Philipp Stern’s story, in particular, is omitted here: his acrimonious divorce and his borderline unhealthy obsession with Lou Andreas-Salomé for a start. Friedrich’s background, in turn, is inspired from meeting and being transformed by someone who came from the region, a culture I had not known much about before.

But there was one scene in the abandoned book I had a soft spot for – one of the intersections with the White Feathers universe where Friedrich recalls his battlefield encounter with an already very traumatised Christopher in 1915. It’s pure geekery, high-church style fanfic on my own stuff (is that allowed? I say it’s allowed.) It was about enemies turned comrades, about finding a common language, about how everything must be done ‘zusammen – together’, as Friedrich says. About male love and friendship. I wanted to do something with that scene. And I felt it filled in that gap in the middle of White Feathers quite well – so I made it into a short story 🙃

There’s even a song for that scene – there are other songs too but the Spotify soundtrack is too long at present:

https://open.spotify.com/track/7uMSyq6oN898WlUTR3SXE2?si=5KSJmjB8QeOUgoV8KnuNSw

Download “Unfortunate Stars” from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B085RF4J34

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Unfortunate-Stars-Confession-Susan-Lanigan-ebook/dp/B085RF4J34/

Or subscribe to the mailing list!

Five Days Later

Five days ago, I published She Wrote It, But…., which would turn out to be a liberating decree nisi for a long-time separation.

My intention had been to follow it up with the positive version, “She Wrote It, And…” But I was deterred by the pleasant truth that it would take way too long and I’m trying to write a book here 🙂 The positive version belongs in the Acknowledgements to Lucia’s War and that is where it will go. I will strive to leave no-one out. Margaret Madden does get a shout out though. She saw the soul in my book, and saved mine. Thank you 🙂

I don’t regret or walk back a word of my blogpost, but since I hit “post” a revolution has been going on in my head. After anger, I’ve reached a point of deep calm. It was well past time to disinfect this whole thing with sunlight, and now it’s over.Continue reading “Five Days Later”

She Wrote It, But…the Irish Literary Fiction Edition

Note: this is an exercise based on Joanna Russ’s How to Suppress Women’s Writing. I adapted it for my own use.

Yesterday, at a time of great mental duress, I took a biro and notebook and started writing; soon I covered two pages. It was a deeply therapeutic exercise. I post the annotated notes from my scribbles below in the hope that it will be of use to some besides me!

(Readers will be reassured to know there will be a positive version of this post, “She Wrote It, And…” which will be posted up shortly after this one.)

She wrote it, but she isn’t well-connected among people like us, people who matter – who’s heard of her?

She wrote it, but she’s an awkward loudmouth with notions and no tact.

She wrote it, but one of us was meant to write the World War I novel, not her, and we would have done so with more skill and subtlety.

She wrote it, but she’s an Irish Catholic woman. That’s triply the wrong demographic to write about WWI; we’re Irish and we say so.Continue reading “She Wrote It, But…the Irish Literary Fiction Edition”

Writing Other Cultures When You’re White

I was going to start this off with some mealy-mouthed title about power differentials or marginalised voices or other intersectional stuff or the like, but decided all that was just being evasive. Because what I’m doing is writing a book narrated by a person of colour, and I’m white. There’s been a lot of discussion about people doing that recently. So I wanted to address it.

I’ve been following the American Dirt controversy and not gonna lie, it made me nervous. My thoughts, for what they’re worth: I feel deeply sorry for the author, who, I believe, surely wrote her book with the best of intentions and intended no malice or hurt, but has dealt with a lot of controversy. This threatens to overshadow the good that might be in the book. I feel equally sorry for the overlooked Latino/a voices who were there before her, have written compelling fiction about migration, but never got the benefit of a seven-figure advance. If I were in their position, I’d be boiling mad.

(To be honest, I think the seven-figure advance is a very large part of the problem.)

The #OwnVoices hashtag had popped up on my timeline every now and then, but I really viscerally experienced it when listening back to the White Feathers audiobook. Having an Irish author, and Irish protagonist and an Irish actress meant that when Eva finally loses and calls the love of her life a “fucker”, it was pronounced in the deepest bogger accent you could possibly imagine, in spite of the rest of her dialogue being RP. I didn’t have to attribute the dialogue. The actress knew. That’s the power of Own Voices.

When going outside that boundary, I’m conscious of the need to research properly, employ appropriate beta readers, check language, be edited well and also be mindful of well-worn, clichéd paths and stereotypes to avoid. I’m also happy to be publishing Lucia’s War myself, at my own (considerable) expense to ensure quality. Not traditionally publishing means that I am blocking no gates, nor filling any space a more marginalised author might deserve to take in a white-dominated industry. Furthermore, Lucia Percival as a character is not new – she already had a significant presence in White Feathers. She is not downtrodden; she is a musician, and a survivor. Not to mention that Black British history around the period in question, 1917-1919 and beyond, was a joy to read about.

I’ve also read, and been inspired by, the works of Andrea Levy and Lola Jaye. I’m checking out Nalo Hopkinson too, and enjoying her lyrical narratives.

I am aware that many people nowadays feel that it is not acceptable to write outside the lines when it comes to protagonists, particularly if you are in a very established group. I respect that opinion – and absolutely respect the preference of those who might not read such books as a result – but I don’t agree. Because I feel this is a worthwhile endeavour – when done with care and attention -and I hope the fruits prove my instinct right.

If you are interested in reading a work of mine that is not Own Voices to see how I get on, feel free to subscribe here to get a free story set in WWI and the eve of the Sudeten invasion, featuring romantic love – and friendship – between men. I hope you enjoy.