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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.

Could You All Do Me a Favour?

Embedded clip of Chick Lit 4 Life podcast show

If you are reading this post and are a fan of great books written by women, Irish and otherwise, could you please hit the subscribe button for the Chick Lit 4 Life podcast, hosted by the wonderful LC Lewis?

LC founded this podcast a few years and without any external support, grants from the Arts Council, mainstream media exposure or even a Patreon, she has mustered the power of The Girls – six late teenage readers – to deliver their decisive and hilarious opinions on everyone from Jane Austen to Marian Keyes and even yours truly somewhere in the middle. This all in spite of a demanding job and pesky mental health issues. It’s done for pure love. It’s joyous but surely exhausting work and I want this wonderful show to get the fair wind it deserves. So please, like, share, subscribe and boost – and if you’re in the media and want to check it out, I’d particularly encourage that!

Five college girls get together to discuss books that are not by men.
Series 1: Marian Keyes
Series 2: Jane Austen
Series 3: Unusual Protagonists
Series 4: Authors of Colour
Series 5: LGBTQ+ Authors
Series 6: People we Love Loads 🙂
Written and recorded by LC Lewis in her bedroom.

Lost Launches – featuring Lucia’s War

Cork World Book Festival 2022 decal

Hello folks, my long-time friends Fiction at the Friary along with Cork City Libraries are running an event called Lost Launches at St Peter’s Arts Centre, North Main Street, Cork at 3pm tomorrow 24 April. I’ll be present with several other authors who launched during the pandemic and an actor will read out excerpts from all the novels – including Lucia’s War! There will also be a chance to buy the book, as I’ll have a few paperbacks with me 🙂

Tickets available here for anyone interested. Free event, so register here.

“Beautiful writing”…Audiobookish Podcast Review of Unfortunate Stars

I feel truly blessed by divine auguries to have received this gift of a review today. A few months back, Fahed Rahman from Audiobookish podcast contacted me to ask if I would be interested in having the audiobook of Unfortunate Stars featured on an episode. He and his co-host Poppy Knight have just issued their review now. Do have a listen!

I would like to thank Fahed and Poppy for reviewing both book and narration with such empathy, perception and care and appreciating that this story lends itself perfectly to voice narration. They loved listening to the linguistic trickery which I enjoyed writing (and that hopefully Greg Patmore enjoyed narrating – he did it with aplomb!) It gladdens my heart that they were moved by the story and that they recommend the audiobook to their listeners. Thanks so much and God bless 🙂

S3E11 – A chat with Kelli Fairbrother Audiobookish

Episode Notes We chat with the co-founder of XigXag Kelli Fairbrother about their favourite audiobooks and the future of storytelling. Head over to https://xigxag.co.uk/ to find out more about the app and to start buying x-books. About XigXag: Xigxag, wants everyone to enjoy more books. Co-founders Mark and Kelli met in 2017 as colleagues and started XigXag in 2019 with the aim of revolutionising reading. Together, they’ve built the XigXag app, offering users the first-ever fully integrated listen-and-read experience, at an affordable price without a subscription. XigXag, created the first-ever fully integrated listening and reading experience for audiobook listeners, which they call the x-book®. This powers first-ever features for audiobooks: now you can search, see illustrations, take notes, share quotes, lookup words and switch to reading or read along. The last episode in the current season. We'll be back in July or August! Support Audiobookish by contributing to their tip jar: https://tips.pinecast.com/jar/audiobookish Find out more at https://audiobookish.pinecast.co This podcast is powered by Pinecast. Try Pinecast for free, forever, no credit card required. If you decide to upgrade, use coupon code r-8a93af for 40% off for 4 months, and support Audiobookish.
  1. S3E11 – A chat with Kelli Fairbrother
  2. S3E10 – BONUS! #BritishBookAwards Winners Special
  3. S3E9 – S3E9 – British Book Awards Special 3: Sandman Act 2 by Neil Gaiman & The Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien
  4. S3E8 – British Book Awards Special 2: Never and Forever by Cressida Cowell & Careless by Kirsty Capes
  5. S3E7 – British Book Awards Special 1: The Night She Disappeared Lisa Jewell, and, The Man Who Died Twice Richard Osman.

How Do We Get Our Joy Back?

Photo of an open gate on the Waterford Greenway, with blue skies and mountains in the background, taken by yours truly

Today I read some of the saddest words I’d come across, from a gifted and generous practitioner of the arts whose ability and intelligence I hold in high esteem: I don’t know if I will ever write again.

The reason for this was burnout – but not from overwork. It was emotional exhaustion from the frankly abusive environment within which so many writers, poets, artists, performers and musicians in Ireland are forced to work. Whether through employment of stigma through review abuse, hostile behaviour towards vulnerable minorities, straight, flat-out racism, sexual harassment, abuse of harsh defamation laws to silence those who speak up, bullying and nepotism in arts bodies and the commentariat, or the constant, constant gaslighting that these closed groups perpetuate against victims because they’re terrified the same thing will happen to them, so of course it’s all our imagination – whichever of these malevolent forces is chewing and spitting out brave people, strong people, gifted people, I’m absolutely fucking sick of it.

I’m sick of seeing good people’s careers derailed and destroyed. I’m sick of those who speak up and fight getting stonewalled and ignored. I’m sick of diversity initiatives that are not worth the paper they’re written on because abusers in the arts scene still retain their power. I’m especially over abusers infiltrating their way into organisations designed to speak up against bad behaviour, either by having publishing power over people in the organisation, or appropriating the cause themselves.

So, what are we going to do about this? How are we going to get our joy and freedom back? I’m saying “we” because there are a lot of us who have been wrung dry by this system. I’ve found my peace, though, and I’m writing again.

I don’t want to fight and overcome toxic systems. I don’t want to plough my energy into conflict with an order that has no real incentive to change. My desire is rather to break free from these feelings of alienation. I want to love writing again.

And I do.

So, in the style of Joanne Harris, 10 Things I Did to Get My Joy Back.

Continue reading “How Do We Get Our Joy Back?”

Lucia’s War – Goodreads Giveaway (US Only)

I haven’t felt much like sharing my thoughts recently due to the dreadful news of war and wickedness about, but there’s a Goodreads giveaway of Kindle copies of Lucia’s War in progress, from today until the 17th. Only open to U.S. readers unfortunately because that’s how Goodreads rolls. I’ll be trying other platforms later. See below for details and to enter! Meantime I’ll be knitting more beanies in blue and yellow ::sigh::

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lucia's War by Susan Lanigan

Lucia’s War

by Susan Lanigan

Giveaway ends March 17, 2022.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

White Feathers and More on Shepherd.Com

When Ben Fox and his lovely team on Shepherd.com contacted me with a promotion opportunity for White Feathers and a request to list five favourite books on a topic of my choosing, I was delighted to oblige. Featuring Lia Mills, Martine Madden, Ruqaya Izzidien, Sebastian Barry and Adam Hochshild.

Here is the link – enjoy 🙂

The best books about WWI which don’t have the same old story

Sensitivity Reading and Lucia’s War – Writing.ie Article

In the wake of the dismal rhetoric surrounding the Kate Clanchy affair, which dragged on for months, I noticed that mainstream media in the UK were wilfully misunderstanding sensitivity readings, or, as I prefer to call them, expert reads. The reality is so different from their endless whinging and moaning about freedom of speech and censorship and “removing offensive material from the text”, that I had to say something.

With Lucia’s War, the choice was obvious from the beginning – all the research in the world could not supplant inside knowledge of the culture and milieu Lucia grew up in. Many thanks to Vanessa at writing.ie for allowing me to ventilate my thoughts.

The article is here – I hope you enjoy!

White Feathers on Chick Lit 4 Life podcast

Just a few days ago, the Chick Lit for Life podcast released an episode where they talk about White Feathers! For those unfamiliar with the format, it is the creation of the genius LC Lewis, who manages to voice six fictitious Irish zoomers chatting about books written by female and non-binary authors. (I have no idea how the hell she plans out these tangential conversations, while managing to get in some impressive research!)

They started out with Marian Keyes’s back catalogue, then moved on to Jane Austen, at which point I discovered the podcast’s existence and was so in pain from laughing at their Mansfield Park episode that tears were rolling down my cheeks. And then when they moved on to Pride and Prejudice and mentioned “Mr Collins cruising for bitches”, I had to retweet that with high praise.

A few series back (I forget which year because, well, pandemic) The Girls covered Lucia’s War, and now they have turned their attention to White Feathers. There is a special place in my heart for the protagonists of my debut and hearing them being discussed made me feel quite emotional. Listen out for:

  • Where Catherine and Grace might have been coming from and the need for survival that drove their motives. I had done a fair bit of research but the depth to which The Girls discussed it was impressive. (I modelled Catherine on Phyllis from Dermot Bolger’s The Valparaiso Voyage – that character scared the crap out of me!)
  • One of the girls being ambivalent as to whether, as per her Kindle notes, “Mr Shandlin is a complete ride” or “red flag much?” His dispatching of fledgling Brexiteer Rhona Lewis’s argument against to learn any “foreign” literature is highly praised though – “That was fire. Seriously, Katie, I thought you’d be bet into this bloke!”
  • “We haven’t even got to the war bit yet! But when we get to the war bit, we need to discuss Sybil on her motorbike, OK?” Sybil on the sidecar of Roma’s motorbike shouldn’t be sexy but is.” Also that Sybil and Roma are a wonderful success story and Sybil is the actual best friend that every girl needs to have. Or would be if she wasn’t so rich.
  • McCrum: “if you’re well enough to give me lip, you’re well enough to go and kill some Germans” 😀
  • Portrayal of distressing PTSD and breakdown being a bit close to home, “he went all Natalie Portman from Black Swan”. I was interested when they said that people disappearing with no evidence of being there “would fuck up your reality”. It gives a new meaning to his angry declaration to Eva, I’m alive, I’m real. Who is really being addressed?
  • hashtag GermansInWorldWarOneArePeopleToo

Have a listen and enjoy!

2021 – Accomplishments this Year

I didn’t publish anything new in 2021, so it’s easy to feel that it wasn’t a productive year. Part of that is because I was leaning into my day job quite a lot (it is related to customs and the UK, so…) and also getting involved in political initiatives. But this year was not a completely bare cupboard when it comes to achievements so I’ll list them below:

  1. White Feathers was published in Bulgarian – it was a great buzz to see the translation and physically hold it in my hands!
  2. My short story was shortlisted for the Mairtin Crawford Award, much to my delight, but I was gutted it didn’t make the final 3! Would have loved to have seen it published. But I am hoping that if it has that much power, it will find its way. It’s not a story that pulls punches, and it might make literary people squirm 🙂
  3. In February, the audiobook of Unfortunate Stars was released, and I love how Greg Patmore narrates it so beautifully and brings out the spirit of this delicate story of love and friendship between men.

Also, as the year comes to a close, I just learned of a beautiful tribute to Lucia’s War on Facebook (it’s a video) by Clare Glynn-Chitan. What kind words Clare, and I’m glad Lucia kept you company 🙂

Happy holiday season and happy Christmas 🙂