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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 – Coffee Pot Book of the Year Award Honourable Mention

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 War here.

To All The Trolls Trolling Me On One Specific Topic

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.”

 

Giveaway is still open!

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 🙂

Lucia’s War: Paperback now available on Amazon

I’m pleased to say that Lucia’s War is now available to purchase on Amazon as a paperback. To be honest if in Ireland it’s not much of a difference in cost if you order from the booksellers mentioned on the dedicated page for Lucia’s War. This is because they do great deals with postage and they are vibrant local businesses. But if not in Ireland, Amazon might be an option you could consider instead 🙂

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1527268136

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1527268136

“Im a Did Go Twis’ Up ina Im Head” – thoughts on #WorldMentalHealthDay

During the writing of Lucia’s War, I have a scene where Lucia, reunited with her brother, Reginald, is attempting to dissuade him from taking part in a mutiny at his barracks. Reginald, furiously resenting his English commanding officer, longs to withhold a salute from him. This alarms Lucia, who knows all too well what the consequences will be if he does that. She tells him of what happened when a salute was withheld (a series of events readers of White Feathers will recognise.)

In the original dialogue, I had her tell Reginald that this other person “went mad”. Lyeanne Beckford-Jones, who was sensitivity-reading the dialogue with particular focus because it was informal, between the two siblings, suggested replacing it with “im a did twis’ up ina im head”. I was immediately struck by how vivid, violent and cruel that imagery was, and how transitive compared to the anodyne phrase I had started off with. He twisted up in his head. *They* twisted him up in his head. It’s such an accurate description of what, according to my research, PTSD after war does to you. Permanently. Physiologically.

I was chatting to my dad the other day and he told me in his opinion the real strength of White Feathers was how accurately and horribly it portrayed mental breakdown and disintegration after the greater madness of war. As Ellen, a colleague and reader of White Feathers, once said to me. “He had changed too much” 💔

It’s my belief, based on a storyteller’s hunch rather than a historian’s data, that mental illness stigma ramped up seriously during the recruitment process for WWI, where accusations of malingering and emotional weakness got thrown around when men broke down after weeks and months of battle strain. It was in the interests of the top brass to stigmatise, pour encourager les autres, that was for sure. Spirits and souls were being broken and the unpalatable truth that repair would not be easy was an inconvenient one.

Today I want to hold some space for everyone who has twisted up in their heads because of externally imposed injustice, whether through war, social inequity, racism or calamity. Mental ill-health has always been a topic of interest to me and I don’t believe in shying away from reality.

I promise that I will continue to write about these injustices. And it will take more than the Irish Times clutching their pearls and saying with a sniff that I’m being MEANNN to British High Command to stop me.

Wishing you peace of mind and health today.

#BlackHistoryMonth – Kindle Promotion

From Thursday and throughout October, it is Black History Month in Europe. As well as being a tale of war, passion and motherhood, Lucia’s War refers to a lot of events and personalities who form part of Black British (and Caribbean) history during the WWI period. The book refers to the Coterie of Friends, an exclusive club for Black intellectuals and musicians founded by the composer Edmund Thornton Jenkins, whose symphony Charlestonia, mentioned briefly in the book, can be heard on YouTube. Such society also featured the decorated physician John Alcindor, who worked tirelessly to treat war wounded at rail stations in London. (On a personal note, he married an Englishwoman, whose family sadly disowned her for her choice.)

On a grimmer note, through the travails of Lucia’s brother Reginald with the British West Indies Regiment, the novel also touches on the mutiny at Taranto after the Caribbean infantry were kept in camp, and some even killed by British (white) officers.

It’s clear there was plenty going on and no shortage of interesting stories. War novels are in need of that. We can’t just have (a) boy goes off to the trenches or (b) woman gets to be spy with the French Resistance any more. I’m excited to see if writers like Mike Gayle and Lola Jaye are going to be in this space a bit more. I’ve already enjoyed the contributions of Kamila Shamsie, Isabella Hammad and Ruqaya Izzidien, though these writers are concerning themselves with different communities.

ANYWAY – In honour of Black History month UK/Europe, the Kindle edition of Lucia’s War is discounted to 99 pence sterling, or 1.08 euro. This discount will start from Friday and run through the whole weekend. Get it while it’s hot!

Lucia’s War – A Statement of Intent

Hello everyone! The paperback edition of Lucia’s War continues to pop up in bookshops around Ireland, slowly but steadily. It’s showing its face in my local gift shop in Cobh, Tertulia Books in Westport, and it will be popping up in Gutter Dalkey tomorrow. I’m confining it to bookshops at present to make it easier for them to sell there, so there won’t be a direct ordering online link just yet (though the e-book is of course always available on Amazon)

If this all sounds very strategic and calculating I can assure you it is anything but in practice! I have requisitioned bird feeder boxes from Lidl hanging about the house, and covered them in paper to conceal their original purpose and make them suitable for posting packages of book. Furthermore That Blasted Virus requires me to sign them wearing the same green gloves you saw me wear in the unboxing video, as well as masking up.

I will start updating the Lucia’s War landing page with paperback information as I order more and send more books out. It’s going to be quite dynamic as bookshops get added. Hopefully as word spreads and the book travels about the country I will be in a position to approach a nationwide distributor and ask them if they’d be interested in taking part. There is a reason for all of this.

I intend to submit Lucia’s War to the An Post Irish Book Awards, in the Popular Fiction category.

To me this is a waymark to help me focus on getting the paperback out. The rules require that shortlisted books be generally available around the country in October. That is what I am aiming for. There is no rule against self-published books, though I don’t know of any which have been shortlisted. That’s fine; for me the pleasure is in the challenge of being the first. I have no doubt in my mind from the feedback I have received, publicly and privately, that Lucia’s War more than meets any standard required, in production and in content. It deserves to be at least submitted, no matter what internal currents and ructions might be against it. And I have a mischievous spirit – I like to give things a go 🙂

There is also a bittersweet reason why I want to submit it. Simply this: White Feathers should have been there. It was not, and that’s ok, but I want to honour both books.

Wish me luck, folks!

Lucia’s War – Unboxing the Paperback!

I am delighted to present the paperback edition of Lucia’s War at long last. Many thanks to Richie at More Visual for the wonderful design and overall I’m pleased with the print job Lulu have done for the price paid. Because I am a complete nerd, I made…an unboxing video. I will add some pics later.

Also, I have not yet made the PB available online – for the moment I am sending copies to a small number of bookshops and then will tentatively order in some more. I am looking into various options such as using Lulu or maybe Amazon or Shopify. The costs of postage can be a bit of a bummer. But for the moment I will be definitely sending some copies to the wonderful Tertullia Bookshop in Westport and hopefully Gutter Dalkey, Cobh Gifts, and perhaps Vibes and Scribes. All tbc and will be updating on this shortly.

But here is my inexpert unboxing video in the meantime 🙂

Because It Appears to Need Saying

This is a more personal post. If you want to hear about the paperback, I promise you, it’s coming very soon! Otherwise, feel free to read on.

Last March, I made a bargain with myself, of sorts. I decided that if I were to continue with my writing life, it would no longer be at the expense of my mental health and self-respect. I would no longer pretend not to see the problems in the Irish literary world. I would no longer accommodate anyone who sought to gaslight me or others.

There were a few reasons for this. Behind closed doors, I was getting dog’s abuse and shaming from a powerful figure in said literary world for daring to express (civil) anger about something I had every right to feel angry about. At the same time I was being gaslit by other authors when I sought to tell my truth in a supposedly safe forum. And there was a whole other drama re the literary world I can’t discuss because of legal reasons.

Then I experienced a health crisis in my immediate family. And it jolted me to the core. I’d had enough of these time wasters. Looking over my blog entries, they had been making me ill for too long. And I said so, here: https://www.google.ie/amp/s/susanlanigan.com/2020/03/03/she-wrote-it-but-the-irish-literary-fiction-edition/amp/

So, the reason I’m returning to this is because I’m getting roared at again by folk in the literary world for the same thing – questioning the reviewing policy of a Certain Newspaper. It’s *always* that that gets the raginess out. Even threats of libel this time!

It is my personal belief, a belief I am entitled to express regarding a Certain Newspaper as an occasionally consuming citizen of its resources, a citizen furthermore of a free country, that reviews in the paper are on many occasions influenced as much by the relative social status of the author as the quality of the book, and on occasion by the unexamined prejudices of the reviewer. Others disagree, and that’s fine.

(To anyone who says, well I’m bitter because a Certain Newspaper trashed *my* debut novel, I will reply, “Certainly. That makes me see things I cannot unsee.”)


The upshot of this decision means that if I read a brief review of an Indian novelist’s work in a Certain Newspaper and it refers to “exotic sounds and smells” and compares the book disparagingly to A Passage to India, an almost century-old novel written about India by a white man, ignoring the entirety of Indian literature written since; if I read the same (white) reviewer shortly afterwards condemn a debut OwnVoices novel written by a British Bangladeshi novelist on the grounds that the characters are too decent, liberal and fair minded to represent Bangladeshi migrants properly, and that the book has “nothing new” to contribute to the migrant narrative, and one of her characters is a poor imitation of a well known character from a famous book by a rich white woman novelist – if I read these reviews and conclude from the substance of them that their content is racially offensive, is that honestly a contention that requires legal challenge? Should I just keep my mouth shut about it because of some fellow white people’s feelings?

A lot of people would say yes. They would say I should keep my mouth shut. But I’m sick of that. To hear some people talk, you would think there is some sort of party whip in the Irish writing world. In which case, you can call me Neasa Hourigan 😂

I’m not angry, not any more. I wish nobody any harm, not even the miserable folk who try to shame me. I don’t believe that for one to increase, the other must decrease. But I won’t be silent either. And respectfully, or otherwise, I am going nowhere.