Monday, April 30, 2012

In the Postbox

Here are some of the books which I have been lucky enough to receive from Publishers recently. I have already read Tell the Wolves I'm Home so will be posting my review shortly. The Sleeping Army by Francessa Simon should be an interesting take on Viking Mythology and After Such Kindness by Gaynor Arnold features a fictionalised account of the friendship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell. This is How it Ends looks set to be a bestseller with Kathleen McMahon tipped as an author to watch. I am also really excited to read the second thrilling novel from Julia Crouch as I adored Cuckoo (review to follow). The first one I intend to read though will be Dreams: Book 1 in the Sarah Midnight Trilogy by Daniela Sacerdoti. I adored Daniela's first novel and I can't wait to read Dreams.

Author interview with Nicola Pierce

Are you from a family of readers and or writers?
I have three sisters and one of them; Rachel is also a writer and editor, her children’s book will be out next year. We all read widely as children and our parents made sure we had plenty of books.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was my favourite book growing up. I wanted to be Jo.

So it was an inspiration to you?
Absolutely I wanted to be a writer like Jo and I’m thrilled to able to write for a living now. Writing is a fantastic job.

How did you get into ghost writing?
I was working for Brehon Press and I wrote three history books for them and I heard that John Mooney from Maverick Press was looking for an editor. I called him up and he said “What do you know about Thailand?” I said “I’ve heard of it” He needed a book ghost written in six weeks. It was a big challenge but I ghost wrote three books about Thailand; “The Last Executioner”, “Angel of Bangkwang Prison” and “Miss Bangkok”. I also wrote “Mother from Hell” for O’Brien Press in 2009 and this year I wrote “I was a Boy in Belsen”.

What made you decide to write a Children’s book?
Actually Michael O’Brien asked if I had ever considered writing for children after he read “Mother from Hell”. He suggested a Titanic story. I worked on the story for about six months and then re-drafted for another six months.

So where did you get the idea to write from Samuel Joseph Scott’s point of view?
I had edited a book called “Written in Stone” by former Lord Mayor of Belfast Tom Hartley who does Titanic tours, Tom mentioned that Samuel was Titanic’s first death and he was buried in an unmarked grave in Belfast so I decided to write about him and I felt that his ghost would have wanted to watch the mighty ship being built and launched.

Tell us about meeting Samuel’s relatives
That was a huge shock but a good one, Tom got talking to the right people and a headstone was organised for Samuel and at the ceremony earlier this year I was waiting for it all to begin when a young man spoke to me and explained that he was a relative of Samuel’s. I was stunned, the young man then introduced me to his Grandmother; Samuel’s niece. It was a wonderful feeling and something not many writers ever get to experience.

The Spirit of the Titanic is a hugely popular book and you have been speaking about Titanic around the country in schools, libraries and bookshops have you enjoyed that?
I have, it has been a fabulous opportunity and although I have been nervous about public speaking in the past I am starting to enjoy it now. It has been great to be able to visit schools, festivals, museums and learn more and more about Titanic it is a fascinating subject I even had the chance to travel to Paris to The Centre Culturel Irlandais this year which was fantastic.

Do you have a favourite Titanic movie?
I have to say that “A Night to Remember” the old black and white movie is the best one although the James Cameron film had fantastic attention to detail.

Tell us more about “I was a Boy in Belsen
“I was a Boy in Belsen” is my most recent book it is the autobiography of Tomi Reichental who is one of the last remaining holocaust survivors in Ireland. I wrote the book by asking Tomi questions and pulling everything together into a narrative. It was a difficult process because much of the story was distressing for Tomi to recall. 

Do you have a favourite author?
Absolutely I enjoy reading a lot of different authors but my favourite writer is Richard Ford and my favourite book is Independence Day. Some other books I really love are Breathing Lessons by Ann Tyler and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

What are reading at the moment?
I am reading Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey who is my favourite biographer.

What was your book of the year?
Life and Fate by Vassily Grossman

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read as much as you can and write everyday. Someone once said that they wrote five pages a day and I think that’s a manageable target even if you have other commitments so if you want to write just do it.
New Irish Author to watch

Click through to read an Irish Times article on Kathleen McMahon

Friday, April 27, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

This book started really well with witty banter between friends and the great premise of a young protaganist who lives a double life; art student in Prague and messenger for a mysterious group of magical creatures hidden behind various doorways across the world.
I loved the writing style and really warmed to the central character but then she starts to fall for a strange angelic guy who is ridiculously good-looking even though her instincts tell her he is an enemy and I couldn't help thinking that a great fantsy premise had strayed into Twilight territory. The pace seemed to sag a lot in the middle of the book but then through section three we learn more about elsewhere and the magical creatures who exists there and the story seemed to come alive again.
I would recommend it to lovers of Fantasy Romance

My Journey with the Angels by Patricia Buckley

My Journey with the Angels is a heart wrenching memoir of Patricia’s life growing up in a family where poverty and violence were daily realities. She knew from an early age that she could see angels and spirits but she was discouraged from talking about her gift, even beaten on occasion. Patricia has paid dearly for the gift she has, as a teenager her family were convinced that she was unstable and she spent time in a mental institution. She felt that in order to survive she would have to pretend that she no longer saw angels and she did her best to suppress her ability. She continued to suffer however, beaten by her partner and sleeping on the streets she finally found friendship and met the man who became her husband. Patricia began to heal her life and found great joy in motherhood. However she continued to suffer ill health until she finally accepted her gift and allowed her own spirit to flourish. Reading this memoir is like sitting down for a cup of tea and a chat with the author. Patricia has obviously gained a great deal from telling her story and I am sure that others will also benefit from this inspiring and moving account.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Unrest by Michelle Harrison

By Michelle Harrison

In contrast to her previous trilogy which appealed to 9-12 year olds and teens, Unrest is firmly in the teen category. The protagonist Elliott has left art school after a near fatal accident has destroyed his confidence. He is feeling depressed and disturbed and his sleep is interrupted by strange visions and dreams. Gradually Elliott realises that he had an out of body experience and is now able to see ghosts, as he is woken again and again by a young woman who took her own life a few years before in his flat. Elliot’s Mum is dead and his Dad is usually away at work so his only real confidant is his brother who is busy with his band and girlfriend Amy. Elliott decides to explore his ability by applying for a job at  Past Lives, a kind of historical and paranormal theme park with old buildings some original, some moved from other areas and rebuilt at the centre each portraying life in different eras and many with their own ghost stories. Here Elliott meets Ophelia and comes into contact with a spirit that wants to use Elliott to gain revenge and it seems that it will stop at nothing to achieve it.
Michelle Harrison’s novel is chilling and surprising as the story twists and turns to a final gut churning ending. Readers who have enjoyed Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough or Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan will really enjoy Unrest, highly recommended.

The Underside of Joy

The Underside of Joy
Sere Prince Halverson

The Underside of Joy is a deft, brave and truthful novel of love, loss, family and what it really means to be a mother.
Ella Beene is 35 and for the last three years has been wife to Joe and mother to Annie and Zach. They met when she was newly divorced; alone and adrift and he was a struggling single Dad, it is a perfect fit, until the unthinkable happens and Joe is tragically killed. Now Paige, the children’s birth mother has retuned and she wants her children back. What Paige doesn’t realise is that Ella loves her children as fiercely as if they were own. A heartbreaking custody battle develops but this not a conventional tale of right and wrong rather it is a wonderful exploration of the many ways there are to be a mother.
Halverson’s tight and seamless plot and heart wrenching story will entrance and delight fans of Douglas Kennedy and Anita Shreve but her light touch and warm characters will also appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult and Adriana Trigiani.
I have no doubt that Halverson will be an international bestseller and I have already cast Amy Adams as Ella (even though she’s too short) and Cameron Diaz as Paige. I look forward to many more fantastic books from Sere Prince Halverson in the future.