Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Neilsen Bookscan's figures for 2012 year to date figures for the Irish consumer market make grim reading. Overall book sales are down nearly 7 per cent on 2011.

Fiction sales have dropped 2.1 per cent to €25.5 million and non-fiction is down a whopping more than 14 per cent to €35.6 million, although non-fiction sales are expected to rally for Christmas.

But the good news is that sales of children's books are up 1.1 to €21 million.

Friday, October 26, 2012


English author, broadcaster and Orange prize winner Kate Mosse is coming to Dublin. She is best known for her Languedoc Trilogy, with 'Labyrinth' - her best known title translated into 37 languages, as well as 'Sepulchre' and 'Citadel'. These books secured her name as one of the most dedicated and popular writers of historical fiction.

She is giving a talk on Saturday 3 November at the Pavilion Theatre in Dunlaoghaire and I hear there's still a few tickets available

Thursday, October 25, 2012


In these days of economic stress getting published if increasingly difficult. But perseverance pays off. Note the following and never  give up hope:

• "We do not think it would be at all suitable for the Juvenile Market"(Moby Dick, Melville)

• "The work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples" (Virginia Woolf, then
 editor of the Hogarth Press, rejecting Joyce'sUlysses).                                                  

• "No reader interest" (W.H. Allen & Company's reason for rejecting Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal, which would go on to sell over ten million copies).

• J.R.R. Tolkien's manuscript of The Lord of the Rings was refused by three 
publishers; in 1954, only 3,500 copies of it were published.

• One Hundred Years of Solitude by García Márquez was rejected by Seix 
Barral in Barcelona and impolitely returned to him initialled by "an obscure official".

• The first Sherlock Holmes book, as Conan Doyle recalled, "returned with the regularity of a homing pigeon".

The world would be a poorer place without the above titles. I interviewed Frederick Forsythh when he was living in Ireland and if I remember rightly he had about 18 rejections before finally hitting the jackpot!

Monday, October 22, 2012


So Hilary Mantel has won the Booker. Surprising it is too having an
 English woman winning with a sequel - but what a sequel. Bring 
up the Bodies explores the mystifying and terrifying destruction
of Anne Boleyn and gives a new meaning and twist to historical fiction.

Elsewhere in prizeland, the Orange Prize has lost its long-term sponsorship, is being renamed the Women's Prize for Fiction and rumour is that it will be funded by private donors including Cherie Blair; author Joanna Trollope and Christopher Foyle of Foyles bookshops. The 2012 award worth £30,000 was won by Madeline Miller for The Song of Achilles.

The Pen/Pinter awards went to British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy who nominated A Woman in the Crossfire by Syrian writer, Samar Yazbek, who fearful for her daughter's safety has fled Syria and is living in exile. Interestingly this award is unique in that a British winner is selected by a panel of judges and then chooses an 'international writer of courage' to share the prize.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


 The Pleasures of Winter, hailed as 'erotic and sensual',  is the book tipped to knock '50 Shades...' and it sequels off the bestseller list. And I am holding an advance copy hot off the presses.

Evie Hunter is the writing name of Eileen Gormley and Caroline McCall, both talented writers who work successfully on their own and together within a varied range of genres, though most recently both are tickled by erotica.

The story is one of the obsession and torment of ace reporter Abbie Marshall with Irish actor Jack Winter.

Monday, October 15, 2012


There's nothing like a book launch to gladden the hearts of authors, particularly in these difficult-to-get-published times.

First time author John O'Keeffe had a packed launch for his debut novel Searching for Ami in Dublin's Royal College of Physicians, attended by Dublin's medical glitterati, family and friends. The hallowed book-lined walls of its library rang with laughter and echoed with chat and reminiscences as wine was drunk and nibbles consumed.

The formality of launch speech was by ombudsperson Emily O'Reilly; publication was by Red Rock Press; the reviews so far are hailing Searching for Ami as  a superb and compelling thriller; it's available in all good bookshops and online.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Voting for the best bookshop in Ireland is open to all and it's an online exercise.

All you have to do is log onto and vote for your best loved bookstore.

Don't we love our bookstores and aren't we delighted to enjoy browsing, getting advice on the best, most compelling and spiciest reads from the every knowledgeable staff?

So in these recessionary times why not give them a boost by casting a vote...

More than 240 stores are vying to be named Ireland's favourite bookstore in the competition which is decided by your online vote.

You have until Sunday October 14th to cast your vote, and there's a selection of prizes including holiday vouchers and free electricity for some of the lucky voters

Friday, October 5, 2012


Felicity's Wedding has joined A Type of Beauty, the story of Kathleen Newton. Both are now available in digital form and, so far, the feedback is good.

Felicity's Wedding is the story of a contemporary Irish family. Felicity's wedding is the catalyst that causes havoc, wrecks relationships and forces everyone to reassess their lives. It is based on fact, on a story I heard as an 11-year old child with a penchant for eavesdropping.When first published is was book club choice in Germany.

A Type of Beauty, the story of Kathleen Newton is too based on fact but has ended up as a somewhat fictionalised account of the short, colourful life of Kate Kelly who lived from 1854-1882. She was mistress and muse and only love of French painter Jacques Tissot and their very open love affair scandalised Victorian morals.

Monday, October 1, 2012 - Writers' Blog: HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY CONFERENCE - Writers' Blog: HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY CONFERENCE: The Historical Novel Society held its 2012 conference in the University of Westminser in the heart of London. A great weekend was had by all...


The Historical Novel Society held its 2012 conference in the University of Westminser in the heart of London. A great weekend was had by all the 200 plus delegates primarily from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the USA.

Information was exchanged, tales told, publishers and agents analysed, book sales scrutinised, trays of sandwiches devoured and a great time had by all.

Phillipa Gregory one of the keynote speakers defined HF as a narrative of the past, with facts as a starting point. She gladdened the audience's heart stating that being the story of inner life, growth, maturity and feelings, the novel is he finest form of art. Sure didn't we all know that - but nice to have it confirmed.

Main Panel Sessions with Q & A were the topical What Sells HF? The Lying Art - tensions and issues at the fact/fiction interface;  Brawn v Heart and The Many Faces of HF. The panelists were lively mix throwing out tips on getting published, the current market, the power of sandals, sand and sword v the Tudors, and the situation regarding e-books and their marketing came up again and again.

More tomorrow.....