Northern Noir

Yes, I went for a title with the word ‘girls’ in it. But you’ll see why as you read the book.

It’s the start of August, midway through the summer holidays and everything seems easier Covid-wise. I’m excited to participate in Shelley Tracey’s poetry workshop next week and to have booked myself into a writing retreat for next month.

In the meantime I am editing my next novel – more about that later – and the Christmas anthology I have been working on with Claire Savage and a host of local authors. So, no rest for the wicked!

Being stuck in one place during lockdown, has me thinking about ‘setting’ a lot. It was in my garden-shed-turned-writing-shed that I chaired an event for FĂ©ile an Phobail lately.

It was a real pleasure to quiz James Murphy (author of the Terror books) and Simon Maltman (author of books including his new one, The Mark) on what they like about writing crime and what brought them to the genre. We also talked about setting, particularly writing in and around Belfast, which we all three do.

It was a cracking interview and welcome laugh, getting to speak to Simon and James during more stressful times. And an education getting to grips with Zoom events. James took the reins there, thank god!

Watch Northern Noir here.

Simon and James were also grilled by sci-fi and fantasy writer Jo Zebedee in her beautiful bookstore in Carrickfergus, The Secret Bookshelf. If you need more Northern Noir in your life (and you do!) this is a great fun watch.

It is fantastic to see ‘normal life’ resuming, albeit slowly and cautiously, and I want to give Jo my thanks for inviting me and Sharon Dempsey, author of Little Bird, to The Secret Bookshelf last week to film our video, where we talk about more local crime fiction and gender’s role in it.

Watch Off the Shelf here.

Sharon is about to begin a PhD in gender and crime fiction, which sounds amazing. And my new book, the second instalment in my DI Harriet Sloane series, is aptly titled PROBLEMS WITH GIRLS.

Here is the blurb:

Where are the young women here? Can you even see them?

After taking some leave, DI Harriet Sloane comes back to work at Strandtown PSNI station, East Belfast, to be faced with a murder case. A young political activist has been stabbed to death in the office of a progressive political party where she works as an intern. The killer seems to have a problem with girls, and is about to strike again.

Problems with Girls is set in May, 2018. The same month as a Royal wedding and the Irish abortion Repeal vote. A month after the #ibelieveher rallies that came as a reaction to the Belfast rape trial, or the Rugby rape trial, as it is sometimes called.

These events are the backdrop for the story. As for setting, we start in the air, then go to East Belfast, down the Ards peninsula and to North Down.

Yes, I went for a title with the word ‘girls’ in it. Which can be controversial, but you’ll see why as you read the book.

I was interested to learn a few years back that young women in NI are our most invisible demographic. So this book is for them. If you have read The Sleeping Season, you’ll know that my police series comes from a feminist viewpoint.

Publication date is 20 November 2020.

If you like to read on kindle, then you can pre-order in the meantime.

cover reveal

Speaking of Northern Noir…

Books I read recently and highly recommend are:

The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway and Rose McClelland’s Under Your Skin.

One to watch:

Kerry Buchanan has a crime series coming soon with Joffe. Keep an eye out for that. It will be fab!

Till next time.