Strange tales of love and desire


Given the week that’s in it I thought I’d mention these tales of love and desire. It doesn’t come naturally to shout out about my stories but I’m proud of these and some of them have been published in reputable places and longlisted in major competitions and I’d be happy to have you read them. I’m working away on longer pieces and while I prepare to finish these long projects and send manuscripts away, it’s great to get encouragement and feedback on the way.

These mini story collections all have the theme of love and desire. The first is stranger than the second but they trace the desires and insecurities we all have. If you enjoy reading them please let others know.


Then we would go to bed and I would lie against him, my skin cooling at the point where he touched me. On certain nights he would make love to me and I would feel the grit under my fingernails, the wash of my pleasure against his impenetrable skin.

‘My lover in a stone’

‘Sometimes when I came home from work and she was there before me with the telly on and her feet curled up and her thumb in her mouth and her twisting the guts out of her hair, I used to wonder why we were together. And were we together, or just taking slices out of each other as we slid past.’

‘Truth and Silence’

Such is the hypnotism of skin that I might have eaten you that day or absorbed you the way Venus Flytraps do and perhaps I did, you bit me on the lip when I stole that first kiss and your poison has been with me ever since.

(Originally published in THE VIEW FROM HERE)

‘The Singularity and the Octagonal House’

stories to make you go ooh-3‘Alison Wells’ short book of stories are wonderfully imagined glimpses into the lives of flawed, ordinary people, written with precise and clear prose. The language is imaginative and brings the reader to a place of wonder, with sentences like “Kicking, shouting, blowing bubbles up to the underside of the hard ice.” I was particularly taken with “The Singularity and the Octagonal House.” This story is resplendent. The inherent otherness of her writing is quite something and Wells’ knows her characters and how to engage the reader in their lives.’ 

Amazon UK   Amazon US/IRL


She knew what her lips would taste like; sherbet, bubblegum and sun.’

Life by the Lapels

Knives: that could cut out a piece of me or you, stupid teenage games where we nick each other and mix our blood. We could become blood lovers but it is too late for that. Forks: these are the directions we take when we open our mouths and words come out, clichés with no undoing, ‘I think we should…’, ‘I don’t know if I…’ ‘this isn’t what I…’ Spoons: upstairs in the blissful innocence of sleep, you make the shape of your wife; with your fingers on her back you feel her breathing.


He grinned and raised the Burgundy. Miranda feared for the evening, for the passionate future. She didn’t like the way he fondled his fondue.

Longlisted in the Sean O’ Faolain competition.

‘Burgundy, Bolero and Chicken Supreme’

stories to make you go ahReading Alison Wells’ stories is a bit like climbing into the bathtub she describes in the first story of this fine collection, “Life by the Lapels,” and finding suds that resembled “floating icebergs.” The images are both comforting and jolting; for example, the way Wells describes two people in the story, “Filch,” who “traced each others faces and turned inside out.” Ah! Powerful writing, pleasurable reading.

Amazon UK  Amazon US/IRL

Free e-book sample of 14 Middle Grade Books!

headermgI’m pleased to pass on news of a free book promotion and competition organised by Sally Harris,author of the fab Diary of a Penguin Napper.


Download this e-book, find the secret phrase, and enter it into the contest link embedded in the e-book to be entered into the draw to win a Kindle Fire, a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a great middle grade e-book from one of 14 fantastic authors!

Treat yourself and your kids with a special gift this Valentine’s Day! This is a sample of 14 exciting middle grade stories that you will love and with the chance to win an e-reader.

Competition opens 7 February 2013 and the winner will be announced on 14 February 2013. This e-book will be available to download for free for 5 days from the 711th of February and at 99c for the remaining days of the promotion. The winners will be drawn on 14 February 2013 and announced shortly thereafter.


Whether you like fantasy, adventure, mystery or humor, “Love Middle Grade Actually” gives you a taste of it all!

This sampler includes:

Sally Harris – Diary of a Penguin-napper (3 weeks, 2 boys, 1 little penguin – what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by the urban myth that it is possible to steal a penguin from the zoo on a school visit using just a backpack!)

SW Lothian – The Golden Scarab (When JJ discovers the secret of time travel at his dad’s museum, he finds himself catapulted back to ancient Egypt with his best friend, smack-bang at the centre of an action-packed race against time and living statues to find the sacred Golden Scarab.)

Nikki Bennett – Four Fiends (Join Jinjing, Pietro, Saburo and Kate as they explore exotic lands, defeat evil demons, and discover the true meaning of friendship.)

Scott Clements – Gasparilla’s Treasure (A fast paced adventure novel following Trip Montgomery on his quest through historic St Augustine, Florida to find the treasure of famed pirate Jose Gaspar.)

Paul R. Hewlett – Lionel’s Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule (Meet Lionel, a lovable bully-magnet, as he arrives in Larrystown and discovers a magical Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun foot.)

Julie Anne Grasso – Escape from the Forbidden Planet (Caramel Cinnamon thought the worst day of her life was the day her grandparents, the King and Queen of the Elves of Cardamom went missing. She was wrong!)

Natalie Bahm – The Secret Underground (Anxious to forget the bank robbery she witnessed, twelve-year-old Ally joins her brother and the rest of the neighborhood boys (including the cutest boy in her class) in digging a secret tunnel to an abandoned steel mill.)

Jeff Bilman – Super Ninja Alien Robot Monsters (Ninja fighting, half-robot, half-monster aliens from Alpha Centauri have come to destroy the Earth. Are two bickering brothers the world’s only hope?)

Jemima Pett – The Princelings and the Pirates (A simple mission to solve a problem with the winery turns into a nightmare as our guinea pig heroes, Princelings Fred and George, are captured by pirates, rescue a damsel in distress, and get more than they bargained for in the battle of Dimerie)

Rebecca M Douglass – The Ninja Librarian (Skunk Corners is a dusty, tough, unfriendly town until the Ninja Librarian—a mild-mannered librarian who offers his wisdom with a little extra when folks don’t listen—gets off the train and moves into the library).

Adam C. Veile – The Dreamcatcher Adventures: Greedy Jack Wallace (When the ghost of his rowdy Wild West ancestor appears, seventh-grader Blake Monroe joins him in the search for a hidden treasure, but they soon discover a deadly outlaw is in pursuit and they’ll be lucky to escape with their lives!)

Krista Michelle Breen – Knockout: The Hermit’s Escape (When Phillip Brooks’ new horse leaves him face down in the mud, he soon discovers something very strange is going on inside the old hermit Bert Massey’s house.)

Stanley & Katrina – The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets (Cat and Dog. It is a love/hate relationship. Enter the inner psyche of these creatures as they try to peacefully coexist within the same house. Cleverly written. Hilarious antics.)

Anna Olswanger – Greenhorn (Greenhorn is a powerful story that gives human dimension to the Holocaust. It poignantly underscores our flawed humanity and speaks to the healing value of friendship. )


Love Middle Grade Actually on Amazon: or permalink

Entry page for the promotion:

Heart Potato

Valentine's came early as I discovered this heart shaped rooster potato when making the dinner.
Valentine’s came early as I discovered this heart shaped rooster potato when making the dinner.


‘Oh yes,’ said Fairly Dave. ‘It’s commonly known that there’s too much obesity among tellies hanging round looking at couch potatoes – although they are very interesting. It’s not that often you find a potato in the shape of a couch – not since the supermarkets conspired in that ‘campaign for beautiful vegetables’. And in my opinion it is a shame because sometimes there is nothing more alluring than a two legged carrot.’

Extract from the adorable Housewife with a Half-Life 



31 Days Guest Post Claire King: How do you keep the joy in writing?

This series of articles running through January will explore ways of keeping our head above water in physical, mental, emotional and creative areas. There will be creative challenges, competitions and giveaways. For the full background see here.

How do you keep the joy in writing? How do you put it back in when you’ve lost it, particularly if you are working on a longer project? These are questions I often struggle with in my own work, even if the project is one that I’m generally happy with and committed to. I asked novelist Claire King whose debut novel The Night Rainbow has been published by Bloomsbury if she could share her thoughts with us. Claire combines work, writing and family life (originally from Yorkshire, she lives in southern France with her husband and two young girls) and is now revising a second novel. I’ve found her thoughts inspirational and hope you do too.

How do I keep the joy in writing? Claire King

You asked how I keep the joy in my writing, or put the joy back in when I’m struggling with it. I feel as though I could come up with a short list of tips like going for a walk, using writing prompts to kick off a piece of flash fiction or reading something inspirational. But in the end that would sound glib, because lacking joy is more fundamental than just being a bit uninspired or bogged down and needing to take a break.

I would define Joy as a sense of well-being, happiness, exhilaration even, and one of my favourite quotes on life in general is from Richard Wagner:

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.”

I think this is important on many levels, not least in raising the question: where does the joy come from in us? My view is that it’s to do with how we define ourselves, what we believe makes us happy and our lives meaningful. Writing is certainly one of element of how I define myself, so if I lose the joy in writing then I am losing joy in myself. Perhaps that sounds terribly over-dramatic, but isn’t it true that however you define yourself in life, the joy waxes and wanes? We may not always admit it to others, but there are times when we can lose the joy in learning, in parenthood, in being a spouse, in food, in sport, in our bodies, in our environment. Somehow all the colour goes out of it and we wonder if we will find that again.

One of the nice things about getting older is the accumulated experience of life’s ups and downs. So when you hit one of these patches you know that you’ve come through it before, that it’s cyclical, and that if you press on you will come through.

Yes, there are some days when I find writing frustrating and energy sapping, days I just can’t find the right words no matter how hard I try. There are some days I can’t even discipline myself to try properly at all, and then I feel bad about myself, and call myself names. But then there are the days when it just all comes together, when I lose effortless hours advancing the story and pushing the right pieces into place. When characters bloom and take on a life of their own. When perfect expressions seem to fall from the sky. And those times are rewarding, exciting and joyful. I have to remind myself of that.

Still, there’s no use just waiting for the joy to come back. I think we have to hunt it down again and that means figuring out the underlying reasons for why it was lost in the first place. Perhaps we are tired, discouraged, pre-occupied, or overwhelmed…If we can put a name to it, we can start to find ways out.

I’ve found, personally, that I have a sort of mental ‘bank account’ that fills up with triumphs and successes in the things that matter most to me, and depletes with failures and admissions of defeat. If writing is going badly it’s a drain on the reserves. A slow trickling debit. But it can be offset by little credits in other areas. One of the reasons I walk/run regularly is because it’s physically demanding. Once I’ve pushed myself up the mountain and galloped back down again I feel better about myself and what I can achieve. I think it’s important to have something like that, that gives you small victories in your life’s pursuits.

When I started writing The Night Rainbow I was pretty much constantly exhausted from having two very young children and juggling all sorts of work and personal matters. It seems like a crazy time to start a novel. But I realised that my entire time was devoted to the care of others and earning money to live, and in some ways I felt as though I was losing myself. I needed to do something to redress that.

Don’t get me wrong, raising my children was very rewarding and I was so inspired at that time by the joy I saw in my children. They found joy in the smallest things – a caterpillar, an iced-lolly, a drinking straw. I felt positively jaded in comparison to them, and I wanted to explore that in my writing.

In that novel I wrote a mother character, Maman, who is clearly depressed and not functioning at pretty much any level, spending most of her time in bed. Maman isn’t me, of course, but I think I was overwhelmed by how much my daughters needed me, and I was worried that this inability to cope was inside me somewhere. It was cathartic creating her, and it’s really interesting reading the early reviews coming in and seeing how they respond to that character. I’m so pleased that readers can empathise with her plight.

One important element of Maman and her depression is that she is lonely and alone, which serves to deepen her troubles. She has no-one to talk to. I think we should always bear in mind that losing our joy on whatever level is not unusual and that we’re not obliged to tackle it alone. Other people can help remind us why we are doing this, remind us of the bigger picture, and what’s important. They can also help on practical levels, take responsibilities off our shoulders, give us encouragement or rest or whatever we need to find ourselves again.

At the moment I’m living a peculiar juxtaposition. On the one hand there’s the utter brilliance of being a couple of weeks from the launch date I’ve waited so long for, seeing wonderful reviews already coming in and being able to hand over a signed copy of my novel to my mum. Joyous. On the other hand I’m editing my second novel and it is such hard going. I haven’t showed it to anyone yet, because I’m not proud of it. The voice isn’t perfect, the character arcs stutter a little. I often wonder if I set myself too ambitious a task with this one. It’s like being on a roller-coaster all day.

But I know that if I change one word at a time, eventually it will take shape. I know this because it’s not my first novel, and I’ve felt like this before. I have to ignore that joyless inner voice who tells me to have a cup of tea and turn on the TV instead. I just have to put one foot in front of the other until I get there. The joy in these words will be around the next corner, I’m sure.

Thanks so much to Claire. If you want to discover more about the world of and characters in her novel, here is the wonderful book trailer to The Night Rainbow and you can read about it here.

Diary of a Penguin-napper by Sally Harris

Sally Harris from Melbourne recently launched this bright, engaging fun book for children called Diary of a Penguin-napper. The book is for children in the 8 to 12 age range so we were pleased to receive a copy of Sally’s book in the post.

What was striking about Sally’s book is that it’s so attractive that the kids pounced on it as soon as it was out of the wrapper and were attracted by the cover, the title and the catchphrase ‘3 weeks ...2 boys …1 little penguin …What could possibly go wrong?
What is also unusual is that all my children in that age range (Evan, just turned 12, Ronan 10 and Erica 8) were interested in reading the book. One is penguin mad anyway which is a plus and the others were captivated by the story. Here is what they had to say:

Erica (8):  It was a fascinating book, exciting and adventurous. I liked the part where they stole the penguin from the zoo.  How much trouble can one little penguin cause? Answer: a lot.

Ronan (10): I like it because my favourite animals are penguins. I think the book is really good because it’s funny and adventurous. I like the policeman best.

Evan (12): I really liked the way the book was told as a first person account by Marty. When I picked up the book I couldn’t put it down and read it straight through to the end. It was a really well written book and I would definitely recommend it.

Fine praise indeed. What struck me was the fantastic cover, the compelling first chapter and the little details of having a little penguin at the bottom of every page. Lovely!

I asked Sally a bit about herself and the book…

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

Well, to begin with, I grew up in rural Australia in a large town on the Murray River called Mildura. It was a fantastic place to grow up because we had so much freedom, plenty of animals around and yet there wasn’t so much to do that we didn’t have to use our imaginations!

I can’t remember a time that I couldn’t read or write.  Mum made sure that there was always an endless supply of books and paper around the house and we were always at the local library.  I still have the first ‘proper’ book I wrote – I say proper because it was good enough to be covered with plastic to protect it!  I’m sure there were others, but my ‘Food Giggles’ joke book is now a treasured possession.

I went to boarding school for most of my high school years and had some fantastic teachers who really challenged me. I went on to complete a Bachelor of Education in Melbourne.  Since graduating, I’ve spent at least part of every year teaching in schools both in Melbourne and in the UK.

In 2008, I moved to the UK to complete a Masters degree in Education, majoring in Children’s Literature, which was absolutely inspiring. I learned so much about books for children during that one-year course and I’d go back to do it again if I could, just to learn even more.  And perhaps most importantly, I came away with the crazy idea that maybe I could write them myself!

And now, only last week in fact, I have just released my first book, Diary of a Penguin-napper.

What gave you the idea for Diary of a Penguin-napper?

It’s funny, now that I think about it, that I can’t pin point the exact moment that I first heard the urban myth about the boy stealing the penguin.  I think someone might have told me during my time at Cambridge in 2008/09, because I pondered the idea and made notes for about a year before actually putting pen to paper in 2010.  What I do know is that once I’d heard of the idea, I kept hearing about it from lots of different people!  And they all had a slightly different take on it.

It kind of got to a point where I felt like the universe was trying to tell me something, I’d heard about the myth that often, that I wondered how I had existed for 25 years without hearing about it earlier.

I also find the newspaper to be a great source of story ideas.  The ‘penguin-napping’ story has made the paper a few times over the past year or two. I usually find great inspiration in the short 4-5 sentence articles that fill the sides or bottoms of pages.  I find they are often on really unusual topics and you are only given a snippet of information to get you started.  Then, it is up to you as a writer to fill in the gaps!

Why do you enjoy writing for children?

I think I enjoy writing for children because I never stopped reading children’s books myself.  There was never really a complete transition into adult books – I’d read Maeve Binchy one day, Enid Blyton the next and a favourite pony book the next.  I love the adventure that you get with older children’s fiction – when children could go camping, hiking or horse riding for days on end and nobody would worry about them.

I also like the challenge of writing for children.  People always think it is easier because the books are shorter or the plots can be less complex, but let me tell you, they are a tough crowd! If children don’t like something, they’ll tell you.  If there are any loose ends, they’ll point them out.  If they aren’t engaged, they’ll put the book down without a second thought.

What do you think makes Diary of a Penguin-napper stand out?

Well, apart from the bright yellow cover, I think there are two things that really make it stand out in the sea of middle grade fiction out there.

The first is that it is based on a story that a lot of people have heard of already – that of a boy stealing a penguin from a zoo on a school trip. When people ask me what my book is about and I tell them, their reaction is often that they’ve heard about that and didn’t it really happen?

The second thing that I think makes Diary of a Penguin-napper really exciting is that it is funny.  As a teacher and librarian, I know how much children (and their parents) love books that make them laugh.  There are a lot of funny male writers – Roald Dahl, David Walliams, Andy Griffiths, to name but a few – but not nearly as many well known females.

What do you plan in the future?

I love being a teacher and working with children, so I’m definitely going to keep doing that. It is great to have a captive audience to test out story ideas on and to have some time in school holidays to get cracking with writing. I’m hoping to have a new title ready for next year and I’ve got a couple of ideas simmering away.  I just need to refine my corny jokes!

The cover is outstanding, tell us about that.

I absolutely love the cover design for this book!  I think it both captures the spirit of the story, plus it both fits well with the middle grade fiction genre and yet stands out because of the bold use of yellow.

When I decided to go ahead and print the book myself, I really wanted to produce a professional looking product and part of that was having an experienced cover designer create the cover.  Andrew Brown of Design for Writers had designed a number of covers for other books that I had read or come across, so I got in touch with him. He was absolutely fantastic to work with – very patient and very receptive to feedback.  I can’t recommend him enough!

Where can we get the book?

Diary of a Penguin-napper currently is available from Amazon ( as a paperback and for Kindle.  It is also flying off the shelves (or should that be waddling?) in a range of e-book formats from Smashwords (

As part of her blog tour, Sally appeared on That Book You Like ( yesterday and will be talking about using research to bring your writing to life on Lost in Lit ( tomorrow.  Be sure to join her to enter the draw to win a free copy of Diary of a Penguin-napper!

Be sure to join her to enter the draw to win a free copy of Diary of a Penguin-napper!

You can enter the draw and find out more about Sally and her new book on her blog where she’s written some very engaging articles on writing research and motivation.

Louise Phillips: On her debut novel Red Ribbons & how to create a killer author website

I met Irish writer Louise Phillips originally on Twitter and then in person and was delighted when she announced that her debut crime novel Red Ribbons would be published this September by Hachette.

Louise Phillips returned to writing six years ago after a 20 year gap spent raising her family, managing a successful family business, and working in banking.

A strong short story writer she has won the Jonathan Swift Award, been shortlisted for the Bridport UK Prize and the Molly Keane Memorial Award, and has been published in many literary journals and anthologies. But it is with crime fiction that she is now taking her place as a striking debut novelist.

Red Ribbons is a “searing suspense novel” and “a gripping page-turner told from three points of view – criminal psychologist Kate Pearson, institutionalised patient Ellie Brady and the killer himself.” The novel is set in the Dublin Mountains where a missing schoolgirl is found buried “hand clasped together in prayer, two red ribbons in her hair.” When a second schoolgirl is found in  a similar state, it becomes obvious there’s a serial killer at work. The novel sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to read it. I’ll be grabbing my copy at the official launch at Hughes & Hughes St. Stephen’s Green on Weds Sept 5th 6.30. However I’m delighted to be hosting a post from Louise on the official publication day of Red Ribbons.

I’ll pass you over to Louise now to explain how she went about conceiving and creating her new author website

Creating my author website

This week sees the launch of my debut novel RED RIBBONS, a psychological crime thriller published by Hachette Books Ireland. For me, this is a dream which got lodged into my subconscious when I fell in love with books.

When you set about writing a novel, your first and most important job is to write the story to the best of your ability. When you’ve done that, well, you will probably end up writing it again, editing it a couple of times, and then finally it’s ready – job done – well not so fast!!

There are a few other steps along the way to becoming a published author, and one of these steps, if you’re the adventurous kind, is creating your own website J

Alison, has kindly asked me to share with you a little about the process behind the creation of

Website concept and original notes

It all began with a concept, and here are my original design notes:-


Haunting/Dark/Sinister/Sensual/Fear/Unhinged/A Story to be told


Ease of transition between elements of the site – Sliding/Smooth/Interactive feel for users – Not click/click

Clear pathways – interlinked – clear where you can go next info – see suggested Structural Frame with folders and sub-folders.

Dark/Natural Shades

Key influences

  • Cover image of RED RIBBONS
  • Concepts for second Novel – THE DOLL’S HOUSE
  • The Author

Structural Maps

lt all sounds good so far? Well next was the first stage of structural maps – folders and sub-folders.

By this I mean things like asking

  • What happens on the landing/home page?
  • Where do the links on the navigation bar go to?  What links do you include on the navigational bar? And when you reach one point – where next?
  • If the navigation bar, both top and bottom do similar things, how do you want the user to use other elements of the page/site?
  • If there is an image, do you want the image to be the next link?
  • If you add text, how much text, and where will it lead?
  • When you get to various aspects of the site, what is the clearest route back, working your way through different frames?
  • At each point, there is a ‘before’ and an ‘after’, and a different function. How you deal with media? It is very different to how you deal with the ‘About the Author’ page, or the ‘About the Book’ page.
  • Which pages should have live News?
  • Which pages should have live Twitter feed?
  • What social media icons work best?
  • And how do you incorporate your blog if you have one or want to incorporate one?
  • What about subscription lists, contact details, reviews, updates?
  • And finally what kind of Management System is right for you.

I could probably do a post on every element mentioned above, but suffice to say, when starting down the road of creating a website – give yourself time to think through the process fully.


Moving very quickly on, the next step is ‘content’. What? Surely we must be past content? Ahem, NO!

The content of your website is like the story between the cover of your book. It is KEY.

I made the decision early on that I wanted to include details of how the characters came to be, how the story of RED RIBBONS was formed, and that extracts would be part of the website.

Midway through I made the decision to use artwork for each of the three main characters, to give each of them their own element of the website, and carry this on as a subset within each novel


I also wanted the website to be alive, and not some dead thing that people only visit once. Which is why I have included options for updating reviews, news, media links, twitter feeds, details of my next novel (THE DOLLS HOUSE), and why I definitely wanted to incorporate my existing blog.

I intend to shift emphasis on the site when the second novel is released next year – the website will get a face lift! And again I will revisit many of the elements discussed here.

Key Advice when creating an author website

  • Plan ahead.
  • Search images and websites on line.
  • Learn what you like or what you feel best represents the kind of message you want to apply.
  • Allow sufficient time to work and rework concepts.
  • Draw structural frames – what happens next?
  • Think about mood, imagery, type of transitions.
  • Make key decisions on Management system, Domain name, hosting, integration of blog etc
  • Consider the end user – what’s in it for them? Will the visit be of value?
  • And always be thinking – what next?

It is still early days, and there are still some things changing with the site, but it is more or less there now – so why not go pay a visit, and if you do, let me know what you think.

And don’t forget to check out the trailers under media, and if you like what you see, and you do order RED RIBBONS, come back and let me know what you think of the novel too.



Red Ribbons is published by Hachette and available in all good bookshops and online.

Link to order on

Twitter:             @LouiseMPhillips
Facebook Page HERE

Interview with Eoin Colfer on The Last Guardian & what comes after Artemis Fowl

Eoin Colfer from Wexford has been a worldwide hit with the Artemis Fowl series. (He also wrote a follow up And Another Thing in the Douglas Adam’s  Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy  series)

The Artemis series, for young teens, follows the adventures of teenage technical mastermind Artemis Fowl and his adventures in saving his family fortune, and the world, alongside Fairies and Pixies, friends and foe. Eoin Colfer has just released the final book The Last Guardian. These are brilliantly written books with wit and technical wizardry. Eoin has described them as ‘Die Hard with Fairies’. This bestselling series has been hugely popular with my eldest boy so I was delighted to interview Eoin for

Catching up with Eoin Colfer amid his travels, I ask him to cast his mind back and tell us how the idea for Artemis Fowl originated. His answer is both surprising and wry: “I got the idea for a young, super criminal from a photo I saw of my little brother making his Confirmation. It occurred to me that he looked like a James Bond villain and I thought it would be funny if that was the main character in a series.” Did he know how many Artemis books he would go on to write? “I actually had planned for only three books, but ideas kept coming so I kept on writing more. Eight is enough, I think, time for Artemis to retire.”

Writers hope for success but it’s never a given. I ask Eoin what the huge popularity of Artemis Fowl has meant to him. “The Artemis series has been hugely important for me and my family. It brought us security for one thing. Another thing Artemis did for me was allow me to be a full time writer,” Eoin says “and even more than that I could indulge myself in writing projects that I felt pretty sure would not be blockbusters, including a musical and a few one-act plays.”

For the full article: Click here

My self-publishing experience

Today I’ve visited the blog of Debz Hobbs Wyatt who works as small publisher Bridgehouse to share my self-publishing experience, the areas where I had costs and how I found the whole process.

Speaking to an editor and other writing professionals we decided that it might be a good contender for self-publishing as it’s more a genre work than my other writing.Publishing is in a huge state of flux right now and I was interested to learn about self-publishing, to try to connect directly with my readers (I already have a very established blog) and I liked the freedom of being able to get my work out there. The skills and attention to detail I’m learning through self-publishing can be applied to traditional publishing as well.

Please click here to read the whole interview.

I’d also like to share with you news of the release of The New Big Book of Hope.

“This book will save lives. To live without hope is the ultimate deprivation. The Hope Foundation reaches out to the street children of Kolkata, India, on a daily basis: rescuing sick and abandoned children; delivering food and clean water to the slums; providing crèches where destitute and slum-dwelling mothers can safely leave their children while they do what they can to earn money; running its health-care programme, including its new hospital; fighting child labour and child-trafficking; breaking the cycle of poverty through education in its many coaching centres.
This extraordinary collection celebrates The Hope Foundation and – hopefully – will play a significant role in publicizing and supporting its courageous work. A potent blend of fiction, poetry, memoir and non-fiction, the contributions explore the theme of ‘hope’ and its vital presence in all our lives.
With its astonishing range of bestselling authors, political figures, business people and media celebrities, The New Big Book of Hope eBook has something for everyone. Claudia Carroll, Don Conroy, Brian Crowley, Brian Keenan, Sinead Moriarty, Kate Kerrigan and over forty other unlikely bedfellows rub shoulders – the only common denominator being their considerable talent. And in this special eBook edition, four new writers – Alison Wells, David Fairclough, Fr. David Keating and Orla Coffey – have been selected for their contributions in making this book a truly unique collection.

This book is for such a good cause. It also contains my prizewinning story Flashes of Entropy and Hope, a flash fiction medley which is part of a longer work.

The book is available as an ebook here

Different versions are available as follows.

Here’s Hoping (Fiction Collection)

Hope Works (Non Fiction and Poetry Collection)

There’ll be more posts here on writer’s block, writing focus and further self-publishing experiences such as getting books into a bookshop and awareness building efforts.

Banville interview and other matters

I was delighted to have the chance to interview John Banville for on the release of his latest novel.

In Ancient Light Alexander Cleave revisits both the memory of a teenage affair with a much older woman and looks further into the enigma of his daughter Cass’ fate previously touched on in Eclipse (2000) and Shroud (2002). I was keen to talk to John Banville about Ancient Light and the tricky art for the writer, of negotiating memory and invention.

On reading Ancient Light I felt that it had the cohesion and integrity of a short story. I asked Banville how he achieved this, but he is sceptical that Ancient Light had that kind of coherence. “I’m not sure that any novel could have. I think of the short story as something like Zen archery, or Japanese print-making: a long period of reflection and preparation, then a rapid, fluid gesture and the thing is done. The writing of a novel is a far messier, more incoherent process. But I’ll accept your flattering judgement,” he says. Whether or not he believes he has achieved this intensity and clarity of message, he tells me that he does try to make his “novels as dense and demanding as poems” (Apparently his publishers despair when he says this) “but it’s true – and perhaps a poem is rather like a short story, with the same kind of thereness.”

Click here for the rest of the interview

I also chatted to busy writer and mum of four Mary Vensel White about how her novel The Qualities of Wood was picked up by Harper Collin’s after she uploaded it to the writing site Authonomy. Click here for more

A nice writing boost to find that I was shortlisted for this Anam Cara writing retreat competition.

One of my favourite writers Tania Hershman chats about her new short story collection here on Nuala Ni Chonchuir’s blog. And another new writer Mary Costello that I’ve just discovered through the Stinging Fly is interviewed here by E.R. Murray.

And don’t forget that the Sean O’ Faolain short story prize deadline is July 31st. I was longlisted a while back and hope enter again.

In the meantime I’m like Niamh Boyce, wondering how to write in the summer with all the kids about. I’m adding words to my latest book The Exhibit of Held Breaths  while also taking an objective look at my completed (I think) book The Book of Remembered Possibilities which I hope to submit shortly. What about you, how are you finding the summer writing and living wise? Is it time to live, have fun and store up ideas or are there ways of doing everything, and should we?


What a wonderful launch!

The lovely Colette Caddle and myself.

What a fabulous evening we had yesterday (22nd June) at the book launch of Housewife with a Half-Life! With a warm welcome from Don and Chris at Hughes & Hughes, Dundrum, a wonderful turnout, a super speech and reading by lovely author Colette Caddle it was a wonderful occasion. General chit chat and refreshments followed as I took part in my first signing.

I’d like to thank all those who came along and those who weren’t able to make it and sent messages of support. There was a wonderful crowd there and the books were snapped off the shelves. What a wonderful feeling for a writer used to beavering away at home to be recognised as an author. Here are a few more pics of the evening.

Lovely author Louise Phillips

and for those on Facebook, you should be able to access the album here. More pics will be added as I gather them. Thanks once again to everyone who attended, or

Hazel K. Larkin and Maria Duffy joined me.

who has read, reviewed, tweeted, shared, talked about the book and is helping to spread the word of my A.B. Wells endeavour across the universe!

Head above Water indeed! An author, a husband, four children and a self-published debut novel.