Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Bumming and Blowing

The title? Bumming and blowing? It actually doesn't have any sexual connotations (yes, I lower the tone so you don't have to). The Belfast side of my family use this phrase when they think somebody is boasting. "Him? Ach, he's just bumming and blowing again..."

Why is this titled so? I've been thinking about writing an 'end of year' blog post for a few days now, and can't help but think that it can only read as an ego trip on my part. I just want to tell everybody what a great year I had without boasting. Not easy, and the temptation is to simply say nothing. But I don't want to be ungrateful either. The year's been very good to me and my wee family. Rest assured, we've had plenty of downs to go with our ups; nobody gets an easy ride. And while I've had good luck, I've also worked my backside off. Seriously, it's quite a bit smaller than it was at the start of the year.

This being a blog that's supposed to be about reading and writing, I'll just mention one momentous day in 2013 that changed my entire life.

13/3/13, I saw the first stage performance of The Sweety Bottle and found out that I'd been accepted onto a funded creative writing PhD at Queen's University Belfast. Thank you to Brassneck Theatre Company and all who've helped me at QUB's School of English (staff and fellow students alike). Some individuals deserve more thanks than others, but I'm too scared that I'll leave somebody out and offend them, so no list of names. I do need to thank Blasted Heath, however, the awesome digital publisher that believes in and pushes my prose beyond all my expectations.

But, yeah... 13/3/13 (or 3/13/13 US Style, though I prefer the symmetry on our side of the pond). That was an incredible Wednesday, dampened only by the fact that one of my sons managed to get something stuck up his nose and had to be taken to hospital. Up, up, down. But even the nose incident was a nice reminder of how good I have it. My wife took care of the boy and sat with him for hours in A&E while I watched the play with my father (and co-writer of The Sweety Bottle), my mother, my eldest sister, her husband, their baby (in bump form) and a bunch of Brennan family members who were able to attend.

I have one resolution for 2014. Work harder.

If I continue to put the effort in, I get to be a full-time student and writer -- that's right, no office day-job for the foreseeable future -- until well into 2016. After that...?

Let's just hope I don't fuck up, eh?

Happy new year, people.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Pictures Mean Prizes

I'm running a giveaway on my Gerard Brennan (writer) Facebook Page.

It runs a little something like this:

"Check out the Blasted Heath newsletter about the "12 Days of Kindle" sale over at Amazon UK. WEE ROCKETS is one of the books selected! 


Help get WEE ROCKETS up those charts by buying a Kindle copy for a mere 99p.

AND, if you post a picture of the cover to prove it's on your Kindle, iPad, tablet or whatever you read ebooks on (tag me in a Facebook post to alert me) [edit Sunday 29/12/13: screen-grab or take a digital photo with your smart phone, whatever works], I'll send you a copy of my novella, BOUNCE, anywhere in the world. Even if you bought WEE ROCKETS months ago, you're eligible simply by posting a pic.

I have 5 copies of BOUNCE here, so first five pics scoop the prizes.


You can listen to a few chapters from BOUNCE here, BTW.

EDIT: Sunday 29/12/13 20:48 GMT

Five winners(?) are:

Ryan Bracha
Garry McElherron
Katrina Tia Charles
Kieran Doherty
Brandon Nagel

I'll be sending the booklets out tomorrow.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

T'is the season to read ebooks...

As if 2013 hasn't been kind enough to me (I'll write about that in a few days), at the very end I find out that WEE ROCKETS has made it into the Amazon '12 Days of Kindle 2013' sale. Until the 5th of January, you can snag my novel for 99p. This is due to the awesome strategy skills of the folks at Blasted Heath. They rock.

I've spotted some other great Blasted Heath books in the sale. Look for Douglas Lindsay and Anonymous-9 as well.

And, I see Declan Burke has two top quality offerings on there too. Happy, happy days. Get some reading done, people.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

It's almost time...

Sorry I didn't get you a card, but this is better anyway. Happy Whatever You Celebrate! Unless you don't celebrate anything, in which case, fair play to ye. Hope you have another excuse to get temporarily lazy at some point in the year.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Breaking Point Cover

I probably could have come up with a better title for this post, but I opted for a no nonsense approach. Also, my brain is drained. Possibly broken.

But here, check out this cover, right? The sequel to THE POINT will be published as an ebook/novella by Blasted Heath in the very near future. When exactly? I'll let you know, promise.

Meanwhile, the Blasted Heath version of THE POINT is only 69p on Amazon UK and I imagine it's similarly cheap on Amazon US. Looks like it might be $1.12, but I'm not sure the prices display correctly on our side of the pond.

If you've read THE POINT in it's original incarnation as a Pulp Press Paperback, you should know that while I had another tinker with the writing before re-releasing it, the story remains the same. No plot changes, just a spit-shine. Also, you should know that I appreciate you picking up the book (or any other title I've had published) in any shape or form. Thank you.

Here's what Ken Bruen thought of THE POINT.

“...a Coen Brothers dream, via Belfast... Gerard Brennan grabs the mantle of the new mystery prince of Northern Ireland..." - Ken Bruen


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Yeah, another meme...

It struck a chord, though. I was always fond of the Bill and Ted "Be excellent to each other!" philosophy. This has a slightly sinister edge, but I think I'm okay with it. Must be the Christmas cheer.

If I might offer a little constructive criticism (anonymous, I mean well, please don't destroy my website), I'd suggest the creator drop some of those capital letters. Or capitalise the 'no' on both occasions. But that's just me.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Grind Joint

Look at this lovely book. Arrived today. I suggest you get yourself a copy, asap.

Here's what I said about the book on Twitter; "GRIND JOINT by Dana King. The spirit of THE WIRE reincarnated with JUSTIFIED charm. Gangster-rich US crime fiction at its best."

Yes, I compared a book to a couple of TV shows. But I feel okay about it. Dana King has a few tongue-in-cheek references to TV shows included in the book, and they work well. They give the story a real sense of self-awareness, you know? No? Well I know what I mean.

I hope to read more from this universe. There's one badass character in particular that I'd love to find out more about. Must start hassling Dana to write it.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

You'd be hard pressed to think of a better definition...

Paul Bishop (co-creator of the Fight Card series) posted this on Facebook earlier. It really struck a chord.

Writers might be big ol' bags of crazy, but they're never bored.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Detectives Beyond the Octagon

I was delighted to have Peter Rozovsky weigh in on my Fight Card title, WELCOME TO THE OCTAGON, the other day. Please do visit his blog, Detectives Beyond Borders and look beyond the Octagon post. Here's a taster of his opinion:

"Brennan knows how to keep a story moving, planting narrative hooks toward the ends of his chapters and throwing in at least one character wrinkle unlikely to have shown up in an old-time boxing story. But what may have impressed me most is his engagement with MMA, a sport until now shoved somewhere back in my consciousness next to street luge, half-pipe, and bicycle motocross. MMA is compounded of styles and techniques taken from many fighting sports, and Welcome to the Octagon is full of observations about the resulting complexity and the demands it places on the fighters."

Thank you, Peter!

The post kicked off an interesting comment thread that highlights two very opposite opinions of the sport. Swing by, check out the original post, and please do scan the comments section. It touches on architecture in Barcelona and in one of my comments, I showcase my HTML skills.

MMA. Something for everybody.

BTW - although the cover gives credit to Jack Tunney for writing this story, it's a co-op pen name. This is a Belfast-based novella written by yours truly. Check out the Fight Card website for more info on the team of authors writing in the series.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Guest Post - Steve Cavanagh on Killer Books, meeting your heroes and the verisimilitudes of poo.

Stephen King is probably the greatest living writer.

If you read that statement and immediately thought it was wrong and such names as Martin Amis, Jonathan Franzen or Salman Rushdie sprung to mind, you would be well advised to stop reading at this point, have a lie down and then enjoy some herbal tea.

I’m not an intellectual. I don’t enjoy literature (whatever that is) as much as crime fiction or thrillers. Kingsley Amis, Martin’s father, felt the same way. He liked thrillers and preferred Ian Fleming to Flaubert (much to the chagrin of his son).

By the way, in case you’re wondering whether you yourself are an intellectual, you can always tell by taking Billy Connolly’s test.

The test is simple – If you can listen to the William Tell overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger, you’re an intellectual.

Still here?


Apart from his considerable gifts as a novelist, Stephen King is a marvellous wit, raconteur and a man of considerable patience. One of his tales concerns an encounter with an elderly fan who had particularly poor timing. When touring, King would usually spend his early mornings doing the rounds of various television and radio breakfast shows, promoting his latest novel. In the afternoon there would be signings and events, in the evening a dinner with booksellers and industry people before either a late flight or a ridiculously early start the next day. Even if you’re doing something that you love, that kind of schedule is exhausting and when this particular story takes place, King is at that stage of the tour where he was feeling pretty wrung out.

During one such dinner, King felt a dark and powerful force take hold of him. It started with a fever, then cold clammy skin, followed by a surge in his bowels that could only be described as ‘commanding.’ He left the table in a hurry and dashed to the newly refurbished bathrooms in the stylish 80’s restaurant where he was being treated to dinner. The bathrooms were, well, very new, in that the bathroom stalls had no doors. By that I mean, no door, not a half door, not even a screen, nothing - just a cubicle wall on either side of a proud, and very public, toilet. King rushed past the bathroom attendant who looked to be 105 years old and sat down to empty what, at that stage, felt like his very being.

Head resting against the cold tiles lining the stall, his trousers at his ankles, wondering (a) if he would ever walk again and (b) how much ice he could pack into his underwear - King shuddered, swore under his breath and closed his eyes as the ancient bathroom attendant shuffled towards him, pad and pen in hand – ‘I saw you on breakfast TV Mr King, can I have your autograph?’

Did he sign it?

Of course he did.

He’s Stephen King.

The attendant was obviously star struck and no matter what, he wanted that autograph.

I can relate to that, to an extent. Over the past year I’ve met some of my writing heroes; writers that I admire enormously and read greedily. When I met some of them I was also in the process of writing my first novel, The Defence. There was that awkward, nervy moment before I blurted out ‘oh, I kinda’ do a bit of that writin’ stuff too, you know,’ and immediately wished that statement had remained unblurted. But I needn’t have worried, Colin Bateman, John Connolly, Declan Burke, Jeffrey Deaver, Brian McGilloway and others, were more than encouraging. But I suspected that some of them had that ‘LA actor’ story in the back of their minds. You know the story -

‘Did I mention I’ve moved to LA? Yeah, I’m an actor now.’

‘Really? Which restaurant do you work in?’

That kind of thing.

If they did have that ‘LA actor’ impression in their minds, and who can blame them, then they were both kind and sensitive enough not to show it. I suspect it’s because many of them were once an aspiring, frustrated writer trying desperately to get published and maybe they had that moment when they met one of their writing heroes.

This brings me neatly to a legend of crime fiction, who must remain nameless, and their story about not meeting Lee Child. The nameless legend was at a crime writing festival and wanted to meet the creator of Jack Reacher. A group of writers were outside the venue talking to Lee Child. The unnamed legend described that awkward kind of hanging-back-thing we all do whilst nervously awaiting that opportune moment to interject and introduce oneself.

The anonymous legend waited. Some people departed. There was space to nip in and hold out an open hand to a fellow legend. He seized his chance to introduce himself to Lee Child and he duly nipped, he extended the hand, he took a breath and…. at precisely the same moment an excessively large bird turd exploded across the impeccably tailored jacket that contained Lee Child. The moment was gone, along with Lee Child who presumably departed in order to assemble his sniper rifle before exacting Reacher-esque revenge on the offending bird.

So you see, poo doesn’t always assist in meeting writing legends. Particularly when said poo is released from a high altitude.

Is there a lesson in this?

You’re damn right.

If you want to meet Lee Child, wait until he sits his ass on the toilet.

Well, actually, no, don’t do that. Lee is well over six feet tall, charming and polite, of course, but even so, if you approached him inappropriately whilst in a lavatory, he would probably snap your neck with his bare hands (a sniper rifle would be a tad unwieldy in a toilet cubicle).

The truth is, if you wanted to meet Lee Child you should have gone to Killer Books.

He’s super-cool. I met him last weekend at Brian McGilloway’s brilliantly curated Killer Books Festival in Derry/Londonderry. I met lots of other fantastic writers including – said Mr McGilloway, Andrew Pepper, Stuart Neville, Declan Burke, Gerard Brennan, Claire McGowan, Alan Glynn and fellow solicitor/writer Des Doherty and all of them made me feel really welcome. Declan and Brian even introduced me to Lee Child. It is often remarked that crime writers are overwhelmingly supportive and welcoming of new writers. So they are, and I’m immensely grateful for their generosity.

This time (being only a semi-not-yet-published-idiot with the ink still wet on my publishing contract) after a genuinely friendly chat with writers that I admire and look up to, who have no business talking to a newbie like me, but who do so because they too are super-cool, I didn’t feel so much like an actor who had just moved to LA.

Well, actually, I did - a bit.

And I suspect I always will.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

#killerbooks reading

Check out this reading from my #killerbooks novella, BOUNCE. As far as I know, you can still get free copies at Eason in Derry. The recording isn't 100% perfect, but I'd practiced it a few times by this stage. Seems a shame to let the file sit there doing nothing.

Let me know if you enjoy it. Still thinking of releasing THE POINT as an audiobook in the near future.

Guest Post -- Des Doherty on meeting heroes and teenage kicks...

What a great success the first Killer Books Festival was in Derry at the weekend. I had a fabulous time and it was an honour for me to meet so many authors and hear all about them. There is a support in the crime writing community for colleagues and friends that I rarely see in other walks of life. Also the encouragement of successful and established authors to novices like me is so much appreciated.

The success of the weekend is down to the brilliant work of the staff at the Verbal Arts Centre and of course Brian McGilloway. The launch of 'Hurt' by Brian was one of the highlights of the weekend for me. I cannot thank Brian enough for all his work over the weekend.

These events just don't happen. It was clear to me the Verbal Arts Centre and Brian put a massive amount of work into making all the pieces fit together and getting everyone in the right place at the right time. Well done.

One of those pieces was having over an hour of private time with Lee Child at Easons and buying him a filtered grande coffee with no milk. And at his request being asked to pose with his new Jack Reacher novel for a photo. Then to top it all he wanted a photo with my Valberg novel. I couldn't believe it. Then a photo of us both together when the press arrived. We talked about so many things and he gave me encouragement and advice. He really went out of his way to ask me about my novel and with a shaking hand I signed my novel for him. As I hear often in court -'I have no recollection of that'- I have no recollection of signing the book for him and I dread to think of the state of it as I was in a surreal Valberg moment. Bloody Hell.

The weekend continued into Monday night at Colin Bateman's Teenage Kicks. What a show. What brilliant songs and performances from people so young they would not even have been born when the songs were written. Middle Age Kicks are really hard to beat and Colin's musical was the perfect grand finale to a brilliant weekend. Everyone with an ounce of punk in them should get to this show. Even if you don't have an ounce of punk in you get to the show and see what you are missing. Get away from horrific reality television spectacles and support Teenage Kicks. The young actors and the young punk band will invigorate you and take you back to a time, atmosphere and attitude that perhaps we can only dream about, and write about now. The kids are united in this show and we should be united in supporting them.’

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Dad, Dad, Daddio!

The picture above was sent to me by my father and co-writer of THE SWEETY BOTTLE. The email was titled WEE ROCKETS, though he suggested an alternative in his email, "Oul Crockets, Granda Joe's Revenge".

Interesting fact, the first time I heard the term 'rocket' used in the Belfast context (translates as unpredictable, crazy, fun in a scary way) it was a family friend's description of Granda Joe. Second, third and fourth time too, I think.

This may help you understand me a little more.

Happy birthday, dad. You rock.

I'll have some #killerbooks content on the blog over the next week or two. I'm mostly reflecting on everything I experienced/learned right now.

Friday, 25 October 2013

It's a Knockout! (Bet nobody thought of that headline)

One of my favourite theatre companies, one of my favourite actors and one of my favourite sports. Half the people involved are called Gerard too... This is going to go the distance.

Check out the info from the Brassneck Theatre Company press release:

From the producers of smash-hit shows Man In The Moon, The Sweety Bottle and A Night With George, Brassneck Theatre Company will punch their way onstage in early November at the Grand Opera House with their latest production Lemonade Sandwich written by Mick Draine, directed by Tony Devlin, and starring Gerard Jordan (Game of Thrones, The Fall). 
This hard-hitting new play is based on a true story that follows a young amateur boxer Gerard McManus, who battles with drink, drugs and street violence after several tragic events unfold throughout his young life, struggling to overcome the odds and turn his life around. 
But it isn’t a story of doom and gloom, rather one of inspiration and hope as we see Gerard, with the help of his friends strive to become “UK Body For Life” champion and a successful boxing and life coach. Gerard endeavours to deal with all that life throws at him to coach Paddy Gallagher all the way to the 2010 Commonwealth Games finals in Delhi and pulls a few moves of his own in order to get halfway around the world for the chance to see his man fight for a gold medal. 
Bringing boxing to the stage, Lemonade Sandwich portrays a love of sport and sheer determination showcasing Gerard the coach, Paddy Gallagher the boxer and his Northern Irish boxing team mates in a way that has never been seen before. Gerard McManus’ story is brought to life in the play through struggle and heartache, but what is most prevalent is the ‘fight’ within him and his steely determination to help these young boxers reach their full potential. 
Director Tony Devlin believes the show highlights what a person is capable of achieving even when faced with life-changing adversity: “I’m delighted to see Lemonade Sandwich coming to the stage as it brings sport to life and attracts a brand new audience to the theatre. It’s a truly inspiring story about 
overcoming the worst that life may throw at you in order to make a real difference in the lives of others. It’s a very high impact show, definitely one that’s not to be missed. It’s sure to be a knockout!” 
Gilly Campbell, Arts Development Officer for Drama, commented: 

"The Arts Council is pleased to support Brassneck Theatre Company's production of Lemonade Sandwich through the Small Grants Lottery fund. This powerful play will engage, enthuse and entertain audiences and I encourage everyone to go along and be inspired by this wonderful production". 
Tickets available online - (click the link above) Or alternatively call the Grand Opera House box office on 028 9024 1919 
Date: Tuesday 29th October
Time: 11am 
Venue: City Centre Gym, 2-14 Little Donegall St, Belfast, Antrim BT1 2JD 
Attendees: Boxing trainer Gerard McManus, boxer Paddy Gallagher, writer Mick 
Draine, director Tony Devlin, actor Gerard Jordan 
All welcome! 
 ***** ENDS ***** 
For further information and to arrange interviews/review etc., please contact: Niall Cullen on 07984 804151 or email niall@brassnecktheatrecompany.com 
For more information on Brassneck Theatre Company visit: www.brassnecktheatrecompany.com

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

George McFly Day!

I got the first batch of WEE ROCKETS paperbacks today. Opening that box made me so happy. I've been dreaming about seeing this book in print for years. It didn't happen the conventional way, but feck it. These are changed and challenging times as far as publishing goes. The reviews and sales of the Blasted Heath e-book were enough to convince me that the novel deserved a dead-tree version.

So, I'll have a small number of copies to bring with me to the KILLER BOOKS festival in Derry 1st - 3rd November. You can get all the details of that mega weekend a few posts down.

Here's hoping I can sell a few, eh?

Now that I've seen how gorgeous it is, I'll be ordering more and will sell them directly (payments via paypal most likely), signed and/or dedicated if that's your thing, to anybody that wants one.

Form an orderly virtual queue there, will you?

Just contact me by email or through one of the social medias. You'll find links in the previous post.



I'm a sucker for the aul buy one get one free deal come grocery time. It's not just me, is it?

If not, here's my wee attempt at a BOGOF deal:

Buy a copy of WEE ROCKETS in paperback (Yes! That happened!) from Amazon UK or US. Send me a picture of you reading said tome (with your permission to post it here) via Facebook, Twitter or the email address over on the upper right there, and I'll send you a signed copy of THE POINT or WELCOME TO THE OCTAGON (your choice) in paperback absolutely free. I'll even pay for postage and pen ink. Extra points (and a mystery prize if I can think of one) if your pic makes me laugh.

I can't do this forever, so for now, let's say that the first three wonderful folks to send me the pic win. If it goes well I might extend this. If there's no interest at all, I'll shrug and say that I don't care, but really I'll be a wee bit hurt. Then I'll get over it.

I believe I've laid all my cards on the table. Your move.

P.S. If you prefer to support your local bookshop, fair fecks to you. I'll run another comp if/when an independent bookshop stocks some of the copies I've ordered for myself. It might take a few weeks to sort, but we'll get there.

Monday, 21 October 2013


Killer Books, y'all. Check it out. My mug's in there, somewhere near the back.

Click here to access the KILLER BOOKS programme.

I am so looking forward to this. The list of writers attending is unreal.

Why are you still reading this blog post? Click the link.

Friday, 18 October 2013

You're Welcome

Right folks, consider this a heads-up. UFC 166 is on tomorrow night. I'm going to watch it (until I fall asleep -- main event is meant to start at 3am GMT) and I'll enjoy it.

And since MMA is on my mind, I thought I'd push my novella, WELCOME TO THE OCTAGON.

It's a Belfast-set, modern-day, action-packed story about a man who dreams of fighting in the big leagues. And the PAPERBACK version (yes, an actual dead-tree book, all you non-electronic-readers) will be available for £3.99 on Amazon UK or $4.99 on Amazon US until Monday. Then I'm setting the prices at £7.99 and $9.99 for a long-long time.*

This weekend is your last chance to get WELCOME TO THE OCTAGON for half price, guys.

Read the first chapter for FREE by clicking on the cover image on Amazon.

Or take McDroll's word for it. I especially like the fact that this review was written by a non-MMA fan:

"If you enjoyed Fight Club, you'll love this. Life on the tough side of Belfast as illegal fights are held in the upstairs rooms of pubs. Guys pummel each other to near death as bets are taken in the shadows. What motivates these fighters? For Mickey, it's his eight year old daughter Lily he fights for; keeping the wolf from the door and taking care of her since her mother's death. But when Mickey tries to go 'legal' he discovers why his new manger Swifty's offer seems too good to be true. Great story, fight action well described and a good old fashioned goodies v baddies showdown. You don't need to be a fight fan to enjoy this - give it a go!"

*Kindle prices will also increase on Monday. Currently (typing this at 11:08 GMT 19/10/2013) £0.99 UK and $0.99 US. They will be £1.99 and $2.99 on Monday.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Paperback Blighters

So, this is happening to the WEE ROCKETS:

Click the image for a closer look.

Yes, thanks to the cool and ridiculously sober Kyle MacRae, WEE ROCKETS will soon be available in print format. I'm hoping that it'll be ready in time for the KILLER BOOKS festival in Derry (1st to 3rd November) and that somebody will buy a copy.

I'm pretty excited about this, you know. WEE ROCKETS has sold relatively well as an ebook, but I'm dying to see it in dead tree format. Here's hoping it turns out as well as I've imagined.

If anybody is interested in picking up a signed copy who can't make it to the festival, drop me a line and we'll work something out.

Friday, 4 October 2013


So, this is happening:

The Derry Journal wrote about it yesterday, and you can see that article right here thanks to the wonderful world wide web. It's really whet my appetite for the event. I'll be there as an author and a fan.

Brian McGilloway includes a longer list of authors who are due to take part in the event on his Facebook page. For those of you who don't do the social media thing, fair play to you, and here's what Brian said yesterday:

"I'm hugely excited to be curating Killer Books at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, supported by Easons, from 1-3rd Nov. Guest authors include Lee Child, Ann Cleeves,Colin BatemanStuart NevilleClaire McGowanDeclan BurkeDeclan HughesLouise PhillipsWilliam RyanJohn McAllisterGerard Brennan, Andrew Pepper, Alan Glynn, Arlene Hunt, Paul Charles, Dave Barclay, Garbhan Downey, Des Doherty and more. I'll also be launching Hurt on Friday 1st in the Verbal Arts at 7pm. There will also be CSI demonstrations, Victorian murder tours of the city walls, story telling, special kids events and much, much more. 

For further details about all the events and to book tickets call the VAC on 028 71266946."

There's going to be SO MUCH FUN! If you love crime fiction as much as I do, like.

Monday, 16 September 2013


Peolple are lovely, aren't they? Admittedly, I'm in a very good mood today, but they really are.

Here are a few things some lovely people have said about my writing.

Paul D. Brazill gives WEE DANNY a short review/shout-out on You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?

Seana Graham reviews WEE DANNY as well, over at Not New For Long.

Eva Dolan reviews WELCOME TO THE OCTAGON in the latest issue of Crime Factory (page 143).

And for the first time (to my knowledge), my work has been reviewed in French. Quite extensively. If Google Translate is to be trusted, it's an informed and positive review. I think. Any French-speakers out there want to confirm that for me? The review is by Dominique Jeannerod and it's posted on Europolar.

Je suis heureux.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Man In The Moon by Pearse Elliott

A promo video for MAN IN THE MOON, Pearse Elliott's new play, starring Ciaran Nolan, brought to you by Brassneck Theatre Company.

I'm looking forward to seeing this in a couple of weeks. What about you?

Dates and venue pop up at the end of the video.

If you're not in reasonable travelling distance to Belfast, consider this promo a tasty wee short film. Let's make this thing to go viral, yeah?

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

An Interview - Tara West

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

I’m working on some narrative non-fiction, which is the fancy name for a memoir. It’s a book about my experience of depression following the publication of my first novel, Fodder, how perfectionism can be both a constructive and destructive force, and how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help even the most tenacious of depressives.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of your typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

I write even when I don’t have ideas, because bashing away at a keyboard seems to help ideas form. Writing time is different to normal time – it goes fantastically, disappointingly, quickly. I forget to eat, drink and sleep when I write. I’m in another world, and after a long period of writing time, I feel like I’ve been meditating.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

In my day job, I’m Creative Director at Belfast-based advertising agency Genesis. I come up with ideas for campaigns, develop scripts and oversee creative production. I also have an 8 year old daughter, who is made of starshine and diamonds, and in whose wake I stand transfixed.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

I’m more a writer of contemporary fiction rather than crime fiction, but when it comes to breaking into anything, plain old-fashioned doggedness is the key. Hang in there. The more you write, the better you get, so believe in what you do, even if you don’t always believe in yourself.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

There is a superb novella called Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos. It’s inspired by Mexican crime fiction, and is about a crime family, but it’s more literary fiction than crime fiction. The concept is so simple, the protagonist so genuine, and the prose so tight and controlled – it completely blew my socks off. I wish I’d written it.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

I’m reading a hilarious satire of Amercian entrepreneurship called Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt. Ridiculous concept, but so warmly and skillfully written, it’s a joy to read.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Once I finish the memoir, my agent, New Yorker Paul Feldstein, whose agency is based in Northern Ireland, will find a publisher for it. Well, I hope he will! Paul is as dogged as I am, so I’m optimistic. After that, it will be a return to fiction.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

God, yeah. I wouldn’t have burnt out after my first novel and lost five years to depression. But in a way, almost destroying myself is what it took to produce Fodder, so I can’t truly regret it. It’s not something I’d advise anyone to try though.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

After Fodder was published, I was invited to appear at various festivals and events, all of which I really enjoyed – except one. I took part in a panel on a high profile London arts show, and was asked to decipher a poem by an Irish poet who was known for her indecipherable poetry. And she was sitting right beside me, in all her flowing, ethnic, Irish colleen, impenetrable glory. I’m a novelist, not a poet. I had no idea what it was about. So I waffled. And giggled. I made a face and looked like a dick. Then I melted into a puddle and poured myself into a bin. I developed a deep-seated fear of poets after that, but there was a silver lining – my resulting phobia was in the inspiration for Poets Are Eaten as a Delicacy in Japan.

Q10. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and, in particular, Damian Smyth, have been crucial to the development of my writing career, and not just in terms of financial support, although that has certainly played a part. Damian’s belief in the quality of my work gave me a real boost, when I needed it most. I thought I was crap. Damian put me right. Thanks, Damian.  

Thank you, Tara West!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

An Interview - Anthony Quinn

Q1. What are you writing at the minute? 

I'm currently on the edit of my Irish War of Independence thriller featuring Michael Collins.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of your typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day? 

My writing day forms the book-ends of my real day. I usually start with a cup of strong tea at about 5.30am or 6am and work through to about 8am. Then I'll do a few hours in the evening once I've begged our four insomniac children to go to bed. I find tea-drinking very helpful, so I consume gallons of it. Some days rivers, in fact.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing? 

Carousing, bull-fighting, big-game hunting, drinking absinthe - sadly I'm not Ernest Hemmingway. I work as a part-time journalist and look after the children for the rest of the week. A great excuse to spend afternoons exploring rivers and forests.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene? 

Read broadly and deeply. Read philosophy, history, classic literature, foreign literature, newspapers, magazines, anything you can get your hands on. Even the pieces of paper you find in the street. Correct that; ESPECIALLY the pieces of paper you find in the street.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year? 

I've been reading a Russian fellow called Dostoyevsky. Wonderful sense of noir. Apart from that Gayle Curtis' Shell-house is a hidden gem. Her haunting sea-side setting has a mesmerising effect. And my interviewer's Fireproof was an entertaining read with its teflon-coated black humour. Worth the cover price for the description of Lucifer, alone. Elsewhere, Declan Burke and Ken Bruen continue to prove they are masters at the height of their powers.

Q6. What are you reading right now? 

The Psalms, in German. Seriously. A wonderful antidote to the corrupting influence of writing about the criminal mind.

Q7. Plans for the future? 

A good night's sleep.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently? 

Non, je ne regrette rien. 

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience? 

As a rookie journalist I once managed to offend the newspaper's Polish readers by misspelling a single word in a front page headline. Something to do with the death of the Pope and the unfortunate similarity between the Russian and Polish words for goodbye.

Q10. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about? 

No thanks.

Thank you, Anthony Quinn!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Bit About The Other NI Crime Writers...

This is meant to be a blog that promotes writers from Northern Ireland. It hasn't been fulfilling that brief lately. That's mostly down to spending more time writing and promoting my own work, but I'm still a fan of Northern Irish crime fiction, and since my timetable is going to change dramatically in the next few weeks allowing me more time for the blog from October onwards, I should address this imbalance. And maybe look at editing that last sentence.

No time!

Okay, so, at long last I've started reading Anthony Quinn's DISAPPEARED. So far so good. I'll mention it again when I'm finished.

Earlier this year, I read and loved Claire McGowan's THE LOST. It's the first of a series featuring Paula Maguire. Get on it now.

I also read Stuart Neville's RATLINES. It's much different than the "Belfast Trilogy" (which I'm hoping will become a quadrilogy some day), but also a great read. It's Neville in James Ellroy mode.

And then there's Brian McGilloway. I read THE NAMELESS DEAD most recently, but I have to mention LITTLE GIRL LOST since it recently dominated the Kindle charts ahead of the release of HURT, a new Lucy Black novel, and one I'm very excited about.

And I never talk about NI crime fiction without mentioning Adrian McKinty. The last of his I read was I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET. Another Sean Duffy novel, and a step-up in cool for the character. Must be down to the "evidence" he smokes. Also looking forward to the third installation of the Duffy series.

So there. I still read and appreciate the contemporary crime clique. And I'm hungry for more. Bring it on.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Point Returns

It's an oldie but a goodie. Following the unfortunate demise of Pulp Press, THE POINT is now available on Kindle once more, thanks to those Blasted Heathens, Al and Kyle. Really excited about this and chuffed by the new cover. Anybody who's read it should get the significance of the image right away. If you haven't read it, now's your chance for a measly 99p. You can't even get an ice cream with a flake in it for that these days.

 Anyway, said cover, a blurb and some nice things said by some rather splendid writers:

Paul Morgan is a bad influence on his brother, Brian. When Paul crosses one thug too many, the cider-fuelled duo flee Belfast for Warrenpoint, the sleepy seaside resort of their childhood memories. For Brian a new life in The Point means going straight and falling in love with Rachel while Paul graduates from carjacking by unusual means to low-level racketeering. Brian can't help being dragged into his brother's bungling schemes, but Rachel can be violently persuasive herself . . . and she isn't the only one who wants to see an end to Paul's criminal career.

THE POINT is a 27,000-word novella by the author of WEE ROCKETS and FIREPROOF.

What They're Saying About THE POINT

"The Point is the real deal — the writing is razor sharp, the characters engaging, the ending a blast. From start to finish it's true Northern Noir, crafted with style and wit." – Brian McGilloway 

"The Point is top stuff. Engaging from the start, the characters are loveable, the story is strong and the pace never lets up." – Adrian McKinty 

"…a Coen Brothers dream, via Belfast… Gerard Brennan grabs the mantle of the new mystery prince of Northern Ireland…" – Ken Bruen

"It needs to be said that Gerard Brennan's The Point is terrific. Scorchingly funny, black humour at its finest and the most inventive car theft ever!" – Arlene Hunt

"Noir from Norn Iron! A lean slice of grindhouse from Belfast's new crime hack." – Wayne Simmons

It'll also be available on Nook US, Kobo and Apple in the next week or so. Get some!

By the way, have you signed up for the Blasted Heath newsletter? You really should.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Wee Danny -- Assorted Links

The good folk at Blasted Heath have got a web page dedicated to WEE DANNY and links to all the websites it's available from: Kindle, Kobo, Apple, etc. Click here and see if they can accomodate your e-reader/tablet of choice.

But if you need a little more convincing to part with your dollars (or a fifty pence coin in the cases of Amazon and Apple) have a look at these links to awesome blogs that have either interviewed me, reviewed WEE DANNY or both.

Just A Guy That Likes To Read -- interview and review.

Big Al's Books and Pals -- review.

Do Some Damage -- interview.

Been Caught Reading (Katy O'Dowd) -- interview.

I'll add to this list as and when, depending on luck and kindness.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Write Sober, Edit Sober

I know this isn't Hemmingway or King

Author Craig Wallwork posted an interesting article on his Facebook page today. It concerns creativity and addiction for the most part, and how the two seem to be connected. Read it here, if your interest is peeked.

I'll put my hand up and admit that I don't do the addiction myth in writers any favours (or I do it too many favours depending on your POV). Check my Twitter timeline and you'll see references to booze, the odd picture of a particular tipple that I'm just delighted to be enjoying and conversations with real-life friends about meeting up for a drink.

While I'm being honest, I do go through periods of drinking too much. And I have to correct my behaviour from time to time. I can do that, I'm lucky. But in the back of my mind I have an image of an elastic band. You can only stretch it so many times before it shows signs of wear. Eventually it'll snap. You heard of the saying, "The devil's greatest trick was to convince the world he didn't exist," right? And drink is the devil's vomit according to some.

Don't worry. All this talk of the devil isn't my way of turning to religion for guidance. I'm Irish. We talk about devils and fairies at the drop of a hat. A big green hat with a black band, gold buckle and shamrocks hanging off the brim.

But I do want to highlight another saying that is attributed to a writer of godlike status in many minds. Not mine, by the way, but that's more to do with a deficit in my reading. I mean, I've heard he can sling a word or two.

Ernest Hemmingway said, "Write drunk, edit sober."

A friend of mine knows far more about Hemmingway than I do. Has studied his work and his reputation. He reckons ol' Ernie was full of shit on that one. Granted, this friend no longer drinks, so that may have coloured his perception. On the other hand, I was delighted to hear him challenge it.

If you've read as much Stephen King as I have, you'll have encountered the legend that he doesn't remember writing CUJO due to drink and drugs. Something he regrets, naturally. My impish nature is tempted to suggest that that doesn't sound too bad to me. Go on a bender and still produce a book that became a movie? One that still gets referenced today when people see big, mean dogs? Have that little nugget of badassery in your past?

But then family man me thinks about the other stuff Mister King must have missed. And it makes me a bit sad.

Now, I don't talk for every writer out there. A lot of the time, I'm too distracted or busy to talk for me. Occaisionally, I'm way too drunk to talk for me, but that doesn't stop me if you bump into me. Apologies in advance and in hindsight to all those that suffered my booze-breath and disjointed conversations. But right here, right now, I'm sober, coffee-buzzed and looking forward to a couple of cold ones later. Because I don't plan to write tonight or tomorrow morning.

Yeah, writers should write every day. I don't.

There are plenty of things I should do that I don't.

There are only so many things I can't do when I decide I want to do them, though. I can't watch an adult eat a banana without giggling (I know, I'm suitably abashed, but bananas are for kids and monkeys, people) and I can't write when I'm drunk. Not won't, not don't, just can't.

And I thank the God that may or may not exist for that.

Writing is work. Work that I enjoy. Even so, work first, play later.

And consider the notion that the devil might actually exist.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Reflections on The Sweety Bottle

It’s a bittersweet thing when your play comes to the end of its run. I’ve felt it a number of times now for The Sweety Bottle. We were spoiled by that first outing (thanks again to ACNI) and yet I experienced a wee sense of loss after it finished up at The Roddie McCorley Club (where I saw it in all of its glory for the very first time). Then again at the end of its run at The Baby Grand. And once more after it finished its regional tour. I only caught the Downpatrick date (where it brought down the house), but it was really lovely to think about the play out and about on its own. Like the idiot teenage son you kicked out of home for his own good. Basically, the words I penned with my da were making people laugh while I chilled on my sofa. Mind-bending.

And then last week we had a dig at the big stage in The Grand Opera House. Let me repeat; The Sweety Bottle rocked the GOH auditorium…

I stopped writing this for ten minutes to really appreciate that. Thousands of people saw the play last week. THOUSANDS!

So, thank you to Tony Devlin and all the Brassneckers who brought it from the page to the stage. Niall Cullen told me it would happen after that first night at the Roddie’s. I believed him but didn’t appreciate the gravity of his promise. And thank you to the actors who put their hearts and souls into the performance, night after night. Marty Maguire, Katie Tumelty, Lalor Roddy, Ciaran Nolan, Gerard Jordan and Gordon Fulton… youse are buck-loop and utterly brilliant. I’ll be dropping your names like hot spuds for the rest of my writing career.

And Carolyn Stewart at U105… Your cheque’s in the post.

I’m confident my da, Joe Brennan, shares the same sentiment.

Special thanks to the extended Brennan family for all the support. The play honours my grandfather and grandmother, and by extension, their legendary brood. I couldn’t ask for more.

Actually… I wouldn’t say no to another run. Just saying.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Wee Danny by Gerard Brennan

Wee Danny

by Gerard Brennan

Incarcerated in a home for young offenders, Wee Danny Gibson has learned how to act in front of his teachers, his educational psychologist and the institute's supervisors. And if he continues to keep his nose clean, he could be rewarded with a day-trip to Castle Ward.

But good behaviour is no easy task when his fellow inmates are determined to get in his face. Then there’s Conan 'The Barbarian' Quinlan, a gentle giant who Danny feels compelled to look out for.

Friend or liability? Danny can't be sure, but he knows he needs to stay focussed on that little taste of freedom.

If you've read Wee Rockets, you'll love Wee Danny!

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Coming to iBooks soon...

Monday, 22 July 2013

An Interview - Desmond J. Doherty

Left to right: Eamon McCann, Garbhan Downey, Desmond J. Doherty

Desmond J. Doherty was born in Derry and has worked there all his life. He is married with two daughters. Valberg is his debut novel. Visit his website here.

What are you writing at the minute?

A Valberg stand alone.Two pathologists are arguing about the ‘gold standard’ of the final exam a human being is involved in – their autopsy. Abigail Burns is on holiday and Valberg needs straight answers. He doesn’t like the two pathologists arguing but one has used the phrase ‘the whole gamut of a criminal investigation’. Valberg likes the word ‘gamut’. He’s focusing on that word to stop him losing his temper. He needs Abigail. I’m just wondering if I will bring her back or not.

Can you give us an idea of your typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

Endlessly rocking. I’m always working things out, making notes and drawing diagrams. My drawing is terrible but my notebooks are full of them. In between the law, two kids and my beautiful wife I keep at it. Always drawing on ideas from people I meet and situations I’m in. I go to bed late and get up early. I write a lot early in the morning.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Thinking about what I’m going to write. I work out quite a bit in my head before I put pen to paper or fingers on a keyboard. Thought processes are endless. Someone could be talking to me and I’m thinking why the body of the deceased, in an idea I have, weighs more after death. What’s inside the body of the deceased? Or why does another body weigh less? I play guitar in my band Revivor. We are putting the finishing touches to our new album, The Diving Bell. That takes up a lot of any free time I can get. Then there’s the kids…

Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the genre fiction scene?

Don’t worry about style. Like Bruce Lee, be no style but all styles. Be formless and adapt. Get the story down. Get your plan solid. I can’t stress that enough. You must have a plan and for me, diagrams. Write about what you know about. Be truthful to yourself. It makes writing so bloody easy then. In fact, as bloody as you want. Give your characters quirks. All the usual stuff. Don’t make them boring. Make them human and vulnerable.

Which writers have impressed you this year?

Brian McGilloway impresses me every year. Dave Duggan, Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo and Lee Child. But how could you not be impressed by that list?

What are you reading right now?

Robert Bolt’s play ‘A Man For All Seasons’ not only for pleasure but research. That whole thing about the devil being entitled to due process of law is just fantastic. But I’m enveloped in Spanish criminal law books and visiting Malaga soon for research! It’s my second trip for a short conversation Valberg has with a Spanish counterpart in Malaga. I want to get the details perfect and have a holiday with my family at the same time. Everyone a winner!

I’m only really this year coming to terms with Human Chain by Seamus Heaney. I just read, read and read it again and every time I find something new.

Plans for the future?

To improve my writing and get better and to learn from others who I admire. I’d love to be able to learn to play La Villa Strangiato by Rush on the guitar. I wish I could write as well as Alex Lifeson plays the guitar. I really mean that.

With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

No. No regrets. I believe this is the right time for me. I’ve amassed a career of experiences in the dark art of law but I feel youthful enough to realise I am still learning more every single second I am alive. I feel confident about my work and my writing now and I have the brilliant Guildhall Press in Derry and the Arts Council to thank for all their support.

Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

That’s easy. I walked into Guildhall Press one day full of confidence for an edit meeting. Instead of a greeting the Managing Editor, Paul Hippsley, gently reminded me I could not have a character checking CCTV footage and photographs if he had already been murdered and buried. Yes, I thought, good point well made.

Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

A colleague was asked that question once at the end of an interview for a judicial appointment. He got the job but has told me he’s still trying to think of a more detailed answer to the one he gave. I will give the same answer he gave and it is no. But I will think about it if we can agree on that and I will get back to you.

Well just one last thing.There is no truth in the rumour that when I returned William Peter Blatty’s ‘The Exorcist’ to the library in Brooke Park Derry that it caused it to burn to the ground. Wasn’t my fault. I’m not apologising.

Thank you, Desmond J Doherty!