In Which Paintings Scare Me

There were two films that really scared me as a kid – and both of them had one rather unusual feature in common.

‘The Witches’ and ‘Ghostbusters 2.’

Let’s look at ‘The Witches’ first. Remember the scene where the grandmother tells Luke about her first encounter with witches? If you don’t, just watch the clip below.

That clip ended a little bit sooner than it should have. After that, the grandmother told us that the girl in the painting would change positions from time to time but nobody ever saw her move. And freakiest of all, she got older and older, until one day she simply wasn’t there anymore.

Why did I choose the film over the brilliant book? Because in the film we got to see the painting. And in my parents’ house, we had a painting of a cottage in the woods just like that one, which you can imagine I was terrified of. I honestly think that the clip above is one of the most frightening scenes in cinematic history. Getting trapped for eternity in a lonely painting is such a horrifying prospect. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

Which brings me to ‘Ghostbusters 2’, which also had a person trapped in a painting at its core. Except this time, the person trapped is the evil ghost Vigo the Carpathian.

I loved everything about ‘Ghostbusters’ growing up; the cartoon, the toys, the first film. So I couldn’t wait to see the sequel when it came out. I went to the cinema with my mother and brother. I took the aisle seat and waited to laugh and jump in equal measures. And this was all going so well, until Vigo stepped out of the painting.

I distinctly remember that moment. It’s stayed with me more than any other cinema-gonig experience. Sitting there, in the aisle seat, I was convinced that Vigo was going to come walking down the steps from behind to get me. I even looked over my shoulder a few times to make sure he wasn’t there.

Thankfully he wasn’t. But even to this day, if I see a painting like the one in ‘The Witches’ or a poster with Vigo’s snarling face on it, I can’t help but swallow drily, avery my gaze and hurry away.


So with that, I’ll wish you all a HAPPY HALLOWE- Wait a second! There’s a painting over my desk I never saw before…

I think I’ll just take a closer look. Be right back…


What a weird painti-ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

One Day

People often ask me – (as I’m sure every writer gets asked) – what my average day is like. What time do I get up in the mornings? How long do I work for normally? Or, for that matter, how do I make myself work when I could be just watching a Jeremy Kyle marathon?!

So, to address all those questions and more, here’s my normal day.

The first thing you should know is that there is no such thing as a normal day. I have a basic routine but this can change at the drop of a hat, depending on a lot of different factors. I like to stick to this routine as much as possible, especially when I’m working on early drafts of a book, as it keeps me focused; I’m in the world of the book, thinking and feeling what the characters think and feel. Rather than calling the following a normal day, let’s call it an ideal day.


7:21 – Wake up.

I know that 7.21 is a strangely precise time to wake but it comes from some ridiculous study I heard about on the radio a few years ago. Apparently the best time to wake every morning is 7.21. I don’t know if it is or not. But I did set my alarm to that after hearing it and have left it since. It works for me, that’s all that matters.


8:30 – Get up.

Yes. It takes me that long to wake fully. I like to listen to the radio during that time.

Once I’m out of bed, I’ll fill a Thermos mug with fresh coffee – (which I have on a timer!) I prefer using a Thermos mug for two reasons. Firstly, it keeps the coffee warm for almost my entire writing session. Secondly, it means I don’t have to get up from my desk for a refill.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Ink!

I got a new tattoo and it’s very bookish.

before and after - tattoo


I’ve wanted this one for a LONG time. I came up with the idea and the fantastic tattooist designed it for me. It took about 2 hours under the needle but was so worth it.


The quote, by the way, is from Matilda by Roald Dahl, my favourite book growing up.

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

Arthur Quinn and the AMAZING LETTER!

Just before Christmas, I received some unexpected post…





I was really intrigued and so opened it up. But the design didn’t stop on the envelope…




A young reader called Niamh Dwyer from Leitrim sent the amazing letter to me. I couldn’t have been more delighed to receive such a beautiful and well-written letter. THANKS NIAMH!

The Alan Early Boys Book Club

Recently a group of girls in my hometown of Mohill set up their own Jacqueline Wilson Girls Book Club. The boys wanted their own so an enterprising bunch established the Boys Book Club and they named it after yours truly!

I can’t stress how honored I was when I heard and I was of course delighted when the librarian Aoife invited me to speak. So I met both clubs today – (the girls also wanted to come along) – and I had a wonderful time. I gave them a sneak peek of Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper and at the end, club founder Scott presented me with an application form. I promptly filled it out (co signed by a parent of course!) and am now an honorary member of a book club bad named after me. Which is slightly weird but INCREDIBLY COOL.

Thanks to Aoife and all in Mohill library for a fantastic time!


Exciting Update Time!

I’m delighted and excited and thrilled and any-other-happy-adjective-you-can-think-of to reveal that I have signed to an agent! His name is Ben Illis and he’s an Associate Agent at A.M. Heath. The agency has been around since 1919 and include such luminaries as George Orwell, Flann O’Brien, Hilary Mantel and the late, great (and neighbour of mine) John McGahern. Ben himself has a really exciting client list with a couple of books due out this year that I personally can’t wait to read.

Anyway, this is a big step for any writer and I’m overjoyed by it. I can’t wait to get working properly with Ben and to continue bringing lots of exciting, adventure-packed stories to bookshops near you!

‘Bye 2012

One year is coming to an end and the other is right around the corner. Time to look back (and look forward.) So here are some things I liked/disliked over the last 12 months and things I’ve planned for 2013.


Highlights of 2012:

  • Being chosen for the first ever UNESCO Dublin City of Literature Childrens reading project
  • Meeting so so SO many Arthur Quinn fans and forgetting about any earlier book events nerves
  • Matilda: the Musical
  • Barcelona
  • The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
  • Locke & Key: Clockworks by Joe Hill
  • City of Bohane by Kevin Barry
  • The Dark Tower series by Stephen King
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • Croc & Bird by Alexis Deacon
  • ZomB by Darren Shan
  • Argo, Looper, Paranorman, Skyfall, Cabin in the Woods
  • Boardwalk Empire Season 3
  • Finally watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from start to finish!

Lowlights of 2012:

  • Prometheus, Dark Knight Rises
  • Homeland Season 2
  • HHhH by Laurent Binet (didn’t live up to the hype at all.)

Plans for 2013:

  • The release of Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper (I’ve been looking forward to this one coming out since before book one! There are some big surprises coming and I can’t wait for them to be finally revealed.)
  • I have a VERY rough idea for a short film that I’d like to make. It’s been a few years since I wrote/directed anything so it’ll be nice to get behind the camera again this year.
  • There are some books coming out in 2013 that I’m really looking forward to. Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill’s new works are top of the list!

Happy Summer!

To all those wonderful young readers who I met during the year (and are lucky enough to finish school today) I just want to say,

Happy summer!

5 to try

Author Joe Hill posed an interesting question on his blog earlier. What 5 things have you never done as a writer that you would like to try? It got me thinking so here are my 5.


1.Write a graphic novel

This is an easy one. I’ve always loved comics and have a pretty decent collection. I also love art and have studied fine art, graphic design and film in college – all of which work nicely with the medium of graphic novels. It’s years since I made any art on paper properly and I’m sure I’ve lost whatever talent I may have had in that area so I wouldn’t be able to draw a comic but I would absolutely love to write one. If any comic artists or illustrators out there want to collaborate, give me a holla! Read the rest of this entry »