Gaiman interviewing King

Stephen King and Neil Gaiman are two of my favourite writers and probably the two biggest influence on my writing. So, understandably, I loved this piece in the Sunday Times this week where Gaiman interviewed King. You can read the whole thing below but I thought I’d draw attention to my favourite quote…

‘I never think of stories as made things; I think of them as found things’

And here’s the article in full…



The first time I met Stephen King was in Boston, in 1992. I sat in his hotel suite, met his wife, Tabitha, who is Tabby in conversation, and his then-teenage sons, Joe and Owen, and we talked about writing and about authors, about fans and about fame.
“If I had my life over again,” said King. “I’d have done everything the same. Even the bad bits. But I wouldn’t have done the American Express ‘Do You Know Me?’ TV ad. After that, everyone in America knew what I looked like.” He was tall and dark-haired, and Joe and Owen looked like younger clones of their father.
The next time I met Stephen King, in 2002, he pulled me up on stage to play kazoo with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a ramshackle assemblage of authors who can play instruments and sing and, in the case of author Amy Tan, impersonate a dominatrix while singing Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made For Walkin’. Afterwards we talked in the tiny toilet in the back of the theatre, the only place King could smoke a furtive cigarette. He seemed frail, then, and grey, only recently recovered from a long stay in hospital after being hit by an idiot in a van, and the hospital infections that had followed it. He grumbled about the pain of walking downstairs. I worried about him, then. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Tips for Improving your Writing

From time to time I get asked to speak to creative writing groups or English classes. I always oblige. I love taking questions from enthusiastic students of writing and sharing what [modest] knowledge I have. There are five tips I always share with the groups; five tips that I believe have improved my writing.

So here they are. They may be helpful for some people.


1. Keep a journal (or in my case use post-its!)

Almost everything you will ever read on creative writing will suggest that you should keep a journal. You’re supposed to carry it around with you so that you can take note of every idea you have as you have it. Any of these ideas could eventually make a story.

I tried it for a while a few years ago and it just didn’t work for me. I found that my ideas became too jumbled and that I couldn’t focus on one. I’m an unusual case though. I find it much easier to work an idea through in my head for a few weeks before putting pen to paper. And I can juggle a few ideas at a time.

However, when I am sitting down at my laptop to write, I like to plot out that day’s chapter using post-its. I scrawl a plot point on a post-it each and stick it on the wall in front of me. Then, when I’ve written that plot point, I pull away the post-it and dump it. It’s hugely satisfying!

So, I don’t keep a journal. It might work for some people but it doesn’t work for me. That said, I do think that everyone should try it for a while. If it works for you, you will never want to be without your little notebook. Failing that, use post-its. I swear by them! Read the rest of this entry »

2011; What it meant to me

The past 365 days have been a particularly great year for me.

There are all the obvious things that most of you already know. I’ve had my first book published to critical and public acclaim. It was even shortlisted in the BGE Irish Book Awards – (that was a shocker!) Because of the book, I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of new and fascinating people, including several fellow writers who have had nice and encouraging things to say. But the real joy has come from my many visits to schools and libraries. Meeting the children to have read or are reading my book is a pleasure incomparable to anything else. The enthusiasm kids today have for books is infectious and makes me want to go home and read/write even more.

I’ve spent a lot of the time in the past year learning how to be a writer. When I wrote the book in 2010, I kind of just stumbled into everything, feeling my way blindly. But at the start of 2011, I set myself some writing targets and got into a habit that I keep to today. Right now, I have the first drafts of the next two Arthur Quinn books complete and am working on a whole other story that I hope people will get to read one day.

My friends and family have been so supportive to me all year long that I can’t thank them enough. The same must be said for my publishers, Mercier Press, fellow authors and all the kids book enthusiasts I’ve met along the way.

But what else did 2011 mean to me? Well I thought I’d have a look back at some of my highlights. What were yours?


Read the rest of this entry »

Book Trailers

There’s a great article over at Inis Magazine that discusses the book trailer, its effectiveness and the producers’ ways of showing enough but not too much.

It got me thinking about my own book trailers. Since I come from a film background, I was, of course, excited about having a trailer for my book. Even before I had discussed the possibility with my publisher, Mercier Press, I had an idea of what the trailer should be. Dark, atmospheric, creepy were some of the adjectives that came to mind.

I had quite a bit of experience with trailers like this, having produced short viral promos for various theatrical productions over the past couple years. These plays often faced a similar problem that books do – until the production is staged, there is a lack of actual filmed footage. So I would take photographs and text and animate them to suit the piece. These trailers seemed to be quite successful in getting bums in the seats so I was certain that something similar would work for my book. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s real.

So, as you can guess from the post below, I got the first copy of my first book in the post the other day.

It’s a strange feeling, finally holding it. It’s real. I can flick through the pages, I can smell the ink, I can even crack the spine if I was so inclined. The words aren’t on a screen anymore; the characters aren’t running around my head. They’re there – on the pages of a real life book for all to read. Read the rest of this entry »

Books I Like: Point Horror

Somewhere at home, in my parents’ house, under my old bed or under stacks of broken toys in one of the wardrobes or under Christmas decorations in the attic is a box of books. There are, I would guess, 40 or 50 of these paperbacks, all the spines broken, the pages dog-eared and the covers worn. Most of them cost £3.99 at the time although as the years went by, this rose to a staggering £4.99. They all have gaudy, illustrated covers reminiscent of seventies and eighties cheap slasher films. These books are Point Horrors.

The first book I read in the series was The Babysitter by RL Stine. I don’t know what age I was – (although I’d make a guess at 10) – but the books were all about 15 and 16 year olds being stalked by serial killers or murderous ghosts and I was probably too young. From the moment I picked up The Babysitter, the Point Horror books were a constant companion for the next few years. Read the rest of this entry »