Why Writing Life doesn’t have to be lonely..
I am delighted to have a special visitor to the Crime Scene blog today. Debut crime fiction author, Sharon Dempsey!
Her novel, Little Bird is published this week, and I know Sharon and her novel very well at this point.
I started mentoring Sharon last year, and it was a pleasure every step of the way. Little Bird is a terrific novel, and with a description from the great Brian Mc Gilloway of ‘a dark and compelling tale from a thrilling new voice in Irish crime fiction…’ you are sure to enjoy!
So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Sharon!!!
They say writing is a lonely occupation. All those endless hours in front of the computer, with only your cat for company. Well, my experience has been slightly different. From the start, I was fortunate to have best-selling crime writer Louise Phillips by my side.
When I began writing Little Bird, I knew I wanted to commit to the story, to see it through to the end. I also knew that the best way for me to do this was to be given a deadline. Once a journalist, always a journalist. I also needed to feel that my writing was worth investing in; that I wouldn’t be wasting my time. It was with this in mind that I approached the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and applied for the Support for the Individual Arts Programme. Anyone who has ever applied for Arts Council funding will know that the process isn’t easy. I had to prove my commitment to artistic practice, to explain how the funding would be used, and to submit the beginning of my book.
When I was successful in being awarded the grant, it felt like a validation and that has been important in helping me to keep going. Plus, there was a deadline involved so I knew that I had something to work towards.
I have always loved Louise’s books and I knew that she worked with the Irish Writers Centre, delivering creative writing workshops. My plan was to use the Arts Council funding to engage in a mentoring programme with Louise.
I sent Louise the first 10, 000 words of my manuscript to see if she wanted to work with me. Thankfully, she liked what I had written, and we began the process of developing our mentoring relationship over emails. This meant that I had an insightful reader early on; at every 15,000-word instalment, Louise read what I had written and offered her advice. She has been fantastically supportive, from giving me advice on character development, to picking up over-used words. I don’t think I would have completed the book without her encouragement. The final version of the book is quite different from that first draft but Louise’s editorial advice was so important.
By actually saying, I want to write and this is what I have done, I have been amazed at the community of support on offer. There are great book events to get involved in, from the Belfast Book Festival at the Crescent to the regular launches at No Alibis. Seek out your local writers’ groups; mine is Witches with Wolves. Tell people about your book and you will be more likely to finish it.
Engaging in mentoring with Louise offered me so much more than editorial feedback. It was about giving myself permission to say I am writing, and to encourage me be serious about my writing. To have a brilliant writer like Louise by side also means that my writing life has never been lonely.
ABOUT THE BOOK – LITTLE BIRD
An unmissable serial killer thriller
Forensic psychologist, Declan Wells, is dealing with the aftermath of a car bomb during the Troubles in Belfast, which has left him in a wheelchair. But that is only the start of his problems.
Welsh Detective, Anna Cole is running away from a dead-end relationship and the guilt of her mother’s death. She hopes secondment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland will provide a distraction.
There is a killer on the streets targeting young women and leaving behind macabre mementoes to taunt the police.
Can Declan and Anna work together to catch the deranged killer before he strikes again?
And is it ever possible to leave the past behind you?
Little Bird will be launched at the Crescent Arts Centre on 3rd August at 7pm.
LOUISE PHILLIPS is the author of four bestselling psychological crime thrillers. Her debut novel RED RIBBONS, and her subsequent novels, THE DOLL’S HOUSE, LAST KISS and THE GAME CHANGER, were each nominated for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year. She won the award in 2013. Louise’s work has formed part of many literary anthologies, and she has won both the Jonathan Swift Award and the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform, along with being shortlisted for the Molly Keane Memorial Award, Bridport UK, and many others. In 2015, she was awarded a writing residency at Cill Rialaig Artist retreat in Kerry and she was also a judge on the Irish panel for the EU Literary Award. Her current novel, THE GAME CHANGER, is available nationwide. In 2016, she was longlisted for the prestigious CWA Dagger in the Library Award, and her first novel, RED RIBBONS was published in the US. She was also awarded an Arts Bursary for Literature from the Arts Council of Ireland. In August, THE DOLL'S HOUSE, is due for publication in the US with Polis Books. Louise Phillips is the crime writing mastermind behind writing.ie's Crime Scene blog.