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Writing Turned Criminal – down at the Courts!!

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Crime Scene

Louise Phillips

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Writing turned criminal, down at the old Green Street Courthouse, with authors, Conor Brady, Alex Barclay, Declan Burke, and Jane Casey. Originated and organised by writing.ie’s Vanessa O’Loughlin the Great Writing, Great Places series for Dublin UNESCO City of Literature brings fabulous authors to some of the incredible historic locations in Dublin city.

The wonderfully witty, Conor Brady, author of A JUNE OF ORDINARY MURDERS, chaired a conversation called ‘Writing Turns Criminal’, with Alex Barclay, Declan Burke and Jane Casey, last Wednesday down at Green Street Courthouse, as part of  Great Writing Great Places, for Dublin UNESCO City of Literature.

Formerly the home of the Special Criminal Court, the original Green Street Courthouse was built in 1797 with the trials of Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet and John Mitchel, all taking place there.

I arrived a little late, as yours truly and fellow crime writer, Susan Condon, tried to get in the wrong door – nothing new there! So we were up in the Gods as they say, looking down on the panel in a very packed courthouse – try spot the woman in the top left doing her knitting!!

Best selling crime writer, Alex Barclay, kicked off the readings with a poignant story called Calloway Heart set in the town of Sable Forge, Montana (published in The Big Book of Hope, Poolbeg 2010). Afterwards, Conor asked her how a Dublin woman, writing in Cork, could write so successfully about a society so very different to her own.  Alex spoke about being captivated by the worlds she reads about, how they generate flights of the imagination bringing her to far off places, including, as in this story, wanting to write about a Montana smoke jumper, called Calloway Heart.

Delan Burke read an extract from his latest book Slaughter’s Hound, where we meet the character of Harry Rigby, driving a taxi, and getting himself into all kinds of trouble. Conor quoted Lee Child on Declan’s work, who described him as a writer at the top of his game. You can read some of the extract Declan read on the evening, on Declan’s own blog, Crime Always Pays HERE

When Declan was asked humerously by Conor, if he actually knew guys that talked like the characters in Slaughter’s Hound, Declan spoke about writing what you love, and how he grew up loving the books of Raymond Chandler, and how in a way the writing was a bit like paying homage.

Jane Casey, then read an extract from The Last Girl, her fourth novel, and the third in the DC Maeve Kerrigan series of novels. Afterwards Conor spoke to Jane about how, despite her Irish background, in her writing, she moved with ease through the English class system, to which Jane good naturely replied, that the English are much more open about their class system than other nationalities – assuming they are normal, and everyone else is strange!

Before opening the questions up to members of the public, Conor Brady, asked each of the authors about a belief put to him after the publication of his novel, A June of Ordinary Murders, that one must be a dark, horrible person to write dark, horrible stuff!

Declan Burke, spoke about the balance between the crime and mystery element and quality of entertainment, and writing about something reflective of the dark heart in all societies. Alex Barclay, on writing violent scenes, explained that you really can’t worry about what people think. And Jane Casey spoke about meeting her son’s new teacher, who told her she had a copy of her latest book, to which Jane wanted to reply ‘don’t judge me!’

There then followed a round of questions, and a lively discussion between the panel and the general public, the ghosts of the Green Street Courthouse, thankfully, well behaved and silent. And after a wonderful evening, sure I had to take some pics for you all!!!

Vanessa O’Loughlin – Jane Casey – and Declan Burke

Alex Barclay








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