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You can’t play around with the past!

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Crime Scene

Louise Phillips

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‘You can’t play around with the past the way you can with the present,’ says author Michael Russell, speaking as part of the Historical Crime Fiction panel at Trinity College Dublin Crime Festival.

This was the first festival of its kind and was an outstanding success with hundreds of people registering for the event. Irish Crime Writing, in case you haven’t noticed, is having a BOOM period, and it was very apparent last weekend by the amount of support out there.

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I caught the panel on Saturday morning with Stuart Neville, Conor Brady, Kevin Mc Carthy, Michael Russell and Eoin Mc Namee, before flying off to do an interview with Sunshine radio and then back to Trinity to share a panel with fellow crime writers, Gene Kerrigan, Brian Mc Gilloway, Declan Hughes, Niamh O’Connor and Paul Charles.

There’ll be other guest post about the festival, but for now, I’ll give you a brief segment from the Historical Crime Fiction Panel.

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Stuart Neville  speaking openly about the difficulties of  moving from a crime thriller to basing a novel 50 years in the past said it took some persuading with publishers. ‘Publishers can take a rather narrow view about switching within sub genres, underestimating the reader who will happily switch from one type of crime novel to another.’

Conor Brady, spoke about the reasons behind his choice of the 1880’s  for his Joe Swallow novels,  the latest of which is ‘The Eloquence of the Dead’, ‘The home rule movement was gaining strength, Parnell was at his height, there was the break up of large estates, the Jack the Ripper murders were happening in England, it was the Jubilee, but the empire appeared to be overstretched and its fragility  although not obvious  to those going through it, was happening.’

The panel discussed at length, about over researching your story, advising to research lightly. The story takes primary position, then when your story is down, get particular. Russell quoted John Mortimer ‘write the story you want to write,’  and also how important it is to put your characters into periods of conflicts.

Neville, who has set his latest novel around the Kennedy visit to Ireland 50 years ago, said it was a great time to hang a novel with the hysteria around the visit.

‘Crime fiction.’ said Kevin McCarthy, ‘looks below the polished surface.’

Watch out for posts on other events from Mick Halpin and Susan Condon!!

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