For me, a lifelong obsession with books was the motivation to become an author. Every week without fail, my mother bought me a book. I couldn’t get enough of them. It’s always been like that. I was born into a home of book worms and I could read before I could walk. My nose was constantly in a book and when I finished reading my own pile, I would steal into my older brother’s room and pilfer from his coveted collection. Equally, writing has always meant something- Whether that came in the form of stories I wrote as a child or keeping an angst riddled diary as a teenager- it’s always been there. When I did the Law Degree, I realised how powerful words can be. One word, or the interpretation of that word can see very different consequences.
The love of stories and the wild imagination came from my parents of course, and in particular the perception I have in my head of my father, Pat, who worked all his life at sea. He started out in the Merchant Navy, and in 1964, joined the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) where he worked aboard the Graunaile, until his sudden death in 2001.
Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of sitting outside at night, with a big old brass compass, identifying star constellations and listening to his stories of the high seas and swashbuckling adventure. In my little blonde head, I wanted the life of adventure, and that romantic view of the world. The sailors blood in me finds inspiration in the sea, the stars and lighthouses.
When I started writing the first novel- long before I thought about publishers or agents, I thought about the book cover. As a nod to Dad, all I wanted was a lighthouse to feature- hence the location: a fictional fishing village in Wexford. I was dipping in and out of the novel, trying to raise two small boys and work part-time in the hospitality industry- but something had to give. I had a compulsion to write and it was all I could think about. In December 2014, I quit my job and became a writer full time. My Business Studies Degree and a Law Degree gave me a good foundation to set up a business- to pay bills, I write content for businesses.
I thought I would be the next Marian Keyes (who doesn’t want to be the next MK), but my mind had other plans for me. The story is dark- a psychological thriller exploring the depths of flawed human nature, the thin line between love and obsession and the destructive nature of addiction. I finished it at the end of June 2015. I got my agent in August.
My agent sent the book out to submission and 5 publishing houses were interested. Poolbeg were the first to come back and offer me a two book deal, in November. This all happened within 5 months of me finishing the first draft. I chose Poolbeg because of their logo- I had my lighthouse after all. It felt like fate to me and perhaps a nod from Dad. Shortly after, I contacted Robert in CIL headquarters to pitch an idea. My hope was to use the lighthouses my Dad had spent so many years maintaining as a type of writers retreat. Everything had gone full circle. I had grown up with lighthouses, I visualised a lighthouse on the cover of my first book, my publisher’s logo is a lighthouse and now we are in talks to do a whistle stop tour of all the beautiful lighthouses of Ireland where I will write my second, and with a bit of luck, my third book. One day, I will write an epic adventure about sailors on the high seas, but for now, I’m going to continue to chase the lighthouses and the dreams that come with them!
The hard work started in February. I was dreading the editing process, and had visions of an editor in a garret with a big red pen, slashing my work to bits. That wasn’t the case. I enjoyed it- my editor is a genius and we worked really well together. I didn’t lose any of my characters, not a plot hole to be found and the monster I had built up in my head, never showed its face. I have a few bad habits she is knocking out of me and let’s not mention the war- commas.
The thing that surprised me the most since I started down this path is the support, encouragement and kindness people have shown. Rick O Shea is launching my book in Dublin, and my wonderful friend and mentor, Eoin Colfer is launching in Wexford. I have spent a day in Wheatfield Prison, drank tea at Shane McGowan’s kitchen table, been upgraded to a fancy hotel suite and have been bowled over by people so enthusiastic with their time and expertise. The writing community in Ireland is a joy to be part of. I’m a total newbie and trying to find my feet. The advice, encouragement and the feeling of being cheered on keeps a smile on my face every day.
I’m counting down the days to publication day and trying not to bite my nails. Book two is due in September- it’s all in hand so far- I hope.
(c) Cat Hogan
About They All Fall Down
Ring-a-ring o’ rosie . . .
… Someone wants to play.
… Who’s not playing the game?
… Now Someone must pay.
Jen Harper likes to play it safe. She is settling into life on the outskirts of a sleepy fishing village with her little boy, Danny. Life by the sea – just how she wanted it.
When she meets Andy, she feels the time has come to put her baggage and the scars of the past behind her. Then she is introduced to Scott, Andy’s best friend, and is stung by his obvious disdain for her. Why is Scott so protective of his best friend? What is the dark secret that threatens all of them?
In her attempt to find answers, Jen must confront her demons and push her relationships to their limits. By digging up the past, she puts Danny and herself in danger. Will she succeed in uncovering the truth before they all fall down?
Raw and energetic, They All Fall Down is a fast-paced and addictive novel exploring the depths of flawed human nature, the thin line between love and obsession and the destructive nature of addiction.
They All Fall Down is in bookshops now or pick up your copy online here!