The File Note by David Foley: How It Came About
I published my first novel in March. It’s called The File Note. A murder mystery set in the sleepy village of Kilcreddin. The launch was in Dubray Book Shop on Grafton Street, as my 54th birthday approached. Why did I do it?
I was born in Dublin and went to school there. I studied law at University College Dublin and went straight into an apprenticeship with one of the large law firms in the city centre. I have been there 32 years now. And you can’t say apprenticeship these days by the way – it’s a traineeship!
I’m not entirely sure why I decided to write a book. The fact that I had spent over half my life in the same office doing the same job was possibly a factor. A good friend, Rachel Fehily, was also a significant influence. Despite a busy work and family life, she found time to write a play called Under Pressure. It was a fantastic piece of theatre. I remember watching it in the Arts Club and thinking – I wouldn’t mind writing something. And not just a legal document. That perhaps was the beginning of my mid-life. …. project.
As the introduction to the book mentions, I had always been interested in murder mysteries. Particularly the old-style classics. Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe. Maybe I could try my hand at that. After all, I had been drafting documents for the previous 30 years. How difficult could it be?
The answer was – very difficult. In fact, I quickly found out it was impossible. At least while working full time. I was clearly not a multi–tasker. So, I transitioned to a consultancy with the office to allow more flexibility with the writing process.
The writing itself I find very enjoyable. Time seems to stand still as the words appear on the page. But a good deal of preparation is needed at the outset. Plot, characters, clues and the like. A lot of time can be spent lying on the couch looking at the ceiling. Or heading off on long circuitous walks. Seeking clarification. Or deflection. Or just inspiration.
The temptation to base the novel around a large law firm in Dublin was strong. I had been there as an apprentice (sorry – trainee), associate and partner and was now a consultant. But prudence prevailed. The body count might have been too high. And the laws of defamation had to be considered…
In reality though, the book was always going to have a more old-fashioned setting to reflect my interest in the classical murder mystery genre. A small rural legal practice, where the pace of life is a little slower, seemed to fit the bill. Although the period in time in which the story occurs is not expressly stated, it can be easily detected. There is little technology and investigative principles are of the more basic kind. Apart from conforming to my preference in murder mystery style, it also equalled my level of knowledge in these areas.
Once the book was finished, I looked into the publishing side of things. A worrying conundrum became apparent. The main publishing houses wouldn’t accept submissions unless you had a literary agent. A literary agent wouldn’t take you on unless you had some form. It took me a while to realise that an independent publisher might be the better alternative and, fortunately for me, Sean O’Keeffe at Liberties Press took an interest in my work. I am very grateful for that.
Then the editorial process commenced. A number of (not insignificant) changes were suggested. I found the rewrite a lot more difficult than the initial drafting. Indeed, I sometimes struggled to accept the need to change at all. There followed what might be termed my “dark night of the soul”. Of course, when I finally embraced the concept of change, and got on with the amendments, it was soon clear that the novel was substantially improved as a result. After that it was just final proofs, cover design and print. And then the launch last March.
So, in short, that’s how it took nearly 54 years for my first book to come about. I’m working on my second at the moment. Just hope it doesn’t take as long to hit the shelves….
(c) David Foley
About The File Note:
James Hadfield is a middle-aged solicitor with Timmons & Associates in the sleepy village of Kilcreddin. The death of Lord Barrington, his firm’s most important client, is immediately viewed with suspicion in the locality, and a high-profile murder inquiry is soon under way.
As more deaths follow, a handwritten note found by Hadfield throws him into the middle of the investigation, along with Hilary, the office manager, Mick, the law clerk, and Lucinda, the new apprentice. Hadfield’s friend FitzHerbert, a Senior Counsel specialising in criminal law, quickly finds himself involved as they try to piece together what happened.
All the beneficiaries of the Barrington will are suspects, while none have an alibi, and it seems Hadfield may even be in the frame. Love is also in the air, but where exactly that might lead is not entirely clear. Will Hadfield solve the mystery – and help apprehend the guilty party – before he, she or they can strike again? With more twists and turns than an old country road, The File Note is a classic page-turner that offers intrigue and romance in equal measure.
Order your copy of here.The File Note