The World’s End by Karen Fitzgibbon | Magazine | Crime | Interviews
The World's End

By Karen Fitzgibbon

Karen Fitzgibbon, author of The World’s End, on how the road to publication can be long and lonely but that you should never give up.

The road to publication is a long one. You would almost give up and I can now understand why so many writers do. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when an email from an agent or a publisher comes in. If it comes in. It is hard to brush off one rejection, let alone multiple, then pick yourself back up and continue writing. One thing that gave me hope during that period was reading about other writers’ experiences. Sam Blake, Donal Ryan, Patricia Gibney to name a few. They all sang the same lyrics. Keep writing. It made me think, OK, maybe, one day, if I just keep going, it will happen, and someone somewhere will say, yes. That wish was answered on July 5th, 2023 when I was putting a shine on the first 10,000 words of book number 4 in preparation for submission to the Novel Fair at the Irish Writers Centre. An email from Paula Campbell, Poolbeg Publishing House popped into my inbox with the words, Hi Karen, just to let you know that we have read all three of your novels and – that was it! That was all I could read in the subject line. I could not open the email! I was convinced the next word would be but. I called my son, Peter, and gave him my password and I waited. He was quiet for a heart stopping few seconds and then he uttered two words – oh, mam. Poolbeg offered me a three-book contract, introducing Private Investigator, Lana Bowen.

So how did The World’s End come about? A few years back I came upon the ruins of a holiday home leading onto a small beach in County Clare by happenstance. The beach is known as, Seafields, and you have to pass through the ruins and cross a field to reach it. Farm animals roamed around the building, the outline of an outdoor swimming pool overgrown with plants and trees and, as the crow flies, the immediate view in front of the house is a small, uninhabited island. Mutton Island. I asked my mother-in-law about the building and she told me about some time years before when the building was used as a summerhouse to host parties. She said there were rumours and whispers about certain explorations of decadence. There was something unsettling about the ruin. The building came alive in my head and I filled it with characters and secrets. The story is completely made up but, the shell of that summerhouse made me extremely curious and it gave me a setting.

The book opens when five friends rent a luxurious summerhouse for a long weekend, in a small fictitious Irish fishing village, Castle Cove. On the last day of their trip, they hire a boat to sail to a nearby island. Five go out, but only four return. The following morning a young woman is found on the island, barely alive, by a local fisherman. Part one follows the group of friends as they travel to Castle Cove. In part two, exactly one year later, we meet Private Investigator, Lana Bowen who uncovers the truth about what happened that weekend.

Writing a fictional novel is an incredibly unique experience. You can do just about anything with your characters and plot. I decided to change the culprit half way through writing the novel. The offender I had inside my head simply was not working. Having said that, there were four options, so, it could have been any one of them. While writing, it made the process more interesting – if the writer doesn’t know who was behind Grace’s accident, then the reader won’t know either, right?

My writing has been enthused by watching and listening to people. Humans let each other down. All the time. Whether it is family or close friends, we have all experienced it at some level. We have an understanding of what it feels like and the damage it can do. I think The World’s End highlights that. The characters are all a little broken from life, a bit flawed and when you put those qualities into a story, something terrible is bound to happen.

I wanted to write a book that I like to read – layered with interesting characters, pace and plot twists. Writing isn’t something that comes naturally to me. Growing up, I definitely struggled with putting the pen to paper and jotting down my thoughts. I loved creating stories and characters, but communicating those stories wasn’t something I found easy. I am an actor and a director and I co-write plays and short films. I had previously written a book that took me five years to finish and I had thought, this writing business isn’t for me, I gave it a go, but never again. So, when I started writing The World’s End, nobody was more surprised than me. My friend, Steph, sent me a link for a free four-week course with Marian Keyes on Instagram in January 2021. Every day Marian posted inspirational quotes and challenged her followers to write 500 words. I was reminded about the summerhouse in Seafields – I started writing. By the end of that first week I had written 5,000 words. By the end of the month, I had 20,000. My friend, Niamh, started writing her memoir at the same time and we shared our experiences as our word count grew. I got into a routine, writing Monday to Thursday, in the evenings, with Married At First Sight Australia for company. By the end of April, I had a first draft. It felt amazing. What I didn’t realise back then was that I was barely tipping the iceberg. As I mentioned, the road to publication is a long one, and lonely at times. But I refused to give up. Sometimes you have to give the iceberg a good old shove.

(c) Karen Fitzgibbon

About The World’s End by Karen Fitzgibbon:

The World's End

What happened to Grace Doran?

On a beautiful weekend in May, Grace Doran and her friend Sarah travel to Castle Cove to stay in a luxurious summerhouse, The World’s End, with Sarah’s boyfriend and some of his friends.

After a night of partying and sizzling temptations, they hire a boat and sail to a nearby island. Five go out, only four return.

One year later, Private Investigator Lana Bowen journeys to Castle Cove. Haunted by a traumatic event in her past, and tormented with panic attacks, she fights her own demons as she tries to piece together what happened on the island. The further she delves, the more she uncovers – a web of deceit, betrayal and a sinister undercurrent.

Someone is desperately trying to hold on to a secret.

Truth is a shifting and elusive concept, where masks of deception hide motives and secrets.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Karen Fitzgibbon is a theatre and film maker based in Limerick city. She has been co-writing, co-producing, acting in and directing plays and short films with community groups and professional groups for over twenty years. She holds a Licentiate in Theatre Studies with Trinity College London. Karen lives in Limerick with her family and much-loved springer spaniel Major. The World’s End is the first in a series of novels, introducing Private Investigator, Lana Bowen.

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