Who Watches This Place by Amy Clarkin

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By Amy Clarkin

The idea for What Walks These Halls came from a joke. The plot for Who Watches This Place came from a nightmare. When The O’Brien Press called and asked if I had ideas for a sequel, I enthusiastically responded ‘Yes! So, I had this nightmare the other night…’ I only realised after I hung up how strange that probably sounded. I’d already known where the characters would go if I got the opportunity to write another PSI book, but the mystery they would be investigating had eluded me. Until I woke in the middle of the night, the image of hands reaching from a portrait burned into my mind…

I think the defining sensation I have when I think of writing Who Watches This Place (WWTP) is movement. What Walks These Halls (WWTH), my debut, was written while I was shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic. The early drafts were written all in one room, and the pre-publication edits shifted between my family home and my sister’s. The story allowed me to travel but I, physically, was static. With WWTP, I was constantly in motion. I was travelling a lot for personal reasons, and this book was written on planes and trains, in five different countries, in notes apps and laptop screens and notebooks. There was three years between my beginning to draft WWTH and it being published; I started it in Summer 2020, and it was released Spring 2023. It was a slow process, written at my own pace, the story unfurling gradually as I drafted and re-drafted and let the characters find their way through the plot.

In contrast, WWTP felt like fast paced rapids whisking me along, and all I could do was try to keep my head above water. There were nine months between beginning the first draft of WWTP and us going to print, a timeline that makes any writer or publishing professional I’ve told look at me wide eyed in horror, and, looking back on it, makes me cringe too. I think the overwhelming sensation for both myself and my incredible editor when the final proof went to publication was ‘how did we pull that off?!’ I was warned that my second book would be the hardest I ever write, and I really hope that’s the case. It was very much a learning experience for me: I have an energy limiting chronic illness, and writing a book to deadline for the first time, plus marketing my first book, plus trying not to impact my health was a steep learning curve. I’m incredibly proud of this book, and I can earnestly say I’ve learned a lot about balancing work, health and life because of it, mainly by the many, many mistakes I made along the way. I am the quintessential high-achieving people pleaser terrified of letting people down, and writing a book under contract with fixed deadlines and expectations, with multiple other people who were affected by whether or not I met those deadlines with work to the standard they needed, was a steep learning curve. I was so delighted by how people responded to WWTH, but it did mean the anxiety of disappointing them with the sequel began to rise. Writing a debut alone in your room in the hope of getting it published means the only person you can disappoint is yourself – when there’s a publisher expecting a good-quality book, and people who are actively invested in your characters, the stakes feel a lot higher.

It helped, coming back to familiar characters. WWTH published in April 2023 and I started WWTP in May. I felt like I was picking up where I left off and I was excited to see where PSI went next. I already knew these characters innately (though, as always, they still managed to surprise me) and knowing how they’d react in any given scenario made the story flow a lot more easily. Emotions and vibes are very much my comfort zone when I write – practical things, like figuring how the spirit world operates in my books and my ultimate kryptonite, timelines, were the main challenges I faced, and my long-suffering editor fielded many a stressed email/manuscript comment agonizing over how these things could be solved.

Seeing the reaction to WWTH, going to book events and schools and meeting readers who cared about these characters was mind blowing to me, and made me all the more determined to make WWTP the best book it can be. I love writing YA, and writing books set in Ireland that reflect contemporary Ireland is extremely important to me. I think everyone should get to see themselves in the books they read, and getting to be just one of the many writers in Ireland writing diverse books means so much to me. I’m incredibly grateful to the librarians, booksellers, book reviewers, other writers and readers who took the time to be so kind about WWTH, and to encourage other people to read it, and I’m genuinely in awe of campaigns like the DiscoverIrishKidsBooks campaign, who are doing an amazing job of highlighting the wealth of incredible YA and children’s books Ireland has produced. As someone who has long admired the brilliant writers of Ireland, seeing books I’ve written on bookshelves alongside them is something that still feels utterly surreal. I hope I will keep getting to contribute to the wealth of Irish writing for a long time to come.

(c) Amy Clarkin

About Who Watches This Place by Amy Clarkin:

‘Would you kill someone to survive?’ he asked.   

 ‘It’s not survival when you’re already dead,’ she replied.  

 Paranormal Surveyance Ireland – PSI – are on the hunt for ghosts. When The Merrion Hub, a fancy new start-up, is gripped by strange and disturbing happenings, the owners ask Archer and his team to investigate.  

 The gang are determined to prove to the world that ghosts are real, but tensions are running high: Éabha clashes with Raven over her new clairvoyancy gift, Fionn feels isolated by the team and Davis is frustrated by the journalist who’s determined to expose them as frauds.  

 None of that matters when there’s a startling disappearance. Can PSI remember how to work together in time to save their friend from a horrific fate?  

Order your copy online here.

About the author

AMY CLARKIN is a writer from Dublin, Ireland. Her non-fiction writing is often on the theme of chronic illness and identity, and has been featured in Sonder Literary Magazine, Rogue and Dear Damsels. Her debut novel, What Walks These Halls, was shortlisted for the An Post Irish Book Awards Teen & Young Adult Book of the Year 2023 and Great Reads Awards 2023 (School Libraries Group of Library Association of Ireland), and nominated for the Yoto Carnegies 2023. She can generally be found by the sea, drinking coffee, talking about her dog or asking people what their favourite ghost story is.

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