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Poolbeg Crimson: Going from Strength to Strength by Shirley Benton

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By Shirley Benton

The middle of an economic recession may not have seemed like the best time to launch a new product, but that didn’t stop Irish publisher Poolbeg Press from coming up with a new book imprint, Poolbeg Crimson, in May 2008. Long before ‘grip lit’ was a term known to many, Poolbeg Press were publishing novels with an edge which kept you in suspense and sent a tingle down your spine.

Poolbeg’s Paula Campbell’s 2008 belief that readers were leaning towards novels with a twist of fate continues to ring true in 2021, as the imprint continues to release a range of books from authors old and new to Poolbeg:

“Thirteen years later and I am delighted that Poolbeg Crimson has gone from strength to strength. We have a fantastic team of crime writers. I am still receiving crime novels of such a high standard, with great plots full of twists and highly original. Read in one sitting standard!

In a response to the pandemic, we have substantially grown our eBook publishing and this has allowed Poolbeg sign fifteen new crimson authors. Watch out for page-tuners from Fran McDonnell, Judith Cuffe, Sam O’Brien, Amy Cronin, Sharon Thompson and Fiona Sherlock.”

Below, three of Poolbeg’s Crimson and crime writers speak about their work and how it fits into Poolbeg’s Crimson and crime range.

Mary O’Sullivan, author of Fire And Ice, Thicker Than Water and Now And Then

On the thirteenth of November, 2020, the media was dominated by one headline – the death of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. His story was told on every media platform – the thirteen murders he committed, the seven attempted murders, his reign of terror between 1975 and his arrest in 1981. So why, in the midst of global catastrophes, did the story of the Yorkshire Ripper make the headlines? Could it be that while we find murder repellent, we find murderers fascinating?

My curiosity has always been more in the why of a murder than the police procedure involved in solving the how. Infants tug at the heart strings of even the toughest of us. It is difficult to imagine violent murderers as innocent babies – blank canvases, interested only in the next feed and being loved. Or are they? Are killers born with murder already imprinted in their genes? Does the urge to kill come from within their own psyche or is it imposed by environmental, cultural and family factors?  The answers to these questions seem to be as confused, contradictory and complex as the murderers themselves.

My books, Fire And Ice, Thicker Than Water and Now And Then, each feature a killer. This meant doing lots of research on psychopaths before I wrote a word. I understood from what I learned that, in most cases, their empathy is nil, their conscience non-existent and their motivation is about control. The ultimate power over another person is that of life and death. These angry people feel god-like, in total charge, perhaps for the first time, as they end the life of another human being.

While I think research very important, I also believe that it should just be a background in a work of fiction – an insurance that the fictional character has credibility. Fire And Ice, Thicker Than Water and Now And Then are published by Poolbeg Press. Read them and decide for yourself whether the murderers are totally evil, insane, or just badly damaged by life.

Order your copy of Now and Then here.

Shirley Benton, author of Where Is My Mind?

I always felt that Poolbeg had a great eye for finding a story that you can’t put down, and this was never more obvious to me than when I picked up a Crimson book. They were the kind of books that I’d always keep for holidays because I knew that as soon as I picked them up, nothing would get done that day in my bid to finish them. I was delighted to become a Poolbeg writer of women’s fiction in 2011, but my love of reading books that gave me chills led to an aspiration to write those kind of books too – but it was always a ‘One day…’ aspiration. I did not clear the decks to write a suspense novel; Where Is My Mind? is a book that started with a ‘What would you do if…?’ scenario that I wanted to tease out, rather than being a conscious attempt on my part to sit down and write a book I couldn’t put down. It really became a scenario and a story that I couldn’t stop writing. From that, it became the Crimson book that I had wanted to write ‘one day’ without me consciously setting out to write one. I’m delighted to join the great team of writers that have been published under the Crimson imprint…now, all I need is the time to read all the fantastic latest releases in the range!

Order your copy of Where is my Mind here.

Helen Moorhouse, author of The Gallery of Stolen Souls, The Dead Summer, Sing Me to Sleep, The Dark Water and Ever This Day

As a lifelong reader, I have always gravitated toward the dark. A murder, a mystery, a shadow – a chill up my spine have always lured me in and thrilled me. I am passionate about storytelling – intrigued by twists and surprises. To be drawn into a tale and out of reality is the ultimate pleasure of reading. 

As a writer, the supernatural has everything that, to me, creates a cracking yarn – fear, revenge, loss, death and that intangible sense of the ‘other’. Stories of vengeful revenants and lost souls that walk amongst us fascinate me, so it feels a perfect fit for me to be published under the Poolbeg Crimson imprint.

The Crimson titles are packed with excitement – mysterious disappearances, murders and tragedy to be avenged, all skillfully crafted by exceptionally talented writers driven by a passion to tell great stories. Books to keep you on edge, to be read by candlelight or torch under the covers. When you read a Crimson title, make sure that the doors are locked and that you’ve checked under the bed. You’ll probably want to leave the light on too – just in case.

Order your copy of The Gallery of Stolen Souls here.

(c) Shirley Benton

About the author

Shirley Benton is an Irish author. Four of her books have been published by Poolbeg Press: ‘Looking for Leon’, ‘Can We Start Again?’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’ and ‘Locked Out of Heaven’. She lives in County Meath, Ireland.

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