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January 23, 2013


The Next Big Thing is a blog hop interview, giving authors from around the world the chance to answer 10 questions about their new book, and at the same time introducing the writer who tagged them and adding up to 5 more writers who then repeat the process … simple!

Alrene Hughes,  author of Martha’s Girls, tagged me in The Next Big Thing blog hop. Martha’s Girls, a family saga set in Belfast in WWII, is her debut novel, published by Matador and available as a paperback and an e book. You can read Alrene’s Next Big Thing blog post here:-

Now it’s my turn at interview:

1)      What is the title of your next book?  ‘Running with Crows – The Life and Death of a Black and Tan’

2)      Where did the idea come from for the book? A cousin asked me to research the truth of her late father’s claim to be related to a man who was hanged for murder – a Black and Tan.  As yet, I have found no proof that she and her father are related to the man, but the truth behind the incident was a very compelling story and one which has never before been told.

3)      What genre does your book fall under?   I would describe it as a literary work of historical fiction.

4)      What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?  I think Owen McDonnell [who starred as Garda Sergeant Jack Driscoll in RTE Television series ‘Single-Handed’] would be perfect in the lead rôle.  He was a very credible policeman in ‘Single-Handed’ but the role of William Mitchell, soldier and policeman, would challenge his linguistic and emotional acting skills to good effect.    

5)      What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?  This is a research-based novel telling the forgotten story of a tragic man – the only member of the British Crown Forces to be executed for murder during the Irish War of Independence

6)      Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?  It will be self published initially at least, because the lead-in time taken by traditional publishing processes is far too long and life is too short.

7)      How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? The research took around two years but I completed the first draft in around six months.

8)      What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  It would perhaps stand comparison to Kevin McCarthy’s novel ‘Peeler’, or to Paul Laverty’s script for the film ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’, though my story is not purely fiction but is closely based on true and tragic events. Remarkably little fiction has been set in this tense and pivotal area of British and Irish history.

9)    Who or what inspired you to write this book?  I was inspired firstly by having, with great difficulty and after a long search, uncovered  official papers which suggest a possible miscarriage of justice in the Mitchell case, and secondly by the fact that no-one has ever told the unique story of this tragic man who was hanged for murder in 1921.

10)   What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?  I do not write about Tudor Queens or Roman gladiators.  My urge is to write about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. Mitchell was a helpless pawn in a dirty political game and the outcome of Mitchell’s trial was apparently decided before it had even begun. My book reveals why…

Running with Crows is due to be published on 1 March 2013 and will be available in both paperback and kindle editions.   Now let me introduce some writers who will be posting their Next Big Thing blogs on Weds 30 January:  author of Saxon’s Bane:

Geoff Gudgion is a serviceman turned businessman turned author, and he writes novels about present-day people whose lives are affected by the past.  His plots tend to have an ethereal dimension, perhaps a scent of an ‘otherness’, and be grounded in the history and landscape of England.  His début novel, ‘Saxon’s Bane’, is set in the present day but has at its heart a Saxon legend. It will be released by Solaris Books in September 2013.

William V. Kelly is an ex-Royal Navy man turned marine engineer turned novelist, whose début novel recounts the adventures of self-driven, high living, well-travelled and good-humoured Irishman Mike Ballantyne. Until The Fat Man Sings is about to be published in kindle edition.

Richard Walmsley lived in Puglia (Southern Italy) for eight years, teaching English as a foreign language at the University of Lecce. His two novels – soon to be three – breathe the atmosphere of this part of the Italian peninsular. He writes about romance, intrigue and the ever present tentacles of the mafia. A recurring theme in his books is the “duality” of Italian life experienced by this ancient people. Things are rarely as they appear to be on the surface as the inhabitants live 21st century lives in the shadow of strong family ties and beliefs, which often appear to exert a greater influence than modernity. His novels are laced with humour as he follows the many twists and turns in the story line.

His first novel, Dancing to the Pizzica :

has recently been followed by a second: The Demise of Judge Grassi:




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