Saturday, 16 November 2013



Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Catriona. I thought it might be interesting to talk about the vexed questions of sequels.

Well, here I am, a published author at last – but what’s next? Am I going to write a sequel, or something completely different? After so long concentrating on The Book, it can be quite difficult to look at the situation dispassionately. Many writers, including me, are so fired with enthusiasm that they immediately begin The Sequel. I suppose the first novel is where you get into your stride, fine-tune your skills and realise just what you can do, and it generally leaves more to be said; hence, the sequel.

But after the first book is published, it’s natural to stop and think. Will writing a second book in the same genre consolidate your position? Or will it make it difficult to be accepted as a writer of anything else? Or will you have to start all over again under another name in order to make the change? Would it be better to write something else, something from a different genre, to establish yourself as a writer in multiple genres? Will readers like your writing style enough to follow you into other genres? Is it best to write a series of closely-linked novels? What is most likely to sell?

Had you asked me, ten years ago, if I would expect to ever become the author of a fantasy novel, I would have said no, not on your life. Not my sort of thing at all. I was a writer of non-fiction, a poet, a lyricist. But that was before I came to Dorset and fell under the influence of the magical Jurassic Coast. Nobody was more surprised than I was when Isle of Larus just poured out of my head. A fantasy novel? Me? Well, yes, and it felt natural to begin a sequel. But after my book was published, I stopped and asked all the questions above. I also wondered whether the sequel isn’t a form of laziness: I already know my characters, my place, my time. I have already answered most of the trickier questions and created a format that works. Extending the story, adding a few more characters and thinking up new challenges for them to meet was not so very difficult. I thought about it a great deal. But the tricky part of writing sequels, I discovered, lies in keeping it fresh, in not repeating yourself or using the same language too much – it’s not that easy, in fact.

So what did I decide? In the end, the answer came from the heart, and not the head. I found that I gained the same intense joy from writing the sequel as I found in writing Isle of Larus, and that matters very much, so the book will be completed. I have a third book in mind, too.

Do I want to be the author of a string of fantasy novels? Will I be able to do that and keep up with the poetry, lyric-writing and my other writing interests? I don’t know. But I’m going to have a damn good try. Meanwhile, back to the sequel…

Find out about Kathy’s novel, Isle of Larus, here:

Facebook page:
Kathy Sharp’s blog on Goodreads:

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Guest Author Ailsa Abraham. Author of the Award nominated Shaman's Drum. Number One in Amazon category.


Thank you for inviting me, Catriona.

I'm sure that I have bored the living daylights out of people with advertising Shaman's Drum so I'd like to chat a bit about the above. It's a question I'm asked all the time. Well, no, whenever I say that I'm an novelist, actually, or I'm walking around in a T-shirt depicting me holding my book (shameless, isn't it?) Mainly it comes from French people. Quite logically really as I live in France and so most of the folks I get chatting to are French. Their reaction is incredulity and the question “How?” because imagination is something rather foreign to them and reserved for the select few “artistic types.”

It's rather refreshing because the usual reaction of Anglophones (go on, you've guessed it) is “Oh yes well I'm writing a book or going to or will do when I have time...” Something along the lines of an inferred “Don't think you're anything special because the world and his dog are all writing books”.

Well just for anyone who isn't writing a book or likes to know how other authors do it. I am a cinematophile. (I just invented that word but you know what I mean). I see things as films. Maybe it is a generation thing but even when reading I see it on the big screen. That is how Shaman's Drum started. Just a movie clip that sprang into my head unannounced while I was sitting out in the back garden.

Scene – a walled convent garden with a nun sat in a chair on her own, in the shade of a tree. Suddenly a man in monk's robes bursts through the wooden door in the wall and strides over to her. It is obvious to me from the expression on her face that he has come to rescue her.

I couldn't let it go. It haunted me. Who were they? What happened next? I had to get it all down and as I worked, my own background contributed. What if they weren't Christians? What if they were pagans from different orders? What if the woman had been forced into the convent for some crime as in the Middle Ages? My imagination began to run riot. Supposing that paganism had now become the dominant religion in the world? There would still be factions. I have been in this world long enough to know that pagan is as vague as “Muslim”. There are so many different varieties.

This is how, from one scene, I arrived at a whole novel, centred on lovers from different sides of the religious tracks, given one last chance to be together if they accepted a seemingly-impossible mission. Now, of course, readers are coming back and asking for more, which is highly gratifying. Iamo and Riga have found friends out there in the wide world and they are going to have to tell the back story.

So here I sit now, writing the prequel as my work-in-progress. How did the major religions get banned. What would be so important that this would be accepted? When did paganism in all its forms fill the void left by mainstream faiths? Most importantly, what was the crime that led to Riga being imprisoned in the convent in the first place. So watch out. There are already some pretty impressive movie-trailer scenes going on in my head, including the terrifying Demon Prince. So watch out for Riga and Iamo, The Beginning (except it won't be called that, of course...well it might be if it were a film!)

BIO – Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, ending up with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France for over twenty years and is married with no children but six grandchildren. Her passion is motorbikes which have taken the place of horses in her life now that ill-health prevents her riding. She copes with Bipolar Condition, a twisted spine and increasing deafness with her usual wry humour – “well if I didn't have all those, I'd have to work for a living, instead of writing, which is much more fun.”. Her ambition in life is to keep breathing and maybe move back to the UK. She has no intention of stopping writing.

As Ailsa Abraham :
Shaman's Drum published by Crooked Cat, available on Amazon.
(nominated for the People's Choice Book Prize)

Four Go Mad in Catalonia – self-published, available from Smashwords

Twitter - @ailsaabraham

Facebook – Ailsa Abraham

I'd like to welcome Ailsa, who will be sharing with us where she gets her ideas for writing, and telling us about her books.

Friday, 4 October 2013

NEWS FLASH! Guest Blog with Francis Di Plino, Author of the excellent DI Paolo Storey Thrillers.

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Catriona. I have two pieces of news I’d like to share with your readers – and both have end of October deadlines.

Bad Moon Rising, the first in the D.I. Paolo Storey crime series, has been nominated in the People’s Book Prize 2013, but it’s up against Frederick Forsyth’s latest, so I need all the votes I can get. If any of your lovely readers would be kind enough to cast a vote, I would be very grateful! Voting is open until the end of October.

My second piece of news means two people will be winning a prize as I have arranged a giveaway on Goodreads. Simply follow the link below to be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of Someday Never Comes, the second in the D.I. Paolo Storey crime series.

Here is an outline of the story.
DI Paolo Storey and his team want to put a stop to the dark, secretive world of child prostitution. When a child is found dead, and another killed while under police protection in hospital, the tension rises as the team face a wall of silence.

Who is the mysterious Joey? How can Paolo find evidence against the suspected paedophile ring? Someone knows about these traffickers, but absolutely no one will talk. It takes all of Paolo Storey's experience and intelligence to force the investigation to a thrilling conclusion.

Meanwhile, as well as unrest and betrayal in his team, Paolo Storey's personal life is in turmoil - and the final twist leaves the door open to more problems in his future.

This novel will appeal to crime readers who like dark, intense thrillers and are not put off by difficult topics.

There are twists and turns, unanswered questions, and a wealth of undesirable characters to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Lorraine Mace is the humour columnist for Writing Magazine and a competition judge for Writers’ Forum. She is a tutor for the Writers Bureau, and is the author of the Writers Bureau course, Marketing Your Book. She is also co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam of The Writer's ABC Checklist (Accent Press). Lorraine runs a private critique service for writers (link below). She is the founder of the Flash 500 competitions covering flash fiction, humour verse and novel openings.

Writing as Frances di Plino, she is the author of crime/thriller, Bad Moon Rising, featuring Detective Inspector Paolo Storey. The second in the series, Someday Never Comes, was released on 16th August 2013.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Normal life

Well, it's Friday. And I'd made up my mind to use the weekend to actually do the normal things that other people do. You know...tidy up, do the dishes, see friends, fill in forms. All that jazz.

I started so well. Putting the dishes in to soak, sorting out clothes to wash, checking e-mails etc..... It took me all of ten minutes and now, here I am , back in front of my laptop with the urge to write growing stronger by the minute. 

I'm fighting it hard because I know that as soon as I start that page with 'Chapter... ' that I'm lost. I'll look up and it won't be ten in the morning any more, it will be pitch dark and Coronation Street will be starting.

So, for the moment I'm fighting it ....and off to hoover.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Rehearsal, lock-out and other stuff!

Just finished rehearsal at The Studio Theatre Company, Belfast, of 'The Real Man', the gritty modern play on at the MAC Belfast 23rd-25th May 2013.  

It was our last Monday rehearsal until April, as we turn our attention full-time to Oscar Wilde's 'Lady Windermere's Fan' leading up to its  run at the MAC on April 4th, 5th and 6th.

Tickets for both plays will be on sale through from next week. 

It has just taken me an hour to unlock my google account and be able to access this blog has more security than Fort Knox!

Given that I'm spectacularly un-techy, it's a  miracle that I managed to do it at all!

Now...back to the book edits...

Sunday, 24 February 2013

D.C.I. Craig Crime Series update

Finishing off the final edits for Book Three in the DCI Craig series 'THE VISITOR' -- released in paperback and Kindle on 29th March 2013.   

Meanwhile Book Four is now with the publisher for consideration.

The Studio Theatre Company

Meanwhile....back in the world of theatre. 

Busy preparing The Studio Theatre Company for the opening night of Lady Windermere's Fan  on the 4th April at the MAC Belfast. Lights, sound, scenery, costumes, marketing, programme.....

Our modern play 'The Real Man' will follow at the MAC on the 23th May.

Tickets will be available for sale on from next weekend.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Exciting Times

The rehearsals for our two plays Lady Windermere's Fan by the wonderful Oscar Wilde and The Real Man  by a new author are going really well. Everything's gearing up for our performances at the MAC theatre  Belfast in April and May. 

Lady Windermere is on 4th. 5th and 6th April
The Real Man is on 23rd, 24th, 25th May

Tickets will be available to book soon on the MAC website

We'll also be giving a number of free performances for the elderly and community groups around Belfast


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Busy time!

It seems ages since I wrote a blog ( January!) and so much has been happening since then.

BOOKWISE I've been editing book three in the DCI Craig series 'The Visitor' out on the 29th March. We're just starting cover design this week so it's all go there.

Book four in the series is in the final stages of writing so that will be wending its merry way to the wonderful Crooked Cat Publishing this week, hopefully for publication in the summer.

Meanwhile I've turned towards New York to start writing a completely new book in the thriller not police genre tentatively titled 'The Carbon Trail', so hopefully that will be complete later this year.

Meanwhile THEATRE....back at The Studio Theatre Company in Belfast, we've been fortunate enough to secure a chance to perform at the wonderful MAC theatre in Belfast city centre with two plays.

Lady Windermere's Fan April 4th, 5th and 6th evenings and

The Real Man, the premier of a new work  on May 23rd, 24th, 25th  evenings 

We'll also be giving some free performances for charity  and communities over the periods around the MAC performances.

Phew...busy, busy

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Real New Year's Day

There are a lot of things happening at the moment, for a January.  I say for a January because normally the New Year starts in February. February the 28th to be exact. Why? Because it just does. Honestly. 

Every year I trudge through the weeks after Christmas, ecstatic that it's over and a fresh new year has begun. It's like a new notebook. You now, that orgasmic moment when you pull back the cover and there it is, that fresh clean page facing you, full of possibilities. It could be covered with black fibre-tip letters flowing from a pen to create words of wisdom. Or a list. Yes, how about a list of things to do in January? Or even by the summer. Or if you're feeling really excitable, by next Christmas . Yes, let's write a twelve month list. The best ever.  So I do. Then I look at it, full of excitement at what 2013 brings.

And then the thing happens. The January thing. The cold weather. The dark mornings and wet evenings and sometimes... the snow. Not crisp and white and imprintable, like it is in places like Norway or proper snow countries like that. But slushy and sleety and wet and icy and  ...well just Northern Irish the city.

There's the scraping through the mortgage payments and loading the fridge up with basics. The endless stretch of December's left-over salary, desperate to get through to January's end. And the thrill of the New Year gets parked, in the cupboard, behind the ten cans of baked beans you've just bought.

Then all of a sudden, there it is, February, coming over the horizon. Young and bright and full of Valentine's day and a short four weeks until you get paid, It comes quickly and then, before you've even shaken off January's gloom it's here. February 28th. Bills paid, Christmas debt wiped, home free with fifty quid to spare. The 28th of February. The real New Year's Day.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Interview NIScene

My brilliant interview in NIScene by Tammy Moore. Thanks Tammy!

Belfast author Catriona King’s DCI Craig novels from Crooked Cat Publishing, A Limited Justice and the December launched The Grass Tattoo (read an extract here), combine tightly-plotted crime, a diverse cast of characters and a ‘tall, dark and handsome detective’ in DCI Marc Craig, the series’ eponymous main character. ‘Well,’ King chuckles, ‘you have to have someone to fancy don’t you?’

Set in modern-day Belfast (very modern, each book is released on the date the story starts) the series deals with what King calls ‘ordinary crime’. So, murder, black-mail, extortion – anything as long as it is nothing to do with the Troubles.

‘I wanted a story that could happen in Belfast or in Paris,’ King explains, adding with a grin. ‘Once you’ve changed the place-names and dialects, that is.’

In The Grass Tattoo, for example, the opening pages detail finding the dead body of a local politician’s wife (A fictional party) covered in writing. However, the local politics angle turns out to be a red herring – ‘It’s not what you think it will be,’ King says – and the criminal organisation involved isn’t a local one, but a Russian gang of tattooed criminals called the Vor Y Zakone.

That isn’t to say the novel isn’t distinctly Belfast. The crime might be ‘ordinary’ anywhere, but the setting and characters are unmistakably local. Craig takes a date to a romantic dinner at Deane’s or goes to Love & Death Inc and his team’s fictitious headquarters is set on the real Pilot Street, where King’s grandfather owned a business. Even the MAC, where King launched The Grass Tattoo in December 2012, makes an appearance.

The only time King isn’t punctilious about using real, physical Belfast locations is when she’s killing someone.
‘I was at a reading and someone pointed out one of the streets I used wasn’t real,’ she remembers. ‘I said, “I was killing someone, you wouldn’t want me to leave a dead body on your street would you?”. I know I wouldn’t, so I don’t. Unless it is a public building, that’s different.’

As an author King is also eager to be inclusive of people who don’t belong to the expected, at odds Protestant and Catholic communities.

‘There are a lot of people in Northern Ireland that aren’t solely Northern Irish. There are Polish and Chinese and other communities.’ King points out. ‘My hero is representative of that. His father is from Belfast, his mother is a first generation immigrant from Rome and he went to an integrated school. Neither side can claim him.’

Craig’s first appearance in print is in A Limited Justice, which is also King’s first foray into novel-writing as an adult. Although she always enjoyed writing, and wrote non-fiction for GP magazine Pulse, being a doctor and a Police Forensic Medical Examiner took up a lot of her time. It was only after she came back to Belfast full-time that she started to think about writing again.

‘It was actually three years ago,’ King recalls. ‘My mother was sick and I had taken time off to take care of her. Whenever I wasn’t with her, I worked on A Limited Justice.’

With Craig’s experience working with the police as a Forensic Medical Examiner, and her long-time love of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels, the crime genre was an obvious stop for her. However, it might have seemed obvious for her to focus, a la Silent Witness and  CSI on the medical or forensic side of things. Instead, it was the detectives who interested her.

Although, once she tots up the skull-crushings, snipers and carotid occlusions, there is quite a bit of forensic detail included (‘And I made sure that it was all accurate,’ King says).
‘I didn’t want to bog the books down in detail,’ she explains. ‘Sometimes that can turn into showing off what you know, not telling a story.’
The next instalment in the story, and the third book in the series, is due out in March. That means that King has published three books, and written two, in under a year.
‘I love writing,’ she says. ‘If I didn’t have to make a living, I’d do it all the time.’

Fans of the series can also rest assured that King has no plans to make DCI Craig hang up his warrant card just yet. She plans to continue the series for at least another two or three books, and who knows – if they take off she might get her dream casting for her ‘tall, dark and handsome’ detective.
‘Aidan Turner from Being Human and the The Hobbit,’ she grins. ‘He’s still a bit young, but I think he can carry it off.’

Find out more about the series at Crooked Cat Publishing

Thursday, 3 January 2013


HAPPY 2013 everyone

Well the festive season is over and without being a Bah-Humbug I have to say that I'm glad. I've always preferred new years. I'd even admit to being a bit impatient for the 1st January, convinced that something AMAZING is going to happen immediately afterwards. Of course it doesn't, but the anticipation carries me forward cheerfully into the next year ...even the bad weather can't get me down in January.

It's pretty dark and murky here in Belfast but not cold at 12 degrees most days, not like the north-east coast of America ...brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Anyway books-wise. Book Two in the D.C.I. Craig series THE GRASS TATTOO ( see excerpt below) came out on the 11th December in paperback and is doing well with very little marketing, but I really must pick up on that. 

I've been busy writing book three in the series provisionally titled 'The Visitor' due for release in March and writing away on Book four provisionally titled 'The Library Club' .

I've also been contacted about doing an interview here next week which will be fun. So...all in all it's busy busy over here  :)

Here's a little excerpt from Book Two in the D.C.I. Craig series THE GRASS TATTOO

 THE GRASS TATTOO. Modern Belfast 2012 Crime novel out now On Amazon and

'She glanced idly across the elegant square, planning her next coffee break, and noticed a lithely handsome man entering the Metropolitan Arts Centre opposite. Its lean, arrowed stone and glass slotted perfectly into the square’s smooth design.

The man looked...well, she wasn’t actually sure what he looked, but he looked something, and he made her feel shy somehow, without knowing why. Then she realised what it was - he looked arty. Arty men had always attracted her, and made her shy. There was something so uncontrolled about them, and Maggie liked to be in control.'