Welcome one and all to Irish Writers Wednesday. I do so hope you are all enjoying my little tribute to a wonderful bunch of writers. I’m still quite in awe with the response I received for this feature.
This week I have Cork writer Catherine Ryan Howard joining me. Catherine is a new voice in Irish Crime Fiction with her very successful debut novel Distress Signals released in May 2016. You can read my review of Distress Signals HERE
Catherine has written a great post today entitled ‘Corkonian Crime’ so I’ll hand you over now…
by Catherine Ryan Howard
I didn’t actually set out to write a crime/thriller novel set in Cork.
Growing up – and by ‘growing up’ I mean ‘the Nineties’ – it seemed to me to be slim pickings if I was looking for authentic, contemporary crime even set in Ireland that felt like it could stand shoulder to shoulder with the Big Boys and Girls of the US and UK.
Thankfully, things have completely changed on that front – but even today, it’s mostly Dublin that suffers like the villages in Midsomer Murders, plagued with a truly alarming amount of fictional crime.
The only ‘crime in Cork’ novels I can think of are the award-winning The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney and the novels of Graham Masterton.
Now I wouldn’t be a true Corkonian if I didn’t take this opportunity to point out that according to the magical interweb, neither of those authors were actually born in Cork. (Sorry, guys. You do live there though. That’s enough for me. That’s also more than me – I’ve moved to Dublin.)
And I didn’t necessarily want to set my crime/thriller novel in Cork. The whole point was that it wouldn’t be set anywhere at all.
I got the idea for Distress Signals from an article by Jon Ronson about disappearances at sea. Cruise ships in international waters are under the jurisdiction of the country where the ship is registered, regardless of where in the world the ship happens to be if and when a crime is committed.
Combine this with the fact that most large cruise ships are registered in ‘flags of convenience’ – countries like Bermuda, Barbados and Panama – for tax purposes, and that cruise lines don’t want the kind of bad PR a murder brings, and how long it would take for a passenger who’s gone overboard in the middle of the night to be recognised as missing, if the only witness to the fall was the person who’d pushed them….
and you have the perfect place to get away with murder!!
Purchase Link : Distress Signals
But I’m lazy.
So when I started the book, I found my two main characters – one of whom was about to mysteriously disappear – living in the apartment I had lived in off the South Douglas Road. The next morning, she went to Cork Airport to catch a flight. A couple of days after that, he’d go to the Garda station on Angelsea Street to file a missing person’s report about her.
I don’t necessarily think that Cork is vital to the plot [cover your ears, those of you in the People’s Republic]; the book would work just as well if it started in Dublin, or Galway, or even somewhere in the UK. But for me, that’s exactly the point.
Cork as a setting shouldn’t stand out in a crime/thriller novel, it should fit right in. It should work just as well as Dublin or London or LA. And why not? I like writing about extraordinary things happening to ordinary people, and the most ordinary place to me – and to you, I bet – is the place I’m most familiar with, the town I grew up in. Everywhere else is the ‘other’, the foreign land, the exciting adventure.
But putting it in a novel might just make it sound like an exciting adventure to the reader.
My second novel, which I’m working on now, is set in Dublin (because I live here now and I said I’m lazy, didn’t I?) but for the third, it looks like I’ll be returning to Cork, and staying there for the full 100,000 words. It actually involves an area in Cork county that most people in the country have heard of, but few have been to.
That’s all I’ll say about it for now. I know, I know – such a tease.
Now that’s leaving us all on a cliffhanger!!
Thank you Catherine and I for one, as a fellow Corkonian, am delighted to see Cork feature in novels. It’s wonderful for Cork and it’s wonderful for the people of Cork.
That’s it today for Irish Writers Wednesday. Please join me next week when Patricia Gibney drops by with another fabulous post.
In the meantime you can find out more about Catherine in the attached bio..
See y’all soon.
Catherine Ryan Howard Bio..
Catherine was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982.
Her debut thriller, Distress Signals, is out now in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand (Corvus/Atlantic) and the USA (Blackstone).
The Irish Times called Distress Signals “a highly confident and accomplished debut novel, impeccably sustained, with not a false note”.
It has been optioned for television by Jet Stone Media and been shortlisted for Crime Novel of the Year at the 2016 Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards.
In 2010, Catherine began self-publishing – two light-hearted travel memoirs, followed by the obligatory ‘how to’. Known for dispensing particularly pragmatic self-publishing advice, Catherine began to speak on the subject for the likes of Faber Academy, the Irish Writers’ Centre, Guardian Masterclasses and others. But her goal was always to write crime fiction and to get published.
Catherine is currently working on her second thriller and studying for a BA in English Literature at Trinity College Dublin.
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