The Vanishing Triangle: The Murdered Women Ireland Forgot
The Vanishing Triangle: The Murdered Women Ireland Forgot, by Claire McGowan, will be published by Little A, 1st May 2022. Described as ‘an insightful sensitively drawn account’, it focuses on the tragedy of the eight women who went missing from an area around Dublin between 1993 and 1998. I am delighted with this opportunity to share with you all a recent Q & A session I had with Claire McGowan with some wonderful insights into her thought process and the inspiration behind The Vanishing Triangle.
“I like to think of myself as being a cross between Jessica Fletcher (only slightly younger), Carrie Bradshaw (only with fewer shoes), and Sylvia Plath (only more….alive)”
– Claire McGowan
[ About the Book ]
Between 1993 and 1998, eight women went missing from an area around Dublin that became known as the ‘Vanishing Triangle’. Claire McGowan delivers a candid investigation into the culture of secrecy, victim-blaming and shame that has left the fate of those young women unknown.
In questioning the circumstances that allowed eight women to vanish without a trace―no conclusion or conviction, no resolution for their loved ones― McGowan reveals an Ireland of outdated social and sexual mores, where women and their bodies were of secondary importance to perceived propriety and misguided politics. Was an unknown serial killer at large or was there something even more insidious at work?
Claire, who is not only a bestselling crime writer but also grew up in shadows of these atrocities, is perfectly placed to tell this story. She asks not just who committed these atrocities, but why they happened and were allowed to continue happening, digging into elements of 90s Irish culture which may have indirectly contributed to these women’s disappearances.
The Vanishing Triangle is an ethical and compassionate investigation that centres these murdered and missing women at the heart of the story.
In this insightful, sensitively drawn account, McGowan exposes a system that failed these eight women—and continues to fail women to this day.
[ Q & A with Claire McGowan ]
1. Claire did you always want to be a writer?
Yes always – I was a very keen reader as a child and started to write my own stories from the age of about eight. However I didn’t grow up around anyone who worked in the arts, so I was well into my twenties before I actually managed to finish anything.
2. You write crime fiction under your own name, but you also write romcoms under the pseudonym Eva Woods. How does that work?
It’s actually very common for writers to have more than one name, especially if you write different genres – it helps readers to know what kind of book they’re going to get. I find it works well for me as I’m quite a fast writer and always have a lot of ideas I want to get down.
3. Claire, you have had a very interesting career to date. I did read that you decided a few years back to develop a relationship with a mentor to assist you to fulfil your dream of becoming a screenwriter. Having since had various successes with radio dramas and other projects, can you explain to us how this transpired and what drives you to achieve your goals?
I became interested in script writing about six or seven years, and have been on a long journey learning how to do it. I’ve been lucky to get commissioned for several radio pieces which has led to me writing audio drama – it’s so interesting to see what can be done in that medium. I haven’t had anything on TV yet but lots in the pipeline.
4. For five years Claire, you were Senior Lecturer at City University London. You host writing workshops and write pieces for magazines and newspapers. Where is your focus now and do you still enjoy teaching?
I don’t teach as much these days, just the occasional workshop, but I do really enjoy talking about writing, because I feel there’s always something for me to learn as well. I loved my time teaching at City and seeing so many of my students get published has been wonderful.
5. How do you fit in your writing around your work and other activities? How do you prioritise and spread your energy?
I’m lucky that I can write full-time at the moment, but I do have a lot of projects, so I plan my year quite carefully and set deadlines and progress targets. I make sure to also exercise and get out of the house every day or my mood would really dip! That said, it’s rare to find the perfect balance between work and other things. I’m always working at it.
6. Do you have weekly targets with your writing?
Yes, if I’m writing new work – which is a smaller part of the job than you’d think! – I aim for 1,000 or 1,500 a day and am quite strict with myself. That way it adds up nicely, and I never delete anything until I have a first draft, which is when the real work of editing begins.
7. Imposter Syndrome – I know that many writers often feel that they are simply not good enough, which can be creatively crippling. How do you feel about it as a concept?
This is a huge problem for me! I can only say it never goes away. I’m quite good at getting work out anyway, and being disciplined with myself, but the rejection and fear of failure can be very difficult to handle.
8. How difficult is it to be a female writer of crime fiction? Do you ever feel pigeon-holed that your books will only be read by women?
No – I think women are the biggest readers of all genres anyway. There are lots of female crime fiction writers so I think it’s quite balanced, though it would be interesting to keep note of who gets the biggest advances, and who is featured in reviews and at festivals, as I think this is still not quite equal.
9. Claire your non-fiction book, ‘THE VANISHING TRIANGLE, The Murdered Women Ireland Forgot’, will be published with Little A on May 1st. It is a true-crime investigation that focuses on the tragedy of the eight women who went missing from an area around Dublin between 1993 and 1998. Can you please share with us what inspired you to write this book and how emotionally attached did you get these women’s story?
I was asked if I knew of any true-crime stories I would like to write about, and this one immediately sprang to mind. I had learned about it while researching my crime novels and found it very shocking that the cases were not more widely known. It was sad and often frightening to write the book, realising how many women actually are harmed by strangers, and it made me think a lot about my own safety, living in a big city like London. My hope is that the book will help to raise awareness that these cases are still unsolved.
10. Where to next for Claire McGowan?
I’m always working on something else, and am close to finishing a new thriller for 2023- I also have a new one already finished that will be out later this year. And a new Eva Woods, and I’ve also sold a literary novel also to be published in 2023. Lots going on!
Purchase/Pre-Order Link ~ The Vanishing Triangle
[ Bio ]
Claire McGowan was born in 1981 in a small Northern Irish village. She is the author of The Fall, What You Did, The Other Wife, The Push and the acclaimed Paula Maguire crime series.
She also writes women’s fiction under the name Eva Woods.
Twitter ~ @inkstainsclaire
I had never heard of this case, so I am very interested in this book. Wonderful interview, Mairéad.
Carla I remember it well. A huge mystery never solved. Thanks so much x