Another event from Something Wicked in Malahide

La Sirena, Marine Court Centre, The Green, Malahide, Saturday June 21st 10am to 1pm

The good peeps at Something Wicked - who are a fantastic bunch of Malahide-based crime-fiction enablers - have announced what will no doubt be another great event. Having attended one of their things - a similar masterclass by Louise Phillips - this one will no doubt be super too. It's being held in a Mexican cuisine restaurant. I love me some of them burritos!

Are you interested in learning the tricks of the trade from Arlene Hunt, the unique, award-winning and eight times published Irish crime writer?

Arlene Hunt will deliver a crime-writing master class in the stylish sea-front restaurant of La Sirena, Malahide.

This is a half day event from 10am to 1pm and will cost €10. There will be a subsequent Q&A session over lunch from 1pm to 2pm and participants can attend both the workshop and lunch for €18.

Something Wicked is a Malahide-based arts organisation that is currently organising a series of cultural events focused on crime fiction.

Arlene’s first novel, Vicious Circle, was published in 2004 to much acclaim, a pattern which continued through her five John and Sarah QuicK Investigations books, to the more recently published The Chosen (2011) and The Outsider (2013).

For further information contact Dara Lawlor on M: 086-7950638 or E: or Fiona Byrne on M: 086-6029294 or E: .

You may also visit our website on

“Arlene Hunt may just be the best female crime writer to have emerged from these islands in recent years.” – John Connolly

Irish Wit

Instances of Irish Wit and Humo(u)r

Hmmm. Okay. This stuff has actually happened.


Walking past government buildings in Dublin at about 11 pm, after a few pints on a Friday night, I spat on the pavement, being - at that point - quite the drunken slob.

A uniformed cop was coming towards me. Our eyes met. He nodded a hello.

"Is it illegal to spit, Guard?" I asked him then as he passed.
He turned back and said:
I said:
"Is it actually - just out of interest now - " I slurred, "Is it actually illegal to spit?"
"Well," he said, in his thick, lilting country accent, as he paused and considered the question. "It depends on what you're spitting at."

Conversation between two work colleagues, one of them talking about his over-reliance on something.
"It's time to sever the unbiblical cord."
"The what?"
"The unbiblical cord."
"Unbiblical? It's the umbilical cord. Umbilical." [SHAKES HEAD AND LAUGHS.]
"I always thought it was 'unbiblical'."
A third work colleague:
"Well, it's only unbiblical if it's a crisis pregnancy."

Supermarket checkout, customer buying black bin liners.
Customer: "I don't need the receipt. I mean, they're not gonna go off, are they?"
Shop assistant: "Well...what do you intend to put in them?"


Anyone else have any instances of Irish humour?

BBC Scandal: Procol Harum accused of Kidnapping Nigerian schoolchildren

In the latest crisis to hit the BBC, the scandal-prone corporation has been accused of aiding and abetting members of the progressive rockgroup Procol Harum in the kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian schoolchildren and young women.

The band - which formed in 1967 and is most famous for its hit Whiter Shade of Pale - contributed to the development of both progressive and symphonic rock music. Jimmy Savile - of Jim'll Fix It and Jimmy Savile Sexual Abuse Scandal fame - is likely to have been at some of the band's recordings for television and radio at the BBC, in the late 1960s.

The Harum at the Beeb

Thankfully, accusations leveled against the band are due to a simple mix-up with their name and that of the terrorist organisation Boko Haram, which has kidnapped the Nigerian schoolgirls and young women from a centre of education.

Meanwhile, the BBC are considering a British re-make of a speech made by America's First Lady about the kidnappings. For more information on such "translantication", click here.

Go get the man

Original here. From the ThursThreads Challenge: Include "Go get the man" in the story.

Go get the man
Truck-trailer travel had exacerbated the voices. The mental health facility – located in a Calais suburb – had been his home for weeks. He had limited English, no French. He hadn’t heard Azerbaijani spoken by another living human being for months, since his arrest and subsequent isolation, before his move to the asylum. Seeking asylum. The pun would likely have amused him if his English was as good as his wife Goga’s.

The ghost of Elvis Presley whispered from the air conditioner:
“Stay strong.”
Hitler’s ghost, under his bed, made darker suggestions:
“Kill the big male nurse.”
Elvis spoke English, Hitler – the many-tongued devil – Austrian-tinged Azerbaijani.
Twice daily, Hamid took strange medications at the behest of a big male nurse. The nurse went from ward to ward with his cart of serotonin inhibitors, dopamine blockers, and sleeping pills.

Hamid had not seen his wife since his apprehension. He had been found wandering alone, catatonic, along an autoroute near the Chunnel.
One evening, the pouting doctor’s clattering shoes roused him, her form casting a long shadow on her approach towards his bed.
The nurse wheeled in his trolley, attending other patients.
The doctor stood at his bedside, smiling broadly.
“Your wife Goga comes tomorrow!” she told him. “Here. Oui? Goga demain.”
"Goga tomorrow", but Hamid did not speak French.
She smiled her encouragement, echoing: “Goga demain.”
With officialdom’s blessing, Hamid hadn’t needed to be told twice.
He pulled a knife from under his mattress, leapt from the bed, and slashed the big male nurse’s throat as he prepped his dose.
The nurse collapsed, life leaving him as he bled out on the floor.
The doctor hit an alarm button. Her eyes met Hamid’s over the other patients’ screams. His smile faded. He knew that he had misheard.

Creating Comic Strips with Alan Nolan

Something Wicked is a Malahide-based arts organisation that is currently organising a series of cultural events focused on crime fiction. A crime-writing masterclass provided by Louise Phillips in March was greatly entertaining and hugely informative. Here is an announcement of their latest event, for tweens.

Something Wicked presents Alan Nolan
Malahide Library, Saturday May 17th, 2:15pm to 3:30pm

Are your children 11/12 years old?  Do they love to read and to draw?

Something Wicked’s next event sees bestselling author and kids' graphic novelist Alan Nolan share his tips on writing a great story and teach kids how to create their own comic strip.  Kids will also be treated to a reading from his new novel, Fintan’s Fifteen , which tells the story of the trials and tribulations of Ireland’s worst hurling team, the Ballybreen Terriers U14s, and their unlikely captain Fintan Heffernan. 

Alan is the creator of The Big Break Detectives Casebook, a graphic novel for younger readers, and the 'Murder Can Be Fatal' mysteries.  He is also the co-creator of the horror series Sancho.
This event is free but in order to book a place please email us at info(at)somethingwicked(dot)eu.
This is a great opportunity for children who are interested in reading graphic novels to meet and learn from one of Ireland’s finest practitioners.

My #writingprocess (#bloghop)

If you were brought here by this guy, I have to say that calling me a "sci-fi virtuoso" is [CHUCKLES] a bit much.

It is, however, a neat marketing trick coz my current work in progress IS a sci-fi novel, set primarily in late twenty-first century Dublin.

Not done yet!

Yusuf Brandon Toropov's finely-honed, beautiful novel is up for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, one of a small fraction of the original entrants. His style of writing isn't of the minimalist kind en vogue at the moment. But I've had the immense privilege to critique some of his work. I've seen his process and by golly, it works a treat. His assiduous dedication would put John Banville to shame. (Banville claims to work a paragraph a day. He is also, apparently, a notorious curmudgeon of a soul. Little wonder. Yusuf ISN'T. He does, however, have high expectations of fellow writers.)

            a) What am I working on?

A slightly dystopic time-travel novel, set primarily in Dublin and in space, in the 2090s, called The Quantum Eavesdropper.

            b) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Specific to Quantum: Trying to straddle the realism of Arthur C. Clarke and the absurdity of Douglas Adams. So there are quips, setpieces, slapstick, and [deep breath] OTT-postmodern-Tarantinoesque violence, but I'd hope the Earth and its universe have a consistent, geopolitical and sciencey realism to them amongst all that absurdity. (The gravity always works when it should, and so too do the pratfalls.) I'm sure there are sci-fi authors whose work is more similar to mine.

            c) Why do I write what I do?
Because Brandon and fantasy writer LT Dalin. (Her name's Liv. She's not a lieutenant. She's a gigantically talented writer of a fantasy trilogy that kicks off at a mental hospital and then goes into a wondrous kingdom where our creatures of legend actually live.) I said to them I hadn't written a substantial narrative for a couple of years, and they said "Get writing." After the first novel failed to take off, I started into Quantum. Their criticisms have been great and they're two super CPs. (I mean of course Cutie Pies, not Critique Partners.)

More broadly, I often write a piece when I have so many ideas / lines / gags / plot details / incidents for it that I just have to get started. This may be through forced focus or else these inspirations may come without asking.

For example, a short story about the social normativity of child molestation in some parts of Afghanistan *which I'd read about* is teased out to ask What if the only non-pedophile policeman working alongside the coalition forces is actually jubble-dobbing for the Taliban? (I know what I said. It's how I say it. And I'm a bit sensitive about it.)

For another example, a short story in which a protagonist's name not fitting into a field on a computer form *which happened in real life* relates via flashback to his childhood self not fitting through a fence in a field, nor his character fitting into society.

Occasionally, I will wake up and scribble on a pad after thinking about a plot for a day or more, or if an idea just strikes me. If I am scribbling for more than a few minutes, or I keep picking up the pen again, it's time to boot up.

            d) How does my writing process work?

MJ Bush uses writerly vocab. I learn new words from her site all the time. So "pantsing". Not really planning at all. As in "seat-of-the-pants" and "flying by the".

I know where things are going, mind you, broadly, for The Quantum Eavesdropper! Promethean themes, and hubris, and existential anxieties and what not, and: Will our hero escape from the edge of "Absolute Reality" type stuff?

Right now, I'm trying to juggle with the science bit and hoping that the characters are gonna work it out amongst themselves. But I'll have to re-draft, of course. 80,000 words into the first draft. 10,000 words of bits and bobs of the next chapters. Filling in the gaps right now.

Issues I've had so far is that Tremayne is stuck at a black hole. Before this, on Earth, the Americans and the Russians want to have words with him. Actually, it's more tha-an [ANOTHER DEEP BREATH. FALSETTO] WO-O-O,-O-O-O---UHHH-Uhhh, uh uhrrrds.

TREMAYNE doesn't yet know he's a "time-traveler", in the future. So he's being bounced from Billy to Jack while working on a case in Dublin, he's apprehended and brought to Moscow, and then RENDERED by the cybermen of the CIA. He doesn't have a motivation beyond survival.


"Stop throwing extra balls at the juggler!" I roar.

Seriously, though, Brandon's assistance has been invaluable in providing a lot more clarity for any potential reader.
Brandon does NOT like my pantsing process. He would happily/grudgingly spend hours discussing characters' arcs and motivations, as long as I reach objectives for them. So he DOES have endless patience in many respects.

BTW, fellow Pantser Paul Kater has just posted about this. (I will approach him about forming a Pantser Division. We're not even Nazis.)

"Monty" Montgomery: Fighting Nazis.

Post BTW, I usually write short stories rather than novels. So pantsing is - I'd suggest - far more acceptable when writing short fiction.

And I AM using an exercise to develop a villain in the novel, based on Lauren Sapala's Writing Process post, which I imagine is the sort of thing non-pansters would do.

Another excellent Cutie Pie is Safie Maken Finlay: SMF. She's one Slick Mother, if you catch me. Her positive notes were a much-needed boost a couple of months back, when I was stalling. She has her own novel for ALL the ages, The Galian Spear, from nine-year-olds up, and from pre-diluvian times to the present-day. Its excellent writing - alongside touches of the historical and mythical, and mytho-historical, and the mystical hysterical, with the gaping eye of some kind of a tectonic evil godhead in it, summoned from the bowels of the Earth, and lots and lots of stuff - make it gander-friendly for both adults and kids.

Feedback is very important on an extended narrative, although I've had little of it on novels in the past until I have completed them. The Cutie Pie, beta-reading scheme is quite a new concept to me.  But it's very beneficial.

Anyway, enough of the shout-outs! I am such a buttlicker!

I'd like to see the processes of these mind-blowingly amazing writers:

John Wiswell - whose blogposts have occasionally caused me to flip out, with flash fic that resembles those optical illusions where if you focus on the shading of the image you initially look at, it's a whole nother picture at the end. (I think he is - actually - a sci-fi virtuoso.)

John is an American Fantasy writer fast at work on a series about thieves in the Post-Post-Post-Post-Apocalypse. He's written for Weird Tales, SF Signal and Flash Fiction Online, and blogs at The Bathroom Monologues. He firmly believes tentacle monsters can be domesticated.

Sean Farrell at Pale Outlaw - whose current work-in-progress is a crime-fiction narrative - set in Eastern Europe - and is very strong indeed, from what little I've seen. Other than great story, his readers learning about the Baltic states is a massive USP. Sean is also a journalist. The richness of his news pieces is partly due to his citations of recent history, Ireland's current affairs from two or ten or thirty years back. Writing about the present-day state of the country, he often revivifies and tickles my old memory-noggin-pathways in a way that is rare in the Irish newspapers I get inboxed. I'm very grateful to have found this work, alongside the gripping fiction he has shared. As you will note from his bio, he has lived a pretty interesting life thus far:

Retired Irish diplomat. Posts included Ambassador to Estonia, Moldova, Director, Irish Abroad, Consul General Chicago, DHOM Anglo Irish Secretariat, Belfast, ECMM Peace Monitor, Croatia and Bosnia, plus London, Washington D.C., The Hague, PRB Brussels, UNGA New York. Since retirement have produced a monthly comment column for the Irish American News and regularly review books for the Irish Independent as well as Irish radio. Have published non – fiction articles in the Irish Independent, Irish Times and Ireland’s Own.  M.A. History. Interests include Music, Chess, Reading, Writing, Tennis, Philately, mild Bibliophile. Married Elizabeth Margaret 1971, three children.

Joe Alfonse, who has a terrific premise for a historical novel set in the late nineteenth century United States! Joe is based in Lexington MA. He's a high school science teacher and dedicated educator who was unsure about whether to do the blog hop due to his time constraints. Happily, he's been in touch and greenlit the thing!

Here's Joe's bio:

I was born and raised outside of Boston in the early 1960’s, the youngest of four children. I attended public schools for the early part of my upbringing then moved into the Catholic School System for my middle and high school years. This coincided with the Boston ‘Busing Crisis’ providing me the opportunity to meet many inner-city kids that bailed out of the Boston Schools so they wouldn’t have to suffer ‘desegregation’.

At the end of my high school education, I had saved just enough money to attend one semester of College before being bereft of funds. Once the money ran out, as the son of a former WWII Marine, the next logical step for me was to join the military, which I did enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in the spring of 1981. Prior to even making it to basic training, I learned another lesson in life in: Never enlist in the ‘undecided’ category, the service can choose what they want you to do instead of me deciding what I want to do for a career path.

Fortunately for me, just two weeks prior to Basic Training while playing basketball, I severely injured my ankle which released me from my Air Force contract.  It took almost 6 months in a cast and a lot of rehab but during which time I did a lot more research into joining the military. Choosing what I now considered the ‘safe’ route, one year later I joined the Army National Guard under the assumption that one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer was a great way to see if I even liked the military or not. Twenty-two years later – a lot of it spent on active duty by choice not chance – I had the opportunity to learn and grow as a person even having the opportunity to not shoot at anyone (which I consider one of the highlights of my career).
I transitioned from the military to become a high school science teacher after finishing my college education using both my civilian learned skills as well as those from the military.

Currently I live in Lexington, Massachusetts with my wife and four college age children. As well as being a father, husband, teacher, and someday I hope a published author, I also am heavily involved in another one of my passions: softball.

The Top 10 Best Bits - Novelist Alan Shatter loses Ministerial Role

Looking like a Mr. Grumpy Pants, the novelist Alan Shatter has lost his role as Minister for Justice and Equality. Here are his best bits in loose chronological order:

10. He told former 80s Neighbours star Mick Wallace that he had heard that he had been caught on the phone while behind the wheel.

Mick Wallace

09. He further explained that the Garda Commissioner had told him that Wallace had been let off with a flare gun at one of the regular meetings with An Gourda Commissiúnereachtúnachtachtacht. [WINK!] 

---The triumvirate of Mick "Surf" Wallace, Ming "Turf" Dealer and fiercely loyal Clare "ARE YOU STILL HANGIN' ROUND WITH THAT GANG OF EEJITS?" Daly decided to run a successful campaign to eradicate the culture of penalty points suspensions. (It was not successful.)
            Further details on their phone use et al can be found here.

08. In his world of sposedas, Shatter then blamed Garda Commissioner of An Gourda Commissiúnereachtúnachtachtacht for telling him about Mick Wallace, when he was sposeda shut the #*#* up in the first place.

Brown bread

07. A pair of Garda whistleblowers popped the can of worms open, like a pair of whistleblowers from the Royal Irish Cobstabellary [TOOT! TOOT! STOP THIEF!], and the Minister said they were in the wrong.

06. The head of An Gourda Commissiúnereachtúnachtachtacht was brown bread when he supported the minister and said their behaviour was "what a rat bastard weasel would do. These guys make me sick. Disgusting pair-ah---- why I oughta!" [GRITS TEETH. SHAKES FIST.]

05. Shatter appointed his buddy and pal to do a slapdown of the whistleblowers, exastertating tensions.

04. Leo the Usurper gatecrashed the whole affair with a tearful and politically-felicitous Tammy Wynette number. Shatther was probly to An Gourda Commisiunerúní all "I want your badge, Mister! This Danish cheese is NOT for me."

03. Shatter, Shatter, Shatter. He was taking out his katana at this stage, giving it a wipe, ready to fall on it, although he had shattered a bunch o' them! And I'm no legal expert - he is!

02. The Minister next made a series of ultra conservative pronouncements about being anti-buggery with his Garda socks. He blamed it on the café wi-fi. That didn't even happen, he says.

01. Bye now, to the novelist Alan Shatter!