I began writing in early 2001, mainly focusing on short stories. After winning the odd contest here and there I figured I would try and write something a little longer. A few false starts later I managed to complete my first novel, titled Filthy Henry: The Fairy Detective, in early 2013.
I currently live in Skerries, Dublin, Ireland.
Tell us about your Filthy Henry Series. Are there more books to come?
The Filthy Henry series is a fantasy-comedy series that follows the adventures of Filthy Henry, Ireland’s first and foremost fairy detective. He is a half-human, half-fairy who has to work magical cases in modern day Ireland that involve the mortal and magical worlds colliding. Each book is a self-contained story, based of one of the many myths and legends from Ireland’s Celtic roots. Such as in the first novel Filthy Henry has to find out who stole the King of the Leprechauns crock of gold.
At the minute the series is five books long, with some short stories appearing in various anthologies or on a podcast here and there (I think at last count there are seven short stories involving Filthy Henry or one of his supporting cast). There are more books to come as well, I have two novels planned out – usually I am two novels ahead in terms of books planned once I start doing the edits on the current book I am writing. Helps to keep me in a mode of constantly writing.
What project(s) are currently working on?
Currently I am working on something, as Monty Python would say, a little different. I have primarily written fantasy, comedy-fantasy and even dabbled in sci-fi recently with my novel Duplex Tempus. So to test my writing muscles I decided to work on a series novel. While all my other books could fall under the generic label of ‘crime’, they are crime plus something else. My current novel, Blood Knight – working title, is a crime novel that is firmly set in the real world without any of the ‘get out of jail free’ cards that fantasy or sci-fi give a writer.
When and why did you decide to publish?
Back in 2012 I had just finished my first Filthy Henry novel, Filthy Henry: The fairy detective, and I was shopping it around to agents and publishers alike. I had hired an editor to polish my final draft, which was draft number ten, and each weekend was spent seeing who was open for submissions and sending it off. I still find it surprising that in 2012 submissions had to be done via snail-mail and paper print outs mostly, very few were taking emails and pdfs.
Anyway long story short I got rejected every time with no feedback from anyone. Then a publisher with Penguin explained to me that the industry was going through a bit of a shock because the Kindle was doing to books what the iPod had done to the music industry. He suggested that I go down the indie publishing road, get a name for myself that way, then come back.
So that’s what I did.
It sounds like humor is a major part of your writing. Does that come natural for you or do you have to work at it?
Many moons ago, before kids and a mortgage and a job that worked me 80 hours a week, I would do standup comedy as a hobby. I think I did it for about four years, with regular gigs. In school I was a bit of a class clown. In life in general I am probably too sarcastic for my own good. So, the humour part of writing does come naturally for me. But I also constantly second guess if what I am writing is funny or not. After all who laughs at their own jokes. So, when I ask my wife to read a chapter I have just written, and she starts laughing I immediately ask what part she is laughing at. It annoys her so much that now she leaves the room to read in peace.
What is your favorite aspect of writing? What is the hardest part of writing for you?
I am a plotter over a pantser any day of the week, and I really enjoy plotting out a book. I usually have an outline of the plot, including the major points each chapter should cover, that runs into ten or fifteen pages. It can be fun doing that stuff as it is like starting a new drawing on a blank sheet of paper. I often tell people as well that my plots can change as I am writing. Maybe an idea appears mid draft that I like or something that I have in the plot notes just doesn’t work anymore so I drop it. I remember telling a writing buddy of mine that this happened and he was amazed, he never thought of doing the same himself.
Editing the drafts after draft 1 is what kills me. I know it has to be done. There will be typos and plotholes. Sections that need to be tweaked to read better. It is all work that has to be done, needs to be done, but when you get into draft seven or eight you eyes feel blurry. I heard a great phrase recently that sums up my feelings on it nicely. You never really finish writing a book, you just decide you can’t be bothered doing any more editing and settle on the current draft being the final one.
What writing advice has been the most beneficial for you?
Write every day, without fail, no matter what day it is. People often look at a book and think that something 100k words is a mountain that can never be climbed. But if you wrote 1000 words a day, or 500, or 100, that mountain gets smaller. So, write every day. As a much more famous author said – you don’t call yourself a write if you only do it every so often. You need to write and read every day.
What is your strangest writing quirk?
I’m not sure if I have a writing quirk, actually. I write daily, I do the editing, it’s all very ‘boring’ in terms of quirks. I suppose I do have one rule that I stick too – no fun if the daily wordcount hasn’t been hit first. As I do all of my writing in the evenings, once the kids are in bed, I will make sure to get words written in the morning if I am meeting friends at night. But no games are played or shows watched if the words have not been written. Otherwise that 100k mountain will be forever out of reach.
If money were no object, what would you do for the rest of your life?
I’d write Filthy Henry until my last day, passing from this world into the next with an unfinished book. When I was younger I always wanted to be a writer but I was talked into getting a ‘real’ job. But yes, if the millions magically appeared in my bank account tomorrow I’d be writing Filthy Henry, or whatever book I could think of, and never question my choice.
When not writing, what do you like to do for fun?
I have a collection of hobbies. When not writing I do play computer games, despite being in my 40s I find them a nice escape from the real world stress. Watching shows, in particular sci-fi, and then of course any good writer is an avid reader.
What does success look like for you as an author?
Reviews anywhere that say people enjoyed my writing. I am not in it for the money (although that would be nice) but I find myself checking daily for new reviews on any books to see if people enjoyed the story. While stars are good, reviews with a few lines are the best. If anyone reading this does go on to read one of the books, don’t forget to leave a review.
Is there anything additional you want to share with readers?
Some of the books and short stories in the Filthy Henry series are freely available as a podcast on any podcast platform. Simply search for Filthy Henry and you will find them.