Posted by jennifer gibson on Monday, October 13, 2014 Under: October
Hello everyone! Welcome to this week's author interview, please give a warm welcome to David Lawlor! Grab a cup of your favourite beverage, have a seat and enjoy.
Congratulations on your latest release, A Time of Traitors, the third book in the Liam Mannion trilogy series which is now available on Amazon. This series is focused on historical fiction although it feels more like an intriguing murder mystery. How did you come up with this style?
Thanks for having me, Jennifer. I write my novels during my 50-minute commute to work and then on the way home again. The result of that writing deadline is a set of novels with scenes that are tightly written and with little cliff-hangers throughout. I don't think historical fiction has to be long, sweeping scenes full of literary allusion. For me, the fact that the setting is historic should have no real effect of the pace of a scene. Drama, intrigue and suspense are not the sole preserve of modern crime novels, but they are integral to gripping stories, irrespective of the century in which a story is set.
Tell me more about the character, Liam. Where did he come from?
When I wrote my first book in the series, Liam started the story as a teenager. He’s now in his twenties but he has an old head on his shoulders. He’s been through some hard times: forced to flee Ireland to avoid trumped up charges concocted by a policeman, he joins the British Army and endures almost five years fighting in Flanders witnessing unspeakable horrors. That impacted on him. After the war he became ill and eventually rejoined the British Army and was posted to his old home town of Balbriggan to quell republican activity. Many of his childhood friends have joined the republican movement and Liam soon switches sides. He still struggles with his war memories – memories which are exacerbated by his role as a flying column commander in the War of Independence. Basically, Liam is tired of all the killing yet he must continue to do so in the service of his fledgling nation. His fiancée, Kate, is a strong-willed woman who is the brigade’s intelligence officer.
What inspired you to write this series?
My grandfather was quite active during the Irish War of Independence, which is when the series is set. He was involved in intelligence gathering for the IRA and also took part in ambushes against British troops. At one point he was arrested and tortured while in prison. Those things certainly had an influence on me - although, I was interested in this part of Irish history long before I knew any of that. It’s a time which has been largely ignored by fiction writers until only relatively recently. It is also a time which is romanticised a little. Many of those involved have achieved an almost mythic reputation. I wanted to delve beyond that and give a sense of the effects this war had on those actively involved and their families.
How much research did you have to do for your books? Did it involve interviewing anyone?
I didn’t interview anyone but I read quite a few books by key players of the time to help give me a sense of what they had gone through. I also studied maps, weapons, clothing and photographs of the era to make the scenes as believable as possible.
For your latest book, A Time of Traitors, was there anything that helped set the mood such as listening to music?
Not really. I never listen to music when I write; I find it too distracting. Sometimes I read historic first-person accounts as a way of putting myself in the right zone in order to convey certain scenes.
The story can get rather dark and gritty at times, how did you prepare yourself for those intense moments?
I am so familiar with many of the characters by now that I can easily slip into their heads and then draw on a combination of my emotions and what I think their feelings would be in a given situation.
Not only do you work for a national newspaper, you are also an editor, how do you manage to find the right balance between writing your novels and work?
What I do in work is very different to my novel-writing. Articles in work must be clear and concise, with the basic message that needs to be delivered placed up near the top of the article. My novels are the opposite. I can take my time revealing information, or reveal it through an expected source; it's much more fun than straightforward reporting. Luckily, my experience as an editor can sometimes be of use in making sure I don't overwrite certain scenes.
Have you always been interested in writing? Growing up, did you consider becoming a journalist as a career choice?
I loved writing essays in school and when I was in the Boy Scouts I set up a monthly magazine. I was in my teens when I first thought about journalism as a career. There were two courses one could do to qualify as a journalist when I was young. The first one, I failed to get into when I left school. The second route was a diploma course, which meant I had to do an honours degree in university and then apply for a place (there were only 20 places in the country at the time). I had to repeat my first year in university in order to sit for the honours degree, which was a pain. Luckily, though, I got my degree and was accepted into the diploma course.
As a journalist in Ireland, you must do quite a bit of travelling, have you discovered any locations that you enjoy visiting?
I do very little travelling actually. My job is deskbound. I now edit stories, write headlines and design pages, so I hardly ever get out of the office. That said, there are wonderful places to visit in Ireland - from Wicklow (where I live), which is known as ‘The Garden of Ireland, to stunning scenery around Cork, Kerry and Donegal. And if you don't fancy all that moving about I could always recommend a pub or two where you could enjoy a pint and some good music. You'll just have to come over and find out Jennifer!
Aside from writing, is there anything else that you are passionate about?
Well there is the small matter of four young children who I'm just a little bit passionate about. Harry (9), Chloe (7), Ruby (5) and Lily (3) are great for dragging me away from the computer, as is my long-suffering wife, Ines, who keeps the show on the road. I also love reading, but get very little chance these days as I use most of my free time to write.
Do you have any advice for new authors or journalists?
For new authors, I would join sites like Critique Circle, which is great for getting feedback on your work, and join one or two social media groups for authors. Writing is a lonely, angst-ridden process. It's good to know others are going through or have gone through what you are feeling right now. I would also advise not to take bad reviews too seriously. Don't be deflected by negative criticism. Keep writing. For those interested in journalism, I would advise them to look at the bigger picture - global readership is in decline, newspapers are struggling to monetise their online content. Would-be journalists should bear these things in mind before committing to it as a career. If they still want to pursue it then pester editors with ideas and show them how keen and capable you are.
More about David...
Biography: I have worked as a journalist for the past 25 years and am currently Associate Editor with The Herald newspaper in Dublin. To date, I have published three novels in my Liam Mannion series - Tan, The Golden Grave and A Time of Traitors, which are historical fiction thrillers set during the Irish War of Independence. in 1921 I am in the process of publishing a fourth book - a modern novel called High Crimes. When I'm not writing, I freelance as a book editor.
Tan - http://goo.gl/alyxtZ
The Golden Grave - http://goo.gl/2fLbxE
In : October
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