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An interview with Valerie Keogh

I met Valerie last year via a Writers group we are both members of and since then she has become a good friend. It does help that we do share the same job and are both Irish!…..

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 Can you tell me a little about your books Val?

I’ve written five, to datwith a crime/romance novel called, That One May Smile. Close Ranks, is the second in this series, and I’m hoping the next will be ready early next year. It’s based in Dublin, where I grew up and there is a bit of romance and crime intermingled. There’s very little violenceand no sex in this series. Initially, That one May Smile had a gory opening chapter but a number of readers said they didn’t like it so I deleted it. They were right, it’s far better without.

I also write a grittier series – my Nicola Connolly series. This is a much darker series, more violence and there’s some sex – none of it is gratuitous though, it is part of the story. In the first, Deadly Sleep, I was worried because all of the characters are quite flawed. The main character, Nicola, is a serial killer. In The Devil Has Power, she gets married but continues on with her killing, and once again becomes involved with the police. I’ve introduced an element of romance to lighten the story a little. I’m currently working on the next in this series and hope to have it ready to publish by December.

I also wrote a stand-alone novel, Exit Five from Charing Cross which started off as a crime novel but changed as I wrote to become more of a contemporary drama than a crime novel. It’s my favourite of the novels I’ve written. So far!

Er yes, I’ve read your Murdering Nurse books – mm – more than a little different to bedpan duties!

Can you tell me how you got into writing, it’ same little differed end to bedpan duties!

When I was very young, I used to write books on scraps of paper and tie the edges together with string. I always had a dream to write but after a while the dream almost became more important and took over – it was fear of failure and destruction of that dream that stopped me writing, until one day I decided this is it! And I started, and haven’t stopped since,

So what inspires you to write?Inspiration comes sometimes when I least expect it – Exit Five from Charing Cross came while I was waiting outside Charing Cross waiting for my husband, I watched a man walk by and wondered what if… When I started writing, it was that man and that situation I wrote – it ended up being the last chapter of the novel and I worked backwards from there.

I was on holidays, recently, and woke up in the middle of the night. Unable to get back to sleep, I was thinking of various things and the idea for a story came to me. I had the whole story worked out in my head before I fell asleep. In the morning, when I woke, I scribbled it down on a sheet of paper. Some day, I’ll write it – hopefully it won’t put others to sleep!

When I write my crime novels, I’m not always sure what the crime is going to be or how it’s going to turn out. I start with a vague idea and hope for the best. So far, it’s paid off.

Is there any advice you’d like to offer to others thinking of self-publishing? 

Make your product the best it can be. That requires a lot of hard work. I spend almost as long editing my work as I do writing it, but it’s worth it as I think the novel I publish is as good as I can make it. When I started I did my own covers but I’ve since hired a designer who does them for me and they look much sharper which is important when you’re looking into promotions.

Publishing on Amazon is so easy – it can be done in a few minutes. I now have 5 novels there and it gives me such a thrill to see them.

What is your dream?

I suppose I’m no different to hundreds of other writers in that I’d love to be able to write full-time. My novels aren’t available in print format – my other dream is to see a row of my novels in a bookshop. This is one dream I may be able to make come true!

Any regrets?

That I let fear of failure stop me for so long. That’s it!

Thank you Valerie for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions and good luck with your new book. To find out more about Valerie,  here is the link to her Author’s  Page

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Holiday book fest

I’ve just come back from my hols in France. Enjoyable, but damp. We went down to Biarritz to play in the surf, (which was fantastic) and to toast ourselves on the Grande Plage with all the celebs. They must have loved us with our buckets and spades – all that was needed was the knotted handkerchief to make the parody perfect!

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I took my trusty Kindle of course, having first dropped into NetGalley to add a couple of reads.

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The first was The Christmas we met by Kate Lord Brown, published this October by Orion Books.

It tells the story of jewellery designer, Grace Manners down on her luck following the disappearance of her husband. The writing is mellifluous, just as the research in depth. I make my own jewellery so I know quite a bit about gemstones and metal work, but even I learnt a few things. The story is convoluted, folding back on itself like silk to bring us into wartime Paris – by using this approach Kate leaves false trails and tantalising leads that guide us to a very satisfying conclusion. In short a perfect glamorous read for posh Biarritz – they weren’t to know that we were only camping and not staying in luxury now were they!

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The second book was by trusty favourite Veronica Henry, whom I view as an old friend (probably not so old, but I’m sure she won’t take offence). I see her name staring down at me from the shelves of Waitrose every time I nip in for my tea bags and, like the Mona Lisa her books seem to follow me!

Veronica can always be relied upon for a pure escapism read and here again she delivers.

Funnily enough a recent book I reviewed by Jane Lovering (I don’t want to talk about it, ChocLit) begins in a churchyard, this one begins with funerals – The funerals of two very different people in the small coastal village of Pennfleet.

imageThe story interweaves the tale of the two women most affected by these deaths, one a daughter, one a wife and how the small community mopes them up and carries them through – Just as life carries on, so must they.

This was just the book I needed as, by this time we’d moved North from Biarritz to the Dordogne (Perigord Noir, Sarlat etc) and it rained! This wasn’t the little drizzly piddly showers we get in the summer this was a 48 hour deluge that has left me with very different memories of this usually delightful place.

We did manage to go to Sarlat’s Saturday market, but we had to buy three extra umbrellas – Just as we managed to visit the 35,000 year old caves in Eyzies (photo above), but my trusty Kindle came in for a bashing in between times, when with dripping hair and toes I curled up under my sleeping bag and withdrew back into Pennfleet.

Now back home, with the washing all done I’m desperate to get back to my latest read, Clare Chase, So you think you know me. But I’m not allowing myself the pleasure. This is a debut novel under the ChocLit label and it is too good to even talk about until I’ve turned that last page – more later x