Thursday, 7 February 2013

Cathy Mansell: Shadow Across the Liffey

A huge welcome to Tirgearr Publishing author, Cathy Mansell. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Cathy now lives with her family in the Leicestershire countryside in England. She keeps very busy writing children's stories, writing articles for newspapers and magazines, and most recently with her Irish set novels.

Most recently, Cathy was a contestant on Food Glorious Food, a new ITV program where folks around Great Britain competed for the best recipe and the chance to win £20,000! This show starts airing in late February after Coronation Street, so stay tuned to see Cathy in action at the stove this time, rather than her computer :-)

Back to books, Cathy's debut novel, Shadow Across the Liffey published today through Tirgearr Publishing. The story is set in Cathy's native Dublin and is the story of Oona Quinn, who's forced to put her life back together after the loss of her husband and daughter. This is a very emotional read that will have you turning pages. Be sure to have a box of hankies at hand too!

We recently had a brief chat with this busy woman and found out what goes on away from the keyboard when she's not writing.

Welcome, Cathy, and congratulations on the release of your debut novel, Shadow Across the Liffey. Before we get to the excerpt, let's chat for a moment about you, the author. Readers love to know more about their favorite writers. What can you tell us about you? Such as, what's your writing space like?
Cathy's garret -- Check out the screensaver on her PC!

I love my garret.  It’s where I feel most creative. When my husband retired as a architect, he lined the walls, fitted a carpet and put in a Velux window and he said “This is going to be my studio”  He furnished it with a desk and a drawing board.  

But, I’m glad to say that my passion to write was greater than his desire to draw, so the garret became mine. And I’ve made it my own for the past 15 years.

The best thing is that I don’t get too many interruptions because no one likes climbing the access ladder.  It also keeps the smaller grandchildren downstairs but not so the older ones who love to clamber up to see what Nan is doing.  

View from Cathy's garret, late Jan '13
Yes those are sheep in the field!
There is a wonderful view from the window overlooking our long garden and the fields beyond where sheep are usually grazing.  Lovely in summer and pretty in winter when snow has fallen covering the trees and fields.

Sounds like a dream spot, Cathy. The perfect place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in your stories. I'm very envious!

Tell us what your daily writing routine like.

I like to write in the morning, it’s when I’m at my best and ideas come easily.  After breakfast I tidy the kitchen and do what chores need doing, otherwise I feel guilty.  Then I take a quick look at my emails on my laptop. Although an author friend advised me never to do this before writing. “It saps your creativity,’ she said.  How right she is. But I still do it. To me it’s like getting mail and I can’t wait to open it.

By then,  it’s usually  9:30 – 10:00am before I get to my main computer.  I usually have the next scene of the book  in my head and want to get that down as a first draft.  I work for 2 to 3 hours and then break for coffee with my husband.

When I come back I don’t do as much as I would like to, because I spend time on media sites, Facebook, Twitter,  various blogs and publisher’s and author groups etc. It is all time consuming, but  I like to interact with other writers.  The majority of them are friendly and fun to network with.  There is always something new to  see and learn about.

I break again for  lunch and a chat with my husband and then again when family and friend’s call and again to prepare dinner. The day goes by so fast and I’m never satisfied with what I’ve done, therefore it’s usually midnight before I call it a day.

By the sound of things, you're both a morning writer and a night owl. You obviously love writing. Tell us what you enjoy doing when you're not writing?

I read lots of different genres especially authors I know and want to support.  I wish I could read faster, but since I bought my kindle my eyes don’t get so tired and I can read for longer.  I love it. 

I watch a bit of telly and can’t get enough of dramas like, Downtown Abbey.  I’m quiz mad and watch them when I can.   I love live thearte and wish we had more choice here in Leicester.  I like most music, and enjoy listening to school children playing instruments, some of them are so talented.  My 7 year old grandson plays the violin.  My favourite music to relax to is Johann Strauss.

I also love being around my gorgeous grandchildren.  But two of them are living in Perth Australia and New Zealand.  I miss them so much.  But, I’m lucky as I still have grandchildren around me most weekends; the youngest is Alfie, 14 months.  He’s so cute.

I’m planning to visit New Zealand/Australia next year or the year after.  My favourite place to go to is Ireland. It’s in my blood and after years of living in Leicester, I still get excited when I know I’m going home.  My daughter and I visited Galway two years ago.  It inspired my current book Galway Girl. 

You have a very rich and full life, Cathy, in front of and behind the computer. Thanks for sharing some of it with us, and let's here more about Galway Girl when it's ready!

Now, let's read some of Shadow Across the Liffey.

• • •

Life is hard for widow, Oona Quinn. She's grief-stricken by the tragic deaths of her husband and five-year-old daughter. While struggling to survive, she meets charismatic Jack Walsh at the shipping office where she works.

Vinnie Kelly, her son's biological father, just out of jail, sets out to destroy both Oona and all she holds dear. Haunted by her past, she has to fight for her future and the safety of her son, Sean. But Vinnie has revenge on his mind . . .

Dublin City, 25th March 1961

Sergeant McNally would never forget the pink icing sugar. It was the worst accident he had witnessed since joining the Gardá Síochaná, twenty years ago. If his doctor had not suggested walking as a healthy exercise, he would have taken the car and avoided Dock Road that day.

Most collisions just happen, mostly during bad weather, when cars slide into one another. That was not the case here. It was dry, with a clear sky – ideal for a brisk walk. This was no accident. It appeared to him that the driver of the van, travelling from the docks at speed, on the wrong side of the road, was intent on killing himself and anyone else he could take with him.

The van hit the black Morris Minor, the force sending it spinning it out of control into the path of oncoming traffic. The van overturned several times and the car ended up on its side. Then all he could hear was the sound of crunching metal and hissing steam.

‘Good God!’ The magnitude of the scene as it unfolded before his eyes stunned him. Children cried; people screamed out for help.

McNally acted as fast as he could, alerting the ambulance services and relaying news of the crash to his colleagues at the station. Over the years he had been called out to many accidents, some fatal. The reason that this one had made such an impression was that a small child had been killed senselessly, and he had witnessed it. It happened yards from where he walked along the pavement, and nothing he could have done to prevent it – a fact that would haunt him for a very long time.

An eerie silence descended. Eyewitnesses looked at the pile-up in horror, and the Dublin street came to a standstill. Car doors opened and those uninjured scrambled out. Others, some bleeding from cuts and bruises, stood around in a daze.

‘Help’s on its way,’ McNally shouted. 

‘Over here!’ a man cried. ‘The van driver’s dead. Can someone check for injuries in the other cars?’

‘I’m a doctor!’ someone else said. ‘This one’s bad. The man at the wheel is dead.’

McNally climbed on top of what was once a Morris Minor but which now resembled a mound of compressed metal, and peered inside. Pink icing sugar splattered the shattered windscreen. ‘God Almighty!’ he cried. ‘There’s a child trapped in the back. I can see a tiny hand. Glory be to God!’

• • •

Cathy Mansell writes romantic fiction. Her recently written family sagas are set in her home country of Ireland. One of these sagas closely explores her affinities with Dublin and Leicester. Her children's stories are frequently broadcast on local radio and she also writes newspaper and magazine articles. Cathy has lived in Leicester for fifty years. She belongs to Leicester Writers' Club and edited an Arts Council-funded anthology of work by Lutterworth Writers, of which she is president.

Find Cathy online --

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-- >> Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of Cathy's book to the best comment or question here today. Be sure to use the comments section on this page to enter. Don't forget to leave your email address.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Eliza Green: Becoming Human

Please help us welcome Irish author, Eliza Green, to Heart of Fiction.

Living in Dublin, Ireland, Eliza grew up reading science fiction classics and watching sci fi programs on TV, like Firefly {Nathan Fillian . . . swoon}. So it's no wonder she decided to write a story of her own. She tells us she gets great ideas from going to the cinema, listening to music, and watching documentaries. If there's a story in something, Eliza will find a way to tell it.

Eliza calls her work 'down-to-earth' science fiction . .  very human stories told in outer space. Her debut story, Becoming Human, is testament to her down-to-earth style. The first book in the Exilon 5 Trilogy, Becoming Human is Bill Taggart's story. The year is 2163. The Earth is over-crowded and Bill and his team are sent to populate exoplanet, Exilon 5. Only, it's already populated by its own species who are none too happy to see the Humans.

We had a chat with Eliza recently --

Welcome, Eliza, and congratulations on your debut release, Becoming Human. Let's deviate from the usual 'where do you get your ideas', 'what inspired the story', 'why sci fi' questions. Our readers want to know about you as an author and and every day girl.

What is your writing space like?

Small, cramped, organised. I’m surrounded by a laptop, several notebooks and my first stereo system that I bought in 1997. It still gives out great sound and despite the suggestions from my partner that I should upgrade,  I can’t get rid of it. It’s a piece of history. I write in a small area in one of the rooms at the back of my house. It’s  where I get the most peace and quiet. I had a much larger desk downstairs to the front of the house, but I get much more done up here. Even though I like it, I dream of having one of those large desks and a black leather chair I can swivel around in. Someday . . .

I can related to that. A writer will find any quiet corner available, wherever it is. A big desk with a black leather swivel chair sounds divine!

Tell us about your day. What is your daily writing routine like?

It’s entirely dependent on my day job. I only have the evenings  and weekends to write so that’s when I do all of my writing related work. If I’m particularly busy in work, writing is the last thing on my mind when I go home. When it’s quiet, I can plan my week out to include my writing schedule.  If I’m in full writing mode, I try to give myself a weekly word goal. There’s no point in planning day by day. I find planning over a week keeps me much more focused.

At the moment, I’m editing the second book in the Exilon 5 trilogy, ALTERED REALITY.  I’m also spending a lot of time promoting BECOMING HUMAN, but that will have to change in the near future if I’m to keep on top of the second book.

Oh, yes. Promos. Very time consuming but also very important. What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing or promoting your work?

I’m a huge film fan. I find going the cinema very relaxing and I also get a few ideas for stories when I’m there. I’m a bit of a food glutton and I’m partial to a drop or two of wine! Restaurants and wine are my thing and I have a few friends who are only too happy to indulge with me. Apart from that, I like to read, sorry, love to read. Oh, and I attempt a bit of Zumba Fitness on the side. Not with wine though. Too messy . . .

Film, food, and fitness. I'm with you there! Although, Zumba with wine in a sippy cup might work ;-)

Thanks for stopping by for a chat and letting our readers know more about you. Now let's learn a little more about Becoming Human --

• • •

Two worlds. Two species. One terrifying secret.

In 2163, a polluted and overcrowded Earth forces humans to search for a new home. But the exoplanet they target, Exilon 5, is occupied. Having already begun a massive relocation programme, Bill Taggart is sent to monitor the Indigenes, the race that lives there. He is a man on the edge. He believes the Indigenes killed his wife, but he doesn’t know why. His surveillance focuses on the Indigene Stephen, who has risked his life to surface during the daytime.
Stephen has every reason to despise the humans and their attempts to colonise his planet. To protect his species from further harm, he must go against his very nature and become human. But one woman holds a secret that threatens Bill’s and Stephen’s plans, an untruth that could rip apart the lives of those on both worlds.

Central Council had instructed Stephen, along with two other Indigenes to find out more about the Surface Creatures. The group prepared in advance, agreeing that there had been no need for the artificial skin, instead settling for clothes that covered them from head to toe. They quickly learned that larger-numbered groups only encouraged fear and aggression amongst them.

While the Surface Creatures they met had been happy to talk, their level of involvement with them was entirely superficial. Stephen probed deeper, risking difficult, more personal questions each time. The answers were identical. Why do you want to know? What’s it to you? You’d do well to keep your nose out of my business, pal.

He knew they had to switch focus onto the Surface Creatures’ children in the hopes that suspicion and mistrust did not yet exist in their psyche. It had proven difficult to track them. Children were difficult to separate from their Surface Creatures. But the group’s luck had changed one night when they stumbled upon a group of seven youngsters, drinking and chatting noisily at the back of a disused replication terminal.

The boys had been curious about the three oddly-dressed strangers making their way towards them. Stephen, unfamiliar with their habits, hadn’t introduced himself before launching straight into a specific line of questioning. The children took an instant dislike to him and answered his questions sullenly, on occasion replying with another question. Stephen admitted later on that they’d struggled to keep control of the conversation. The innocent enquiries and retorts were bandied back and forth for a while until the Indigenes changed tack, asking questions that were more personal. While the boys wrongly presumed the Indigenes couldn’t hear their whispers, they had picked up every word.

‘Who the fuck are these losers?’

‘I know. I’m losing me buzz.’

‘I’m bored.’

‘C’mon, let’s show these clowns what dirt tastes like.’


‘I wanna go home.’

‘Stay where you are Jason. Everybody’s stayin’ put.’

‘D’ya think they’re some kind o’ military?’

‘Dunno. They’re not wearing uniforms.’

‘Don’t wanna to get into no trouble.’

‘Don’t be an idiot Jason, do as I say.’

‘Seven against three.’

The children had rounded on them. The group heard of mob mentality but were surprised to witness it in ones so young. They continued to close in from all sides. The Indigenes were significantly taller than they were, but that hadn’t discouraged them.

‘Seven against three,’ they repeated, slurring their words.

They threw themselves at Stephen and the others, arms flailing and legs kicking, fuelled by a mixture of alcohol and stupidity. Before the boys’ punches could reach them, they had disappeared.

‘Where … where’d they go?’

They looked at each other in confusion, confirming with their eyes that each had seen the same thing.

‘What the fuck?’

‘It’s like them Shadow People I keep hearing ‘bout.’

‘Don’t be an idiot, that’s just legend – a story to scare the little kiddies so they don’t fall ‘sleep.’

‘No, I heard them people’s real. They hunt late at night and they eat kids and adults if they sleep. Sometimes they catch them out here.’

‘That doesn’t even make sense, Jason. We’re out here ev’ry night, and I ain’t seen no Shadow People.’

‘Well what’dya call them people just here then?’

‘Fucking losers.’

The group had travelled far enough away from the children but not so far that they hadn’t been able to hear their entire conversation. It was the first time Stephen had heard the term ‘Shadow People’ and knew that the hunters they were afraid of were quite real.
-- >> Eliza is giving away a digital copy of  Becoming Human to the best comment or question today, so be sure to use the comments section below!
• • •

Eliza Green writes down-to-earth science fiction that has stemmed from her life long obsession with science fiction stories. She has worked in many industries from fashion to sport to finance, but caught the writing bug several years ago and has now released her first novel, BECOMING HUMAN, part one of the Exilon 5 trilogy.

Since Eliza was young, she has always been a fan of science fiction television shows and films and is bringing that love to her new trilogy. She hopes to capture the imagination of readers who shy away from the genre with her new novel, set on Earth and Exilon 5.

She is currently working on ALTERED REALITY, book 2 in the Exilon 5 trilogy.
• • •

Grab a copy of Becoming Human on Amazon for your Kindle. Available in March for other formats from Smashwords.

You can find Eliza online --

Eliza's Website – 

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