Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Daithi Kavanagh: The Gun

It's our pleasure to welcome Daithi Kavanagh to Heart of Fiction.

First thing, readers, Daithi is Irish for David and pronounced Daw-hee. How cool is that?

Daithi comes to us today from County Wexford in Ireland, where he lives with his lovely wife and two teens. He's a professional musician who plays guitar, and now he's become a professional author. The book he introduces us today is called The Gun, and is book one in the Tadhg Sullivan series (Tadhg being another Irish name, meaning Tim and pronounced Ty'g).

Garda Detective, Tadhg Sullivan works for Ireland's police services called the Garda Síochána, roughly translating to Guardians of the Peace. Within the service, Tadhg works in a special unit which investigated politically motivated crimes. With Ireland's troubled history, it's easy to see that this is an active branch. And much fodder for this series.

In The Gun, Tadhg is investigating a scourge of the Irish political system, a man going by the handle, The Deerstalker. But Tadhg isn't the only one after him. The CIA is too. When a copycat killer surfaces, the CIA realize they've taken down the wrong man, a man called Tommy Walsh. When Tadhg realizes the two agents are in Ireland and on the trail of The Deerstalker too, the race is on to see who will capture the killer first.

But it's not as clear cut as that. As the investigation deepens, Tadhg's partner, Pat Carter, starts having doubts, and Tadhg's trust in Pat starts wavering as the man's alliance seems to be shifting closer to the Garda Commissioner and offers less partner support. Feeling left on his own in this investigation, Tadhg turns to Irish journalist, Helen Carty, for help. Together they sift through the facts to catch a killer. If things weren't complicated enough, Tadhg is falling in love with Helen.

The Gun is a fast-paced, complicated collection of twists and turns that is guaranteed to keep readers on their toes. This is an excellent start to a new Irish detective series. Kavanagh's voice rings true and clear through the story, keeping readers engaged. His protagonist, Tadhg Sullivan, is a wholly believable character who we're instantly drawn to from page one. The opening scene, where he's instantly drawn to the aid of a young girl, introduces us to the sensitive side of a police detective who's day-to-day job is bringing down killers and dark, nefarious baddies. There's a great plot here, drawing on modern Irish history. Kavanagh pulls us into a completely believable situation and keeps us engaged through master storytelling. This is a great start to a new series. I can't wait to see what's in store in book two.

Before we get to the blurb and excerpt, Daithi has taken some time to chat with us about his life beyond the keyboard.

Thank you, Daithi, for joining us today and congratulations on the publication of your first novel. It sounds like you have a very interesting life. Working as a professional musician must keep you busy. How do you find time to write? What is your daily writing routine like?
My preferred time for writing is the morning. I am attending a third level course in Culture and Heritage four days a week in Wexford so this takes up quite a lot of my time. My writing routine isn’t as smooth as I’d like it to be but I don’t consider this to be a negative. I believe the pressure I find myself under adds an edge to my writing. I also believe it creates a pace in my story telling that otherwise mightn’t be there. My writing more often deals with the emotions of the characters. These emotions which I give to my characters are also affected by where I write. For instance, if I’m writing in my living room my writing can come out very cold.
The Writing Chair
If I write outside on a chair under the trees at the side of my house my writing often comes out much softer. Hence the mood of the characters can be affected as well. 
My preferred time for writing is during the summer holiday months. Then I can stay in bed in the mornings and write to my hearts content. Usually I would get up, have breakfast and head back to bed and start writing. I find I am far more creative when I can stay in bed and work. The dreamy sensation of being able to nod off to sleep when I feel like it helps to spur my imagination on. I also have a small space a.k.a. our spare room where I can go if the house is particularly busy. This adds another dimension to my routine. I can lock myself away in this room in an attempt to block out the hustle and bustle of family life. 
Another big part of my writing routine is my wife Caroline. Without Caroline I would probably find it impossible to write at all. Caroline is my secretary, editor, advisor and spiritual and moral compass. She encourages me in every way. From dealing with the technical aspects of the internet to bringing me a cup of tea in bed when I’m writing. Caroline is the person who has inspired me to believe in myself. Without her I doubt I would have ever accomplished what I have. 
The final part of my writing routine is living life. Living through the ups and downs, the sadness and joy, the excitement and boredom or in other words the routine of living is the real inspiration for writing. How can people feel empathy with my writing if I know nothing of life. The worst routine a writer can have is to lock oneself away from life’s realities. Only by living yourself can you connect with the lives of others.
Daithi, I know the ladies reading this interview have suddenly all sighed, reading your declaration to Caroline. Having met her myself, I must say she's indeed a very special lady. And Culture and Heritage courses? We might have to chat about this some time!

You've describe your writing spaces pretty well already, but is there anything you want add about the places where you write?
My writing space is varied. Due to my hectic life style I tend to write wherever I can but as I said earlier my preferred space for writing is in bed. Here I get the best of all worlds. I get comfort, inspiration, imagination and the odd cup of tea from my wife! There is nothing I like more than to wake up and have nothing to do but write. This alas is not always possible but when it is, it’s  great. I wake up, head downstairs for breakfast. While eating I usually get the news on the internet, then head back to bed.
The Dream Maker
To describe my bedroom is pretty difficult but I can be confident when I say it doesn’t look like the most inspirational of spaces. But it works for me. The bedroom is dormer style with a velux window in the ceiling at the back of the room. A chimney breast about five feet wide runs up the centre of the gable wall. The lack of inspiration that prevails in my mundane bedroom is outweighed by the comfort of laying in a double bed with a mountain of cushions behind my head. This comfort allows me to drift off to sleep on occasion and seek the inspiration so lacking in the room itself. 
Like everything in life I can’t always get my way about where i write. Quite often I’m pushed into the dreaded spare room. In this tiny space I am surrounded by abandoned musical instruments, school books and an assortment of objects which are no longer of use. This said it is a handy place to sneak away to. Here, I can hide away from the family and scribble down a few hurried lines! 
If the weather permits I have a comfortable haunt at the side of the house. A few years ago I carved  out a quiet spot in the middle of a bunch of sally trees with my trusty hedge trimmer. Here I can while away a few quiet hours on my deck chair. A gentle atmosphere prevails in the corner of the garden and makes for a more passive style of writing. 
On occasion some of my best writing can be produced when I am not within a mile of a pen and paper, laptop or any means of recording what I’m thinking. On these occasions I am quite often up in the woods at the back of my house. There the mind itself can record ideas, plan twists and conclusions that spring from some inner source. Here I only have my two dogs Sam and Rosie to share my thoughts with. 
Ultimately what is most important to me when I am writing is that I am close to the people and things that I love. My family and home are an integral part of my writing. I believe the need to be close to and protective of the people we love is embedded in the characters I write about.
Sometimes there's nothing like a walk in the woods with your two best doggy buddies to clear the cobwebs of a creative mind and sort out plot elements. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Sounds like a wonderful part of the world where you live. Which brings me to my last question, what do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
This is a hard question to answer. A lot people who know me would say I’m not one to enjoy anything! I wouldn’t paint quite as gloomy a picture as that but I have been known to say “I’d rather receive a summons than an invitation to a party!” 
Luckily for me, once again, life steps in and gets in the way of my solitary existence. Necessity forces me in fact to be quite the party animal. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Wexford town (recommended) there is hardly a night in the week that you won’t catch me warbling away whilst playing my guitar in one of the many watering holes which festoon this ancient viking town.  
Under the trees at the Sally Gap
I took up playing the guitar later in life about fifteen years ago. Prior to this I was a builders labourer. Eventually I started to play and sing in several pubs around Wexford and up until the recession was making a comfortable living from playing music. Music has been very good to me and my family and it gives me great satisfaction and a feeling of independence knowing that I was able to contribute to the family finances. 
I have to say, music, culture and the Irish way of life are very close to my heart. There is nothing I enjoy more than to go with my family for a night of Irish ballads and music. It’s a great honour for me to have my daughter Ella and my son Rory join me in a nights music on the fiddle and flute. 
Culture aside, I also enjoy a lazy night in front of the television. I don’t get to do it very often but I must admit, to junk out for a couple of nights is a great way to recharge the batteries. 
Often the most joy comes from the simplest things in life. I always get a fantastic sense of peace and balance when Caroline and myself walk our two dogs in the woods. The other week we both picked blackberries and Caroline made jam from them when we got home. I felt a wonderful connection with the natural world as we strolled through the forest picking the wild fruit. 
Another thing that brings happiness and balance into my life is to visit my mother. She will be ninety years old on Christmas Eve please God. She still reads everyday and her mind is as sharp as a blade. I received so many gifts from this great woman, in particular a love for my country and a strong empathy with the downtrodden people of the world. 
The things I enjoy the most today are the things that would have bored me to death when I was young. Thank God I have been allowed to live long enough that today I can enjoy these simple, beautiful things.
Now I understand more how romance sneaks into your writing. You definitely have some strong women in your life who have and continually do influence you. And we'll definitely have to find our way to Wexford to catch the Kavanagh clan gigging! Sounds fabulous.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us and for sharing the intimate details of your life.

As we come to the blurb and excerpt, remember that we're giving away a copy of The Gun today. All you need to do is leave Daithi a comment here, with your email address so we can contact you if you win. Questions or comments, all are welcome!

• • •

Garda Detective Tadhg Sullivan leads a special unit that investigates politically motivated crime. A man known only as The Deerstalker is a cancer who has infected the Irish political system. 

Sullivan teams up with journalist Helen Carty, and together they try tracking down the mysterious killer. Carty adds to Sullivan’s problems, when he finds himself falling in love with her. And further complicating things, he starts losing trust in his partner, Detective Pat Carter, who appears to be on the side of the Garda Commissioner, who Sullivan is rapidly falling out with. 

Sullivan’s case is further thrown into confusion when a copycat killer, Tommy Walsh, is shot dead by the CIA. When the CIA discovers that they've killed the wrong person, the two agents involved--Simon, who has become disillusioned by his time stationed in the Middle East, and Joey, a psychopath who confuses zealotry with patriotism--are also in pursuit of The Deerstalker. 

Sullivan finds himself in a race against time, if he is to arrest The Deerstalker before the CIA take him out, and use his death as a pawn in a political game of chess. 

Who will win out in the end?

He stared at the gun lying on the bed.It was in his possession for nearly half his life and he’d never known what to do with it. The funny thing was, he’d always hated guns and yet, here he was.
He heard his wife moving around downstairs and knew that very soon she would call him for a cup of tea. He had to get the gun back into its hiding place.

He thought back to the first time he’d seen it. A late night knock at the door and a man from down the street had handed the gun and ammunition to him, wrapped in fertiliser bags.

“What the hell is this?” he’d blurted out.

“It’s a gun,” the man had said showing no expression.

“What are you giving it to me for?” he’d whispered, not wanting his family to hear them.”

“Because I trust you,” he’d replied.

“What the hell do you mean, you trust me? You hardly know me! And all I know about you is that you’re mixed up in the IRA. I have a family and I don’t give a damn about the North. Now please get away from my door and take that thing with you.”

The man had stared at him, but all calm had disappeared from his features. Then he spoke through gritted teeth.

“Now listen to me. The guards are going to be here shortly. Something serious happened tonight and now you’re mixed up in it, whether you like it or not. If you don’t take the gun from me now, when the guards arrive here and see us together, I’ll implicate you. Even if they don’t believe me, it will mean that you’ll have to stand up in Court and give evidence against me. Do you want that for your family? It would be much easier for you to stick the gun in the boot of your car drive off somewhere and hide it. But you’d better make your mind up fast, before they drive up and arrest us both.”

He often wondered why he’d taken it. Was it because he’d had sympathy for the man?He didn’t think so. Maybe it was the fear of being implicated, or like the man had said, being branded an informer. He wasn’t sure, but whatever the reason, it seemed like providence.

He heard his wife again. He heard her wheelchair go over the door saddle in the kitchen. He knew she was sitting there in the hallway looking up the stairs. He was safe upstairs, yet he always felt panic when he knew she was listening.

“Is that you love?” he called down.

“Yes, what are you doing up there?”

“I’m just checking my fishing gear.”

He hated lying to her but what could he say? That he was checking out his sniper rifle?

“Well I’m putting on a cup of tea, so finish up whatever you’re doing and come down and get it with me.”

“Right you are, just give me a minute. Cut up some of that Swiss Roll I bought yesterday.”

He pulled back the carpet, lifted the floorboards he’d loosened, and put the gun back in its hiding place. He felt a jolt of excitement. He’d already set his little plan in motion. They’re going to find out the hard way, that no matter who you are, you can’t escape justice.

• • •

Daithi Kavanagh lives in Trinity, County Wexford with his wife and two teenage children.

He has worked for several years as a musician.

In the last couple of years, after taking up adult education, he began writing.

His debut book is ‘The Gun’ and has now started the second book in the series.

Find Daithi online --

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/caroline.kavanagh.543
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Gun-by-Daithi-Kavanagh/1523825464506331
Twitter - https://www.twitter.com/Daithik3
Blog - http://www.caroldaithi.blogspot.com
Tirgearr Publishing - http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Kavanagh_Daithi

Grab your copy of The Gun at Tirgearr Publishing today for just $3.99.

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw!


  1. Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Daithi, and congrats on the release of your debut novel.

    There's a lot of story here. What gave you the idea to write it?

    Also, what or who was the inspiration behind creating Tadhg Sullivan?

  2. Thank you Kemberlee! The idea for this story came about after the recession hit Ireland. At that time quite a lot of people who had worked for years to build a life for themselves and their families felt 'hard done by'. It was a reaction to this that gave me the idea for the book. Some people at that time were driven to terrible lengths-even suicide. I decided I would try to create something positive out of this horrendous situation that many of us found ourselves in.
    As for the character Tadhg Sullivan he for me also represents the sudden climb and eventual collapse of the Celtic Tiger years. But as we can see from the story Sullivan gains more during his downward spiral in terms of empathy with the world and his fellow man than he did during his years rising to the top. I feel his flawed and human character represents post Celtic Tiger Ireland. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Yep, the recession was extremely difficult for almost everyone. It was because of the huge increase in suicides that banks were forced to change tactics on delinquent accounts. Today, the banks are estate agents and the government is the bank. And estate agents have now become appraisers and door openers. We just sold out house, which was on the market in West Cork for over four years. Really makes one now want to own property again.

    Of course, add in the more serious politics of Ireland, and a nasty killer, and you have the makings for a great story.

    Will the recession play into the sequel?

    For The Gun, did you have a favorite scene? If so, what was it and why? (don't give away the end ;-) )

    1. Hi Kem, the recession doesn't enter into the second book but the story is political in its nature as it brings in characters such as the Minister for Justice and an English lord. It also once again brings in Simon who has since left the CIA. In the next story Sullivan is in search of girls who have gone missing in Ireland and are believed murdered.
      With The Gun I really enjoyed writing about some of the minor characters such as Tommy Walsh and his friend Jacko who I believe are very representative of a silent minority in Ireland.Characters such as these very seldom enter the literary world. I really enjoyed the scene where Helen was trying to extract information from Jacko. I also enjoyed the scene of Helen entering the bar in Wexford and how she was able to fight down the barrage of abuse from the barman and his cackling audience. I also enjoyed the light hearted banter between Sullivan and Carter. It took the edge out of the darkness that existed in the book through the character of The Deerstalker.

    2. So basically, what you're saying is you really liked writing the whole story :-)

      Based on what you've said, do you think this book has an underlying message, other than it's just a great work of fiction?

    3. Yes I really enjoyed writing The Gun.
      There is an underlying message in that Sullivan discovers his true self in the face of adversity and that when people are pushed too far whether by their own actions or through what they perceive as the wrong doing of others they lash out even if it results in their own destruction.

  4. Hi Daithi, many congrats on this story, it sounds wonderful. Did you have to do a lot of research for it? For example, about how the Gardai work?

    1. Hi Sharon, thank you very much. I did research online into various aspects of the gardai such as the type of weapons that detectives might use. I also got information from friends which served as useful in the writing of the book. I read a lot of nordic crime novels and I also keep a close eye on the news and Ireland's political landscape which gives me an insight into how things operate. Thanks once again Sharon for your support.

  5. Congrats, Daithi, from another Daithi.
    I am curious as to why the mysterious character is called the Deerstalker - or is that something that the reader has to find out as he goes along?!
    good luck with it!

    1. Hi David,
      Initially in the book when the killer was going out to practice with the sniper rifle he would tell his wife he was going fishing and he would wear a deerstalker hat. This hat later became a part of his disguise as he turned into an assassin. The reader is aware from the outset who the killer is. There isn't a whodunnit aspect to the book. Thank you for your good wishes and your interest.

  6. Hi Daithi - this looks like the kind of story I love. My next door neighbour when I was growing up in Tralee has just retired as a garda detective and i had a great conversation with him about the job. Unfortunately - being a Tralee man - I didn't believe a word he said. Well, some things, but the colourful prose was probably exaggerated out of all proportion. Still, I might get a whole novel out of it someday.
    Good luck with the book - i'm looking forward to reading it soon.

    1. Brendan, Little known fact -- When I first came to Ireland 17+ years ago, I had a roommate who was a guard. He was a Sullivan from Ballyheigue. All 6'4" of him! ;-)

    2. Thanks Brendan. I enjoyed your comments. Growing up I knew a few gardai myself and to be honest their lives far from resembled that of Sherlock Holmes or even Tadhg Sullivan! I hope you enjoy the book.