J. Kent Holloway
First of all, I'd like to go on record from the start that I currently have COVID. The reason I say that is because my head is in a fog as I write this post, so if I'm not my usual chipper, boisterous, outgoing self, you'll know why. Also, any pesky typos that might have escaped me or rambling sentences...well, you get the idea. The good news is I'm starting to feel a bit better today, so managed to actually turn my laptop on to write this, so I'm making progress, right?
Anyway, on to the post.
As I've mentioned a few times now in our blog interviews, we strive to have a wide variety of authors to share with you. Some we know very well and are personal fans of. Some, we are meeting for the first time. Geraldine Moorkens Byrne is one of the latter, but after interviewing her for this post, I'm definitely going to check out some of her books.
That being said, I thought I'd share her bio with you as a quick means of introduction:
Geraldine Moorkens Byrne is a poet, novelist and educator from Ireland. She has been widely published as a poet - Dreams of Reality was her Kindle best selling poetry collection. She also writes detective fiction, with a love for modern Murder mysteries. Growing up reading Agatha Christie and other golden-era crime fiction sparked a love of great characters, twisty plots and satisfying endings.
Geraldine lives in Dublin, Ireland with her husband, two boys and her greatest influence, her mother. Her work is set in Ireland, especially in her beloved Dublin. A lot of her work draws on Irish heritage and society, and in her spare time she teaches Irish mythology, folk lore, and folk magic.
She studied in UCD, worked in Advertising and Publishing and finally returned to her family roots to run a famous music shop in Dublin. She retired in 2021 to devote herself full time to writing and teaching.
Her poetry has been published in a variety of media, from Ezines to print anthologies and several have been performed as theatre. Her short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies and her story “A Stranger Among Friends,” was a winner in the Cunningham Short Story Competition, (Willowbrook Press) Her poetry collection Dreams of Reality is available on Kindle.
Her detective novels The Body Politic and The Body Count (Caroline Jordan Mystery Series) are available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and Amazon.”
She also has a very large and beautiful yarn collection.
Okay, so that gives us a little insight into this week's author and her background. So let's get to the meat of the post. Let's interview her!
For those who don’t know you, tell our readers a bit about your books. What type of mysteries do you write? What is your series about?
Under my own name, Geraldine Moorkens Byrne, I write a fun modern murder mystery series called The Caroline Jordan Mystery Series, set in my native city Dublin, Ireland. I also write a cozy mystery series called The Music Shop Mysteries due out Autumn 2023. This is also set in Dublin and is centred around the real 150-year-old family-owned music shop that I ran until I retired in 2021.
Under the pen name Nina Hayes, I write The Old Bat Chronicles (Book 1 The Kimberly Killing is out now, book two due later this year.) This is a mystery series with a dollop of authentic Irish magical folk traditions.
Along those same lines, tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? When did you start writing? Tell us a bit about your writing journey?
I am Irish, born and bred in Dublin the capital city of Ireland. I have written poetry since childhood and my poetry has been published in anthologies, magazines, ezines, performed as theatre and broadcast on radio. My poetry collection Dreams of Reality is available on Kindle (revised paperback edition coming in 2024).
I also wrote nonfiction and short stories, published in a wide variety of anthologies and publications. My poetry like my non-fiction is rooted in Irish heritage and folklore. I also teach various classes on Rosc poetry, Irish divination traditions, Irish funerary rites and similar.
I have always loved murder mysteries, avidly reading them since childhood and wrote the basis for the first Caroline Jordan book The Body Beautiful as a NaNoWriMo experiment. It was published in 2021, and The Body Count followed in 2022. The third book The Body Beautiful is out this year. Then a friend suggested writing a feelgood cozy that would feature Irish folklore and magic but still be at heart, a good mystery book. So, I did, creating both a pen name "Nina Hayes" and a new series "The Old Bat Chronicles" celebrating the Irish tradition of older, feisty Wise Women.
I retired from my business in 2021 and now write full time, or as full time as possible with two kids, a husband and a 91-year-old mother!
Tell us about any upcoming books you have (or your most recent). What’s the storyline? Who are some of the characters/sleuths?
This year sees book three in The Caroline Jordan Mystery series- The Body Beautiful
Caroline Jordan is the rising star of Irish PR juggling politicians, socialites, and celebrities…and solving the odd murder as she goes.
In The Body Beautiful a sinister fitness movement called The Progress has swept across Ireland- but Caroline soon realises they are targeting specific people, including her best friend and colleague Paula. When the games turn deadly Caroline and her contacts in the Special Crimes Squad find themselves isolated. Not only will she battle to save her clients but it's a battle for her friendships too - one she doesn't intend to lose!
Also in the pipeline: book two in The Old Bat Chronicles, revisiting Bramble Lane and the redoubtable old ladies with very special skills and book one in The Music Shop Mysteries introducing Mrs O'Brien and based on Dublin's famous old music shop run by my family.
What are some of your favorite books (of any genre)? Who are some of your favorite authors? How have they shaped the stories you tell?
In crime fiction, Agatha Christie and Golden Age Mysteries in general are a huge influence since childhood but I enjoy a wide variety of genres. I've too many favourites to list completely but it would include Terry Pratchett's DiscWorld series; Thackeray's "Vanity Fair," as well as Barchester Towers; Peter Straub's "Koko"; George Elliott's Middlemarch and Hilary Mantle's "Wolf Hall"
My favourite poets include Seamus Heaney, Austin Clarke and Emily Dickenson.
I think the best route to good writing is to read widely, and to experience all the different ways to approach story telling.
When coming up with a story, do you start with the character or the story itself? What’s your typical process for writing a book?
I tend not to over-plan the book. Usually, an idea will spring up first - for example, The Body Count was inspired by an article on "orphaned" security boxes held in Irish banks and filled with…who knows what?
But once I have the idea, characters are vital. I like flawed characters, who make mistakes and have quirks. They feel real to me, and I admit to having conversations with them in my head. Then I write - the first draft is the most important. You can't have a polished manuscript without a first draft, even an ugly one.
Then it's rewrite, revise, rewrite…until it's less ugly!
Of the characters you have created, which of them do you relate to the most? How so?
Caroline Jordan is my favourite in many ways, she entertains me, and I feel like I know her. Next would be Eve Caulton from the Old Bat Chronicles. She's around my age, 54, but is young in outlook and modern. Her mother and the other older ladies are capable and spirited. I was so sick of books where especially women over 50 were depicted as luddites, computer illiterate and generally bewildered. The women I know are computer savvy, rock social media and generally rule the world.
Finally, the question I like to ask of all our guests, if you could give only one piece of advice to aspiring writers out there, what would it be?
Learn to take constructive criticism. Write. Then let someone read it. Feedback - honest, critical feedback - will help you more than any creative writing course or how to write manual.
Excellent chat, Geraldine. Thank you for joining us and for being so candid about your books and writing. To our readers, if you'd like to learn more about her books, you can visit her website HERE. For her books, you can find them on her Amazon Author Page HERE.
And as usual, be sure to check back her next week for a brand new author interview.