Goodbye to the Blog!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010, 1:21 AM

Given that some months have passed since I wondered out loud about the future of this blog, and I haven't posted since then, I think the time has come to put this thing out to pasture. Since the last post I've published my second novel in America, almost finished writing a third, and even gotten married, and none of that made its way onto here. The only activity around here lately has been the spammers leaving their ads for male enhancement products, and I could do without those. The ads, I mean.

So, with some regret, I hereby retire this blog. It did me a lot of good in its time, but all things must come to an end. In the new year, I may get some time to post on my guitar blog, but I'm making no promises. But for now, cheerio to the Blogosphere. It's been real.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

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To Blog or Not to Blog?

Sunday, September 19, 2010, 6:48 PM

My good friend Moonrat announced recently that she was retiring her blog, Editorial Ass. Hers was one of the most entertaining and useful publishing blogs on the Interwebs, and I learned a lot from it. Likewise Miss Snark's blog, which was retired about two or three years ago, but is still archived online, and any aspiring author should make it a priority to read through its hundreds of posts. I wouldn't have been published without it.

Anyway, news of Moonrat's retirement caused me to look at my own blog. When I did, I was shocked and embarrassed to realise that I hadn't posted in almost three months. At this rate, I'll be blogging four times a year. It's a far cry from the time when I was blogging almost every day.

The original purpose of this blog was to share my experience of being one of the above-mentioned aspiring authors, and recording my progress as I wrote what would become my second unpublished novel, titled CONDUIT (thus the rather obscure URL for this corner of the Internet). Things carried on through the writing of THE TWELVE/THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST and the extraordinary chain of events that followed. I made many friends through this and other blogs, and learned a huge amount. In fact, it's no exaggeration to say I owe my writing career to the Blogosphere.

But after my first novel was published in July of last year, the blog began to fall off my radar. My postings became less regular, and to be honest, the content became less interesting, both to me and probably the reader. It's been bothering me for some time, and the blog has become a source of guilt rather than an outlet for expressing my aspirations.

Moonrat's stepping down has made me think about this state of affairs, and I'm starting to wonder if this blog has outlived its purpose. Now that I'm a published author, the journey this blog was created to record has long since reached its destination. So what purpose does it now serve?

I can't say it's networking any more because, like most of the Internet population, I use Twitter and Facebook for that. It's not for reporting news because my website fulfils that role.

The question I must now ask is: does this blog have any reason to go on?

Funnily enough, though, I've been thinking about starting another blog entirely. It'll purely be a bit of fun, concentrating on my guitar obsession, whether that be playing, fixing or breaking them. That'll be at It may or may not get off the ground, but we'll see.

Anyway, that's all for now. If I do decide to close up shop here, I'll post accordingly.

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THE TWELVE Out in Paperback Today! Win Signed Copies of COLLUSION and THE TWELVE!

Thursday, June 24, 2010, 9:59 PM

The paperback edition of THE TWELVE was officially published today by Vintage Books, and they're doing a big old marketing campaign to get it out there. Part of that campaign is the lovely poster pictured here which should be appearing in train stations all around Britain and Ireland right about now.

To celebrate this fact, how about a contest? It's simple: if you see one of these posters on your travels, take a photo and email it to! The first three senders will each receive special signed limited edition proof copies of not only THE TWELVE, but its sequel, COLLUSION, which won't be in the shops for another month.

There's no closing date as such, so keep sending those pics...

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Win Proof Copies of THE TWELVE and COLLUSION

Friday, June 04, 2010, 2:12 PM

I'm giving away five signed pairs of proofs of the Vintage paperback edition of THE TWELVE and an advance copy of its sequel, COLLUSION. The special paperback edition of THE TWELVE is a very limited run and has never been for sale, and you can also get to read COLLUSION two months before anyone else!

To enter, you need a Twitter account to answer a very simple question: Which major literary prize did the American edition of THE TWELVE, called THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST, win? The answer is right on my home page at! To enter, just tweet the following, replacing the asterisks with your answer:

THE TWELVE, aka THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST, by @stuartneville won the *** ******* ***** Book Prize!

Remember, your tweet has to be exactly those words, including my Twitter name, @stuartneville, or I won't see your entry.

The contest closes at 12:00 noon UK time on Monday 7th of June, after which five entries will be chosen at random. Good luck!

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An Open Letter to my Amazon Stalker

Monday, May 17, 2010, 10:46 PM

Dear Amazon Stalker,

I've been watching you work for a while, but until today I felt inclined to let you labour in peace. No author likes getting one-star reviews for their books, but we all realise it's part of the job description, so we don't let it bother us.

Unless, that is, someone like you starts posting negative reviews for the same book over and over again using different screen names. You've so far posted a total of seven one- and two-star reviews between the UK and US versions of Amazon. Even so, it wasn't worth my time to pay it any mind. But then Amazon went and updated the UK and US versions of my debut novel, titled THE TWELVE and THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST respectively, making them different editions of the one book, rather than entirely separate entities. In doing so, they collated all the reviews, meaning that the UK version now lists no less than five of your reviews in a row (click here to view them). Now that your stalking is laid bare for all to see, I thought I might as well address it.

Thing is, you didn't make it hard to tell all those screen names were really the one person. If anyone clicks on the profile page for each of them -- Cormac Mac, Noir Fan, and Crime Lover (there's also Crime Queen, though gender issues aside, he/she didn't review my novel yet, but I'm sure it's coming) -- they'll see that you have been reviewing a strikingly similar range of books. Amongst other obvious trends, they'll also see that you've taken an equal dislike to my fellow crime authors Tom Piccirilli and Laura Wilson, again posting multiple reviews of books you don't seem to have read, as well as the venerable broadcaster Terry Wogan.

It's obvious what you've got against my novel, and I've a good idea why you've taken umbrage with Mr Piccirilli and Ms Wilson, but that does leave me with one question, and I am posting this in the hope that I might discover the answer. My question is simply this: What on God's green earth did Terry Wogan ever do to you?

Best wishes,


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Coming Soon: Requiems for the Departed Anthology

Thursday, April 08, 2010, 9:42 PM

Requiems for the Departed - Irish Crime, Irish Myths.

It has been said before, that every story has already been told.

Maybe so. But if you've got the gift of the gab, you can tell the same tale as often as you like and still give it a life of its own every time.

Requiems for the Departed flaunts that gift seventeen times over with top shelf stories from Ken Bruen, Maxim Jakubowski, Stuart Neville, Brian McGilloway, Adrian McKinty, Sam Millar, John Grant, Garry Kilworth, and many more.

The children of Conchobar are back to their old mischievous ways, ancient Celtic royalty, druids and banshees are set loose in the new Irish underbelly with murder and mayhem on their minds.

Edited by Gerard Brennan and Mike Stone, Requiems for the Departed contains seventeen short stories, inspired by Irish mythology, from some of the finest contemporary writers in the business.


Requiems for the Departed Stories:

Queen of the Hill - Stuart Neville
Hound of Culann - Tony Black
Hats off to Mary - Garry Kilworth
Sliabh Ban - Arlene Hunt
Red Hand of Ulster - Sam Millar
She Wails Through the Fair - Ken Bruen
A Price to Pay - Maxim Jakubowski
Red Milk - T. A. Moore
Bog Man - John McAllister
The Sea is Not Full - Una McCormack
The Druid's Dance - Tony Bailie
Children of Gear - Neville Thompson
Diarmid and Grainne - Adrian McKinty
The Fortunate Isles - Dave Hutchinson
First to Score - Garbhan Downey
Fisherman's Blues - Brian McGilloway
The Life Business - John Grant

For more info, visit

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On Recognition, Or Otherwise, And Why My Diamond Shoes Are Too Tight

I did a live radio interview today with Wendy Austin on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme. I've long since gotten over any nerves that I might have had in earlier radio appearances, so even when we couldn't get the microphones to come on in the remote studio (I was in Armagh, Ms Austin was in Belfast), I didn't panic. You can hear the results here, if you so wish.

Anyway, right up front, Wendy rattled off a list of quotes from the great reviews I've had on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as the best-of-2009 nods from both the New York and LA Times, as well as mentioning that THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST (a.k.a. THE TWELVE) has been optioned for a movie. Wendy asked how all this recognition felt, and at first I could only answer: "Not bad."

Then on further consideration, I made the point that recognition for one's writing is a wonderful thing. And it's not entirely because of vanity, though in all honesty, that must be a part of it. In reality, it's more about insecurity. I've made this point repeatedly in interviews, but it bears even more repeating: In my experience, writing seems like a completely ridiculous thing to waste one's time on. To sit for hour upon hour, staring [delete as appropriate] (a) at a blank screen (b) out the window (c) into space, deleting more words than you leave on the page, with no realistic prospect of anyone ever reading what you've done, is a completely daft thing to do. There are so many things one could do instead: clean the bathroom; take a walk; gather together bank statements and invoices for the accountant; play Grand Theft Auto 4. The list goes on. But instead, you sit there and grind it out, word after word.

Apart from the people I knew online in that clandestine way one knows people online, I didn't tell anyone except a very close friend that I was writing. I kept it secret, even from my closest family members. Why?

Because I was embarrassed.

If you come from the kind of working class background that I do, intellectual and creative expression don't come as second nature. And if, like me, you somehow get promoted from the working class educational stream to the lofty heights of a predominantly middle class grammar school by way of passing a few exams, you're taught to keep your mouth shut and be grateful for the chance to study algebra in such a rarefied environment.

I've told this story before on my blog, but here it is again: I spent my first two years of education at the little school on our housing estate that normally kept kids for three years. Because my reading was ahead of my classmates, I was moved a year early to the big school in town. On my first day there, at the age of six, the headmaster came around to see the new boy. He said he'd taught my dad years ago. He asked me if I was as stupid as my father was. This pretty much set the tone for the rest of my school life.

So, when the Observer or the Daily Mail, or indeed the NY or LA Times, heap praise upon my novel, it's not just the massaging of my ego that I enjoy (and of course, I do enjoy that a lot, I'm only human after all), but most of all it's the vindication. It's knowing that I haven't wasted years of my life chasing a dream that I could never hope to make real. It's realising that despite Mr Moffat dismissing me as just another dimwit from the estates, I can prove that old bastard wrong and achieve something truly worthwhile. Something I can be proud of.

And the recognition doesn't have to come from a famous newspaper or a well-known author. I get more emails from readers than I can ever hope to reply to, and they all make my day brighter. If someone tells me they couldn't put the book down, that it scared the bejesus out of them, then fantastic. If they tell me they learned something in the process, then even better.

The great reviews on Amazon mean a huge amount too, both in the UK and the US. But the shine can be dulled, if you let it, by a few people. I've had overwhelmingly positive feedback from Irish Americans who bought THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST for the obvious reasons. Many have told me they connected with the book in a very personal way, and that's wonderful. It would be easy to let a tiny minority of readers spoil that buzz when they express how much they dislike having their green-tinted glasses dislodged, but really, what's the point?

If, like one reviewer, one of your main criticisms of the book is based on where I went to school, and its sports curriculum, how can I take your views seriously? I didn't like my school either, or its sports, so what does that prove?

Or if, like a couple of critics, you start throwing words like "orange" around, then that says more about your prejudice and ignorance than it does about the book. As soon as your review is tainted by sectarianism, no matter how well-informed about the land of your forefathers you might think you are, I stop placing any value on your opinion.

And then there's the charmer who has so far placed six negative reviews, under three different screen names, across two editions of THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST/THE TWELVE, spread between the UK and US Amazon sites. The same wannabe critic also has grudges against my friend Tom Piccirilli, crime writer Laura Wilson, and, of all people, the velvet-voiced radio and television presenter Terry Wogan. On the spectrum of offensiveness, Terry Wogan is somewhere between vanilla ice cream and warm scones, so I really can't imagine what he's done to upset this particular critic.

A few days ago, I expressed a small amount of chagrin to my girlfriend about these minor blemishes on my otherwise shiny and bright critical landscape. As girlfriends are wont to do, she responded with some simple but truthful wisdom: Me complaining about such trivial annoyances is rather like that scene in FRIENDS where Chandler says, "Oh no! My wallet's too small for my fifties, and my diamond shoes are too tight!"

Yep, she nailed it.

Instructive, constructive, intelligent critique is a good thing. Affirmation from those who appreciate what you do is also great. Attacks from the ignorant and ill-informed are nothing more than a minor annoyance, like flies buzzing around the arse end of a cow.

So, with joy in my heart, here are a few other things that are currently floating my boat:

Tomorrow night, Thursday 8th of April, I will appear on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS. I'll post a YouTube clip as soon as it's online so that, even if you're not domiciled in the USA, you can witness me blinking like a bunny in the headlights and mumbling incoherently on national television.

THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST is a finalist in the Mystery/Thriller category of the LA Times Book Prize! The winner will be announced at the LA Times Festival of Books, where I'll be appearing on a panel with fellow nominees, as well as signing at the Mystery Bookstore stand. Check my website over the next day or two for details.

THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST is also nominated for a Spinetingler award - you can vote here!

The audiobook of THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST has been awarded the Earphones accolade by Audiofile Magazine in a rave review that described it as "everything a listener could want from an audiobook."

And that's all for now. I'll try not to leave it so long next time.

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A Tip For Aspiring Writers: Don't Be A Dick

Sunday, January 17, 2010, 8:47 PM

There's a publishing industry fact that blogging agents and editors have been telling us all along, and in all my six months in print I have learned this to be true: Publishing is a very, very small business. Everybody knows each other. And everybody talks to each other. If a junior editorial assistant at Harper Collins knows that Famous Author X has gas problems, you can be sure that a senior editor at Random House knows it too.

If you behave in such a way as to make a literary agent think you are rude, arrogant, stupid, or even mentally unstable, that reputation will spread and you will never shake it. In other words, if you act like a dick, people will treat you like a dick. The easy answer? Don't be a dick.

As some of you may have seen, there has been a furore in recent days as a Frustrated Writer publicly vented their spleen, decrying the role of the literary agent now and in the future. That was foolish enough, given that agents are treasured beyond all else by most published writers, me included. This particular Frustrated Writer took it a step further, though, by personally attacking a well-established and respected agent in a lengthy blog post. This was just a day or two after this same Frustrated Writer had a go at a blogging editor whom I consider a personal friend. Previously, this same frustrated writer had posted another thinly-veiled attack on another respected agent.

You see where this is going?

Frustrated Writer has now publicly attacked three well-liked and respected publishing professionals. Now, I don't imagine these three professionals are gossips, but they don't need to be. Several other professionals have weighed into the mosh pit in defence of their colleagues. Because their colleagues are well-liked and respected, those other professionals will be very pissed off on their behalf. And they will all talk about it to other colleagues, and so on and so on throughout the industry. What's more, they will all remember for a very long time.

So what do you think the chances are of Frustrated Writer even getting a sniff of an offer of representation or a contract? Approximately nil, I'd say. They could write a novel that combines all the commercial appeal of the Da Vinci Code with the artistic value of Crime and Punishment, and they would never sell it.

And it's not just because they offended some well-liked and respected publishing professionals. It's also because all publishing professionals choose the authors they want to work with based not just on the quality of writing, but on how that author behaves. If an author is rude, arrogant, stupid, and/or showing signs of mental instability on a public blog, it's a pretty safe bet they're going exhibit those traits in their working relationships too. And who wants to work with somebody like that?

Incidentally, I'm not going to post a link to Frustrated Writer's diatribes because (a) I don't want to fuel their attention-seeking fire, (b) I don't want Frustrated Writer following the trail back here and stinking up my blog with their hateful crap, and (c) there's a good chance you've already seen it.

Yesterday, I posted the following question on Twitter: Is there anything more pathetic than a bitter wannabe writer who blames the "gatekeepers" for their lack of publication?

It didn't stay up very long because my good friend Betsy pointed out that it could sound more than a little snotty coming from someone who's been as fortunate as I have over the last two years. And Betsy was absolutely right, it was a very glib comment, so I removed it. I've reposted it here because I want to expand on it a little.

I've been incredibly lucky in my writing career so far. I got my share of rejections, and I have one-and-three-quarter novels stored away that'll never see daylight. But I didn't struggle for years and years, manuscript after manuscript, rejection slip after rejection slip. I know some excellent writers who have. I also know some writers who have been published, by major houses no less, but have found themseles used, abused, chewed up and spat out again with their novels never having been given a fair chance. I even know some writers who blog publicly about those experiences, don't sugar-coat it, and point out the flaws in what everybody knows is a far-from-perfect industry. But they don't get personal, they don't indulge in bitter rants, and they don't come off as borderline psychotic fools by announcing that their work is simply too artistically challenging for bottom-line obsessed publishers.

In other words, they don't act like dicks. So that's my tip for all aspiring writers in 2010. As well as all the usual write lots, rewrite more, get critique, keep trying and so on and so on, that's my current top tip for success: Don't be a dick.

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