Monday, 29 November 2010

Nice People Saying Nice Things

Still up to my tonsils in (non-writing) work but The Third Pig received a great review on the excellent Page Turners website so I thought I'd post the link here

It was a nice start to the weekend.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Reading Pile

The current reading pile is growing ever bigger at the moment, due mainly to work commitments...

but they'll all have to take a back seat now as this arrived yesterday

I don't read much fantasy but I'll always make an exception for Donaldson.

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Ego Has Landed

Well, this promises to be an exciting week. The Ho Ho Ho Mystery is officially published this Thursday 28th October although copies may start trickling into bookstores earlier in the week so keep an eye out.

After the book's release, I'll be doing a signing in Hughes & Hughes bookshop in Ennis on the following Saturday 30th October at 2:00 (that's afternoon not morning - just in case).

If you're around, do drop in and say hello. Hopefully there will be a decent turnout and I won't feel all lonely and self-conscious sitting there on my own!!!! And if you get bored, there's a Costa Coffee adjoining so you can scarper off if you feel the need (I'll probably be there getting my required caffeine intake beforehand anyway)

The library visits in Limerick and Clare were a blast and I had a great time. I'll do a proper write-up once I get a chance.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Hot Off the Presses

And when I got home today, I found these waiting for me. Woot! And perfect timing for the first of my library visits tomorrow.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Coming Soon to a Library Near You

The 20th annual Children's Books Festival kicked off on Friday 1st October with 70+ authors, illustrators, storytellers and performers due to visit libraries, schools and arts centers across Ireland throughout the month.

As part of the festival I'll be visiting libraries in Limerick and Clare. The dates and venues are:

Tuesday 12th October
9:30am Watch House Cross Library, Moyross
11:30am Roxboro Library
1:30pm City Library, The Granary

Three visits in the same day promises to make things a bit hectic but I'm looking forward to it already.

The following week I'll be in Clare:

Monday 18th October
11:00am deValera Library, Ennis
1:15pm Sean Lemass Library, Shannon

Tuesday 19th October
11:00am Sixmilebridge Library
1:30pm Newmarket on Fergus Library

The Ennis visit will be special for me as it's my home town and I remember when the custom-built library itself opened in the mid-70's. It incorporated an old church into the build and was a huge improvement on the old house that served as the library previously.

Hopefully the turnout will be good and if anyone is in the vicinity, drop in and say hi.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

And Harry Pigg Proudly Presents...

I quite like it. So what do other people think?

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Ho Ho Ho Mystery - Sneak Preview of Cover

Harry in the Press

I recently did an article for Words With Jam - an online writing magazine. I touched on how Harry came to be, how useful I found online critique sites and some other bits and pieces that I hoped the readers might find interesting. The magazine and article can be found here but there was such a handsome fellow on the cover I thought I'd include it below...

I was also quoted in an article by Helen Gaynor in today's Irish Independent about the Childrens' Book Festival in October and how modern writers try to connect with younger readers.

As part of the same Festival I'll be visiting libraries in Clare and Limerick during October and I'll post details of times and venues tomorrow along with (drumroll please, maestro) the first public airing of the cover for The Ho Ho Ho Mystery.

Try to contain your excitement.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

I'm Psychic, Me

Way, way back in the dim distant days of 2008 when this blog was a mere infant, I blogged about The Africa Reich by Guy Saville and said that it was going to be mega.

Now adopting an 'I told you so' tone of voice, I can reveal that Guy got a two book deal with Hodder and Stoughton and The Africa Reich, complete with spanking new cover (draft below), will be published in 2011. Now the lucky sod is off to Madagascar to do some research for Book 2. Research, hah! A likely story.

For my next trick, I'll tell you next week's lottery numbers, who really shot JFK, and what you'll get from Santa.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Some Friday Music

And yes, I keep promising to update but so much is happening I'm falling way behind the curve in all things writing. All will change but in the meantime here's a superb piece of music to keep you going.

I'm no Eagles fan but I think this is a really evocative piece and so unlike most anything else they've ever done

and yes, I'm also aware of the somewhat brilliant, cheap and cheerful version the BBC Radiophonics Workshop did for the TV adaptation of Hitchhikers all those years here's that too (and a bit more of the TV series for good measure).

Friday, 30 July 2010

And Now After A Brief Delay

The sharper-eyed among you will probably have noticed that the promised reviews have been less than forthcoming. In my defence, I ended up having to dump some 20k words of the third Harry Pigg book when I realised it wasn't working. This was a big step and one not made without much furrowing of brow and hovering of finger over the delete key.

As I result I've spent most of the past 6 weeks rewriting Harry 3 and am glad to report that I finally finished it last night and am currently trawling through it for typos, plot inconsistencies and other bits and pieces before sending it off to my publisher.


Normal service will resume as soon as I come up for air...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Shape of Things to Come

I've been a bit remiss with reviews of late - primarily due to other stuff happening. This must be rectified so over the next few days I'll be posting what I thought of some of the many books I've read lately, including Changeling 3, Leviathan, Fever Crumb, From Hell and whatever else comes to mind. Don't go away now.

Monday, 31 May 2010

We Have a Winner

By now I suppose everyone knows that I won the Eilis Dillon Award for Best First Book at the CBI/Bisto Childrens Book Awards last week. I should have blogged about it earlier but the week passed in a blur and I'm only getting back to reality now.

It's probably the oldest of cliches but I was thrilled just to have been shortlisted for the award and never expected to go any further so it was with a sense of stunned disbelief that I made my way to the stage to accept the award from Senator David Norris (erudite, entertaining, and someone I greatly admire). Apart from the award itself - a beautiful glass sculpture that I'll unfortunately have to hand back at the end of the year - I was presented with a stunning inscribed glass plate (to keep forever and ever and ever and...)

The day itself was hugely enjoyable. Myself and my wife met my publisher Scott (meandmybigmouth) Pack at our hotel and made our way into the Hugh Lane Gallery where the ceremony was taking place. There we were joined by my parents and I spent the time befoe the ceremony talking to the invited childrens school and library groups as well as meeting some of the other nominated writers.

The TV report on the day should be available here (at least for a while longer anyway). The two shifty looking characters at the beginning of the report are not, in fact, in a police line-up but Scott and me posing for photos (and yes, fashion fans, he did wear a shirt for the day).

The real trick was getting the trophy safely back to the hotel afterwards without dropping it. I certainly didn't want to be famous as the man who broke the Eilis Dillon Trophy - especially not in it's 20th year.

Now, I'm afraid it's back to reality as I struggle wth the fortunes of Harry in his third adventure.

The full list of winners is (and rather than write them all out I ingeniously cut and paste from David Maybury's excellent blog, which you should all visit regularly):

Bisto Honour Award for Writing goes to Siobhan Dowd for Solace of the Road

Teenager Holly Hogan is a troubled young person. Adopting a blonde wig and the assumed identity of fearless and reckless Solace, she journeys across England towards what she hopes will be a better future in Ireland. A finely constructed novel, beautifully written by a master storyteller.

Eilis Dillon Award for a First Children’s Book goes to Bob Burke for The Third Pig Detective Agency

This is the story of Harry Pigg, one of the three famous little pigs who built houses during our childhood. Now grown up, he ekes out a precarious existence as a private detective. This excellent pastiche of detective fiction is a vibrant, lively and funny book.

The Children’s Choice Award goes to Jane Mitchell for Chalkline

Chalkline tells the tale of the capture of Rafiq by soldiers of the Kashmir Freedom Fighters when they raid his village in search of new recruits. They roughly draw a line in chalk on Rafiq’s class-room wall and declare that any boy whose height reaches the line will be taken to fight. Chakline is a chilling account of the conditioning of a young boy to accept violence as normal, to stone or be stoned and ultimately to kill or be killed. A well-told, well-researched and cleverly plotted tale that is an intense read.

and finally…

the overall Bisto Book of the Year Award AND Bisto Honour Award for Illustration goes to Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick for There

This alluring picturebook is one that will draw every reader, child and adult, into its charming spell. The little girl’s persistent self-questioning is a true and honest echo of the voice of a child as she comes to terms with what she knows and what she doesn’t. The harmonic interdependence of images and text is achieved with artistic brilliance and a disciplined pared-back writing style.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Free Books Compo - Form Orderly Queue Please

I know I've ranted on sometime in the dim distant past about why I don't read much fantasy any more. Suffice to say, most of it is derivative, predictable and very, very cliched. By the same token, I do enjoy it when I discover a good fantasy writer. Over the past few years I've loved the work of both George RR Martin and, especially, the magnificent Steven Erikson.

Recently, I've also been reading reading the work of Celine Kiernan. Although her Moorehawke Chronicles are aimed towards a younger audience, Celine's world is meticulously thought out, her main characters both flawed and believable and, very important this, she tells a good story. If that wasn't enough she can draw too (mumble, mutter, it's not fair, grumble).

All of this is by way of introduction to a competition Celine is currenly running on her web site, where you can win a full set of the Moorehawke books. This is especially enticing when you consider that the third book in the series, The Rebel Prince, isn't published for another five months.

So what are you waiting for, get on over there and have a go - but don't forget to come back here afterwards. It gets very lonely without you.

And yes, I'll be blogging about the Bisto awards shortly too.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

More details soon on what turned out to be a great day, I just need to recharge the batteries

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Camera Adds 300lbs You Know

On Monday I had my 8 minutes of fame when I appeared on RTE's The Afternoon Show to discuss the Bisto Awards. Also on the show was Catriona Hastings, author of the fabulous looking An Greasaí Bróg agus na Síoga (an Irish retelling of the elves and the Shoemaker).

After waiting around in the green room (which isn't green but had loads of coffee) we were taken to the studio where we were interviewed by Maura Derrane who quizzed me about the Third Pig's cover and what life was like as a writer having previously worked in IT. To accompany the segment, they also talked to three children from a school near Dungravan who were reading the nominated books. I had the pleasure of meeting them prior to going live and, as they hadn't been able to by my book locally, I was able to give them each a signed copy - which they seemed to appreciate.

The show itself seemed to go ok - I didn't sweat, fart or swear on live TV and answered the questions without too much humming and hawing. My brief flirtation with fame can be seen here. Our segment is about 45-50 mins in but I'm not sure anyone from outside Ireland will be able to access it. Btw I'm the one in the middle.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

A Reading from the Book of John......Connolly

As I was in Dublin yesterday for a meeting, I took the time afterwards to drop into the Gutter Bookshop to browse and say hello. This is a new bookshop in Temple Bar and offers a great selection of books in bright and airy surroundings. I wish them every success.

As they were also hosting the launch of John Connolly's new book, The Whisperers, and as I'm a huge, huge fan I came back later that evening to pick up a copy of the book and get it signed by JC himself.

A good crowd turned out to hear John give a brief introduction to the book and follow it up with an hilarious reading from a work in progress that involved dwarves, a boyband named Boystarz and a video shoot that goes drastically wrong. Needless to say it wasn't a Charlie Parker story!

When I was getting the book signed I took the opportunity to ask if he'd be attending the Bisto Awards but he'll be on tour. He was nice enough to wish me the best for the awards.

An all round decent chap and nice guy.

Photos from the launch are here and sharp-eyed viewers (clearly with nothing better to do) may well spot the back of my head somewhere in the crowd.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Ho Ho Ho Mystery - Blurb

Though there's no cover yet, the blurb for Ho Ho Ho is now up on the Harper Collins website. Here's how it reads...

The festive follow-up to The Third Pig Detective Agency.

When Father Christmas goes missing on Christmas Eve eve, Mrs Christmas calls on our intrepid hero Harry Pigg to track him down. What follows is another hardboiled caper featuring fairy tale villains, plenty of red herrings, a few close shaves, a couple of punch ups and a very clever twist. Aided and abetted by his sidekicks Jack Horner and the genie from the lamp, Harry tries to save Christmas before time runs out. If only he didn’t have to deal with those bloody annoying elves.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

All Work and No Play

The current 'to be read' pile.....

To be fair, I've started New York and Wolf Hall (which is turning out to be surprisingly readable for a Booker winner).

So many books, so little time.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Just Because...

And as I'm still totally impressed by the novelty of it all, some more links to articles about the CBI Bisto Book Awards are here:

The Indo

The Examiner

Irish Times complete with photo (tho' not of me thankfully)


Scott (Me and My Big Mouth) Pack - publisher extraordinaire

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Mmmm Bisto!

And here I am in a state of shock. I've just gone and been nominated for the Children's Books Ireland Bisto Book of the Year 2010. This is the biggest children's book prize in Ireland so my gast has been truly flabbered.

The full shortlist is here and there are some serious writers on the list (including John Connolly, one of my favourites). More to follow - once I've recovered from the shock.

Friday, 5 March 2010

World Book Day

Yesterday was World Book Day. As part of the celebrations I was invited to Donoughmore National School to do readings and Q&A to 5th and 6th classes. As both classes had read The Third Pig, they promised to be intetersting sessions as they'd be the first groups I'd spoken to where everyone had read the book. After reading the poo chapter to 6th class (always a favourite and it seemed to go down well) there was an energetic Q&A. After a much needed cuppa I then spoke to 5th class, read the closing chapter (due to popular demand) and followed it up with another Q&A which included:-

- do you like chocolate chip muffins (yes, actually)
- me mistaking a pupil dressed as Harry Potter for Spiderman (well he was a good bit away and wearing red and black).
- lots of questions about Chelsea, John Terry and the previous weekends match with Man City

I rounded off the visit by giving a sneak preview of Chapter 1 of The Ho Ho Ho mystery to both classes and they seemed to enjoy it.

I had a great time at the school, throughly enjoyed my visit and the pupils seemed to enjoy it too. Kudos to the teaching staff, who not only gave me a great welcome and made me feel right at home but - as the school was celebrating 100 years - had dressed up in clothes from 1910 for the day.

Later that evening I gave a reading to the On The Nail writers group and spoke a little bit about how I developed the book and how I used the web to find constructive critque groups. As well as me there was a brilliant poet called Brendan Murphy who treated us to some of his excellent (and very accessible) work. This was followed by an Open Mic session where local writers could read their work to an appreciative audience. There was a good mixture of prose and poetry and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Throw in a few songs and it made for a great evening's entertainment.

I eventually arrived home at midnight knackered and almost voiceless after a fantastic day out.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Equivoque Principle - for free, gratis and for nothing!

The very talented Darren Craske has a newbook coming out today. It's called The 11th Plague and you should all go out and buy it forthwith.

"But it's a sequel," I hear you say. "How will be able to read it if we haven't read the original?"

"A good question," I reply. "But fear not because you can read Book 1, The Equivoque Principle, in its entirety should you so choose. Just click below and enjoy. Amn't I nice?"

And if you're not sure about the 11th Plague, here's a sampler. Do I not spoil you?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Top Books of the Noughties - The Results

Well, not surprisingly none of my choices made the Top 10 and only four made the Top 50. There are some good choices in the list but I feel that the Top 10 is a predictable, safe and very Book Club-ish selection (Niffenegger, Hosseini, Zusak etc).

The Top 10 books are as follows:

1. Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne. Is it the best book of the noughties? probably not but it's still a good read and a worthy choice.

2. Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffennegger. I haven't read it but those I know that have speak very highly of it.

3. Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold. Again, not something that's featured in my to-be-read pile.

4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson. My favourite rant: I am still at a loss to understand how this book is as successful as it is. The first 150 pages were nothing more than a tedious info dump and the rest of the book became a very obvious mystery that any crime reader worth his salt would have solved very early on. I'm told the other two books in the trilogy are much better but I have no urge to read them after wading through the first one.

5. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon. Beautifully written, simple story that repays re-reading. Good to see it in the Top 10.

6. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini. I'd have put good money on this one featuring in the Top 10. A regular book-club choice, it was inevitable.

7. The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak. Is it any good? No idea. I got thirty pages in before I gave up. I just didn't get it (and there are very few books I don't actually finish).

8. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini again. As No. 6.

9. The Road - Cormac McCarthy. Marvellous, if depressing and gritty novel from one of America's finest writers. Good that it figured in the Top 10 too.

10. Atonement - Ian McEwan. I like McEwan's books, I just haven't gotten around to this one yet.

The rest of the Top 50 is a bit less predictable and eclectic although I was hugely disappointed but not surprised to see the vastly overrated The Sea creep in at 44.

The full Top 50 can be found here.

Hughes & Hughes Goes Under

I was very disappointed to hear about the demise of the Hughes & Hughes bookshop chain over the weekend. Apart from the loss of over 220 jobs, it's always sad when an independent bookstore closes its doors. More information and updates can be found on the Irish Publishing News website.

H&H had a marvellous store in my hometown of Ennis. It was a modern bright bookshop with a Costa Coffee adjoining. The staff in there were very helpful when The Third Pig was first published and made sure it was prominent on the shelves.

It will be missed.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Top Books of the Noughties - vote now.

Eason's are carrying out a poll to determine their top books of the Noughties. Some interesting choices in there - as well as some that aren't fit even to line a budgie's cage.

Vote for your top 5 and you're in with a chance of winning the Top 50.

There weren't too many Crime or Science Fiction novels (now there's a surprise) but some of the books I really enjoyed were included. For what it's worth my 5 were:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonatahn Lethem
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

It's probably esy to get all arty and literary and pick the most highbrow and critically acclaimed but I just plumped for the five on the list that I enjoyed the most - which, when it comes to reading, is the only criteria I use.

If there's any justice The Sea won't make the final list but I wouldn't be holding my breath!

Oh and I added The Enemy by Charlie Higson (zombies - of a sort) and Winterland by Alan Glynn (Irish Crime writer) to my to-be-read pile. That book token pile is decreasing slowly.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Books, Books Everywhere

As usual, Santa delivered the goods and a bagful of books descended on the Burke household. Yours truly didn't get as many as in previous years (but did get a wodge of book tokens) but I did receive Under the Dome - a real return to form by Stephen King - and Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett.

N1S picked up Changeling by Steve Feasey (which I have now read and saw that it was good), Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (I read the first few chapters online and it's very promising) and Silvertongue by Charlie Fletcher (last volume in his excellent Stoneheart triology and also on the to-be-read list).

N2S got a Horrible Histories boxed set (nice!), Dreadnought the latest HIVE novel by Mark Walden and Syren the latest in Angie Sage's Septimus Heap series.

N3S got a boxed set of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and has not only read each of them over and over but insisted we get him the latest book as well. Result!

All in all there's plenty there to keep all of us going for the foreseeable future.

Friday, 8 January 2010

And a good start to the New Year

Last Week's Top Ten eBooks at Waterstone's
1. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (Transworld Digital)
2. The Third Pig Detective Agency by Bob Burke (HarperCollins e-books)
3. Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
4. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Hachette Digital)
5. Not Dead Enough by Peter James
6. FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer (Gollancz)
7. The Unlacing of Miss Leigh by Diane Gaston (Mills & Boon)
8. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (Hachette Digital)
9. The Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine
10. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (Hachette Digital)

Bloody Dan Brown and his mega-seller :o)