Monday, June 27, 2016

Why isn't Wonder Woman wearing any clothes?

My Opinion Piece published in the Journal 27th June 2016

LAST WEEK MY four-year granddaughter asked her mother, “why isn’t Wonder Woman wearing any clothes?”
It was a valid question from a mind oblivious to the fact that female superheroes wearing the equivalent of underwear is normal, while their male counterparts are usually covered from their ankles up.
Establishing illogical gender norms in young minds may not bother everyone, but as a parent and a grandparent, it irks the hell out of me.
Humans are like other species in the animal kingdom – they’re designed to find ways to survive. They observe by taking in the world around them, adopting social norms. Why? Because if they don’t, they risk being ostracised. And by extension, survival – staying within the pack is safer.
If the things children observe are so important, and part of how they grasp the world, you’d like to see some impressive role models.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Rohan - Review

The Last Days of Summer is set in a Texas prairie town. It tells the story of Jasper Curtis, a convicted felon released from Huntsville prison. He returns home after serving 10 years for a heinous crime to a town where he isn’t wanted.

His sister Lizzie agrees to take him in. She lives with her two daughters, teenager Katie and 11-year-old Joanne. Lizzie's marriage collapsed shortly after Jasper was arrested, and as the town reacts with hostility, she gets a visit from Reverend Gordon, asking ‘You sure you know who you’re lettin into your home?’ ‘Where else he gonna go?’ she replies. Lizzie has no idea if Jasper is the brother she grew up loving or a monster.

Prairie dust, heat, hate and small town mentality combine with the time-bomb of Jasper, a man with a shady sexual desire and past living in an isolated location with two attractive young girls and a sister who can’t turn him away.

There is a slow pace for most of the story, giving the sense that nothing and everything is happening. This is counterbalanced by Ronan’s use of present tense narrative which is told from four points of view’ Jasper, Lizzie, Katie and Joanne. Short, snappy sentences add a sense of immediacy as if dark clouds of danger are constantly hovering. This novel is gripping and atmospheric, although if you’re looking for a fast-paced page turner, this isn’t it.

From the outset, Jasper, the felon, hasn’t given up on God, whilst Lizzie, the good woman, has, and these types of contradictions set the reader up for a messy and complicated landscape.

This novel is not for the fainthearted and is uncomfortable reading at times. On one occasion when Jasper is alone with Joanne, he recalls the paedophile he met in prison and states he understands how young girls got him ticking. Another time he meets a young mother and wonders if he sucked her tits would he get milk. The barbaric description of his original crime is difficult too, as is the incident when he skins a rabbit alive. Each beg the question if these elements exist for shock value or whether we’ve become watered down in our fictional approach to evil.

Certainly, Ronan rackets up the anxiety in a variety of ways, with secrets and half-truths about what Jasper really did all those years before. The threat of violent outbursts from him and others in the town, coupled with Jasper’s deviant introspection and heightened sexual desire towards women, including his nieces, keeps the reader on edge. Unusually, there are no chapter breaks in this novel, adding a form of relentlessness in how the story is told. It should be exhausting, but rather it propels the reader forward.

All the characters in this story are flawed, with the exception of young Joanne, who serves as a vacuum of innocence, befriending Jasper when others loathe him. Each member of the town is trapped in much the same way as Jasper was incarcerated - no one is leaving. Hate, danger, fear and small town bias serve to keep all the inhabitants as potential victims of themselves and the insidious locked in element becomes the backdrop for revenge. 
The main character, Jasper, has two strands to his personality. One the reader can relate to when he shows his ability to care and wishes the rest of the world could see him the way Joanne does. ‘I want to feel human again,’ he tells Lizzie, ‘I want to feel close enough to normal.’  This draws on the reader’s empathy, but the gulf between this and his darker side is often contradictory, which partially dilutes the character’s credibility.

The unhurried pace of the story as it builds to a finale leaves you with high expectations of what’s to come, like a heavy rain shower after hours of overhanging darkness. The finale is violent and tough, but lacks the poetic, atmospheric, descriptive style of the earlier part of the novel, and overall, it didn’t give the dividend the previous pages dictated.

A very credible debut with an unusual and fresh approach. This author takes risks and there is a lot to admire, including some terrific writing. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016


I’ve been a little quiet on Social Media of late. Mainly because returning from Boston, life got really hectic with things to do with the family, our business and other stuff! Anyhow, this Monday I will be back to doing what I love most – writing.
This means another break from Social Media, except for the odd sneaky post.
Here are a few dates for the diary in my absence. Hopefully I’ll catch up with some of you at an event or two!
25th & 26th June 2016 – Dublin Writers Conference
21st – 24th July 2016 – Harrogate Crime Festival
15th – 19th Aug 2016 – Intensive Crime Fiction Course IWC
End Sept 2016 – Launch of Irish Fiction Anthology
Trouble is our Business, New Island
4th October 2016 – Book Club Maynooth Library
Early October 2016 – Trip to San Francisco for festival
15th – 16th October 2016 – Dalkey Festival
29th October 2016 – 10 Week Irish Crime Fiction Workshop Irish Writers Centre
End October 2016 – Trip to Phoenix Arizona for festival
Early November 2016 – Launch of Red Ribbons in the US
12th November 2016 – Leaves Literary Festival

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016


 24th to the 26th June 2016

The Dublin Writers Conference will take place later this month and extra seats have been made available!!!

Judging by the success of last year's event, this conference is quickly becoming a key date on the literary calendar.

I'm really honored to be joining the list of professional speakers and workshop facilitators this year, so if you fancy taking part, I'll look forward to seeing you there.

There are a wide range of seminars and workshops available, and flexibility with bookings too, whether you are available for one day or two.....

You can check it out HERE

The workshop I will be doing....


This module will look at how best to begin your story, including getting that killer opening line. It will examine the role of character/characters in your fictional world, concentrating on truly engaging the reader by creating memorable ones. Pace and impact are crucial components of fiction writing, and during this session we will explore the ideal means of establishing solid pace and impact in your work. The right pacing and the the correct impact, both critical components, will have your reader turning the pages, keeping them hooked throughout. Pacing defines the speed and rhythm at which a story is told, pulling the reader through events, whilst the correct impact has the power to captivate, entertain and inspire your reader. 

And a little about me.....

LOUISE PHILLIPS is an author of four bestselling psychological crime thrillers, each shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year in the Irish Book Awards. Her second novel, THE DOLL’S HOUSE, won the award.  Her work has formed part of many literary anthologies, and she has won both the Jonathan Swift Award and the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform. In 2013, she received an Arts Bursary for Literature, and in 2015, she was awarded a Writers’ Residency at Cill Rialaig Artist retreat. She teaches crime fiction at the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin, and this year, she was longlisted for a CWA Dagger in the Library Award. She has also been a judge on the Irish panel for the EU Literary Award. Her first two novels, RED RIBBONS and THE DOLL’S HOUSE will be published in the U.S. in 2016 and 2017. Her latest novel is THE GAME CHANGER
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