Writer and Author

Tag: Appeal

Appeal Date Set for the Devil in the Red Dress and her Hitman for Hire

It’s been a while in coming but the date has finally been set for Sharon Collins’ and Essam Eid’s appeal.  The pair will find out whether they are to serve out the remainder of the six year sentences they received at the end of their 2008 trial in March next year.  The two appeals will be heard on the same day and the whole procedure is expected to take two days.

If you’re not familiar with the case you can find out all the gory details here.  That’s right, it’s the one I wrote the book about…that’s Sharon Collins herself on the cover on the right.  The pair at the centre of one of the most bizarre trials to come before the Irish courts years were convicted after a six week trial last summer. 

She’s a Co Clare housewife who decided to shop for more than groceries online.  He’s a former Las Vegas poker dealer who had decided to branch out into the “hitman” business.  Needless to say it didn’t end well, although at least the plotting came to naught and no one was killed.  In the end Sharon was sentenced to six years for conspiring to kill PJ, Robert and Niall Howard.  Eid was also sentenced to six years for trying to extort €100,000 from Robert Howard and also for handling items stolen from the Howard family business.

He had already served almost two years in jail after his arrest in September 2006 so will be the first of the two to finish their sentence.  However he will have to face additional charges when he returns to the States.  His former “wife” Teresa Engle has already served 8 months for her part in a similar scam to the one they tried to pull in Clare, that the pair attempted to pull of in California shortly before their trip to Ireland.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

The Reality of Being a Published Writer!

So Devil has been on the shelves a grand total of two days.  Most of those two days I’ve spent signing copies of it.  We are not talking about the glamorous author signings you hear the stars of the literary world talking about.  What I am referring to is standing in a crowded bookshop scrawling my signature in dozens of copies of my book while the bemused public work around me.

Now before I go any further let me make it one hundred per cent clear that I am not complaining.  I’ve been signing my copies of my first book today.  I’ve actually fantasised about the sheer mundanity of that kind of signing (the kind that doesn’t involve the general public but results in those “signed by the author” stickers you see in bookshops.

I might have writers cramp tonight, after signing several hundred copies but I honestly couldn’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.

Anyway, now that’s clear, back to my day.  Today I did the M50 circuit of Dublin shopping centres.  My brother-in-law was kind enough to ferry me around The Square in Tallaght, Liffey Valley and Blanchardstown shopping centres.  After a while, I couldn’t tell what shopping centre I was in.

The drill was simple.  We’d park.  Go into the centre and find the local branch of Easons.  I would then go and find a member of staff and explain the situation (this is something they don’t tell you when you’re an aspirant writer – that at some stage you would have to walk up to a complete stranger and ask if you can give them your autograph…lots of times).

Actually it turned out not to be as awkward as I had thought.  This is completely normal writerly behaviour apparently.  I suppose I should have worked that out after seeing all those “signed by the author” stickers over the years.

At one point, after the second or third centre, the brother-in-law commented that we should really have had a reality tv crew following us around.  Personally I’m really glad we didn’t.  Apart from wandering around several almost identical shopping centres looking for the obligatory Easons, the signing itself is a bizarre experience to say the least.  I must have looked like a kamikaze vandal going up to a pile of books in the middle of a display with my pen brandished at the ready.

One thing that surprised me about today was the warm reception I received in all of the shops.  Even though it was a Saturday afternoon a few weeks before Christmas people made time to accommodate me and put the little green stickers on my books. At this stage there must be barely a book in Dublin that doesn’t have my signature on the front piece.

It was particularly surreal today because Sharon had made the front page of the Herald (again).  So I was walking past her picture every time I past the newspapers on my way to the copies of Devil.  The news was rather unsurprising…she’s lodged her appeal.  So the story will have yet another chapter.

All in all today I’ve been to five shopping centres.  Tallaght, Liffy Valley, Blanchardstown, Dundrum and Stephens Green.  Finally I’m beginning to feel like a bona fide writer.  I could get used to this!

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