Writer and Author

Tag: Internet (Page 2 of 3)

Good Days and Bad Days

There will always be days when the sun shines, the writing flows and the opportunities arrive in packs but there will also be days when the wind howls and the world seems topplingly precarious and nothing will work.

Yesterday was one of the second kind of days.  Nothing went right or felt right and everything seemed impossible.  Today on the other hand the sun was splitting the sky (especially welcome after so much snow and sludge) and the possibilities seemed endless.

I pitched a story successfully, got some editing done on the novel and heard from two old friends.  All is good.

That of course is the nature of this business.  It’s particularly easy to have the down days at the moment.  The Mean Reds are tempted into view with every news report and further news of cuts throughout the global publishing industry (like today’s news of sweeping cuts in Harper Collins) makes it hard to be optimistic as a first time author.

But even when the world isn’t in the throws of a massive recession writing, even freelance journalism, isn’t the steadiest of jobs.  I knew that when I got into it and most of the time it doesn’t really bother me.  I’m used to days of feast and famine.

You just have to trust that days like today will come along and make the whole thing worthwhile.  I’m aware though that in a blog like this one, under my own name and readable by anyone who comes across it online, that pouring forth anytime things seem a bit black probably isn’t the best idea.

I want to be honest in this blog and give a fair idea of what life is like writing for a living at the bottom end of the scale but now I’ve got to this stage it’s all got a bit more complicated.

It was one thing sounding off in the days when I had a nice anonymous blog but when people come here to find out about trials I’ve covered, or the book or even, on occasion, me, ranting about issues I may have with the business side of things is perhaps not quite the thing.

While I want to give a warts and all impression because I know that somehow, when Devil was published I magically became an author rather than one of the ranks of the unpublished.  That doesn’t mean I’ll never again see the inside of a slush pile but it certainly seems to be a step in the right direction.

Before I had any dealings with publishers I would trawl the net to find out everything I could about that closed shop.  I’ve linked to a couple of the best publishing blogs in my blogroll but over time I will be expanding that list.  I always intended that when I was finally published I would keep up a very honest blog to help the people who looked like I did (and still do to be honest – things are changing so much out there daily reading is essential).

The problem is that I know have a book to sell.  That means that all the things I’ve discovered that would serve as salutary tales for those dreaming of getting into print suddenly become a pr minefield when you know that among those dropping into read are colleagues and the competition.

While I want to be honest I also want to sell the book so the stuff that happens on the bad days isn’t necessarily the stuff that will find it’s way here – in the short term at least.

There will always be good days and bad days but until I’m a little more established on the writing end of things the bad days will have to stay in the diary and this will have to be a good day blog (most of the time anyway).

Hard Not to Feel Just a Little Excited…

I wasn’t going to post about Obama’s inauguration today but it’s a bit hard to ignore.  I’ve watched a couple of inaugurations over the years but none of them quite like today’s.

I remember watching Bill Clinton being sworn, on an old 1960s black & white telly that was all I could afford at the time.  The Rainbow Coalition had just been voted in here, a combination of Fine Gael, Labour and Democratic Left elected after Labour walked away from previous partners in government, Fianna Fail after a string of scandals, most notably the mishandling of prosecutions against paedophile priests.

Back then I was skint and on the dole but it all seemed so optimistic, finally walking away from conservatism, cronyism and corruption into a bright new future.  I remember watching Clinton’s inauguration from the big old iron bed I’d bought in a junk shop and, with the help of my boyfriend at the time sanded down and painted with Hammerite.

It was a particularly cold January that year and bed was usually the warmest place to sit to watch anything longer than half an hour.  It was a lovely flat, a big basement one bedroom with sole access to a rambling over grown garden but I remember it being very cold!

Fast forward eight years and it was all change; Democratic Left merged with Labour and Fine Gael seemed to have lost the knack of getting elected.  Over the course of Clinton’s two terms I had completed two college courses in journalism, split with both the boyfriend and the iron bed (I regret the loss of the bed) and met and married the Husband.

I remember arriving into work to write Internet news updates in the weeks after George W Bush had been elected to yet another story about hanging chads.  The whole election process in the States seemed murky and sordid.  Mind you things here had changed considerably as well.  The Celtic Tiger had been spawned and the centre right dream team of Fianna Fail and the PDs were slaves to Mammon.

Financially I could afford to put the fire on by the time Dubya came to power but the policies on either side of the Atlantic didn’t sit easily with me.  These were the days of the Teflon Taoiseach (Bertie Ahern) whose grinning face we seemed doomed to put up with for many years to come.  In a post 9/11 world the bogeyman seemed to lurk under every bed and dark shadows lurked behind all the glitz.

But today it’s all change again. After 8 years of wars and suspicion in the US and scandal and corruption in Ireland something really had to give.  Bertie jumped just before anyone could push and before the failing economy totally scuppered what little reputation he had left and Barack Hussein Obama has been sworn in today as the first black president of the United States.

Life is a little more scary these days with more responsibilities and less money.  After eight years I’m back at the freelancing, even if there have been a few steps up the ladder.  I don’t work in commercial radio anymore for a start!

Watching the ceremony it was hard not to be moved by the sense of optimism and hope that was being welcomed in.  Back when Clinton got the job I was in my twenties and optimism came so easily. These days I’m a lot more cynical. It’ll take more than a single day to right the harm done over the past eight years.

But today’s not the day for talking about that.  I’ll join with the general consensus today in wishing President Obama well and hoping he can live up to the task he has before him…listening to his inauguration speech it sounds like he’s going to have a pretty good stab at it.

Here in Ireland we’ve a way to go yet but today it feels like a return to more caring, socially responsible way of life may, just may be possible. I’m not belittling the economic mess we find ourselves in but we couldn’t go on the way we were.  Ireland was in danger of losing any soul or sense of self it had for a crazy chase after crass commercialism and greed.

Today I’m just very glad to have witnessed a piece of history and remembered the past.  Quite frankly I’d much rather live in a world where America is a benevolent patrician force rather than a hulking bully wielding a big stick.  Now we seem to have got that one sorted maybe we can get Ireland to cop on as well.

By the way, if you missed the inauguration you can find the text of Obama’s speech here.  I’m off to make dinner now safe in the knowledge that tonight the world seems like a nicer, warmer place for once.  Long may it continue.

On the Lack of Flea Markets in Dublin…

I was wandering around town yesterday, past the Cornucopia Restaurant (which reminds me, I haven’t been there in years, I wonder why) when a poster on the wall caught my eye.

FleaPosterJan09

I stopped in my tracks…could it be?  Was it possible that at long last there was a flea market in Dublin again?  Stopping in my tracks I wandered over to take a close look at the poster and saw that, yes indeed, there was a flea market in Dublin again and, even better than that, it will be on next Sunday.

When I got home I checked the website given on the poster and discovered that this was not to be an isolated event but will be happening every month – and I’d already missed the first two.

I should probably explain at this point why I get so excited about the prospect of rooting around other people’s discarded junk.  Actually maybe this isn’t quite the time for that, I’m not going into my squirelling tendencies in a public forum like this!  But seriously, I’ve often lamented the lack of flea markets in modern Dublin.

When I first moved here, in the early 90s there were several, scattered around the city centre.  Mother Redcaps, The Dandelion, The Blackberry Fair were all favourite haunts and the source of most of my interior design in those impoverished days.

The Blackberry Fair in particular was where I found the 60s kitch cream cube of a tv that might have only been a black and white but for the 20 old Irish pounds I paid for it was all I could afford.  It still works a treat by the way and with it’s rounded corners and polarising clip on screen is a little design classic that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a set from the Avengers or The Prisoner.

You could get anything there, from beanbags to 8-tracks to strange twisted bits of metal that could have been used for just about anything.   I remember buying a massive ppine chest of drawers with a serious list to one side that I always meant to sand down and renovate but never got round to it.

Most people I knew in those days would have been advocates of what’s now known as shabby chic.  It wasn’t because it was trendy back then, it was because it was cheap and quirky and there was always treasure to be found amongst the junk.

Going to a market at the weekend was a foraging mission like no other.  You might have an idea what you were looking for but in the end you could literally come home with anything.  Even looking around my living room now I can see a couple of vases and a 70s wooden lamp that were market finds.

I used to come home with bizarre finds – an antelope horn mounted in silver, oil lamps, a replacement lid for an old slow cooker.  Not to mention the fantastic vintage clothes finds…

The problem was that when Dublin got rich the markets closed down one by one.  The Dandelion was the first to go, followed a couple of years later by Mother Redcaps, there so long it was a Dublin institution.  They closed because people had stopped coming and people were so busy with the bright shiny things they could now afford that they didn’t even mark their passing.

By the time the Blackberry Fair closed down nobody even murmured.

We had become too grand to root around in bric a brac.  We didn’t want it if it wasn’t new and preferably designer.  We’d go to markets if they sold organic vegetables or expensive crafts but the true flea market was just too messy and cheap to satisfy us anymore.

True, in recent years, websites like Freecycle and Jumbletown have sprung up to allow unwanted items to find a home but it’s not really the same.

There’s nothing quite like wandering around a collection of stalls with a steaming cup of tea in a polystyrene cup searching for overlooked treasure. Maybe it’s my seventies upbringing showing through but I’ve always loved renovating and customising and making do.  I’m the kind of person that can’t walk past a skip without having a look.

But the markets that Dublin used to have suited the city.  To be honest I think I prefer the somewhat grimier Dublin from those days.  You could always get the designer stuff if you wanted it, Brown Thomas is hardly a new addition, but you had the rest as well.

Now as we head back into economic blackness the penny is beginning to drop that maybe we threw out the baby with the bathwater.  It’s all very well having the luxury but if you don’t have the money you need to be able to get hold of the junk and get creative.  These days there doesn’t seem to be much choice, it’s luxury or nothing in most places.

I’ll be going to the Dublin Flea Market next Sunday and I urge you to as well.  Maybe if this one really takes off Dublin can see it’s markets flourish again and we can be skint with a bit more grace, after all these days, thanks to shows like Bargain Hunt on the BBC, everyone know you never know what you’re going to find among the jumble.

A little bit of housekeeping…

I’ll post properly later on but I wanted to post the interview I did for Devil in the Red Dress on John Cooke’s show on Clare FM back at the beginning of December that I was ranting about yesterday.  I was totally befuddled with a cold at the time and then got overtaken by the festive mayhem and since New Years I’ve been confounded at every turn by gaps in my knowledge of all things Internet.

I’ve been trying to upload it for days now, ever since we had the post festive clear out, and yesterday it had me driven to distraction but finally everything is talking to everything else and we’re cooking with gas.

For the record the combination that worked the charm was Total Recorder for the encoding (I bought it ages ago for recording streamed radio interviews but stupidly didn’t realise it’s also quite a nifty MP3 encoder) then a fair amount of fumbling with WordPress 2.7’s new interface and working out which plug ins were messing the whole this up (never did work out exactly which I will post when I find out).

I also used Cool Edit Pro to top and tail it.  I’m not going to link to that since it’s a really old programme I’ve had ever since I used to work in radio many years ago and it’s not even supposed to work with XP.  The programme was bought by Adobe and now costs lots.  I like it though.  It works for me and I;m familiar with the interface and can use it to top and tail and normalize with no hassle.

Anyway back to the interview. It’s not a great recording, the husband thoughfully did it for me from home but I had all the sound recording software with me on my laptop so a rather precarious network of Y cables linking the computer to my Zoom,  not the most elegant set up but it’s audible.

I sound rather like a cross between a frog and Marlene Dietrich due to the cold but I’ll leave you to decide for yourselves.

Enough procrastinating… here it is…

 


 

A Whole New Way of Doing Things?

I was talking to a friend on Skype earlier today and the conversation turned to social networking…as it does.  I was trying to explain the concept of Twitter to her and persuade her to give it a try and the conversation turned to the whole social networking phenomenon and how much the business of writing and researching has changed since we both studied journalism in college.

Now granted, since I learnt the ropes things have moved on from quarter in reel to reel recorder (one of these…, through minidiscs on to hardrive recorders.  Elsewhere the revolution of being able to file copy from anywhere without having to use a copy taker or an ISDN line as long as you have access to an internet connection has made minute by minute breaking news achievable.

But apart from the tools we carry about with us to perform our daily business it’s the actual job that has changed almost beyond recognition over the year.  I graduated from college in 2000.  Back then learning how to use search engines was a fairly new part of the curriculum.  These days, if the Internet went bang in the morning I wonder how many of us would remember how to do things the old fashioned way.  There are so many routine inquiries that would have required several hours of judicial phone calls or knocks on doors that can now be answered by a few minutes Googling.

It’s something that we all take for granted yet still on occassion becomes something to marvel at.  I’ve lost count of the number of times the press room in the Four Courts has been agog over a piece of video or audio that would have previously meant a search of the archives back at base that you might only have seen when it went to air.  During the Joe O’Reilly trial, for example the footage of his appearance on the Late, Late Show in the company of his obviously uncomfortable mother-in-law three weeks after he had murdered his wife got an almost daily showing.

Similarly the video that Siobhan Kearney shot to publicise the guest house she and her husband Brian Kearney had run in Spain was played again and again in the media room during his trial for her murder.

These are the kinds of archive material that have always been obtainable but never quite as readily as they are now.  These days colour writers wanting to describe an earlier event in vivid technicolour can call up their subject in a Google search rather than rely on rusty memories.

Even basic newsgathering is changing according to the advances in technology.  Journalists can now look at someone’s Myspace or Facebook page.  Incereasingly this is the first place to look in the case of murder victims.  A Bebo memorial page set up in their honour is a source of photographs not just of them but of the friends and family who attend the court each day, a way of putting names to faces without intruding.  In the recent trial of Finn Colclough, which I’ve written about at some length, journalists quickly found the Bebo page set up for victim Sean Nolan with the outpouring of grief from his devoted friends which still continues to this day.

We live in a technological world and it is at their peril that a journalist doesn’t move with the times.  YouTube is the source for the kind of eye witness footage captured by increasingly high resolution mobile phones that news editors could have only dreamed of in the past.  Twitter has become the new buzz word for a second by second stream of information from any major news event.  You only have to look at the number of articles and courses springing up on electronic news gathering to see the impact it’s having.

As I discovered researching the book it’s now possible to gather information from the other side of the road simply sitting at your desk.  I’m a great fan of the idea of VOIP (quite apart from the fact it allows me to chat with people who have decided to move back to Sweden and are no longer eligable to be my Call a Friend for Free!)  I get very excited about the fact that I can Google someone or somewhere, go to their website then simply click on a phone number somewhere in that page of text and within seconds talk to them through Skype (using the Firefox Skype plugin).

As a writer too the advent of Web 2.0 has totally changed the reality of life.  The fact that you have become some grungy creature who hasn’t change dout of your pajamas and who lives in a small pool of light over  you cluttered desk and overheating laptop is no longer a barrier to you networking with editors or agents in any of the major cities.

Living in Ireland and not having access to a lot of writing festivals or author appearances where publishers and agents would be in attendance it’s fantastic.  I can be as cheeky as I like in approaching people through Twitter or blogs (although it remains to be seen how successful my networking is – to date I’ve probably got most of my most concrete contacts the old fashioned way but I’m optimistic for the future).

I’m constantly in awe of all these changes.  I love technology but I’m not young enough to be born to it.  I remember what life was like in the dark Luddite days and I like the way things have changed.  Personnally I think the reality is that this is simply a new way of doing something we’ve always done.  I’m fascinated with the opportunities to self publicise that the Internet provides (obviously I’m aware of the blogging one) and the idea of virtual book tours and being able to reach a global audience is too exciting to pass up.

The Internet has allowed us to go back to the kind of old fashioned communities and intensive networking that were bog standard a century or more ago.  These days we may hang out on Twitter, in the 18th Century coffee shops were all the rage.  Thanks to Google I’m now in touch with a community gardening initiative that happens not five minutes from my front door.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if everything went bang (it’s a thought that feels natural with the ongoing economic doom and gloom) but I can’t help thinking we’d probably carry on much as we are now.  We’d just have to get out more.  As long as Armageddon isn’t coming any time soon, I’m happy enough with the way things are.  We’ve come a long way, even if the communities we’re building hark back to earlier times and I for one am more than happy to embrace tweeting and blogging and exploring the big wide world from the comfort of my desk!

 

 

Technology and the Irish Courts

I’ve just read a very interesting article thanks to Journalismnews on Twitter.  Even though I’ve worked in the courts on a pretty much daily basis for the past couple of years, the issue of whether or not blogging or Twitter updates should be allowed of court proceedings had never really occured to me.  Here in Ireland electronic news disemination is somewhat slow to catch on – probably a lot due to pitiful state of broadband in this country.

Twitter is still very much a niche site here and while several media organisations such as RTE, the Irish Times, Irish Independent and Irish Examiner have news feeds, these tend to be pretty much a clone of the kind of copy they’ve been providing for years for mobile phones, rather than using any of Twitter’s unique functionality.  I’m not saying no one’s aware of it, just that it’s not really that much in the public consciousness here…and if it hasn’t reached the public counsciousness in any meaningful way then it definately hasn’t ruffled any feathers in the Irish Courts.

For the subject of real time blogging and tweeting of court proceedings to raise consternation in the courts here there would have to be more understanding of the realities of social networking by the barristers who raise these kinds of issues.  Even though more and more trials include evidence of emails and text messages as part of the prosecution case it’s still not unusual to hear email accounts described as web pages and other hints at a deeper incomprehension of the technology being described.

I’m sure there are many techologically literate barristers out there but there are still those that seem to view the advent of Web 2.0 as something in the realm of alchemy or plain straight forward magic.  Granted it’s now common practice for the judge to warn the jury not to check the internet when he’s warning them about the dangers of slanted media reports during the trial but thankfully no one has yet raised the issue of live reports on blogs and on Twitter being an even greater threat to the jury’s umblemished objectivity.

To be honest though, even if such concerns were raised I think an Irish judge would rule in the same way as their Colorado counterpart in the article I mentioned and allow the trial to be reported in this way.  There may be no photography allowed in the confines of an Irish court and television cameras and recording equipment may be banned but the journalists who take their places in the hard wooden benches all have their laptops available.

The broadcast reporters frequently file text to their newsrooms using mobile broadband from the courtroom itself – I’ve done so myself in high profile cases when deadlines were looming.  There are some judges who don’t like seeing the laptops out but then there are some judges who don’t like seeing journalists reading a newspaper when proceedings are dragging a bit.

While there may not be any dedicated online journalists sitting in court, the story will be published on various breaking news websites within minutes of it being received.  I suppose technically since broadcasting or recording isn’t allowed from the courtroom during proceedings then the issue of whether or not material should be published online could well be one that may arise at some time in the future.  Certainly there have been occassions when reporters have clashed with security within the courts over bringing in microphones, even though they weren’t live.

It’s an interesting area and one that will have to be addressed one day.  But for the moment the men and women who have the power to make such decisions tend to come from a generation that never had to worry about these issues and are slow to embrace the relentless march of technology.  For that matter, there are still a lot of Irish journalists who don’t really stray beyond Google and Facebook.

It’s probably going to be a while before there’ll be real-time blogging or tweeting coming out of the Irish courts. Most journalists have their hands full keeping up with proceedings and filing for hourly bulletins or tight print deadlines without posting rolling updates.  There would probably need to be a dedicated blogger sent down if that was to be acheived and in the current climate of cut backs and economies it’s unlikely they’d spare an extra body (already having someone to do news and someone else to write colour in the case of a high profile trial).

Mind you, if we keep having the kind of blockbuster trials that have become a regular occurance since wife killer, Joe O’Reilly turned out to be such a draw, who knows.  Maybe an Irish judge will have to rule on whether Twitter should be allowed into the courtroom, far sooner than I for one expect.

Another day of Interviews

Today I was in Phantom FM on Phantom Daily with Simon Maher.  I think the interview went well.  It was nice to be able to talk about the websites and the American side of things.

While I was researching Devil in the Red Dress I was fascinated by the more high tech side of the case (as I’ve mentioned here before this was very much a trial of it’s time.)  I’ve linked to the websites mentioned in the trial (and in Devil) and I think you’ll agree they’re not the most convincing scams ever.

In many ways Sharon was a spammers dream…judging by the kind of websites she tried to enter into criminal activity with, she’s the kind of woman who would receive an email from Yasser Arafat’s widow asking for help to get his money out of the country (I know there have been a lot of different one’s since but that was always my favourite and anyway I’ve now got a better spam filter) and fall for it.  After all, she did sent €15,000 to someone behind a website who’d modelled their pitch on a T-shirt shop.

It was a nice relaxed interview and it was good to be able to talk about the more bizarre aspects of the case.

I think I also managed to convince the drivers of the taxis to and from the studios about the book as well…

Anyway, I’m still working on the trailer…I have a script now and an idea for an unusual approach…watch this space anyway…you will see the finished product here first!

The Book Marketing Continues…

I’m really tired this evening so this won’t be a long post.  Today I went out to East Coast FM in Bray, Co Wicklow, to do an interview about Devil in the Red Dress.  It went well I think.  Tomorrow afternoon it’ll be Phantom FM…I’m doing quite a tour!

This weekend we’ll find out what the first week’s sales have been like…nerve wracking stuff!  It’s so frustrating to have to just sit back and wait…

I’ve been playing around with Twitter all day, the people following me must have been driven mad.  The new possibilities in book marketing offered by the Internet have always fascinated me and now I have a book to market I want to try some of them out.

So there’s this blog for a start…as I’ve said before I had been running an anonymous blog until I started writing Devil.  That’s when it seemed like a good idea to register my own domain and start blogging officially so to speak.

I also use Twitter.  It’s an interesting idea to be able to tweet about interviews I’m doing or news about the book.  Stephen Fry has used Twitter like this brilliantly.  I’ve got a long way to go before I reach his numbers of followers – have to become a national treasure so!

Finally there’s the idea of a book trailer…that I’m busy scripting but it should be appearing on a Youtube channel near you sometime soon.

I remember when I was a teenager being sent out to drop around flyers for shows I was working on.  I suppose this is simply the modern equivalent….

After a Flurry of Activity…

The last couple of weeks have been absolutely nuts.  It’s only three weeks ago today that Sharon Collins and Essam Eid were sentenced.  A week after that I was working on the final edit of Devil in the Red Dress and a week and a half later we were celebrating the launch.

It’s only now that I can take time to take stock and suddenly I realise that apart from anything else I haven’t written a single Christmas card!  Tomorrow the first interviews start, first of all it’s out to East Coast Radio in Bray, Co Wicklow for a half hour chat, then on Wednesday it’s over to Phanton FM.  It’s still a bit weird being the interviewee rather than interviewer but I’m beginning to get used to it.

It seems that this is a subject it’s going to take people a long time to get tired of talking about – Sharon Collins managed to get herself into the papers again over the weekend by lodging her appeal through her solicitor.  That’ll be another circus when the time eventually comes around.

As I start looking forward to the interviews I’m suddenly having to think about what’s in the book.  You get to the stage in the last days of writing and editing where you couldn’t see the wood for the trees if you tried…it just becomes all trees and details.  Now I’m thinking about how to sell the story and it’s a whole different ball game.

I’m also thinking again about making a trailer but more of that in a few days.

I’ve written often here about the fact that I think that this is very much a defining trial of our time.  With the elements of sex, celebrity and excess, not to mention the Internet it has everything that seems to make our generation tick.

It fascinates me that I could find out so much about the lives of people I had never met, who live thousands of miles away.  Their past addresses, criminal records, school friends.  Trying to find out about people here in Ireland is a different matter entirely.

For Sharon Collins and Essam Eid the attitude was that whatever you wanted, be it a false marriage, a hitman or a deadly toxin, you could find it in a few clicks of the mouse online.  But there were many points during the trial where the short comings of Ireland’s access to the World Wide Web became all too clear.

When we heard about Sharon’s attempts to contact “Tony Luciano” from her home in Ballybeg House outside Ennis, for example there was always the mention of the appallingly slow dial-up speeds in the house.  Now this wasn’t a case from some time in antiquity, this was 2006 and her partner, PJ Howard was the head of a €60 million property business.  The problem was that broadband was simply not available.

So the most technologically advanced murder conspiracy plot this country has almost certainly ever seen was conducted at dial up speeds or in stolen moments during the working day.  The situation with broadband is a little better here in 2008 and broadband might have reached much further into the heart of Ireland but still there’s a lot further to go with the amount of information available online.

Whether you’re talking about government departments or the judiciary, the information available is general at best.  There are one or two exceptions but even they are firmly rooted in paperwork.  I recently filed my taxes using the Irish Revenues online service ROS.

It was a great service but in order to register I had to go through three different registration procedures, two of which required a secure password to be sent to me by traditional post.  Just to contrast this, I could access court documents in America with a password sent to me in a matter of hours through their secure server.

Collins and Eid might be pretty bad examples of how to use this incredible resource we have access to nowadays (see The Story Behind the Book for more details) but surely it’s time Ireland started making full use of the facilities available to them.  There are Irish companies who use the Internet well but they are still in the minority.

I’ve learnt a lot about what’s possible and what’s fantasy while researching Devil in the Red Dress.  I was surprised by how much possibility the Internet opens up, as a journalist I take Google for granted but there’s a lot more out there.

I’m very excited about the possibilities with the global village you get glimpses of with the Net but the antics of Collins and Eid only go to show that there are still plenty of dark corners out there were dodgy people lurk…and some are more successfully dodgy than others!

The Devil in the Red Dress has arrived!

Devil will hit the shelves at the end of the week.  I got my first copy on Friday and it feels strange to finally hold it in my hands complete with glossy cover and new book smell!  Seeing it sitting on the bookcase it somehow looks as if it’s not my book anymore – it gets to go out without me and have a life of it’s own now.

It’s been a very intense couple of months with first the trial then researching and writing the book.  Now I have to start the next bit…selling it.  On Thursday, the book will be officially launched then it’s due to hit the shops on Friday.  All the digging and prodding and frantic typing are at an end.

It’s hard to believe that Sharon Collins and Essam Eid were only sentenced two weeks ago.  It was an extraordinary end to an even more extraordinary story and I’m glad that I waited to give Devil in the Red Dress that final chapter but it has meant a flurry of activity since that day to get everything out on time.

But now the writing’s done and all that’s left is the marketing.  I’ll be promoting Devil the traditional way but am also keen to explore the new opportunities offered by the Internet.  The story of Collins and Eid is so much a story of our time and every part of this story has been firmly rooted on the Net.

The initial hook was the Hitmanforhire website, the email correspondence between Sharon and the fictional “Tony Luciano” that cooked up the plot, the ingredients for ricin were allegedly bought online for the recipe that had been sourced there and the conspirators finally met their downfall due a garda investigation that relied on technical evidence to solve the case.

Even my research for Devil was largely conducted online.  I was able to research the American side of the story from my laptop and found out more than I could ever which to know about the toxic properties of castor beans in some of the less salubrious chatrooms out in cyberspace.

If ever there was a trial that was rooted in the world we live in today it was this one…it would be nice if Devil gets it’s own life online.

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