09 Jul 2014

Gerry McCullough “Belfast Girls”

15 Comments Book Reviews, News

 

“Belfast Girls” by Gerry McCullough was recommended to me by a friend who knows about books and she did not disappoint me. It is the story of three teenage girls as they grow into womanhood in Belfast. ‘Belfast Girls’ is the story of three girls – Sheila, Phil and Mary – growing up into the new emerging post-conflict Belfast of money, drugs, high fashion and crime; and of their lives and loves.BG_front_cover
It follows their love entanglements and the career paths they pursue at a time of political stabilisation in Northern Ireland. Yet, now they face different problems as drugs, crime rings and untrustworthy men mess with their lives.
The book seems a great illustration of the post-conflict times in Belfast and Dublin. The three girls are well chosen to highlight different experiences and they complement each other well to make a varied group of friends which makes for an entertaining read with bite and substance. 

 

Here is an interview with the author Gerry McCullough:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person. What made you become a writer? Have you always written?  Gerry_pod_logo

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. Reading and writing, to me, belong together. I started off as a reader, like everyone else in my family, and early on this led me to want to write the sort of things I enjoyed reading. You couldn’t stop me, now!

When did you decide to write in your chosen genres? Do you have a favourite genre? Do you read the same genres as you write?

I write in a number of different genres. I’m not very happy about the whole ‘genre’, ‘put it in a box’ thing. My first published book Belfast Girls would be hard to classify as any particular genre. My first publisher decided to label it as ‘Literary.’ The next three adult books, Danger Danger, Angel in Flight and Angel in Belfast were deliberately written as romance/suspense, or thriller, to fall in with the custom of the market. But in between came The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus, a collection of short stories which were light, Irish, and amusing. And my YA book Lady Molly & The Snapper came out before my last thriller. My current book, due to be published before long, is more literary, like Belfast Girls, but could also be called Historical Romance, being set in the early 20th century. I have a Terry Prachett type comic fantasy which my publisher wants to bring out sometime, and a much more serious collection of short stories, some of which have won prizes in literary competitions, which have now been edited professionally. And, yes, I read and enjoy all these genres and many others. The only ones I don’t read or write are extreme horror and extreme erotica.

How long does it take you to write and publish a book?

How long is a piece of string? A first draft would normally take me around four to six months, but the essential editing which must follow makes the total process much more drawn out. Twice recently I’ve written a book and seen it published within six months, but my current book is taking much longer. The first draft is about done after most of a year, but then there’s still so much to do. I like to correct my work quite a few times before my publisher does his share of the editing.

What is the easiest about writing and what is the hardest?  Angel_front_cover 2

The easiest part, for me, is creating characters and getting into their skin. The hardest part is inventing a plot and carrying it out. Plots need a lot of thinking. Not that that’s bad, just harder.

How do you balance life and writing?

This is an ongoing problem for me. Before my first book was published, I wrote to please myself in whatever time I had available. Now that I’m a professional, I try to write 1,000 words a day, but sometimes life gets in the way. I have a grown up family and they have to come first when they need me. Then there’s publicity. Trying to balance actual writing with taking time to publicise the books is very difficult.

Would you say there is a message in the books beyond the stories? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

I’ve never set out to preach in my writing. But I hope and expect that people reading my books will understand and even be affected by my own beliefs which are present in everything I write, mostly in a low key way. Readers often comment on this, but mostly they just comment on how much they’ve enjoyed the storyline (or not!) and that’s fine with me.

What do you like most about your characters? Which one is your favourite?

This is a hard question. The best answer is that my favourite is always the one I’m currently writing about.  But apart from that I don’t really have favourites. Every character I create has so much of me in them that I have to like them all, or give up on life altogether. If I were forced to choose, I’d pick Angeline Murphy (Angel to her friends, devil to her enemies) the protaganist in my new series of thrillers, the Angel books. Angel has come out of a broken marriage to a violent man, and turned her life around. I think of her as a bit like Modesty Blaise, although not too much of a copy, I hope.

Which is your favourite book that you wrote and why? Which was the most fun to write? BG_front_cover

Belfast Girls seems to be the favourite with my readers. It still outsells all my other books by quite a lot on a regular basis. And since it was my first (in a sense), at least the first published, I have a special affection for it. It’s the story of three girls from different religious backgrounds growing up in Belfast just after the Troubles, and it contains a lot I really wanted to say (not by laying it out, but by showing these girls’ lives) about the reality of life in Belfast during this difficult time.  But my second book Danger Danger was probably the most fun to write. It had several rebirths, starting as a very literary affair about twin girls separated at birth and examining the similarities and differences in their lives, but then after Belfast Girls had been published I decided to make it a straight thriller by adjusting the plot a great deal. I still think it has a lot more depth to it than people often realise, and I’d love to see it being much more successful. Not that it hasn’t sold quite a few, mind you.

Who would play the characters in a film?  

Danger Danger would be easy enough. Any attractive actress with long dark hair could play both girls. They are very seldom on together except at the end. Belfast Girls would need a strikingly beautiful red haired girl to play Sheila. There must be some around. I’m not good at suggesting individuals, because I don’t know enough about current film stars, I’m afraid.

What are your next projects? Tell us about your other books. Danger_front_cover

My current book, Johnny McClintock’s War, is about one man’s struggle, both externally with events such as the First World War and the Irish Troubles of the Twenties, and internally, as he tries to understand and hold on to his beliefs. I hope it’s going to be a worthwhile book, but who knows? I’m about finished the first draft, as I said above, but it will need a lot of editing. Then I plan to turn Belfast Girls into a play for a local theatre. I have two more Angel books in mind, as well as the comic fantasy, and the literary short story collection, I’ve already mentioned. Oh, and I’ll probably bring out another twelve of the Old Seamus stories – they are already written and have been published in a magazine, so it shouldn’t take too long to get them ready. And so it goes on!

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

For pleasure, read, eat, sleep, visit or entertain friends or family, go to the theatre, go for walks, swim while on holiday. Work – shop, cook meals, even do some housework if I really have to.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

This is another hard one. I’ve been reading all my life, so I could give you a list a mile long. Jane Austin, Tolkien, and CS Lewis stand out. Then Georgette Heyer, PG Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart, Barbara Pym. All of these are in my firm opinion really good writers. It strikes me that if you check out my blog, Gerry’s Books, you’ll find my thoughts about all these writers and more there, since the blog is about old favourites of mine and new discoveries. I have to admit that it’s a while since I wrote a post. For films, China Town and Calamity Jane would be at the top of the list, for Albums, Dire Straights and anything by Bob Dylan.

What are your views on independent publishing?  The_Seanachie_front_cover

I think it’s an excellent thing. Far too many good writers have  been turned down and discouraged by traditional publishers with hard and fast rules about the type of book they’ll accept. Bookshops had become more and more places where you could buy stuff by or about celebrities, and a dozen or so established bestsellers – and very little else.  I’m glad to see that all changed. A lot of not very good books get published now, certainly, as well as many excellent ones, but it’s the reader’s prerogative to buy them or not. There are so many samples available, and returning something you don’t like is almost too easy. Readers should be the judge of what they want to read, not simply publishers.

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

My books are all available on Amazon as eBooks, most of them also as paperbacks. These links will take you to your local Amazon store anywhere in the world:

http://smarturl.it/BelfastGirls

http://smarturl.it/DangerDanger

http://smarturl.it/AngelinFlight

http://smarturl.it/AngelinBelfast

http://smarturl.it/Seanachie1

http://smarturl.it/LadyMolly

Lady_Molly_front_cover 200x320 Angel_2_front_cover

My web page will tell you a lot more about me: http://www.gerrymccullough.co.uk/

And if you’d like to have a look at my blog, here it is: http://gerrymccullough.blogspot.co.uk/

Thanks for inviting me here, Christoph, and all the best with your own excellent books!

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/Gerry1098

 

https://www.facebook.com/gerry.mccullough

 

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gerry-McCullough/e/B005F0MZU8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

written by
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

15 Responses to “Gerry McCullough “Belfast Girls””

  1. barbara silkstone says:

    Christoph, Thank you for this lovely interview. I am a big fan of Gerry McCullough’s Angel series. Each time I devour one of her novels I feel as if I’ve spent the time in Ireland. The author really puts her readers IN the story.

    • Gerry McCullough says:

      Barbara, what a lovely thing to say! If this is true, I would really believe I’d achieved something.

  2. Gerry McCullough says:

    Thanks for posting this, Christoph. It looks good and it’s really nice to be on your blog in such great company – I’ve read your interviews with Tom Winton, Barbara Silkstone, and many more excellent writers. Keep them coming!

  3. Tom Winton says:

    Great interview, Gerry and Christoph. Gerry is one of the most prolific and knowledgeable authors I know. She’s also one of the very first friends I made in the writing business–since way back in our authonomy days. Luv ya, Ger!

    • Gerry McCullough says:

      Tom, you’re very kind! You’ve been a great and supportive friend to me as well.

  4. John Holt says:

    It’s always good to learn a little more about a great friend of mine. A great interview well done both of you.

    • Gerry McCullough says:

      Aw, thanks, John! I would think you’d know just about everything about me by now – but I always try to add something new in each interview.

  5. Juliet B Madison says:

    A very good interview. I like to learn more about what makes my writer friends tick.

    • Gerry McCullough says:

      Thanks a lot, Juliet! Coming from such a good writer of crime novels ( the DI Lyle Series), this is good to hear!

  6. ASMSG Romance Erotica Ezine – Gerry McCullough “Belfast Girls” says:

    […] Comments:  7 comments on this item You might be interested in this:    My author feature in virtualwritersinc : The Way I Write  “Free Fall” by Amber Lea Easton  BLACK EAGLE INN News & Reviews  Another 5 stars on Amazon  Joss Landry: I Can See You […]

  7. Sheila Mary Belshaw says:

    I always love reading about you and your books and your life and your writing, Gerry. You have been such a good, helpful friend to me and I’ve loved you since our Authonomy days. Your new novel looks most intriguing and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    • Gerry McCullough says:

      Thanks a lot, Sheila! Now I’ve got the first draft of Johnny McClintock’s War finished, I intend to take a little time to read and review some of the books I’ve bought recently, including you own latest, and Christoph’s. Looking forward to some relaxing reading!

  8. Mike says:

    I enjoyed this interview very much. Gerry’s such a special lady, isn’t she? I must confess that, to date, I have only been able to read Belfast Girls. And it was a cracker! She’ll be hard pushed to beat that one, but I’m pleased to see she’s still trying!

    • Gerry McCullough says:

      Thanks a lot, Mike, for your very kind comments. But, hey, mister, what’s this about you only having read Belfast Girls? Time you got round to Danger Danger, or one of the Angel books, boy!

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