The first thing that my mother always did on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve was to open the front door of our house in Mountmellick in order to let the old year out and the new one in. It's a tradition that I now keep - with mixed emotions, it must be said, as I'm always sad to let go of the good things in the old year and nervous about what I've opened my door to let in for the new. I'm really not one of those 'new year, new me' people at all - January is a hideous time, just to be endured, with those horrible cold mornings trying to get everyone up and out in the miserable darkness, the emotional slump after all the anticipation, excitement, warmth and happy indulgence of Christmas and that wave of expectation that we should all suddenly jump to and be filled with good intentions, fabulous new ideas, the energy of long-distant runners and the willpower of ancient saints. It's such a crashing bore to put kale on the menu when only five minutes ago I was smearing Kerrygold on anything that stood still long enough and eating it. 2017 had very distinct lowlights - on a world stage, Brexit and Trump can still take a running jump. On a personal note, we lost my Dad last summer after a short illness. I also said goodbye to a schoolfriend following her long illness which she fought so bravely for so long. My father was six weeks shy of his 92nd birthday and my friend was close to her 45th. A life completely lived, and a life barely begun. Both are very much missed. On a happier note, however, I finally saw my fourth novel published to really positive response; I was lucky enough to have plenty of VO and copywriting work to keep me going, including new clients and challenges which I enjoyed; some unexpected reunions of family and friends which I really treasure (WhatsApp is my new favourite thing!), and my own family were healthy and happy throughout. I embraced reading and cinema - my two favourite things - which had been on the back burner for the past couple of years. I even potty trained twins, which is, by far, my greatest achievement for the year. And so, here we are, wide-eyed and blinking into the light of 2018 with a big, scary blank slate of twelve months to fill laid out before us. What's to be done? There's a new novel needs working on for starters - I'm currently torn between two ideas so I've shrugged my shoulders and sent them off to my publisher to see what she thinks. Then, when we've settled on something, it's down to work to have it ready by next year - an idea that fills me with excitement, anticipation and trepidation in the hopes that I can do my ideas justice with words. It seems that writing gets more challenging the more I do it as I strive to do the best I can and constantly improve on what I've done before. I'm lucky enough this year to have a little more time to work so I'm excited to see what will fill it and am pondering of writing opportunities. I'll be at the mic, of course, as always, excited about what a whole new year will bring. I'm also making a conscious decision to step away from social media in 2018. While I use it to keep in touch with family and friends, I'm also prone to disappearing down rabbit holes on Twitter and Facebook - always too easy when you spend a large portion of your day stuck underneath a toddler and staring at a screen to pass the time. To rectify that, and try to use that time more constructively, I've deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone and now, when I have a moment where I have a technology urge, I simply turn to my Kindle instead and am currently devouring A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and have the full intention of finally getting through the library of books lined up waiting to be read. There's also plenty of on-screen entertainment to pass the dark nights - I've resolved to get back into the habit of going to the cinema at least twice a month - solo cinema trips are one of my favourite things, but three years of troublesome twin bedtimes has interfered slightly. With all of the big awards winners coming our way, it shouldn't be difficult over the next couple of months and I'm particularly looking forward to Guillermo del Toro's 'The Shape of Water', Martin McDonagh's 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri', Daniel Day Lewis' final screen outing 'The Phantom Thread', 'Ghost Stories' by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman and there's a few I'm dying to watch with the girls too - like 'Coco', 'Early Man' and 'A Wrinkle in Time'. As for TV? Where to start - top of the viewing list is season 6 of 'Spiral' on Saturday nights with the final series of 'The Bridge' coming at the end of the month and a second season of 'Trapped' later in the year while 'Inside No. 9' continues to blow me away with its originality and genius. On Netflix, I've already devoured the latest Black Mirror and season two of The Crown and am just about to embark on the second season of 'Dirk Gently' and I've promised myself I'm going to watch 'Peaky Blinders' this year - lots to keep me busy and tons of great writing to keep me inspired. And, despite how it looks, there's a slight stretch in the evenings and the sky glows orange a little earlier each morning. We're not out of the woods yet, mind, with February and March to go, but it's heads down, collars up and on we go. Here's to 2018 and whatever it may bring. Happy New Year.
Ever This Day has certainly been keeping me busy these last few weeks and, while I usually dread the prospect of promoting a book and much prefer to be holed up at my desk scribbling away, it's been lovely to get out and about and meet some people and talk about all the work that's gone into this little book. First stop was my launch at Eason's, St Stephen's Green - so lovely to clink glasses with friends old and new who came to celebrate with me. Since then, I've had the pleasure of chatting with Bobby Kerr on Newstalk's Down to Business and Declan Meehan on East Coast FM's The Morning Show and there are more radio interviews lined up for me this month. I've also been busy at the desk with articles in Woman's Way on the dread of your kids being bored, and on the Irish Times online edition asking why people feel the way they do about the genres of Fantasy and Horror.
I've had tons of fantastic feedback from readers so far too. Ever This Day currently holds a 5 star rating on Amazon and readers have been sending me such lovely comments on the Helen Moorhouse Books Facebook page saying that they couldn't put it down. One of my competition winners, Mandy Manning posted; "I meant to msg during the week i started reading ever this day last saturday and all i can is i was finished by sunday night could not put it down poor hubby was blue in the face from bringing me cups of tea amazing read loved it xx" Julie Golden Gallagher said; " I started and finished it this week and l absolutely loved it as your previous books. Your description is amazing and l loved how each chapter you went back and forth. As usual you scared the life out of me with Frances and only recently l ventured around a derelict convent and then read your book it all seemed so real. Thank you so very much Helen ... l throughly enjoyed Ever This Day" One of the real joys for me, however, is the fact that people who actually shared the experience that I used as inspiration for the book - five years in boarding school - have been enjoying it too. My lovely friend Marian Naughton said; "loved your latest novel. Read it over 2 days - was glued to it. Recognised many references and images and wondered where fact and fiction mingled/separated!! Currently staying in a quaint hostel in a remote part of Mayo. There was no nighttime trips to the loo for me last night- too spooked!!!!" And my Brat Pack - my closest friends from those five years who I thank in the acknowledgements have had enormous fun on our little WhatsApp group dredging up memories. Can't believe they forgot the badger! Ever This Day has also been Book of the Week in the Northside and Southside People - it's making me very proud that people are enjoying this story. Sometimes, when you're so close to a book and spend so much time trying to get it right, it's very difficult to think that anyone could possibly enjoy it but once the finished product is out there, doing its thing, you can feel very proud. Back to work - there's an online interview to be done along with some more mundane stuff like a trip to the bank. The glamour never ends!
Ever This Day - Out Now!
September 2017 - Ever This Day is on the way!
It's been a feverish few weeks of editing, proof reading and cover selecting but finally - after a long break from the shelves - I'm back and my fourth novel Ever This Day is on the way, due for release next month, just in time for Halloween.
Ever This Day has been a long time in the making - but taking the time that's necessary to get to grips with adding twins to the family has meant that certain aspects of what I do had to take a back seat. Book 4 took a long time for many reasons - time being one - I simply didn't have it anymore. I went from five free mornings a week to three, and writing at nighttime became a non-runner because of absolute exhaustion - the goods I produced sitting down to the desk after 8pm in the evening, invariably went into the trash the following day.
It's difficult to get into a writing groove when real life takes over everything and you're exhausted, fraught, busy and constantly interrupted. Ever This Day wasn't even the first Book 4 that I wrote - I completed a novel, submitted it, and then realised that I didn't want it out there. It wasn't good enough, by my standards. So off I had to go again. And Ever This Day was re-written, for the most part, four times before I was remotely satisfied enough to send it off to my wonderful publisher (also, thankfully for me, the mum of twins and entirely understanding of that period of your life that just disappears when they come on the scene). It was only in the editing process, however, that I began to finally have faith in the story of Ria and her time spent at a Laois boarding school in the 1980's and all the strange things that happened to her there. Hopefully that faith is justified and readers will be gripped and entertained and lose themselves a little bit in the story of the Convent of Maria Goretti and its strange goings on.
It is, of course, inspired by my own time in boarding school in the 1980's. The geography of my school, the Brigidine Convent in Mountrath, Co.Laois, became the geography of Maria Goretti with the odd rearrangement here and there. The routine of the girls in Maria Goretti is more or less the same as the daily grind I followed from 1985 to 1990. However, there was no one there quite as bonkers as Mother Benedicta (although I did borrow someone's shoes for her - ssssh!). And no Little Frances. That I was aware of anyway...
Anyway - here's a taster of Book 4, delayed because of my 4 incredible children, re-written 4 times, published 4 years after my last novel...
My name is Ria. I am fifty three years old. And I have a story. But it has no ending...
1942. Two children are caught in a storm. Only one returns home.
2015. A woman sees a face in a London crowd, and hears that a body has been found, after all this time.
1987. Ria Clancy leaves her life in Dublin behind when she is appointed Guardian at a girls’ convent boarding school in the Irish midlands. Shut away from the rest of the world, she is plunged into a strict routine, bound by rules, governed by the cruel Mother Benedicta. The Convent is a place of silence and shadows and soon Ria begins to see things that make no sense, to hear unexplained noises. What is the cause? And how is it linked to the shy, withdrawn student, Lydia Madigan?
Terrified and alone, Ria becomes obsessed with the cause of the unusual events that surround her, but soon both she and Lydia become the subjects of Benedicta’s wrath, which is the most terrifying thing of all.
Can the pieces of past and present ever be connected? Can the truth ever be uncovered about the events of 1942? And will Ria ever be able to leave it all behind and move on? Will she ever, truly find her story’s ending?
So, here it is, Spring 2017 and what is the world coming to? 2016 seemed to be arguably the worst year ever with Brexit, then Trump, not to mention losing Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, George Michael, Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan - if I carried on naming them, I'd never get any work done!
But 2017 seems to just be 2016 with a different coat on. Is the human race ever going to get a break?
It seems that the best we can do is keep on keeping on, and I'm head down, facing into the wind and hoping that it'll be nice and calm out the other side.
My fourth novel - provisionally titled 'Ever This Day' is finished, and currently lurking about the behind the scenes getting ready, hopefully, for editing, re-writing, more editing under the watchful and fresh eye of the Poolbeg team and, all going well, it will hopefully hit the shelves this autumn.
I've been doing lots of voiceover work recently too, with lovely new clients like Harvey Norman and East Coast FM; and with long-time favourites such as the team at Mood Media and the crew at Galway Bay FM, which has included lots of lovely projects such as writing and voicing fun Christmas liners, and the more serious task of working on their annual Radiothon to try to raise as much cash as possible to help Galway Hospice and Cancer Care West.
And I'm always available to work on speeches, letters and anything required and have had the pleasure of working quietly with some of my previous clients on new projects in their lives.
And when I'm not lifting a pen or talking into a furry little ball-shaped mic, I'm doing all those other things that mums do - driving, cooking, cleaning up spills, defeating ghastly enemies which include flies and the odd spider, soothing hot little brows and cleaning up stinky little messes, all the while making up stories in my head.
What will be next?
It's been a while...September 2015
It's taken a while to get back into the swing of things, and I'm feeling a little rusty, but my skills have been otherwise in use over the past ten months or so, as I took maternity leave to welcome twin daughters. Before they arrived, however, I was overjoyed to sign another three-book contract with Poolbeg.
As a mum of four - how did that happen! - I'm perhaps not as productive as I'd like to be, but I am back to work, nevertheless and weaving the first few tentative strands of another novel. I'm hoping it will be a productive winter and that 2016 will see another of my stories on the shelves. Huge thanks to Poolbeg, for their patience and all the love and good wishes!
I'm delighted also to be back working with The Armada Hotel in gorgeous Spanish Point, Co. Clare. I had a lot of fun working on some of their website content - especially their fabulous and innovative wedding packages and it's very gratifying to see them win the Website of the Year Award at the 2015 Weddings Online Awards.
Summer Is Coming....Here's what I've been up to over the last little while...
Here we are on the first day of summer 2014 - that came around quickly!
Finally I can reveal the cover for the paperback edition of Sing Me To Sleep which is due for release very shortly. Surely worth popping in your suitcase or on your kindle for a summer read?
It's been a busy year so far with lots of new clients and plenty of scribbling! I have recently worked writing radio advertising copy with LMFM and a station close to home, Midlands Radio 3 FM, on top of my existing stations - Classic Hits 4FM and Dublin's Sunshine 106.8.
And the wedding season is getting into gear - In the last month alone, I've written speeches for a groom, a best man, a father-of-the-bride and a bride herself, meaning that they have one more job crossed off the never ending list of tasks that suddenly appears when you're involved in a wedding. I've also been writing for one of my regular corporate clients for an awards acceptance ceremony and a presentation for an internal conference.
And, of course, I've been slogging away on my fourth novel which is due for release next year. It's as yet untitled and still has a little growing up to do, but that's part of the fun of writing - seeing your story evolve and grow and come to life.
And in my spare time (!) I, like most of the rest of the planet, have been absolutely devouring George RR Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series - or 'Game of Thrones' if you prefer! I can't believe that I have to hang on another year for the next instalment. That's far, far too long. I've also re-embarked on Paul Hoffman's fantastic The Left Hand of God Trilogy, re-reading the first two books in preparation for the final instalment, 'The Beating of His Wings'.
And for my viewing pleasure I've been loving The Bridge 2, The Trip to Italy, the third series of Rev and, of course, the gripping True Detective .
Ward River Press - Simply Good Stories
As I gear up for the paperback release of Sing Me To Sleep in the summertime, I'm very excited that I'll now be published under Ward River Press, the new Poolbeg imprint dedicated to original contemporary literary Irish fiction.
"Poolbeg's publisher Paula Campbell, who has probably launched more women writers than anyone else (Cathy Kelly, Marian Keyes etc all started with Poolbeg), says the new imprint will not be women's fiction and will not be genre led. It will simply be good stories, the best fiction she can find, written by men or women" (Irish Independent, Feb 1st 2014).
It's a great feeling to be part of something new happening in Irish publishing!
I'm currently hard at work finishing my fourth novel, due for publication in 2015. It's been a tough nut to crack but the characters are coming to life and their story is almost at a conclusion - I can't wait for my readers to get to know them
All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey - time to get some work done!
We might be enjoying some surprise late sunshine, but the leaves are turning brown all the same and winter's on the way! No better time to snuggle up with a cosy read. Sing Me To Sleep was released on September 1st and it's the perfect read for an autumn evening - a poignant trip through the lives of three women - and the death of one - over a thirty year period from the late 1980's. A very personal book to this author, I hope that my readers enjoy it.
The Dead Summer and The Dark Water are also still available in most good bookshops, and online.
I'm delighted to announce that I have re-signed with Poolbeg Press for another three novels over the coming years, so I'll have lots to keep myself busy and hopefully lots to keep my readers old and new entertained.
As well as being roped into Trick or Treating by my two girls this year, I've been asked to do something for Halloween that I am really looking forward to! Keep an eye on Helen Moorhouse Books Page on Facebook for more details. Spooky!
And sorry to mention it, but no sooner is Back To School finished, than the Christmas rush starts - in radio at least! I'd better stock up on coffee and biscuits because the C word starts here in commercial radio and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to writing those festive commercials. Sleighbells from September everyone!
I'm also currently working on something new - a brochure for a fabulous Hotel out west which offers wedding packages that are so amazing I'd contemplate doing it all over again! It's with the typesetters at the moment but I can't wait to share here on my website as soon as it's hot off the presses.
Happy autumn everyone!
There are rumours of sunshine but I'm always behind the desk currently working on lots of Radio Copy and busy, busy with the summer wedding season for speeches.
Sing Me To Sleep is off to the printers shortly - check back soon for a sneak peek at the cover..
And remember that The Dead Summer and The Dark Water are still available in most good bookshops or online - try www.poolbeg.com
Top Ten at Tesco!
The Dark Water has reached No. 10 in the Tesco Book Chart within a week of its paperback release! A huge thank you to everyone who's bought a copy!
What? Easter's over already?!
Unbelievably, we are already over the first two major Bank Holidays of 2013 - and STILL in our winter woolies!
There's only one thing to keep doing in these Baltic conditions, however, and that's to keep working!
The end of Easter, of course, means the start of April and the paperback release of The Dark Water pictured below on my desk! I've also finally finished the first draft of Sing Me To Sleep - check out the very first chapter at the back of The Dark Water...
On the speechwriting front, I've been working with some lovely new clients, including Chris and Mary from Green Angel who organised a fantastic fundraiser for Barnardos at the end of March. My speechwriting also featured in an article by Gabrielle Monaghan in the Sunday Times at the end of Feb.
I've been hard at work too on some more vocal matters. Check back soon for a new page featuring information on my voiceover and copywriting work.
Speechwriting update, January 2013
There are some very organised Brides out there and so far this year, I've already had the pleasure of working with two on their speeches for the coming summer. I was also thrilled to be a small part of Dan and Edwina's wedding which took place on New Year's Eve for which I wrote the groom's speech and a poem called Two Tall Trees to be used on the tables at the reception. Plus, I'm taking a fascinating trip down memory lane as I work with a client on his speech for his mum's 90th birthday at the end of February
2013 - Happy New Year! TV3, Paperback Cover and Double Time on a new book!
I'm starting the New Year bunkered down in my little study working double time to get the first draft of Sing Me To Sleep finished for publication this autumn. Already, however, there's been plenty happening. I've been commenting on some of the issues of the year so far in the Irish Independent - check out my links here
I was delighted to appear on TV3's The Morning Show to help launch Write A Bestseller 2013 with Paula Campbell from Poolbeg and Margaret Scott who publishes her first novel this spring - see the link here or visit the Helen Moorhouse Books Facebook Page.
It also won't be long before The Dark Water is released in paperback version - here's a glimpse of the new cover
All I Want For Christmas Photoshoot...November 27th
Here I am, with some of the other All I Want For Christmas writers at Eason, O'Connell Street for our publicity photoshoot.
The book of Short Stories is in aid of Barnardo's and all of us knuckled down to sign some copies - fantastic Christmas pressies for all, folks!
Check out Woman's Way dated October 29th for Bess's Things -
"I hate this house...I blame it for the endless snow. I blame it for my unhappiness. This bloody nunnery. All parquet floors and pistachio walls. A former home for girls run by the Sisters of Solace....."
Bord Gais Energy Book Club, November 2012
The Dark Water is one of the Bord Gais Energy Book Club's Books of the Month for November 2012
From October 19th - signed copies of The Dark Water available at The Pavilions, Swords; Liffey Valley, Dublin Airport, Blanchardstown and Dundrum
As Hallowe'en approaches, I chatted to Daire Nelson on LMFM about all of the spooky things that made The Dark Water and The Dead Summer happen, along with taking the plunge and setting out on the writing tightrope...
October 10th - Radio Kerry
It was a pleasure to chat with Deirdre Walsh from Radio Kerry about my piece in the Irish Independent on the potential loss of Child Benefit and how terrifying a prospect that is for a middle-class stretched to their absolute limits. Read the piece here
Ink Pantry Interview
Here's an interview that I did with the rather brilliant Ink Pantry
Of course my signature was scrawled on a few of these too - release date for The Dark Water - on sale from today in all good bookshops and soon on ebook!
September 26th 2012 Part One...
I take a little trip out to the Poolbeg offices in deepest Baldoyle to sign some things - like copies of All I Want For Christmas - this year's charity anthology of short stories by some of Ireland's best loved writers. All royalties will go to Barnardos...
5th September 2012
The year's just flying by, isn't it? I'm only back three days from my summer holidays and I've already involuntarily invoked the Santa Clause - "he won't come if you don't behave, you know!" - and had to de-mist the windscreen this morning! Winter's a'coming fast but along with winter, some new writing from me. Keep an eye out for Woman's Way near Hallowe'en and my spooky short story Bess's Things.
Also in the shorter vein, Gin and Holly is a story about showgirls which will be included in Poolbeg's Christmas charity anthology 'All I Want For Christmas'. I had the pleasure of working on the edit with Gaye Shortland, who is a miracle worker, over the course of my hols and I can't wait to meet the girls in print! And the book is all in aid of Barnardos.
I am now an official supplier to Rosie's brilliant wedding website - click here
Looking forward to working with Rosie in the future! Watch this space...
June 28th - Literary Ladies at Waterstone's Drogheda
Lovely evening at the Literary Ladies event in Waterstone's, Drogheda, organised by the brilliant Lisa Redmond. L to R, here's me, Shirley Benton (Can We Start Again due out in a matter of days!) and Michelle Jackson who has recently published her fifth - '4AM in Las Vegas' - Poolbeggars the lot of us. Thanks to everyone who came along, including members of Saltwater Scribblers - the most dedicated of groups! Met some lovely folk, learned some stuff and hopefully didn't talk too much. Til the next time!
April 17th 2010 Eason Staff Picks - The Dead Summer
See instore at Easons where The Dead Summer has been selected among the Staff Picks for their new promotions - some amazing titles at 20% off!
April 17th 2010
Some fantastic reviews on www.amazon.co.uk for The Dead Summer here
Lisa Redmond of Waterstone's in Drogheda really knows her books and here she is chatting with Michael Reade on LMFM about spooky things, including a mention for The Dead Summer. Listen here - Like I say, she has great taste!! Check out Lisa's fantastic blog too here
Feb 17th 2012
The Dead Summer finishes the week at Number 10 on the Tesco Book Charts and Number 21 on the ROI fiction charts
Midlands 103 interview, Feb 16th 2012
Tune in between 7pm and 8pm on Thursday, February 16th, to hear me chat with Claire O'Brien, presenter of Arts Show 'Encore' , about The Dead Summer and writing in general