Friday, 20 March 2015

Irish Fiction Week Interview & Giveaway: Sinéad Crowley

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Irish journalist and author Sinéad Crowley to the blog as part of this Irish Fiction feature week to talk about her debut novel Can Anybody Help Me? which I'll be reviewing later.

It was crazy really, she had never met the woman, had no idea of her real name but she thought of her as a friend. Or, at least, the closest thing she had to a friend in Dublin. 

Struggling with a new baby, Yvonne turns to netmammy, an online forum for mothers, for support. Drawn into a world of new friends, she spends increasing amounts of time online and volunteers more and more information about herself. 

When one of her new friends goes offline, Yvonne thinks something is wrong, but dismisses her fears. After all, does she really know this woman? 

But when the body of a young woman with striking similarities to Yvonne's missing friend is found, Yvonne realises that they're all in terrifying danger. Can she persuade Sergeant Claire Boyle, herself about to go on maternity leave, to take her fears seriously?

Can you tell us a little bit about Can Anybody Help Me? 
Struggling with a new marriage, a new country and a new baby, Yvonne turns to Netmammy, an online parenting forum for support. Delighted at the chance to make new friends, she begins to volunteer more and more information about herself. Then one of her best online friends disappears. But how can you find out what has happened to someone you have never actually met?

Meanwhile Detective Sgt Claire Boyle is about to embark on her first ever murder investigation, and is not going to let the simple fact of being 6 months pregnant slow her down.

The premise of the storyline is so relevant in this modern era when most of us are online for some part of each day and make friends online, was that the inspiration behind Yvonne and her missing friend?
Yes, I got the idea for the novel when I was on maternity leave with my first child. Although I wasn’t isolated to the same extent as Yvonne was – I had plenty of friends with new babies – when my little boy was just a couple of months old it snowed heavily which meant I couldn’t leave the house for days at a time. So although I had friends and a support network I couldn’t physically go out to meet them and I began to use internet forums more and more. One day I recognised a person I knew from the real world, online and the idea for the novel began to take shape.

What is the message that you hope readers will take from Can Anybody Help Me?
I wrote the book as a story first and foremost – I wanted readers to be entertained, so I didn’t set out to teach them anything if you know what I mean!  But I suppose if there is a message in the book it’s this – don’t do anything online that  you wouldn’t do in real life. I think the internet is a fantastic tool and I’ve gained a lot of useful information from internet forums, but the best rule is, conduct yourself as you would in public, with the usual checks and balances. If you wouldn’t say something at the top of your voice in a crowded room, then don’t say it online!

Can you describe Yvonne in 3 words?
Tired. Vulnerable.  Perceptive.

What can we expect from you next?
I’ve just finished the second  book in the Clare Boyle series and am plotting the third. That’ll keep me busy till the end of next year hopefully!

How do you manage to combine writing novels with your day job and family life? 
It’s not easy, but I absolutely love writing so I make time for it. My best time for writing is at night, after the kids are in bed and I’m lucky that I’m a night owl.   

Do you set yourself a daily/weekly writing target?
If I’m not up against a deadline then 500 words a day is a good target.

Are you a plotter or a pantster? 
Bit of both. I have a rough outline of the plot sketched in my head and on old scraps of paper, and I use the notes function on my phone to plan a few chapters ahead. But I’m happy to let the book go its own way at times too.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Just finish it.

Where do you get the inspiration from for your stories?
There are elements of my own life in there, of course there are, but a lot of the stories are completely made up too! Lots of people tried to guess who the TV star was in ‘Can Anybody Help Me?’ – sorry, he came completely out of my head! That’s the fun part.

What writers inspire you? 
The list of writers who inspire me is too long to write down here, but I have been blessed since I started writing to have met some wonderful authors online and in the real world, among them Jane Casey, Liz Nugent and Louise O’Neill and Louise Phillips, and its wonderful to be able to chat to them about writing as well as many other issues.

If you could write in a collaboration with another author, who would  you like to write with?
Oh I think I’d be very difficult to write with!! The voice is so specific. But my husband who is also a journalist is a great plotter and a great editor, so I think we could work together.

Do you get much spare time for reading?  And if so, does being a writer affect the way you see books as a reader?
I couldn’t survive without reading. I read all the time, even when I’m writing. It doesn’t put me off, if anything it inspires me to try harder.

I'd like to thank Sinéad for generously donating a signed copy of Can Anybody Help Me? plus bookmarks for this giveaway, the first winner selected will receive the book and a bookmark plus 6 runners-up will each receive a bookmark.

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.  The winners will be selected at random on 28th March and contacted for their addresses to enable me to post your prizes to you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. This sounds like a must-read for Mumsnetters! I'm not one - but would love to read it anyway

  2. Wow sounds like my type of book.

  3. I would love to read this, it looks fabulous!

  4. Sounds great. I love a good criminal book as long as not too gruesome

  5. Would love to read this book. Not read any Irish Crime yet

  6. I enjoyed the interview thank you.

  7. Sounds interesting and so much in keeping with the times, looking forward to reading it

  8. This sounds interesting! I'd love to read it!

  9. This sounds interesting! I'd love to read it!