Monday, 29 August 2016

Debut Spotlight: Cat Hogan

Today it's my pleasure to shine the spotlight on Irish debut author Cat Hogan whose debut novel They All Fall Down was published last month.

Cat Hogan was born into a home of bookworms and within spitting distance of the sea. Her father, Pat, a lightship man, instilled in her a love of the sea and the stars. Her mother, Mag, taught her how to read before she could walk. Writing, storytelling and a wild imagination is part of her DNA.

The beautiful County Wexford, Ireland is home to Cat, her musician partner Dave, two beautiful sons Joey and Arthur, and her tomcat Jim Hawkins. There they live a life of storytelling, song and adventure. The other love of Cat’s life is food. A self-professed foodie, there is nothing she loves more than feeding a houseful of friends round her kitchen table.

When she is not conjuring up imaginary friends, she can be found supporting local musicians and writers of which there is an abundance in her home town. One of her first endorsements for her novel is also her favourite and comes from fellow Wexfordian of Artemis Fowl fame.

'If the Gone Girl met the Girl on the Train, they would have come up with They All Fall Down' - Eoin Colfer.

They All Fall Down is Cat’s debut novel.

Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel They All Fall Down?
They All Fall Down is a grim tale and not for the readers who like a happy ever after! It’s set in a fictional fishing village in Wexford and looks at what happens to a group of friends if one has a more sinister agenda. It also looks at the destruction addiction can cause on families and the thin line between love and obsession

Which came first, the characters or the plot? 
Characters without a doubt. I had an idea of where the story was going but the characters told it for me. Their traits, motivations and reactions drove the story forward. Two characters became six and the novel evolved from there. 

If you had to describe They All Fall Down in one sentence, what would it be? 

I am going to quote Eoin Colfer here. He described it perfectly when he said, ‘Hogan blends chills, thrills and heartfelt emotion- They All Fall Down is an intoxicating cocktail of psychological thriller and emotional rollercoaster.

Ring-a-ring o’ rosie . . . 
... Someone wants to play. 
... Who's not playing the game? 
... Now Someone must pay. 

Jen Harper likes to play it safe. She is settling into life on the outskirts of a sleepy fishing village with her little boy, Danny. Life by the sea – just how she wanted it. 

When she meets Andy, she feels the time has come to put her baggage and the scars of the past behind her. Then she is introduced to Scott, Andy’s best friend, and is stung by his obvious disdain for her. Why is Scott so protective of his best friend? What is the dark secret that threatens all of them? 

In her attempt to find answers, Jen must confront her demons and push her relationships to their limits. By digging up the past, she puts Danny and herself in danger. Will she succeed in uncovering the truth before they all fall down? 

The psychological thriller market is proving really popular at the moment, what do you think is its appeal to both writers and readers? 
I think we are all adrenalin junkies in one way or another. We like to feel our palms sweat, our hearts race and to shout at characters not to do this or don’t go in there! As a writer it was never my intention to write a psychological thriller. They All Fall Down doesn’t fit neatly into the genre box. It spans a number of them and has also been described as a Grip Lit thriller and domestic noir. I originally thought my writing would be lighter bit my brain had other plans. This came as quite a surprise to me and to those who know me. I’m a really positive, happy go lucky type of girl- I never knew that darkness was in me! 

What can we expect from you next?
I’m in the process of writing book 2, and the outline for book three is rattling around in my head. They will be dark and twisty just  like They All Fall Down and I have a few plans up my sleeve! I’m toying with the idea of writing a screen play- for now that’s just an idea.

How did your writing journey start? 
My writing journey started using the opposite side of my brain. I have two degrees- one in Business, the other in Law. My first paid writing jobs were in those areas but I always knew I wanted to write fiction. I did a creative writing course a couple of years ago. Being from Wexford makes it easy to dream the dream. You only have to look at Cólm Tóibín, Eoin Colfer and John Banville for inspiration. They have been at this for a long time and are known world wide. They made it look easy to do! 
For me it all happened within a year. I had the novel finished by the end of June last year and 5 months later I had an agent and a two book deal with Poolbeg. It has been a whirlwind ever since.

Have you treated yourself to something special to celebrate your publishing your debut novel? 
I had great plans to treat myself to a host of wonderful things. The reality is I have been too busy since the launch to take any time out. Before the end of the school holidays- we will have a family holiday but for now the deadline for book 2 is looming and I’m flat out with promo for They All Fall Down. I might save the celebrations for when I sell the movie rights to Hollywood! 

Did you do anything exciting to celebrate publication day?  
I had two launches for They All Fall Down. One was in Dublin in the Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar and was hosted by the wonderful Rick O Shea.

The second lauch was the following night in my hometown of Wexford and I had the honour of my friend, mentor and bestselling author Eoin Colfer by my side to launch it. The Wexford launch was the party with family and friends. We sang and laughed until the sun came up. 

Both were really magical occasions and I won’t forget them for a long time.

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