FEW things are more satisfying for an author than to hear that readers want more of a fictional character they’ve created.
Northside writer Fiona Gartland, whose second book will be published by Poolbeg Press this week, falls into this category.
Following the success of her debut novel, ‘In The Court’s Hands’, Fiona’s protagonist Beatrice Barrington is set for another thrilling case in the sequel, titled ‘Now That You’ve Gone’.
Stenographer Beatrice is back and working in the Family Law Courts in Dublin when a friend seeks her help. Georgina O'Donnell's husband, Andrew Dalton, has been murdered and the gardaí are keeping her in the dark. Georgina thinks Beatrice might be able to find some answers through her friend, retired detective Gabriel Ingram.
Together, Beatrice and Gabriel begin to uncover Andrew Dalton's past. Then a stranger who says he is an old friend of Andrew's appears and claims that the dead man owed him money. The pressure becomes too much for Georgina, and Beatrice finds herself trying to protect her friend and her family.
Drumcondra native Fiona has been working with The Irish Times for 14 years, covering many trials at the Criminal Courts of Justice. Her knowledge of how the system works clearly shone through in her first novel and followers of Beatrice can expect more of the same in the second book.
Ahead of the official publication, Fiona, who began her journalism career with Dublin People, gives an insight into the hard work that goes into the craft of writing.
“My deadline for the second book was October 2018 but I wasn’t entirely happy with it so I binned it,” she says.
“After rewriting it, I sent it back to my publisher in February. The publisher was happy and said they could go with it. I was lucky to have the luxury of being able to put the book away for a while and then go back to it.”
As well as possessing writing talent and a penchant for hooking the reader, a key factor in Fiona’s success is her unwavering self-discipline.
Despite the pressures of working on one of the country’s busiest newspapers, she is still able to find the time to write approximately 3,000 words at weekends while also bolstering the word count during the week before the day job even begins.
“I’ve no problem applying myself at all; I could write all day,” says Fiona who was shortlisted for RTE’s prestigious Francis McManus Short Story Competition on no less than six occasions.
Fiona’s strong work ethic is also helpful when she is tasked with promoting her books.
“In the modern day you have to become a salesperson as well as being the author,” she jokes.
“Gone is the day when you could hand over a book and let someone else look after selling it and getting publicity. Nowadays you are expected to be on social media plugging it. This can be quite time consuming but it’s just something that has to be done.”
Fiona won’t have too much time to bask in the glow of seeing her second book hit the shelves this week.
“I am writing the third ‘Beatrice’ book now and the deadline is January 2020,” she adds.
Whether you’re a journalist or a crime novelist – or in Fiona Gartland’s case, both – there is always a deadline!