Killing it from

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - BOOKS -

Crime has al­ways been her pas­sion, so start­ing a book fes­ti­val was the ob­vi­ous next move for suc­cess­ful thriller writer Vanessa Fox O’lough­lin aka Sam Blake

AD­MIT­TEDLY I’m a lit­tle bi­ased, but long be­fore my thriller Lit­tle Bones hit the best­seller list I felt that Ire­land was cry­ing out for a des­ig­nated crime writ­ing fes­ti­val — we have so many bril­liant writ­ers, in­ter­na­tional best­sellers, who cover it in ev­ery guise.

Of­ten crime forms part of a fes­ti­val but as one of the most read gen­res, it has a lure all of its own. And Dublin is a UN­ESCO City of Lit­er­a­ture: a beau­ti­ful des­ti­na­tion with some of the most at­mo­spheric venues in the world, it’s the per­fect lo­ca­tion.

Leav­ing univer­sity with a tremen­dously use­ful de­gree in his­tory, my first job was in mar­ket­ing for the Har­le­quin Shop­ping Cen­tre in Wat­ford, de­vel­op­ing events from huge an­i­mated Christ­mas grot­tos to Doc­tor Who and CBBC star meet and greets and mak­ing ra­dio and TV ads.

There was only one big shop­ping cen­tre in Ire­land when I moved here in 1992, but even­tu­ally I ended up back in event man­age­ment, this time for cor­po­rates. It was then that I started writ­ing — my hus­band went sail­ing across the At­lantic for eight weeks and I had an idea for a book.

Crime has al­ways been my pas­sion — like plan­ning events, I love piec­ing to­gether the parts of a puz­zle, and as a writer I’m fas­ci­nated by char­ac­ters, by se­crets and what lies hid­den.

Way back then I knew noth­ing about the book busi­ness, I just had a story to tell, but in or­der to tell it well, I re­alised I needed to un­der­stand fic­tion writ­ing at ev­ery level and how it all worked.

I set up Inkwell and Writ­ing.ie and my al­ter ego, crime writer Sam Blake found her­self an agent.

I’m a lat­eral thinker and bring­ing books to read­ers in new ways is an ex­cit­ing chal­lenge. From ‘Great Writ­ing Great Places’, which in­cluded bring­ing famine nov­el­ists to an in­cred­i­ble night on Jeanie John­son, wind howl­ing and timbers creak­ing, to crime writ­ers in the Four Courts with the mod­er­a­tor tak­ing the judge’s chair, I love cre­at­ing orig­i­nal events.

Bert Wright and I as co-pro­gram­mers had huge fun de­vel­op­ing the lit­er­ary strand of the Bram Stoker Fes­ti­val. Bert pro­vides the good sense to some of my cra­zier ideas — he’s one of the most con­nected peo­ple in the book busi­ness and a vi­tal part of Mur­der One. When I ap­proached him with the con­cept, he agreed to co-di­rect im­me­di­ately, and we be­gan plot­ting...

But tak­ing an idea from script to stage takes more than just plot­ting. Like a book, there are many par­ties in­volved in the pro­duc­tion. Bert and I were de­lighted when Mur­der One was greeted so en­thu­si­as­ti­cally by Dublin City Coun­cil and Dublin Li­braries.

Last year the top three best­selling books were thrillers and Dublin li­braries saw that trend re­flected in the 2,127,520 bor­rows they had last year.

Ex­pe­ri­ence is as vi­tal as hav­ing the right peo­ple around you in event man­age­ment, as Some­thing Al­ways Goes Wrong. Some­times it’s a BIG thing, some­times smaller; flex­i­bil­ity and a plan B are vi­tal to keep­ing your san­ity and en­sur­ing your au­di­ence has the ex­pe­ri­ence it is an­tic­i­pat­ing.

In­deed, run­ning a crime writ­ing work­shop was one of my most nail-bit­ing ex­pe­ri­ences: A Garda foren­sics team had agreed to demon­strate their skills but none of us had

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