Guest Post: Q&A with Hiding in Plain sight author, Eoghan Egan @eoghanegan @LoveBooksTours

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A vicious serial killer roams the Irish Midlands... with his sights set on the next victim. A successful businessman has found the perfect recipe for getting away with murder. No bodies, no evidence.No evidence, no suspect.High art and low morals collide when graduate Sharona Waters discovers a multi-million euro art scam in play. She delves in, unwittingly putting herself on a direct trajectory with danger as the killer accelerates his murder spree. When Sharona gets drawn into the killer’s orbit, she peels away his public persona and exposes the psychopath underneath. Suddenly, the small town has no hiding place…

Q & A :

·  Location

I was born and raised in Co Roscommon, the 12th largest county in Ireland. Initially I set early drafts of Hiding in Plain Sight in the US and UK, but it was only after I relocated the setting to the Irish Midlands, that everything clicked into place. Adding in an actual January date and making the weather another character, gave me the perfect panorama for a crime novel.

 
·  Inspiration:

I wanted to write a novel that blurred standard crime fiction guidelines and yet remain faithful to the genre. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, just do something different. I believe I’ve achieved this by asking myself lots of ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions. 
For example, a large number of crime novels I’ve read are set in cities, and the main character is usually a cop

What if the bad guy was operating under the radar in a rural community?

What if there were no cops involved in catching the bad guy?

How would ordinary people caught up in extraordinary situations behave?

How would a rural community react to the devastation caused by a serial killer, as opposed to city dwellers?

Having to answer dozens of those kind of questions allows me, I believe, to add a different spin.  

 
·  Favourite character to write

The bad guys are always more interesting to write about. They also need more researching, thereby forcing me to learn more. In this book, the main character is a serial killer, and to make him as authentic as possible I had to drill into his psyche and try to understand life from his perspective. (Scary and revealing).

Generally, I enjoy writing about any character that ratchets up conflict and tension within the story. Boring characters bore readers. People have enough banality in their lives without reading about someone else’s. So, I try to delete the predictability and ordinariness of characters, and magnify what’s left by a hundred.

·  Publishing Journey

In 2012. I read a newspaper article about a spate of disappearances, and wondered how people could disappear, literally, in broad daylight.

By year end, I’d a 120,000-word manuscript, read and reviewed by friends. I was ready to publish, but just to be sure, I enrolled in an eight-week writing course titled ‘The Second Draft,’ run by the Irish Writers’ Centre with author Mia Gallagher as tutor. This was the first time my work got critiqued by a peer group … and the expected confirmation didn’t materialise. Mia’s feedback, plus comments from the other writers showed me I’d a long way to go. During the next 4 years and numerous drafts, the opening and closing sentences never changed, but everything else got shifted, deleted, toned down, ramped up or drilled into.

I began submitting to literary agents. A handful commended me on the characters or made some small suggestions, but didn’t ask to read the full script. Most didn’t reply. (I learned that within the publishing industry, no reply means “I’m not interested).”

I kept rewriting and editing. Any extra time, I had, I spent attending writing courses or literary festivals in Ireland and the U.K. In 2015, I enrolled in Maynooth University’s Creative Writing curriculum, under the tutelage of John McKenna, Shauna Gilligan and Orla Murphy. Apart from crafting my short story skills – which had lain dormant for years – I used this time to edit my novel again, working on the feedback from an inspirational group of writers and teachers.

Other shorter courses followed. An eight-week crime writing programme with author Louise Phillips back at the Irish Writers’ Centre. A six-week Edit and Pitch your Novel online course with Curtis Brown. One day tutorials covering synopses and cover letters. Character arc classes, publishing guides and editing standards… the list goes on. On one course, the facilitator, a respected publisher, suggested I self-publish, as it could be a way to get noticed by an agent. I’d never considered self-publishing as an option; I’d my heart set on traditional publishing, and anyway, I was still learning. Every completed module stretched and increased my knowledge, offering new perspectives on the work in progress.

In 2017, the manuscript was long-listed in a U.K. novel competition. An Irish editor requested the whole script and liked it enough to pass it onto her submissions department. It didn’t get any further. I got shortlisted in a Novel Pitch Competition with another U.K. literary agent, and met with him. He decided it wasn’t what he wanted. I continued sending out my work and in 2018 another agency requested the full copy. The reply? Another positive “no.” (Writers grab onto any bit of favourable feedback, like a lifeline).

I took a break from the novel, started work on the sequel and also began writing short stories again. One was shortlisted for The Bridport Short Story Prize in 2018, and another for the 2019 Listowel’s Bryan McMahon Short Story Award Competition.

Back for another round of redrafting and editing on the novel, and during March 2019, it won Litopia’s prestigious Pop-Up Submission. Validation after nearly seven years.

As I learned more about the publishing business, I realised that while agents are a superb addition, it’s a myth that they do everything for their stables of authors. Yes, mainstream publishers execute a lot of the heavy lifting with regard a sales force, marketing muscle and distribution channels before, during and immediately after a book launch. But writers have to promote themselves – now more than ever – and when the initial euphoria dies down, they must keep the momentum going by becoming their own agent, publisher and marketeer, while simultaneously growing their writer platform… and deliver the next book on deadline.

Self-publishing gives independent writers creative control, but requires several skill sets and platforms they have to juggle. So, that’s what I decided to do. Having made that decision in March 2018, it took another 9 months to launch the book.

From concept to final edit, has taken seven years of writing, editing, redrafting, deletions, rejection, revision, attending and learning from writing courses and literary festivals, getting feedback from beta readers, followed by other rounds of editing. There are no short-cuts – or if someone has found them, tell me where they are…


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