Wednesday, May 8, 2013

David Lawlor - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author David Lawlor. David is a Historical Fiction Writer. He is Associate Editor with the Evening Herald newspaper in Ireland.

Author Genre: Historical Fiction

Website: historywithatwist
Blog: Google +
Twitter: @LawlorDavid
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
David Lawlor is Associate Editor with the Evening Herald newspaper in Ireland and has been writing features, reviews and working as a production journalist in national newspapers for 22 years. David has written four novels and is currently working on his fifth. This is the first novel he has published. David lives in Greystones, Ireland, with his wife and four children.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Now that you have The Golden Grave out there, what’s next? Do you plan on publishing the other novels you have written? Can you tell us the timeline for its release?

The Golden Grave is set in 1920 and follows Liam Mannion and four other ex-servicemen who are lured back to their old battlefields in search of lost gold, which has been buried in a collapsed bunker. The men are still haunted by their war-time experiences and as they dig those memories come flooding back. Not only must they deal with their own torn nerves, though, they must also come to grips with other schemes that are at play and to which they know nothing about. Liam is the central character in my first novel, Tan, which is set during the Irish War of Independence, which started in 1919. I am currently working on a third book in the series, and also hope to write a fourth one, set during the Irish Civil War. I have two other books, which I have yet to publish. One is historical fiction/present day which focuses on the generous gift the Choctaw Indians gave to the Irish famine in the 1840s. The other book is a modern crime novel, set in Dublin, where I live. I need to re-read both and hope to have them published within the year.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been?

They are very important in that they are the only real means I use to tell people about my books. I have found many helpful people on Twitter who have been more than willing to tweet to others about my writing. I also have a blog – – which celebrates the bit players of history, the ordinary man or woman who may have done one extraordinary thing. There are many of them out there and their stories can be just as powerful, if not more so, than those larger historic figures. I get to interact with like-minded enthusiasts on the blog and often have stories referred to me from people who follow it.

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I do interviews like this but have never done signings, speaking or public appearances. Maybe it’s an area I should explore further. If people wish to contact me they can do so via twitter or on my blog.

You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach?

I work in the newspaper industry alongside a very talented graphic designer, whom I’ve known for years. For The Golden Grave I had a fairly clear idea what I wanted, so I found several pictures, di a sketch and passed it all over to him. He reinterpreted my scrawl and worked his magic. I’m very pleased with the covers of both The Golden Grave and Tan.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I used Critique Circle when I want to test the waters with some of my y chapters and I also am part of a great online authors group. The people there give me great feedback on covers, synopses and are great beta readers.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, your day job, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I write on the 50-minute commute into work and then on the way back that evening. I also try to write a few hundred words during my lunch break. I aim for one thousand words per day when I am actually writing a book. I tend to squeeze the blog in one or two evenings every fortnight. I am married with four young children, so I don’t tend to do any writing on the weekends.

How big a role has ebooks and self-publishing played in you deciding to publish your books?

Like most people I tried the traditional route, but I found everything so time-consuming – even when I had an agent I found we had to wait weeks or months before a publisher would give an answer. The whole process takes forever and a lot of the time you don’t even get a formulated rejection letter. I think self-publishing is great, provided it’s treated seriously and done professionally. The standards for a self-published book should, in my mind, be no less than those for a book produced by one of the mainstream publishing houses.

How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you do a lot of research? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

I’ve started using Scrivner for the book I am currently writing. I’m still vague on how to use it but it seems to offer plenty of possibilities that I never had before. Already, I can see how it is useful in keeping track of characters and using notes. I’m in the early stages of my new book – about 8,000 words so am curious to see how it will help me as I write. With regards to research I tend to read a bit around the area I am going to be writing about, to get a bit of a feel and maybe a helping hand with regard to the plot. I will then focus my research on specifics as and when I come across them. For instance, my new book is set during the treaty talks that took place in Downing Street for the War of Independence. I’m reading books and looking at documentaries about that time at the moment.

Living in Ireland, you have a unique selling and marketing situation for the US market. Where is your biggest audience, US or abroad? Does marketing online help in situation?

When it comes to marketing, I’m a novice. So far, I think I have found more readers in Britain than America, but I will continue to plug away in the hope of reaching a wider audience there.

Being in the newspaper business so long, how does that relate to your writing and the topics in you novels? I know I would love to have the editing background.

I work in a busy national newspaper. The topics we write about don’t really influence my writing, apart from my very first book – the one I mentioned earlier about the Choctaw Indians. I came across that while covering a story about a fundraising walk in the west of Ireland. The walk was being led by two Choctaw Indians and was to commemorate a time when hundreds of Irish people died walking along the route in the 1840s. The Choctaw were there because their ancestors had also died on death marches and had raised money to help the starving Irish. I thought that was remarkably generous and was inspired to write my novel. With regard to my editing background. It is useful for spotting typos, bad grammar etc. I can also be pretty ruthless when it comes to cutting other people’s copy, but when it comes to my own books it’s harder. That’s not to say I can’t do it, but it is a lot more gut wrenching. You should never edit your own work. I tend to break that rule by not using an outside editor, but I do use several beta readers before I decide to publish.

Author's Book List
The Golden Grave - A Liam Mannion Story
1920 – Former British soldier turned republican fighter Liam Mannion is on the run with a price on his head. He looks up with old comrade Ernie Wood, who is being lured back to the battlefields on the Western Front in search of lost gold.

The source of the story is Liam’s former lover, Sabine Durer, who ran a soldier's bar close to the frontline. Blinded by thoughts of her and buried treasure, Ernie and Liam enlist three other ex-soldiers to find it. . What starts out as a simple excavation soon becomes much more. Wartime memories and old rivalries are resurrected. The men discover that Sabine has not told them the whole story and that their lives are in danger, but who can you rely on when greed and lust cloud your judgment beneath Flanders' fields?
Order the Book From: Amazon
Tan - A Story of Exile, Betrayal and Revenge
‘Peelers have a knack for hitting you where it hurts; broken nose, bruised ribs, a few loosened more than a rapist deserved, Sergeant Coveney and District Inspector Webber had said. Proper order, too - except the lad was no rapist, and Webber knew it.’

It’s 1914 and Liam Mannion is forced into exile for a crime he didn’t commit. He flees Balbriggan, the only home he has ever known and travels to England, where he enlists and endures the torment of trench warfare in France. Five years later he’s back in England, a changed man, living in the shadow of his battlefield memories. Liam finds work in a Manchester cotton mill but prejudice and illness soon see him destitute. Starving and desperate, he enlists in a new military force heading to Ireland - the Black and Tans - and is posted to the very town he fled as a youth.

While he has been away Liam’s childhood friends have joined the republican cause, while his brother has allied himself to the Crown forces. Liam must wrestle with his own conflicted feelings about duty to the ruthless Tans and loyalty to his friends. The potent combination of ambition, patriotism and betrayal collide, forcing him to act as he comes face to face with the man who spread lies about him all those years before.
Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Smashwords
Author Recommended by: Rachelle Ayala
Author Rachelle Ayala is an author, blogger and a member of the World Literary Café.
Check out Rachelle's Author's Spotlight.


  1. I envy your access to a good cover designer, David! He does a great job for you. Until you mentioned never doing signings, I hadn't realized your books are only available as eboooks. Have you considered a POD option?

    1. Thanks Carol. I can pass on his details if you're interested. I was thinking about POD but did a very quick calculation and figured a book would cost about €14 for readers to purchase. I felt that would be too much to ask

  2. I'm amazed you find time for historical fiction with four children and a demanding newsroom job, David. Two books is a double accomplishment. Interesting what you said about how you do your research. That's pretty much how I go about it. I've been meaning to read Tan for some time and this interview prompted me to finally stop dragging my heels. It's on my Kindle now :) Look forward to reading it.

    1. That's nice of you to say, Joan. I actually beat myself up a bit about not getting more done on the writing front. As things are I have very little time to read. I've been meaning to read The Tangled Web, Sailing Down The Moonbeam and The Girl on the Mountain for ages but it's always a toss up between reading or writing, and the writing mostly comes first. I will get round to them all, though. I'm delighted you got Tan. Thanks :)

  3. David:

    A great subject with interesting answers and superior novels is always a good combination for an interview.


  4. - you forgot to mention the person posing the questions, James!
    Thanks for giving me space on your site :)