Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saturday Friend - Sharon Black

Welcome to Sharon Black, our first Saturday Friend of 2015!

Sharon grew up in Dublin. She studied history and politics at University College Dublin and then did post-graduate in journalism at Dublin City University. She has worked for national newspapers, including The Evening Herald and The Irish Examiner. She had short stories published in U Magazine and won the 2010 Dromineer Literary Festival short story competition.

When she is not writing, she reads, walks and sees friends. She co-founded a local book club 14 years ago. She loves theatre, old Hollywood films, science fiction and good stand-up comedy. She lives in a coastal village in Dublin, with her husband and their three children.

From Journalist to Novelist

My debut novel, Going Against Type was e-published by Tirgearr Publishing in September 2014, which not only makes me a novice author, but new to the whole world of promoting a book.

Many of my close friends weren’t hugely surprised when I wrote a book, I think. I have a background in writing, having trained as a journalist, and worked for national newspapers here in Ireland.

But writing for a newspaper is one thing. Sitting down to tackle a novel is quite another.

And it wasn’t the first time I’d tried. Down the years, I’d attempted to write novels, but had lacked the skills to finish them. I literally didn’t know the nuts and bolts of putting a book together. The idea of presenting all your main characters in the first few chapters, and hinting at subplots....I didn’t even know what a trigger was.

Well, having read so much, I suppose I did. But I didn’t know the jargon, and I think you have to understand all that, before you start to write.

So I learned. I won a short story competition, and part of the prize was a weekend ‘Start your first novel’ course, run by the Irish author, David Rice at his Killaloe Hedge School. It not only showed me the structure of a novel, it also gave me the confidence I needed. David is a very encouraging, generous writer with hopeful authors.

I learned a lot, just by writing and finishing Going Against Type. Early drafts were so completely different from the published book! But as I began to learn the craft (and I don’t think I will ever finish learning, which is wonderful to know), I found my voice. And I actually understood what that meant.

I do write every day. Usually in the mornings, when my children are in school and college. Some days are more profitable than others.

I suppose the hardest thing for me, since my book came out, is trying to find the balance between promoting that and writing the second one. I signed the contract with Tirgearr last summer, and my life changed.

My publisher quickly pointed out that I needed social media. I didn’t even have Facebook! My eldest quickly took care of that. I managed to set up a blog. A friend set me up on Twitter.

Since then, I’ve been on a steep learning curve. And I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve also had lots of support and encouragement from other, far more established writers. For which I’m grateful.

When my children were a bit younger, I worked for a few years as a freelance features writer for The Irish Examiner. During that time, I was asked to interview some well known authors, including Jodi Picoult and our own John Connolly. I also interviewed some debut authors. When I’d read their book, in advance of the interview, I’d always think, fair play to them. It’s more than I’ve accomplished. So it never mattered whether or not I really liked the book (and I nearly always did!). They had my respect as I went in to that interview.

Going Against Type - Blurb:
Some would say Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Regan has it all. Beautiful, smart, athletic and a great job working as a journalist – in the almost exclusively male sports department. But Charlotte is not quite as sure as she seems. Recently split from her overbearing boyfriend, she escapes for weekends, surfing in the Atlantic, and spends her free nights watching sports, roaring at the TV.

Derry Cullinane is a fashion writer, gossip columnist and sophisticated man-about-town. The go-to guy for any woman seeking expert advice on what fabulous outfit to wear for any given occasion. He’s also tall, dark, good looking – and straight! So what’s the snag? He has a track record of dating glamorous, vain and shallow women.

Charlie gets an opportunity to write a new column under the pen name Side Swipe, but is soon drawn into a war of words and wit with a rival paper’s columnist The Squire – and their verbal fireworks get readers and editors talking. Yet neither Charlie nor Derry knows just whom the opponent is...

When Charlotte and Derry meet at the Races, the attraction is instant. As their relationship develops, so much more proves at stake, than protecting their alter egos. But a blunder puts Charlotte’s job in jeopardy just as Derry’s past makes front page, and Charlotte begins to doubt her feelings.

When Side Swipe and The Squire are finally forced to reveal themselves, will they revert to type – or confound everyone’s expectations?


'Ow!' Charlotte yelled as the man in front of her stepped back heavily on her foot. He turned quickly, scowling down at her from under a Panama hat. Realizing she was clutching her foot in pain, his face cleared to concern.
'I'm terribly sorry. Were you standing very close to me? Is your foot all right?'
Charlotte glared at him in disbelief.
'Yes, that must have been it. I got under your feet! It was completely my fault,' she countered, massaging her foot. He burst out laughing and regarded her small leather brogues.
'You have very small feet, don't you? I really am sorry, I didn't see you at all.'
What was so damned funny? Charlotte drew herself up to her full five foot, three inches and continued to glare up at Panama Hat Man. He had to be at least a foot taller than her.
'You're as clumsy as an elephant,' Charlotte replied indignantly.
'Actually, elephants aren't that clumsy.' The man grinned as he swept off his Panama hat to reveal a shock of black, slightly curling hair. 'Please accept my deepest apologies.' He arched one dark eyebrow. ‘Any tips for the next race?'
Charlotte hesitated.
'I'm not sure if you should listen to me...'
'On the contrary,' he murmured, a faint Cork accent filtering through, 'Race looks wide open.’
'What's your bet?' shouted the bookie, and Charlotte suddenly realized they'd reached the top of the queue. She nursed her sore foot as Mr Panama Hat muttered to the bookie, before taking his docket and turning briefly around.
'Wish me luck!' he said, before disappearing to view the race.
'You betting miss?' the bookie said.
'Um, sure. A tenner on Green Velvet – to win,' Charlotte decided suddenly, still thrown by the encounter. Dammit, what had she tipped for this race? She couldn’t remember if it was Green Velvet. But the bookie was waiting. She handed over her money. Once the horses were called to starters orders, the bookies' pitch cleared fast.
Charlotte pulled out a notebook and asked the bookmaker a few questions about how the festival was going. The sun disappeared and she pushed her sunglasses on top of her head.
No sign of the good looking Panama Hat Man. Good looking? She'd bet her last cent that he bloody knew it too. Who the hell wore Panama hats in Ireland? It had shaded those brown get yourself a dog if you like brown eyes, Charlotte.
'...Penny Farthing and Lucky Dip, nothing between these two. And Green Velvet’s coming with a late run. Green Velvet gaining! And Margin of Error’s dropped out of it altogether. And with a furlong to go, it’s Penny Farthing and Green Velvet drawing clear.
‘Yes!’ Charlotte shouted, scrambling up on to the bookies’ stand to watch the horses gallop to the finish line. ‘Come on Green Velvet!’
‘Penny Farthing and Green Velvet, stride for stride, it must be a photo. I can’t separate them but I think Lucky Dip takes third. Green Velvet may have got it in the last stride....It’s Green Velvet in first place. Green Velvet wins, followed by Penny Farthing. And Lucky Dip takes third.’
Charlotte grinned delightedly at the bookie as she jumped down off the stand. As an afterthought, she pulled out her column, searching for her tips. Her top tip had been Margin of Error. The horse had been badly beaten. She shrugged philosophically. Nobody got it right all the time.

Find out more about Sharon and her novel at:
Book Page:
Twitter: @Authorsharonb

NB: Going Against Type is on sale on Amazon for 99c during January.

Many thanks for being our guest today, Sharon. We wish you every success in your future writing career!


  1. I always enjoy reading how people become authors and I find everyone else's story more interesting than my own. Congratulations on getting your first book published. Your excerpt has definitely made me want to buy it.

  2. Many thanks Margaret, for those lovely comments and for your encouragment. That's a real compliment! I too find everyone else's story more interesting than mine - that's probably just human nature...

  3. I love your cover, Sharon. And I don't understand track betting at all, so naturally I am fascinated by it--as I am blackjack, poker, World Series baseball.
    I'm off to buy Going Against Type. It sounds great!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thank you for that, Ana! And many thanks for welcoming me to guest on the site. I play a bit of poker myself, usually with family and friends. I've been told I have a good poker face, but I never play for serious money! As for the races, I know people who study the horses, and know their lineage and race history and so on, but I think a lot of it is luck. I went racing last Christmas, and picked the winners of the first three races I bet on. But I know if I'd bet any serious money, I probably would have lost.

  5. Welcome to HWH, Sharon. My background is in newspaper and magazine writing as well, and you're right, it's very different! Congratulations on your first book and I wish you much success with your future writing.

  6. Wonderful, Sharon! There is so much to know before starting out. So many people think Anyone Can Write a Book! Perhaps so, but not Everyone can write a Good book! You did!

  7. Thanks a million, Jennifer. I remember some people thinking the transition would be quite seamless. but the most I'd ever written in a single piece for the paper, was 2,500 words. So it's all researched, written and published within a few days, and on you move. But I do enjoy the making-stuff-up part of things.

  8. Thanks Dellani. Remind me to slip you that twenty later. Ahem! No, seriously though, you're very encouraging, as always. I think no matter what experience anyone has, I would probably just advise anyone who wants to write creatively to do some kind of course first. It could be a short one like I did. For anyone living in Ireland, I know that the Killaloe Hedgeschool of Writing is offering a wide range of courses this year. I don't have a vested interest, by the way!!

  9. Thanks so much for being our guest today, Sharon. Like Ana, I don't have a clue about betting on horses!
    I agree that we never stop learning - and hopefully we improve our writing with each book.
    Best of luck with Going Against Type, and with your future writing career - and maybe we'll met up next time I am in Ireland!

  10. Thanks so much again, Paula, for having me here today. It's been really great.

  11. Hi Sharon,

    I am so sorry I am late to this party. My computer is being all kinds of finicky this weekend. -sigh-

    I can totally relate to trying to figure out the balance between writing and promotion. I remember when I first sold, I was overwhelmed at the amount of 'business' that needed to be taken care of.

    Congrats on your first release! I wish you many more. :)

  12. Great feature Sharon congratulations, and congratulations on your book. Your article is very encouraging for all us new writers. Daithi