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
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
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
When Side Swipe and The Squire are finally forced to
reveal themselves, will they revert to type – or confound everyone’s
'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
'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
'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
'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 eyes...so get yourself a dog if you like
brown eyes, Charlotte.
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
‘Yes!’ Charlotte shouted, scrambling up on to the bookies’ stand to
watch the horses gallop to the finish line. ‘Come on Green Velvet!’
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: tirpub.com/gatype
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!