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I was lucky enough to read an early copy of The Dead Ground and now I am very happy to take part in the BookBridgr Blog Tour as it gave me the opportunity to ask Claire a few questions and find out a little more about this series and the author behind it.
Here is what she had to tell me.
Tell us a little bit about how Paula as a character started to form for you.
I can’t explain this one too much – I was back in my home town, walking along the street, and started thinking about what it might be like to come back and work there permanently, especially if you’d had a reason to stay away for years. Paula is around the same age as me, which makes it easier to know what memories she would have of the past.
I love the fact that she is a forensic psychologist, giving a great twist to standard crime fiction – was there a lot of research involved to make it authentic?
I wanted her to have a job that wasn’t part of the police, so she’s always feeling a bit out on a limb, and also allows her to make connections in a different way. I read a lot of books about the profession, talked to people, and subscribed to their trade journal too.
How much did your own background influence the writing, especially with regards to the Irish connection?
Very much so – I’ve been trying to write about these issues of religion, family, and the past for a long time. Crime fiction gives me a good structure to do this, and hopefully lets me include an interesting story. Ireland is also a great place to write about because it’s modern but religion and the supernatural are still deeply rooted.
Can you tell us anything about what is next for Paula?
I’ve set her up with a complicated personal situation, which is going to continue to unfold for a few books yet. And she will find the answers to the big questions she has been puzzling over for several books – but not for a while!
Any writing influences?
I read a lot as a child – we lived in a very quiet part of Ireland – so I’m influenced by very pacey, plotty writers like Stephen King and Agatha Christie. I think reading so much of these, plus authors like Jilly Cooper, has driven me towards commercial fiction.
One book you recommend to everyone.
Recently, Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. She took the crime genre and made it literary and totally compulsive.
Dream job if you were not a writer.
I have to say I would still be a writer. You don’t have to leave the house in the mornings and can work from bed, it’s pretty much perfect.
Thank you so much Claire!
A stolen baby. A murdered woman. A decades-old atrocity. Something connects them all.
A month before Christmas, and Ballyterrin on the Irish border lies under a thick pall of snow. When a newborn baby goes missing from hospital, it’s all too close to home for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, who’s wrestling with the hardest decision of her life.
Last year I read “The Lost” the first in the Paula Maguire series from Claire McGowan and I loved every minute of it. Another series added to my “must reads” I was exceptionally happy to receive an advanced reading copy for the next book, “The Dead Ground”.
After the shocking finale to the last story, Paula is struggling with a huge decision so now is really not the best time for her to be immersed in an emotional and heart wrenching case involving a missing baby. Especially when it becomes clear that one missing child is not going to be the end of it. As the case becomes ever more complicated, Paula struggles to cope and yet somehow she must, in order to save lives.
I love these characters – Paula has such a depth to her and is one of the strongest female leads in a series to be found out there in the world of crime fiction currently. Still haunted by the loss of her mother at a young age and living in a world after “The Troubles” she is both one tough cookie and compellingly vulnerable all in one small package. She trips through life, often acting on impulse, yet highly intelligent and insightful. Surrounding her is an eclectic mix of supporting cast – her Father I am particularly fond of – and together they make for a heck of a team.
The Irish setting is well developed – as someone who knows very little about the background to that time, I find it fascinating how Claire McGowan can give you an understanding by letting her characters talk – when past haunts present as it does in a very real way there, it is through the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the people in the pages that you come to learn and almost see it for yourself.
The mystery element of this particular story is clever and compelling – it twists and turns its way to yet another superb finale, leaving Paula with a few more things to face next time yet wrapping up the current case, perhaps surprisingly – who knows? Me I usually beat the author but this is a twisty tale, how will you get on I wonder?
The personal relationships ongoing in this series is also one of the things I love about it. Particularly well developed and intriguing is the relationship Paula has with her Dad, hence why he is one of my favourite characters here. Her romantic life is beautifully complicated and I will admit that a lot of my time reading this was spent yelling at her about what she should be doing. Pfft. Who listens to me? I’m always right you know.
Overall a terrific read. Fast paced when it needs to be, offering moments for reflection and giving a real insight into both the smaller and larger community psyche if you like, I would highly recommend these for crime fiction aficionado’s. There is a lot of it about – seems everyone wants to write a great crime novel – well Ms McGowan manages that just fine. And seemingly with ease.
Happy Reading Folks!
Find out more here: http://clairemcgowan.net/
Follow Claire on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/inkstainsclaire
Not everyone who’s missing is lost
When two teenage girls go missing along the Irish border, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire has to return to the hometown she left years before. Swirling with rumour and secrets, the town is gripped by fear of a serial killer. But the truth could be even darker.
Not everyone who’s lost wants to be found
Surrounded by people and places she tried to forget, Paula digs into the cases as the truth twists further away. What’s the link with two other disappearances from 1985? And why does everything lead back to the town’s dark past- including the reasons her own mother went missing years before?
Nothing is what it seems
As the shocking truth is revealed, Paula learns that sometimes, it’s better not to find what you’ve lost.
Happy Reading Folks!