I’ve followed Sinead Crowley on twitter for a while, she’s the Arts and Media Correspondent for RTE, but she’s also the mother of two small boys which is what we have in common. She admits that she’s an internet addict, which again I can relate to. She’s recently published her first novel, a suspense thriller set in the world that I live in, s0o, when I was offered the chance to interview her and review the book I was delighted to accept.
There’s a thing about accepting something for review though, you always really hope that you will like it. Luckily, I did. I started reading it on a Friday night and finished it by Sunday evening. I didn’t leave it in the bedroom like I normally do when I’m reading a book, but once I had started the book I wanted to know what happened next so I brought it downstairs, and any available minute that I’d usually have picked up my phone under normal circumstances I found myself picking it up to check in on the “Netmammies”.
The book is centred around a group of new mothers who know each other through a chat website “Netmammy”. When one of the netmammies suddenly goes offline, and then the body of a missing woman is found, one of the main characters starts to worry that her online friend is the victim of a terrible crime.
The book is punctuated with online conversations on the bulletin board, I laughed out loud myself many times while reading. I often used these boards myself and Crowley really has nailed the flow of the conversation, the camaraderie, the aggression, the oversuse of smilies and calling each other pet. I recognised a lot of the sample threads myself :)
Any mother will recognise the frame of mind of Yvonne, the main character, new to Dublin and with a small baby she relies on the Netmammies for her social interaction. The characters in the novel ring true. The Garda character is about to go on maternity leave, and again the character is very realistic, from the nausea and crankiness to getting irritated at people only seeing a pregnant woman when they talk to her. I found myself nodding along in parts.
After the introductions the pace of the novel takes off as the realisation dawns that the Netmammies are in danger, but on a public forum where they are all “anonymous” this brings its own personal fear.
I’ve been a member of boards in the past and have prided myself on staying anonymous, not giving away my real name, nor posting photos. And then I went and started a blog, giving my whole life away. There were times during the novel when I considered deleting my entire online presence, but then I thought ye would miss me.
Back to the book, without giving any more away, it keeps you turning pages and keeps you guessing as to where the whole tale will end. The end too is satisfying with loose ends being tied up. I’d happily recommend this book as one to get you back into reading if you haven’t had time to read lately as it will really keep your interest without challenging you too much. I’m looking forward to Sinead’s next book already!
To win a copy of the book see the bottom of this post!
Q&A – Sinead Crowley
I got to ask Sinead some questions too, but I’m really regretting that I haven’t got more about the subject of the book or the scariness. I have a great love of reading and love to hear about people’s experience of books so that’s what I stuck with. I have LOADS more questions now, I’ll have to start bugging her on twitter now I guess.
Have you been a reader since a young age?
Yes. My mother was a big reader and read to me from a young age and taught me to read very early. One of my earliest memories is being dropped to playschool by my Dad and not wanting to get out of the car because I wanted to finish my book before I went in! I adored books and still have some of my early Ladybird ‘Read It Yourself’ books which I’ve kept for my own children. The Enormous Turnip was a particular favourite. (I LOVED the Enormous Turnip too, but as the eldest of six mine all got dogeared by my siblings)
What’s your strongest memory of books growing up?
They were everywhere, all around me, central to my life. I remember reading the Famous Five books and wishing I had a dog to solve mysteries with. I remember reading a Judy Blume book and for the first time feeling that someone was writing directly about me. I remember the joy, and the freedom of joining the library and realising all of these books could be mine, and borrowing LM Montgomery books over and over again. And I read everything, my Dad’s Evening Press, the back of the salt packet on the dinner table if there was nothing else to hand. (
Do you read to your kids?
All the time, and it was wonderful to discover a whole new world of children’s books when they came along. Particular favourites are the ‘That’s Not My…’ series and ‘Spot’ (in English) or ‘Bran’ (in Irish) for the youngest boy, basically anything where you can lift flaps and turn pages and discover things! And my older boy loves anything to do with trains, dinosaurs or pirates.
What type of book do you mostly read?
I read everything. For work I try and keep on top of shortlisted books for awards such as the Man Booker and IMPAC Dublin Award, and I also try and read as many new Irish publications as I can. In my spare time I love all sort of crime thrillers, particularly the type best described as ‘psychological fiction’, and I also love Nordic crime. But I’ll read anything, some of my favourite books are ones that have surprised me and that have been outside what I could consider my comfort zone. For example my favourite book of last year was Americanah by a Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I saw it mentioned first on Twitter I think, and I’ve been tweeting about it every since! (I’ve that twitter list saved
Have you a pile of unread books on your beside locker? If so, what’s in it?
Lots and lots! Some of them are on my virtual locker, the Kindle. I’m currently reading the IMPAC Dublin literary award shortlist because I’ll be reporting on it. I’ll shortly be reading the new Jo Nesbo stand alone thriller, he was my favourite interviewee of last year and there are a couple of new Irish books I’ll be reading too. On my next holiday I’ll be taking my Kindle with books by authors including Peter May, Erin Kelly and Val McDermid. I could technically never buy another book and just read what I have for the next 10 years but where would be the fun in that?
What’s your favourite guilty pleasure read?
I don’t like the term guilty pleasure… I think any time spent with a book is worthwhile! There are books I like and books I don’t like but I’d never expect anyone to be guilty about their choices. But my down time reads are definitely women orientated thrillers and crime fiction by the likes of Erin Kelly, Jane Casey and so on.
Are you or have you ever been a member of a book club?
No, but I love discussing books on Twitter though. If you follow enough book people it can be like a big book club on there sometimes.
What’s the last book that you recommended to someone?
I’ve recommended Americanah to everyone I’ve met in the last 12 months. And I wrote a top ten of 2013 which I tweeted and a lot of people seemed to appreciate. It included the authors Peter May, Curtis Sittenfeld, Rachel Joyce, Erin Kelly, Jane Casey and Kate Atkinson. I find people are always on the lookout for book recommendations, word of mouth still really works for books. (I favourited and shared that tweet- I must root it out!)
Did you always want to write a book?
Always, as soon as I could read them. I got a typewriter when I was seven and immediately sat down and wrote CHAPTER ONE! It look 32 more years to get it published though.
How much of the book reflects your experience ?
I was lucky when I had my first baby that lots of my friends were having children around the same time so I had great support in the real world. But when Conor was very small we had that huge snowstorm, it was winter 2009/2010 and there were days when I literally didn’t get to leave the house. So I did get an idea of what it would feel like to be totally dependent on the internet for support. I think it’s part of modern living anyway, if you have a query about anything you google it, and if you google babies you’ll usually end up on a parenting website or a blog. (See, you’re on my blog, she’s right you know)
Any tips for people who feel that they “have a book in them”?
Write it! And don’t tell anyone you’re writing it, unless it’s a partner or close friend who you need for childminding or other support while you’re writing. Anyone I know who has had a book published has stayed very silent about it until it was finished. And turn off the wifi. Twitter is at the moment the greatest theft of my time. Now that’s a real guilty pleasure!! (Oh Sinead, your words ring so true, maybe it’s time to turn off the wifi and get my novel written, oops, now I’ve told you all I can’t do it!)
Seems like Sinead and I don’t just have our sons and first names in common, I just LOVED the Ladybird version of “The Enormous Turnip” (and also “The Magic Porridge Pot”), Judy Blume and have similar taste in books for the boys.
Of course now that I’ve read the book I have so many more questions for her, I guess I’ll just have to wait til her second book comes out, or stalk her on twitter ;)
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I was provided with a copy of Sinead Crowley’s book “Can Anybody Help Me?” from her publishers for review purposes and another for this giveaway, however all opinions are my own.