Sunday, 19 May 2013

Men in leather - what's not to like?

The starting line at the Pits. Image from

Around this time every year something happens to my little corner of the universe: 100,000 visitors - families, couples, campers with tents and folding chairs, pensioners in motor-homes, motorcycles and their riders (dressed in tight leather...I try very hard not to drool) - descend from all corners of the world, the roads get closed, schools shut early, burger-vans set up shop on golf courses, footpaths get fenced off and there's a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air along with the sharp sting of gasoline and the lingering choke of burnt exhaust fumes.

The International North West 200 Road Race comes to town.

I have very fond memories of walking with my friends out to the area between Portstewart and Portrush where the riders' vans gather, the TV cameras catch the action, the grandstand seats wait to be filled and flags flutter in the breeze calling everyone to the 'Pits'. It was very different when I was younger - the weather was always better for a start (or is that just how you view everything once you reach 'a certain age'?), the Pits were a jumble of chaotic wonder where you could meet the greats of the road racing world, get autographs, sit on their bikes, watch as they made last minute adjustments and come away covered in oil and feeling like you just met royalty. There was an innocence to it all; a kind of devil-may-care frivolity that ignored the danger and celebrated the madness of it.

The sharp edge of the road-racing sword struck me deep the year that Tom Herron was killed. 

I'd met him during the week, chatted to the man, laughed as he signed autographs for us all and told us how it felt to be out there on the course, chasing that first place with the scenery zipping past you in a blur and the world narrowing to the view through your visor. His eyes were shining with excitement as he spoke and his smile was wide.

I heard the news over the radio. I honestly don't remember very much of what was said, where I was when I heard or anything like that, I just remember the feelings - disbelief, confusion, anger, sadness and the realisation that I would never be to speak to any of the riders again without wondering if it would be the last time.

Nowadays access to the Pits is much more controlled. There are VIP tents, little cubicles where the riders prepare for each race; it's a well organised, slick operation and everyone in our little borough is rightly proud of it. And every year I remember the rider with the dark hair and the laughing eyes and I say a silent prayer for safe racing this time.

Tom Herron. Photo from

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Here's to New Experiences!

I made a deal with myself at the beginning of the year - it was a really crappy start to 2013 and I was feeling kind of downbeat - that I would accept every new opportunity that came my way; no matter how much it scared me.

So far it's been one of the smarter decisions I've ever made.

Between book signings, readings, creative writing workshops in schools and a book launch I've had a terrifying but fun year so far. I figured I'd had my fair share of new opportunities so I settled back into working the day job, being mum's taxi service for my kids and writing as much as I could fit in.

And then I got an email asking if I'd consider being interviewed for a local radio station, BBC Radio Ulster, and their 'Your Place & Mine' show. "I can't make any promises," the email said, "They may not use your interview but I'd love to meet up and see what we can come up with."

Obviously I did the happy dance around my office...giggled a lot. Then the fear set in, I talked myself out of it a few times and then I remembered - new opportunity ...grab it with both hands...'feel the fear and do it anyway' etc. etc. etc.

The view from Harbour Hill in Portstewart and yep...that's my shadow!! :D
Which is how I found myself on top of Harbour Hill in Portstewart (one of my favourite places in the world), chatting into a microphone held by radio presenter Mr Ronan Lundy about books, reading, writing and how lucky I am to live on the beautiful and inspirational North Coast. To be honest, once I'd forgotten that the microphone was there, it was kind of fun - just chatting and laughing with someone about the places and things that I love. We  shook hands and he told me that he'd let me know if his producers decided to use the segment but I honestly didn't mind; standing there with the sun on my face, the sound of the waves crashing onto the rocks, seagulls calling all around and the taste of salt on my lips, I just felt very grateful to be alive. Mushy, sentimental fool? Maybe.

Last week I received a text saying, "They're going to use the interview, it'll be broadcast on Saturday morning!" I gulped. Really? Um...what had I said again? I remember talking about books, about the beauty of the coast...what if I sounded kids would never forgive me! Still...opportunities and all that...I advertised the broadcast on Facebook and Twitter and then tuned in on Saturday morning...

Apart from the fact that I sound like Smurfette, it was...okay. I sounded coherent and upbeat, proud of where I live and enthusiastic about writing (I even managed to talk about my books without going off on tangents which is kind of a miracle!).

Thank you so much Mr Lundy and the folks of 'Your Place & Mine' - what an experience!

Friday, 3 May 2013

"They hate me in the produce section." Author and Photographer David Cassidy Stops By.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding for the really rather fabulous David Cassidy who has been brave enough to drop in for a visit today. Goodness! You are all rather loud and energetic for this time of day - you can sit down again now, here have a biscuit. Oh, and I brought coffee (no sugar!). That's better, now shall we have a chat with David?

Hello there! Thank you so much for coming along for a chat and a cuppa. Tea? Coffee? Orange juice? There may even be something a little stronger in that drawer over there...there are cob-webs on it? then..I have arachnid issues. Can I ask a few questions? Excellent.

Okay, let’s start with something simple…can you really juggle?
Absolutely. Balls. Time. Staplers. They hate me in the produce section.

Brilliant! I've tried but ...well, I can throw them all up in the air, it's just the catching again that I have problems with. You've had your writing compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker – which, if any, of these authors do you feel the most kinship with and why?
It’s a tie, actually, between King and Barker. King is the sublime storyteller; Barker the wordsmith. I like to say that King taught me how to lie my ass off and make them believe. Barker taught me how to imagine—and then to imagine more. I often feel like I'm a blend of these writers. I'm always pushing myself on every page and every chapter. I strive to tell a great story that is written equally well.

That's a great answer. I love King's grasp of character - he makes you feel that you know each and every one of his creations personally. Barker is the 'King' (see what I did there? Tee hee...ahem) of creating the fabulous and incredible and bringing it to life in vivid colour with beautiful descriptive language. Speaking of which .. I love your ‘Rocks and Rolling Fog’ photograph, what do you get the most pleasure from – photography or writing?
Thank you! That’s one of my favorites (and there’s an interesting story behind that particular shot on my blog at From a purely creative perspective, I can honestly say that the pleasure is equal. I'm very visual, whether it’s in words or images. I love to create art with camera and keyboard.

You‘re a big music fan too  – do you have music playing while you write? Or do you prefer quiet?
I prefer quiet when I'm writing, but not always. It’s amazing how inspiring Mozart and Vivaldi can be.

Have you ever imagined ‘Velvet Rain’ as a movie? Say you had carte blanche to cast whoever you wanted as Kain, Lynn and Brikker, who would you choose?
Being such a visually creative person, I write what I see. Velvet Rain—and anything that I write—always plays out in my head like a movie. So yes, Velvet Rain often feels like a movie to a lot of people who've read it.
If I could cast the characters? I've actually seen this in my head, believe it or not. For better or for worse, here’s what I see:
Kain – Hugh Jackman
Lynn – Jodie Foster
Brikker – Bob Gunton (the warden from The Shawshank Redemption)

Oooh, Hugh Jackman's fabulous and yes, I can see Bob Gunton (he IS Brikker!). I might have to have a think about Jodie Foster...not sure who I had in mind while I was reading...Are you reading any books right now? If so what are you reading and why did you choose that book?
Right now, I'm reading Gray Justice by Alan McDermott. You've got to love the premise: The justice system fails, and a man takes matters into his own hands—to the extreme.

What’s the best advice on writing that you've ever been given?
Finish that first draft.

Ha ha! That's good advice! Can I be nosy? What’s your current work in progress?
I'm working on a supernatural thriller, The Dark. It’s about a young boy who learns that everything has a price.

Oooh. I'm intrigued - will look forward to that one. If, like your character Kain, you could go back and undo something that happened in the past, what would you choose?
I'll look at this in two ways: In a global sense, and a personal sense.
If I could change something globally, I’d go back to the 1950s and tell the world how good they have it. Tell them to get off oil and make better choices—to warn them about how screwed up things are going to get if we don’t change.
From a personal perspective, I’d go back and spend more time with my parents. I lost my mother a short time ago, and I’d give anything to have that time back.

I think a lot of people would agree with those choices, David. Okay...I don't want to keep you from your writing, photography and music too much question? Why don’t you like clowns?
Because no matter who we vote for, they still run the world into the ground.
Now, for those bozos who dress up in make-up with the big hair and the big shoes … they scare the crap out of me. Am I the only one who saw It?

Nope...and Tim Curry was SUPERB!!

Thank you SO much for taking the time to call in for a chat, David. It was lovely chat about you and your wonderfully creative life. Folks, if you'd like to find out more about David and his work please click on the links below.

Twitter (@DavidCCassidy):
Velvet Rain (AMAZON) :
Velvet Rain (SMASHWORDS):