MALIGN INTENT - launch day


@Amazon @Kobo 

Well, after three years, one fried 8-year-old HP laptop, (replaced with a wonderful, repurposed ASUS Chromebook), one scrapped 95000 word draft reduced to a handful of key scenes rebuilt over 10 full rewrites, MALIGN INTENT was launched yesterday. Blasted across my social media, my eyes were square by 5pm yesterday!

Its my 10th novel. A landmark in itself, but also a crossroads. MALIGN INTENT was by far the hardest book I have ever written and when you have invested so much time and effort, once its out there, you have mixed emotions - an odd whirlygig of elation, satisfaction, tempered with a feeling of low-grade anti-climax. I almost abandoned the whole project as it was literally sifting through mud to get a few good writing nuggets. I was more a gold rush prospector than writer. I didn't touch it for three months in the summer of 2022. 

But I kept going back to it. 

And now, its out there. 

MALIGN INTENT is the sequel to A KIND OF DROWNING, and continues P.J. Crowe's story arc from vilified outcast to a gradual return from the wreckage of his career and personal life to a kind of redemption.

I always picture him as an old, gnarled knight donning the armour one more time at the behest of his uncaring superiors to solve a case no-one else wants.

"Tag, bag and bury the bastard, Garda Crowe..." was the tag line I ran across my note books. A body is discovered along an abandoned rural estuary and Crowe is the nearest investigating officer. It looks like a suicide, but Crowe has seen enough dead bodies in his time to question this. It turns out the body is of a one-time top journalist afflcted with MS and the land he's found on belongs to a venal, crooked and very powerful judge.

The challenge was to create an authentic feel to the book. I wanted procedural elements, but I wanted the odds so heavily stacked against Crowe that he has to take different approaches. I emailed Sue Proctor at Think Forensic and she gave meat to the bones of how I could do this from both sides of the argument. I am indebted to her.

I also forged an unexpected friendship with David Morrell over the three years of working on the book and we corresponded regularly with him offering inavluable insights, ideas and ways I could work on my writing. His insights were invaluable as well as his encouragement.

For the story's background I drew on the wonderful part of Ireland I live in along the East coast. Its a market garden growers area, relatively untouched by estates and property developers. For a city murder detective like Crowe, its a small town, small crime type of place. So a dead body is a big deal.

And Crowe never, ever stops seeking the truth once he thinks a crime has taken place.

My writing process is simple: I pour everything down, and refer back / research the details later. I rise at 5am every morning, 7 days a week and write until I have to leave for work - do this without stopping and in 3 months you have the bones of your book. I have a stack of notebooks, and draft the chapters on paper before setting things down on the laptop. I work following a structure, a scaffolding that keeps the plot tight. I try to have a solid synopsis in place - a rough kind of road map for the books direction. 

Then I build the characters, give them a relateable dynamic. If you met them in the supermarket check-out, you would know them and that is one of the hidden delights of the process, a character appears that you have never created and you fall in love with them. My one is Harry Chu. Just outside the law in his dealings, he helps Crowe. As the two-hander scene unfolds, I wanted all of Crowe's ambiguities and flaws offset with trying to stay within the law. It was a scene I rejected / binned in the first draft, but the character, Chu, himself was just too good to jettison. It is for me one of the strongest scenes in the book. 

Then from October 2023, I set the book up on Amazon with a January 2024 release date and ordered 6 author copies. These were my ARCs. I posted them out to 4 people whose opinion I valued, as well as my wife, Fiona going through the paperbacks, catching any last minute or screaming errors. Inevitiably there are a few, and the rewrites began in earnest in November. 

But overall, the feedback was excellent. This can be invaluable as you always doubt if its going to be good enough.

MALIGN INTENT's cover features a bee. I created this cover for the reason, Crowe is injured and is snapped back into awareness by a bee sting. It spurs him into crying out for help after being stabbed. Also one of the potential suspects keeps bees as a hobby, so I thought this tied in neatly with the story. (And I love bees - so I really didn't need an excuse)

MALIGN INTENT was a labour of love and of course, my fellow readers and writers, I would love you to buy, review and spread by word of mouth the book.

and you can read a TEASER Chapter here on ABCTales and on my website

have a great weekend!