Today I am delighted to welcome fellow Crooked Cat Author Seamus Heffernan, whose first novel, Napalm Hearts, is published on 24 April.
Welcome, Seamus! Tell us all about your debut novel, Napalm Hearts.
NAPALM HEARTS is a detective story about an American PI working infidelity investigations throughout London’s back alleys and hotels. Successful but bored, he wants to shake things up a bit, and so takes a case from a wealthy member of the English aristocracy to track down his missing trophy wife. It’s a fast-paced thriller with some heart, and features a detective, Thaddeus Grayle, who is a flawed guy trying to be a bit better.
What made you want to write it?
Motivation came through the anxiety that comes with this choice: Do you take a risk and try creating something that anyone would actually like to read, or do you do nothing, knowing all too well you’ll very likely regret squandering what little talent and opportunity you might have had? I mean, we’re all operating on limited time here, so you need to make some choices about what you want to throw yourself into. Me, I always wanted to try and write a detective story and the moment finally came to say “Ah, what the hell.”
You see, when I was a kid, I spent way too much time reading mystery stories, comic books (almost always Batman, naturally) and watching TV like The Untouchables or Crime Story. I knew if I was ever going to try and write a novel, it would have to be in that world.
That said, it’s not like humanity is crying out for another crime novel, so you really have to be pretty cocky or straight-up delusional to think yours is adding anything new or interesting to the genre. Perhaps I landed squarely in between those extremes, but once I really got going with it I decided it wasn’t completely terrible and wanted to see it through. Let the genre fiction chips now fall where they may.
So what’s next? Something in the same vein, or are you branching out?
I’m working on the follow-up to NAPALM HEARTS—which was never actually the goal, but it’s happening. I never intended it to be a series but when I got to the end I realized these characters had room to grow. That’s the only way doing a series interests me: Do the people in these stories have anything new to say? For now, they do.
I’m also writing a TV pilot script about civil servants and the politicians they work for. It’s more tongue in cheek and heartfelt rather than laugh out loud funny, and it’s primarily an exploration of the kind of person who would willingly work in politics but actually have to serve the public. Pop culture hasn’t done a great job with this type of work. They either over-romanticize it (The West Wing) or portray it as relentlessly mean-spirited and self-serving (Veep, The Thick of It). Mine comes from a different, perhaps gentler, place.
How did you come to publish with Crooked Cat?
When you’re a new writer, getting your manuscript out into the world means going one of two routes: You can pitch to an agent and hope they take you on and push you to the bigger publishing houses, or you can submit directly to independent presses that accept unsolicited submissions. I went with option 2. Crooked Cat was kind enough to get in touch and say they wanted to work with me, so here we are.
What about yourself? What else will the readers be interested (or shocked) to know about you?
I went to Catholic school and seriously considered joining the priesthood when I was younger.
Canada, eh? Is that like the USA but colder?
That’s so weird. You said “colder” when you meant “better.”
Kidding, kidding. However, my day job is working for a Member of Parliament, so safe to say I am very proud to be Canadian and to work on behalf of our constituents.
Finally, what question would you have liked me to ask that I didn’t?
What’s the best thing about your first book coming out?
And what is the answer?
That anyone wants you to write the next one.
Thanks for having me, Tim!
You’re very welcome, Seamus. Hope your book is a big success!
NAPALM HEARTS may be ordered here
Get in touch with Seamus Heffernan through any of these: