Bernadette Mackenna, top criminal barrister in Dublin. Faced with two challenges, one professional, one personal.
A kidnapper killed by his victim. The victim is charged with murder. Bernadette wonders if she really can get her acquitted. The victim is hiding something, it’s going to take all Bernadette’s skill to get her to tell. Even then maybe she won’t.
Closer to home Bernadette’s new conquest might be girlfriend material or otherwise just too good to be true. Her friends are concerned. Can Bernadette let go of her past and find new love?
As matters move inexorably to trial, Bernadette does her best to prevail, but perhaps this will finally be a case too far. Will she emerge victorious, or lost and alone?
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author D.R. Bailey whose book The Innocent Killing thrilled and captivated me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love thrillers and mysteries but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight, a biography of the author and an interview between me and D.R. Bailey will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful D.R. Bailey!
D.R. Bailey was raised in a family of bibliophiles. From an early age, he developed eclectic tastes in fiction including; SciFi, Romance, Crime, and the Classics. Some of his favourite authors remain, Gerald Durrell, Jane Austen, Peter James, Ellis Peters, and Isaac Asimov. At the age of eleven, he wrote his first fictional story about his toy teddy bear clan. Since then he has gone on to have some of his non-fiction article published in magazines, published a fictional crime series and a courtroom drama series. He has engaged in several different careers and says that these life experiences have all contributed greatly to his penchant for storytelling.
Bailey has now penned four full-length crime novels and the first of a new, which is a genre he is particularly fond of. The Confessional Killings is the first of a series containing a heady mix of crime, suspense, humour, romance and sex. Bailey has also tackled some controversial and topical subjects surrounding the Catholic Church in this story. The stories are set in Ireland, and Bailey confesses to having a great affection for the Irish. Bailey has also published The Innocent Killing and The Tainted Star featuring a fictional barrister in Dublin called Bernadette Mackenna. This new series is courtroom drama and same-sex romance. When asked why he started writing the books, Bailey said it was a story that needed to be told and one he would want to read himself.
Now, how wonderful does D.R. Bailey sound?! D.R. Bailey is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and the author and I hope that you enjoy D.R. Bailey’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself
Thank you, Aimee. It’s a pleasure to be here and thank you for inviting me. I was born in Africa and my family were very much into reading. You could say it was a passion among my parents and siblings. My father and my sisters also used to tell me bedtime stories which they had made up. From an early age, I was reading things like the Famous Five, and then I was introduced to My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I was hooked and read all of his books. Then one of my sisters introduced me to I Robot by Asimov. I ransacked her Sci-Fi library to read everything she had. My family was also big on Georgette Heyer who wrote Georgian Romances. I started reading them and loved them.
So, my literary background was quite eclectic overall. Later in life, I read crime novels, and many others including the classics such as Jane Austen. I moved to the UK in 1968 and remained there until 2015. I had a varied career in IT and one or two other professions. I was a teacher for a while and then took a Masters degree at the University of Brighton. Then I came to New Zealand and studied for a Doctorate which I recently graduated in 2020. Apart from that, I’ve been heavily involved in theatre, I trained as a fight director, I’ve been a tennis coach, and several other diverse forays. I have been a photographer since the age of eleven or possibly earlier, and very much into art.
So, I live in New Zealand with my wife, and at the moment I mainly write. I have family in the UK and also my wife’s family in NZ. So that’s me, in a nutshell.
Could you please tell us, readers, about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
I’ve always written in one form or another. My very first piece of writing was I think aged nine and a story about my teddy bears searching for some stolen honey. I still have it to this day. I have had pieces published in magazines including a crime serial, and many nonfiction articles. I also have an unpublished Sci-Fi novel I wrote years ago.
I came to publish novels during 2019 while I was finishing my PhD. It was, in a way, an antidote to the academic work. I have in fact now six published novels, and one I’m currently working on. The first novel was a crime novel set in Ireland and called The Confessional Killings. It came to me as one opening scene, and from that, I wrote the entire book. I published it through my daughter’s label, and she is also a prolific author in her own right. Buoyed up by my success, I went on to write three more in that series and publish those. Then a character, named Bernadette Mackenna, who featured heavily in the second of my books The Deathbed Confession, spoke to me as needing a series of her own. I liked her a lot and so finally, The Innocent Killing, first in the series came into being. I like courtroom drama and I find it fascinating. I’ve also spent some time on a court case over here involving custody, self-representing in court, writing affidavits, etc. and so have first-hand experience of courtroom procedure. Apart from that, I’ve seen many documentaries and dramas involving courtroom action. So, it came naturally to me somehow to write it.
It’s also a same-sex romance. I have a view that love is love, and also that LGBT rights are important. I grew up in an era where these rights were trampled on, and they are hard-won. All my books contain different sexual orientations, and relationships, it’s just how they turn out. Bernadette is gay and I just wrote it as that, because it seemed natural for her. I am very much a romance writer as anything else, I like happy endings. I want relationships to succeed. Everything does not have to be a failure, although there will be bumps on the way. I invest a huge amount into my characters, I write them as if they are real people and those readers who are fans reflect that in their feedback. The books I write are the books I want to read, and I do enjoy reading them afterwards, and I’m proud of them. Bernadette is my particular favourite. She is strong, vulnerable, so many things. Perhaps if I was a woman, I would be her, who knows? I go against the tropes that usually people write. For example, the detectives who are incapable of forming relationships, drink too much, have bosses who disbelieve everything they say, never call for backups. The lawyer who drinks, lives hard and never does anything but work. These are not believable, and they have been used time and time again. I write for normality but obviously larger than life at the same time.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
My advice to any writer, is just to write. You can read as much theory as you want to, and so forth but in the end, the craft of writing is learned at the sharp end by writing. You write, edit as needed, and you publish. Let the readers judge your work. Then get on with the next one. Also, don’t be an ‘aspiring’ writer, be a writer and just write.
I don’t set too much store by rules either. Too many writers want to tell you what to do and how to write. This or that method is the only way. Your process is yours. You develop it over time, and you do it your way. Don’t listen to anyone saying you can’t do it this way or that way. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should not take advice, from someone you trust. Nor should you ignore all the tricks and tips you can learn. But then you make it your own. Do it your way. Master your craft by writing more and more.
I would be useless at writing an advice book because it would simply say… just do it!
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
For me, it’s the characters first and foremost. I want to read about their lives, their thoughts, even the mundane things they do. What food do they like? Things like that. I like books which move along a pace but at the same time, I want the characters to play a big part in it. You can get books which perhaps lean one way or another a little too much for my liking. I think it’s a fine balance. Having said that if the story is great, and it moves me then I am inclined to love it regardless. I’m not one of those writers who reads things critically, I read because I want to be entertained, engaged and taken somewhere else. You have to make the reader care about the people they are reading about and what happens to them. All the best books have involved me utterly in their stories and left me wishing there was more I could read about their lives. Even after the great ending or the denouement if you are still left wanting more then the writer has done a good job. It doesn’t matter too much about the genre, although I have my favourites, it’s when a story takes you and keeps you, moves your imagination then that is what makes a good book.
What is your writing process like?
I think my process has changed over the years. One of the things that I loved was the advent of the word processor. I started on a typewriter and of course, it’s difficult to make amendments as you go. You have to go back over it, handwrite the changes and then retype. It’s laborious. Now it’s so different, you can change on the fly, rewrite, whatever you want.
I don’t really have a full-on fleshed out story when I begin. I can start from just one scene and go on. I don’t know what’s going to happen and quite often I write in real-time, it plays out in my head and goes onto the page. What they call being a punster or writing by the seat of your pants. Of course, as it progresses, I think of things, make notes, write scenes that occur to me which may come later. I sometimes know the ending, for example. But even those scenes may change drastically when I come to put them in.
When I write, I start at the beginning and move through. I go scene by scene and sometimes just write the dialogue. Then at the end of the scene, I go back over it and edit, adding in things, tweaking and maybe changing. Then I may even go a third time or until I am happy. This is how I progress through the book. So, by the end, I have an edited book and it’s pretty much all there. I know this because the next thing is to reread it. When I do, I’ve found the book hangs together well although I may have to make some minor adjustments and ensure consistency. If I stall during writing, then I will load the book, as far as I’ve got, onto my kindle and read it through. I will highlight anything needing attention. I find this helps and also reassures me that it’s going well. I fix the highlighted stuff and continue.
I can write very fast. My fastest has been 140k completed book in one month, and 200k in two months. I don’t really think about wordage at all anymore. I just write and write as much as I can. It all adds up. Pretty soon there is maybe 40k or more done and then 80k and so on. After my read through it goes to my daughter for reading and proofing, then back to me for final tweaks, final reading and final proofing. Then it’s published. It’s a process which has served me well. But it’s my process, I don’t push my ideas on anyone, everyone has their own way.
I’m not a writer who doesn’t like their work. I love my work. I love my characters and I enjoy rereading my books every so often. You should be proud of what you do. If you are not, then why are you doing it? That would be my question.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I research as I need to. I don’t do loads upfront, just as and when I need it. The great thing about the internet is that you can get all you need to know pretty much, although it can take time. I research the law for Bernadette, legal procedure, all kinds of things. For crime fiction many things, and many places. I haven’t necessarily been everywhere I write about, but I can find out and I use google maps, which can take you right there and you can go around the streets and see it for yourself. It’s very important to try and be accurate about things. For example, in Ireland, the lawyers address the judge as ‘Judge’ and not ‘Your Honour.’ These are important points, or whether they must wear a wig, or not. What are the words used by the Garda when arresting someone? How long can they be in jail before being charged? Would this kind of poison really kill someone and how? What might happen as the result of a bullet wound? There are so many things, and the way the police and the legal system works in different countries is not the same. You have to know these and write them accurately otherwise it’s not authentic.
Having said all of that, it’s still fiction. So that means sometimes you take a bit of license in things which happen. What I’ve written may not always happen like that in real life but that is why it’s fiction. You can take things to an extreme, you can make judgement calls and break rules too. If you’ve got a good story, then the reader just suspends their disbelief and goes with it.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
When not working I try to write every single day, if I can. I cannot always and some days I just am not feeling it. So maybe I have to leave it for the day. When it flows then I go hard, I don’t want to stop. But books can flow all the time or only sometimes. It can be stop-start, slow and fast. It does not really matter it just matters that you get some words down. On good days I can get 3k and even up to 10k down in a day. On other days maybe only 1k. But remember that is a well-edited word count, so it’s not just draft.
Do you read much and if so, who are your favourite authors?
I don’t read a lot. I try to but it’s a time thing. I suppose also I watch a lot of Netflix with my wife. All kinds of things, crime, documentaries, romance. These are all good for ideas and background information. Police procedure changes over time and so some of the latest documentaries set in the UK are good for that.
I try to read mainly indie books from fellow authors and then leave a review. When I read, I read fast and can get through books very quickly. My favourite authors are my sister Elizabeth Bailey, my daughter Sarah Bailey for starters. Then I like Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, still. Other than that, there are some books I’ve read from friends who are writers that were just brilliant, I loved them. I just wish I had more time to read them all.
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
Well, I am working on the third Bernadette Mackenna book now, and so I want to get that out before the end of the year. Then I will return to DI Gallway book 5 which I had started writing before Bernadette took over my life. I will finish that and then we will see. More Bernadette and more DI Gallway will be on the way for as long as I can keep writing. I aim to write as many as I can to keep my fans and readers happy.
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with D.R. Bailey! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,