Monday, May 25, 2015

Paul McDonagh, Groundwork

AUTHOR: Paul McDonagh
BOOK TITLE: Groundwork
GENRE: Mystery
PUBLISHER: Lettermore Books

Please tell us about yourself.
I grew up on a council estate in South London, spending the summers in rural Ireland. I began writing fiction seriously after being dismissed from my English Language college course. I now live in Leigh-on-Sea in England.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write part-time. I find that weekends are the easiest time to get the work done. Discipline is essential.

When and why did you begin writing?
I have always made up stories and written them down. For some reason I never grew out of it.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I was interested in the stories of immigrants and the new lives they create. The conflict between the brave new world and the people that are left behind. I wanted to write about how new communities evolve.

What was the toughest criticism given to you?
Dealing with criticism is the hardest part of the publishing process. I received lots of conflicting advice during the editing. The hard part is knowing what to accept and what needs to be ignored.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
The only way to know how to write a book is by doing it. There is a lot of advice out there but you can only learn to structure by doing the work. I am always learning about writing, editing and promotion.

What are your current projects?
I am working through my second novel. After a few false starts I am now getting into it. I had to wait for a story to present itself.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I blog on my website at My Twitter handle is @pgmcdonagh. My Facebook page is

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
Groundwork is a mystery book. Gerry Walsh is coming of age with no place to call home. In London, his father dies in mysterious circumstances whilst working for a groundwork contractor. Gerry is left alone and abandoned as he sets out to find the truth. In Connemara, his Uncle Sylvie digs holes looking for the body of his wife. Gerry becomes drawn into the amoral world of his uncle, uncovering family secrets that have been buried. Gerry's involvement in the search for Aunt Beth puts everybody in danger. As events spiral out of control, who can Gerry trust? In the race to find the truth, who will be first?

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Groundwork is set during the economic and political upheaval of the 1990's. I was interested in how these issues affect immigrant families in England and Ireland. I wanted to write about a character who is linked to both communities but does not feel that he belongs in either place.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
I just started writing without a plan. At the end of each chapter, I had an idea of how to begin the next. I wanted to put these characters into situations to see how they react.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
I am more interested in the development of characters. The interaction of the characters has to drive the narrative.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The editing process was a lot longer than I had envisaged. I thought the book was nearly finished but there were still a lot of changes needed to make it work.

What book are you currently reading? What do you like or not like about it?
I have just finished Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. It is stunning, the best book I have read in years. The characters are memorable and the language is vibrant.

What books have most influenced your life?
My favourite book is Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. The writing is so clever and witty but the book has a real heart of gold. Don Gately is my favourite character in all of literature, his story is heartbreaking and inspirational.


  1. Sounds like an interesting book! Good luck with it!

  2. Hi Paul. I enjoyed reading your bio and your writing process. I began my story the same way. The editing process is the most challenging part of writing, at least it has been for me as well! I can't wait to pick up a copy of your book! Best of luck in your future endeavors.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. The editing can be time-consuming, it's good to be working on something new. Good luck to you too!