I had the
good fortune of being asked to review O’Cinneide’s novel - Starr Sign -
by The Miramichi Reader. I truly enjoyed the story and you can see my review
Praise for the Candace Starr series.
“A cold and gripping crime novel” – The Globe & Mail.
of TMR was kind enough to introduce us and Carole has graciously accepted an
invitation to be this week’s guest.
You can read
her bio HERE.
Let’s have a
chat with Carole.
Allan: Thank you so much for being our
featured guest this week, Carole. Before we chat about your novels and writing,
perhaps you can tell us a bit about yourself, hometown, family or whatever you
want to share.
Wow, that’s an
open-ended question if ever I heard one. Let’s see, I’m a former IT analyst who
had the crazy idea that she could write books. One day, I left my lucrative
career to follow a dream and my bank account and pride suffered accordingly. Luckily, I’m married to an Irish ex-pat with
his own bank account and more belief in me than sense. We live in Guelph,
Ontario, with only a dog and a cat, as our four children have moved on to
pursue their own dreams.
Allan: You choose to write under the
pseudonym of C S O’Cinneide (oh-kin-ay-da). Can you tell us more about the name
and why you chose it?
Carole: O’Cinneide is “Kennedy” in Irish. It
is the original spelling and pronunciation of the surname before it was anglicized.
So, it’s my name, but also not my name. I chose to use it because there
seemed to be a lot of Carole Kennedy’s writing books out there and I wanted to
differentiate myself. Which I believe I have, since I am now known at the
bookstore as that author that nobody can pronounce.
Allan: Candace Starr is one sharp lady.
Where did the inspiration for this character come from?
Candace is a full-blown
avatar for any woman who has ever wanted to throw a bad guy up against a
slushie machine at the 7-11. She’s mouthy and smart and violent and basically
says and does all the cool things I’d like to say and do if I wasn’t such a
scaredy-cat. Candace is also the kind of hard-boiled female character I’ve always
longed to see in crime fiction --- not a femme fatale or an ingenue, but a
fully developed anti-hero with flaws and depth and a keen interest in eyebrow
Please share a childhood
memory or anecdote.
Hmm. When I was a child
my friends and I used to have a fake band called the Mrs. Monkees. We were each
married to one of the boys from the TV reruns we watched showcasing that group
(a fake band themselves, but at least they had real guitars and drums and not
push brooms and overturned garbage cans like we did). I was married to Peter
Tork because he was the dumb one and that attracted me for some reason. This
anecdote has absolutely nothing to do with writing or my work, but possibly exposes
me as an early appreciator of mimbos. Luckily, I grew out of that.
Allan: Please tell our readers what to
expect when they pick up their first Candace Starr story. The Starr Sting Scale
and Starr Sign.
My description above of how
badass Candace Starr is should give you a pretty good idea of what you can
expect. These books definitely do not come with a PG-13 rating. But beyond
that they are very witty and clever and provide a venue for me to discuss some fairly
serious issues despite being “murderous fun” (Publisher’s Weekly).
In The Starr
Sting Scale, Candace, a former hitwoman must help the cops solve a murder she
just might have committed herself. She is teamed with an ambitious woman
officer, Detective Chien-Shiung Malone and the two develop an unlikely friendship.
Malone and Candace also work together a bit in the next novel, Starr Sign, but
in that book, Candace is joined by a British hacker named Deep and a
thirteen-year-old sister. With them, she attempts to infiltrate the Detroit
mafia in search of her wayward mother.
Your debut novel –
Petra’s Ghost – looks intriguing and I’ve added it to my TBR list. What can you
tell us about this novel?
I’m so pleased to hear
it is on your TBR! But prepare yourself, because in comparison to the Candace
Starr crime series, Petra’s Ghost is on the whole other side of the library.
Petra’s Ghost after walking the Camino de Santiago, an 800 km pilgrimage across
northern Spain. It took me a month to walk it and was one of the defining
experiences of my life. But when I came back to Canada, I found you couldn’t
swing a cat without hitting a Camino memoir. Once again, I needed a way to
differentiate myself. I decided to write a dark thriller set on the Camino. I
didn’t think that had been done before, and I was right.
Ghost, a woman has just gone missing while walking the pilgrimage when we meet
Daniel, a grieving Irish ex-pat who is hiking the trail after the death of his beloved
wife, Petra. He meets Ginny, another pilgrim and unfortunate things start to
happen to them. The book has been described as part evocative travelogue and
part psychological thriller. I’d throw in part memoir, as so many of the
landscapes, art and culture described in the book are from my own experience.
And a woman did disappear when I was walking the trail.
marketed the book as literary, but it was a semi-finalist for the Goodreads
Choice Awards for Horror in 2019 (maybe because the word “ghost” is in the
title). I lost that award to Stephen King, which to date is the coolest thing
that’s ever happened to me.
Allan: favorite authors? Novels?
Carole: East of Eden – John Steinbeck
The Help –
Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
The Stand –
Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
How to be a
Woman – Caitlin Moran
Any book by
Denise Mina, the Queen of Tartan Noir
Allan: Tell us about your writing habits?
When I am writing a novel,
I force myself to sit in my writing chair on pain of death every weekday morning
at 9 AM whether I feel inspired or not. I set a timer for one hour and only
take breaks when it goes off. I do this until I hit my word count or tear all
my hair out, whichever comes first.
I am plotter
not a pantser, which means I develop a plot outline before I begin writing the
book. I tried to write “by the seat of my pants” once but found with no outline
I practically wet them. I tell you this because so many authors make writing
sound like a fairy tale where they are so in love with the process, and ideas
float out of them like puffy unicorns that dance across the page. I try not to despise these people. Writing is
hard work. At least it is for me.
Allan: Is there anything else you’d like to
tell us about? Maybe what’s next?
I have a book coming out
next year entitled “Eve’s Rib.” It’s about mothers and daughters and possibly
the devil. The style is more in line with Petra’s Ghost, as it is another
literary thriller, but this one is set in Canada and there isn’t a Spanish
monastery in every other scene. Here’s
some rough cover copy:
Abbey’s younger brother dies in a fall, Eve fears the worst about her daughter. Her husband, Richard doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know the truth
about Abbey. And besides, he has secrets of his own to keep.
But when terrible things begin to happen to those
who get in Abbey’s way, Eve must overcome her own pain and loss and find the
strength to deal with the threat she fears the most --- a teenage daughter she
can no longer control and a past that could come back to haunt her in the most
monstrous of ways.
I hope so. Because this one will knock your socks off with the twist at the
end. Which most of my books do, but this one was particularly fun!
very good, Carole.
from STARR SIGN.
is held by the author. Used with permission.)
IT IS NEVER
A GOOD PLAN TO WAKE UP AND not know
are. I know I’m not at home when I first hear
chirping outside the window. In the one-room
above the E-Zee Market where I’ve lived the
years, there are only shit-disturbing pigeons to
annoy you in
the morning. They don’t chirp, just coo
until you become convinced there’s a Jersey
girl on the
roof faking her first orgasm.
you’re a woman who has made a career out
drinking, waking up in places you don’t expect
occupational hazard. Don’t get the wrong impression. I’m not an alcoholic
traditional sense. Alcoholism is when your
gets in the way of your job or personal life. I
don’t have a
job, and my personal life suits me just fine.
because I am my own best company. My greatest
entertainment. You learn to rely only on yourself
spend the first half of your life growing
up with a
hitman for a father, and the other half following
footsteps. I’ve been out of the game a few
ever since I got out of prison and my dad
but I make no excuses for the life I led
It paid the rent. It fed my dog when I had
one. It kept
me in copious bottles of Jägermeister in my
But you make a number of enemies and rack
pretty bad karma as a professional assassin. My
drinking is just a means to an end. I’m not sure
end is, but I intend not to be sober when I
Carole, for sharing your thoughts with us. Wishing you continued success with
For all you
fantastic readers wanting to discover more about Carole and her stories, please
follow these links: