Author Q&A: Dervla McTiernan, The Ruin

Tell us about your pathway to publication:

I’ve always wanted to write, but never had the courage to make a serious, committed effort. In early 2015 I finally decided to take the plunge, making a mental commitment to give writing five years. I would work six nights a week, for five years, after my day job was finished and the kids were in bed, and see if I could make something happen. If nothing at all happened in the five years that gave me even a glimmer of the possibility of publication, I would reassess.
The hardest part, looking back, was overcoming the self-doubt that I felt when I read my own early work. It’s so hard in the beginning to believe that you will get better. I think if I hadn’t had a story shortlisted in a competition (the Sisters in Crime Scarlett Stiletto) the self-doubt might have won. The short-listing gave me just enough confidence to push on and finish the novel.

I didn’t have any contacts in publishing at all, so I cold-queried agents by email. Everything you need to learn to write a solid query letter is available for free online (check out Query Shark, and Janet Reid’s blog for a great place to start). I mostly queried in the USA, possibly because most information available online about the querying process is American. I only queried one Australian agent. I was lucky enough to get three offers of representation in the end, two from the States and one from that single Australian agent. I couldn’t believe I was in that position! I am rep’d now by the fantastic Tara Wynne, (Curtis Brown Sydney) for my home territory of Australia, and Faye Bender (The Book Group New York) and Sheila Crowley (Curtis Brown London) for overseas rights.

When the book went on submission we ended up getting six offers of publication from incredible publishers, all within two weeks of submission. I still can’t quite believe that actually happened. The Rúin will be published in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany.

You emigrated to Australia in 2011. Did that move affect your writing?

Absolutely. I don’t think I would be a writer today, and I wouldn’t have a book deal if I had stayed in Ireland. I was a bit of a rule-follower, a people-pleaser, and deep down I think part of me was convinced that something couldn’t be considered work unless it was making me miserable. Moving to Australia gave me and my husband a chance to do things completely differently, and we took it. For me that meant working part-time, which allowed me just enough writing time to get somewhere.

Tell us a little about The Ruin. What brought you to writing this book in particular?

I heard Don Winslow being interviewed by Kate Evans recently. He was talking about his novel The Force, and he said that in writing The Force he didn’t set out to write a cop novel, he set out to write a New York cop book. That stuck with me. When I set out to write The Rúin it wasn’t in my mind to examine any particular social issue. I just wanted to write a great story. But the decision to set it in Ireland inevitably brought with it a whole context. I grew up with a great love of my country, and great pride in my nationality, but the reality is that the same country that gave me a happy, stable childhood allowed for institutionalised neglect and abuse of thousands of children over many decades. I’ve struggled to get my head around that, struggled to understand why good people allow terrible things to be done in their name. I think in a way that is a universal question, not just an Irish one. And in the novel I found myself coming back to that question, trying to find an answer to it. I think I understand it now, or at least I have my own theory about it, though I certainly didn’t find a solution.

What are your favourite crime books / authors?

I have so many, it’s hard to know where to start! Tana French is always a favourite. I love Sara Foster’s books – I loved Hidden Hours and now I have the joy of diving into her back list. A benefit of coming to a writer late! Some of my favourites are writers who have been at the top of their game for a long time – Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid to name a few – and there are some newer writers I’m loving too. Fiona Barton’s The Widow was brilliant, as was Karen Dionne’s The Marsh King’s Daughter. But my absolute favourite last year was Don Winslow’s The Force.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

If you’re a fiction writer, my advice is not to get distracted by online chatter, by platform-building or social media. Your craft has to come first, and if like most of us you are writing around a day job, your time is limited. Spend what time you have writing and reading fiction. Read books on the craft of writing and take from them what helps you, leaving the rest behind. Believe in your writing, believe it will get better. Set high standards for yourself. Keep going. You’ll get there.

Where to from here?

The Rúin is the first in a series. Cormac Reilly returns in the second book in the series, which I’m editing at the moment. That will be in bookshops in March 2019, and I’m absolutely delighted to say that Harper Collins have just signed me up to write the third in the series.


About Dervla McTiernan: 

Dervla McTiernan was born in County Cork, Ireland to a family of seven. She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Law Society of Ireland, and practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now works for the Mental Health commission. In 2015 she submitted a story for the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto competition and was shortlisted. This inspired her to complete the novel that would become The Rúin. She lives in Perth with her husband and two children.

Q&A provided by Harper Collins Australia

Garden City’s adventure packed reads!

Would you like to be whizzing along an open road, sneaking up on your enemies, running for your life?

Our Garden City team have put together a list of reads that will take you on your next great armchair adventure!

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness:

A well written, fast paced novel of the highest standard which hints at the quality of the rest of the series. In unusual Prentisstown all the residents can hear each others thoughts, resulting in a never ending stream of noise and an extremely open lifestyle; whether you like it or not. One month before he becomes a man, boy Todd and his loyal dog Manchee, when going through the woods, discover a patch of complete and utter silence. In the silence they discover an awful secret that Prentisstown has kept hidden for so long, shattering the only life that Todd has ever known. The Knife of Never Letting Go is packed with adventure, challenge and is guaranteed to not be able to be put down. - Tegan

The Rest of Just Live Here by Patrick Ness:

If you’re anything like me, when reading a fantasy YA you can’t help wondering “but what is everyone else doing right now?” while the protagonists face the end of the world or something like that. The Rest of Us Just Live Here addresses this, focusing on the lives of four normal, average teenagers, navigating their final year of high school, prom and graduation - unaware of the sideline occurrence of an immortal invasion. This novel is so different from anything else out there, but I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down. - Charlotte

Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss:

Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind explores the life story of the world’s most infamous magician Kvothe. Written in the first person narrative of Kvothe’s own biographical perspective, Rothfuss has crafted a world unlike anyone has ever seen. A story of courage, young love, betrayal, friendship and struggle. Name of the Wind shows that even the most powerful and notorious magician is more human than one might expect. Action-packed and full of secrets, Name of the Wind will leave you on the edge of your seat clawing at your book for more. - Alex

Nomad by James Swallow:

If MacGyver and James Bond had a baby you would be left with Marc Dane in Nomad. Right from the very start Nomad rips into gear; page after page of explosiveness and nail biting chapters. As soon as you reach about page 5 you realise that Nomad has got its claws into you. Follow Marc Dane through this ridiculously awesome espionage thriller and immerse yourself in pure adrenaline and excitement. - Nick (Store Manager)

Hell's Angels by Hunter S Thompson:

Hunter S Thompson is known to most as the man behind Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But before that, he wrote Hell's Angels.
It is a raw and unembellished reveal into the lifestyle of the notorious biker gang.
For a year, Thompson was accepted into their fold and embraced as a brother, allowed to research and write about them, an honour bestowed upon few. What emerged from this thrilling and often dangerous arrangement is a one of a kind book, written by a one of a kind man. - Jo ( Assistant Manager )

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Epping’s Epic Reads

From Manga to Historical Fiction our Epping team have some epic reads to add to your reading pile!

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult:

I'm the first to admit I'm Jodi Picoult's biggest fan. But you can't deny the way her work never disappoints! She finds a way to dive deep into your thoughts so that you're still thinking about her characters and dilemmas, hours (or weeks, or years) later. You can't help from inserting yourself into the complex situations her characters find themselves in – what if that was me? What would I do?

Second Glance is definitely not an exception. Even though it was originally released 15 years ago, it has stood the test of time and does not fail to captivate the reader's mind from page one, all the way through to page 500.

Like all of her books, Second Glance starts simply – an old man, waiting to die decides to sell his land, which he has held on to for many years because his wife, Cecilia, and their child died there, to a developer. His only request – build a bagel shop. But when a native-American tribe claims the land is a native and sacred burial ground, weird things begin to happen to the town – rose petals rain from the sky, coffee machines only brew lemonade, and the ground freezes in the middle of Summer. Frustrated by these setbacks, a paranormal investigator, Ross, is hired to rid the land of its ghost. However, what Ross finds is not what anyone expects.
This story jumps from 1932 to 2000 to consider whether Cecilia really died during childbirth or was she murdered? Is it possible to solve a murder more 60 years later? Is it possible to love someone you have never met?

With complicated characters who have all crossed paths at some point in their past, Jodi Picoult reminds us that there are some ghosts we can't run away from. This is one of her best books, so make sure you give it a read! - Jacqueline

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett:

A spellbinding novel that grabbed me from the first page. The Pillars of the Earth is a must for any fan of historical fiction. The novel centres around the town of Kingsbridge and the building of a cathedral there. Set in the middle ages, with a wonderful ensemble of characters, Pillars of the Earth is an ambitious novel with a compelling plot full of twists. I was up all night reading, wanting to know what happened next in Kingsbridge! It truly is a masterpiece. - Danielle

Everless by Sara Holland:

I really enjoyed the concept for this book, which was quite different to anything I've read before! This book is the perfect sci-fi-romance hybrid, which in my opinion is quite hard to balance without one aspect overshadowing the other. However, where most books that fall under this category often end up having the storyline eclipsed by the romance, Sara Holland managed to find a very happy balance. Everless is set in a pre-modern world where alchemy, the practise of finding a solution to mortality, is predominant and has resulted in blood being made into a form of currency called 'blood-irons'. The rich get to live forever and the poor bleed themselves dry trying to pay their debts and fund their means for survival.

The protagonist, a peasant girl named Jules, is desperate to find 'blood-irons' to give to her rapidly deteriorating father, and accepts a job working as a kitchen hand at the castle of Everless, where her and her father fled when she was a child after she witnessed a crime. Her father begs her not to take the job, and warns her to stay away from the queen, who will be visiting the Everless castle. She goes anyway, against his wishes, and is reunited with her childhood love and his rude brother who goes out of his way to make Jules feel targeted and unwanted.

The queen arrives, and takes a strange interest in Jules, which Jules returns. Against her better judgement, she takes a job as the queen's hand and becomes fast friends with her adoptive daughter, the Princess, and her handmaiden Caroline. As Jules peeks behind the grandeur and witnesses incredible things, Jules makes a shocking discovery about her life and identity, which turns her world upside down. (Any more information and I'll spoil the best part!) The characters are well developed and well-integrated into the book, and every character plays an essential part to the storyline, which I found very refreshing. For anyone who is a fan of a fast-paced science fiction novels with a touch of romance, I'd recommend picking up this book, and maybe a bowl of popcorn too! – Tiana

Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata:

Death Note (デスノート) is a Japanese manga series

The story follows Light Yagami, a high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook from a Shinigami (death God) named Ryuk that grants its user the ability to kill anyone whose name he writes in it and face he can picture.
The series centers around Light’s attempts to create and rule a world “cleansed of evil” as “God” using the notebook, and the efforts of a detective known as L to stop him.

The character development is monumental. It takes you along with Light and the other characters as they grow and morph into solid, individual personalities.

What begins with a stand up honour student, Light, experimenting with the Death Note grows into a full on obsession to purge the earth of anyone HE doesn’t think is worthy of his ‘new world order’. Little by little he begins crossing lines and teeters on the edge of insanity.

Throughout the series Ryuk brings light comedic relief with dark undertones. This apple loving, trouble seeking death God makes frequent visits to Light, nudging him and guiding him. It’s very reminiscent of a cat playing with a mouse.
L, the detective who is responsible for hunting down ‘Kira’ (Light) is Japan’s BEST detective with the highest success rate when it comes to capturing criminals.

When we meet L for the first time he is not what most people expect. A pasty white, socially awkward introvert with a lethal mind.
Although L is awkward and his calculating dialogue is humorous to read sometimes, you find yourself relating to him and sympathising with him more and more as the story progresses. Even the way he holds a telephone, although quite funny, is endearing.

All in all, Death Note is a 5 out of 5 star story which grips you. It will make you laugh, cry and yell with anger at the characters. The plot will take you on a roller coaster until you don’t know which way is up and who is innocent any more.
I highly recommend this read (and watch). It is one of my favourites and I'm sure when you read it, it will be one of yours too! - Jess

The Secret of Excalibur by Andy McDermott:

This is a great action thriller about good verses evil in the mould of Matthew Reilly and Clive Cussler.
Our heroes , archaeologist Nina Wilde and ex-SAS Soldier Eddie Chase are on the hunt for King Arthur's legendary sword excalibur. It is said to hold great power for whoever wields it.

But, they are not the only ones wanting to find it. However , unlike Nina and Eddie, the villians in this story want to use the sword's power for evil purposes.
Heaps of action but slightly far fetched at times. The way Eddie Chase is portrayed sometimes in this series , I reckon he could jump out of an aeroplane without a parachute and land on his feet. Then tackle 30 bad guys and be the only one left standing.

But in saying that, this novel is great escapism if you want a good book to read without taking it too seriously. - Peter

Member of the family by Dianne Lake:

Dianne Lake's story of her life in the Manson family is one of those books that takes you on an incredible journey, not only because of the first hand account of what Dianne went through herself as a young teenager, but also the insight into Charles Manson himself and the events that led to the infamous Tate/La Bianca murders that marked the brutal end of the 60's.

Dianne writes her account from her childhood through her troubled teenage years and then to adulthood, all written very honestly and providing a vivid description of the psychedelic, free-loving, hippy 60's flower child era and the idealistic beliefs that were held in high regard at that time in history.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in the Manson counterculture cult and for those like myself that are intrigued about Manson himself and how an egotistical madman was able to brainwash his followers to such a degree that they happily committed the brutal murders of nine innocent people. - Daniela

Because you Love to Hate me. by Ameriie:

This book is a collection of 13 short stories, many based on classics and fairy tales.
However, they focus more on the villains rather than the heroes.
The stand out short story for me was Jack and the Beanstalk. There is a dark twist in the story that you won't see coming!
Some of the stories have been written in a modern way. The story of King Arthur and Lancelot has been written as a series of text messages.
Also, the characters “Shirley” Homes and Moriarty are students at a local high school. These stories are great spins on classic tales. Great read for young adult readers. - Sarah

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Every week a different QBD team lets us know what they've been reading!
Keep an eye out for your local store.

Awesome books celebrating women!


Happy International Women's Day!

Today, Karina counts down her top 5 collections featuring amazing women!

"All these books contain amazing women throughout history, taking names and kicking butt. I love that each of these books show a wide range of people from history, including businesswomen, musicians, scientists, actors, suffragettes, activists, really every kind of woman.

I highly recommend all these books, especially Shout Out To The Girls, because they're specifically Australia women that may be less well known."



Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee: 
Bygone Badass Broads features 52 remarkable and forgotten trail-blazing women from all over the world. With tales of heroism and cunning, witty bios and in-depth storytelling, the book takes a closer look at the bold and inspiring women who dared to step outside of traditional gender roles for their times. Coupled with illustrations and Lee's Drunk History-esque storytelling style, this book is an outright celebration of the badass women who paved the way for the rest of us.


100 Nasty Women Of History by Hannah Jewell:

This great book contains profiles of women from across every century, race and continent, united in the fact that they were all a bit 'nasty'. From 3rd-century Japanese Empress Jingu to 20th-century British social reformer Octavia Hill, these are the women who were bold and powerful, but maybe put people (men's) backs up by being so. An accessible, intelligent, hilarious (and sometimes sweary) guide to the history-making women whom you probably don't know - but definitely should.


Women In Science by Rachel Ignotofsky:

A fascinating collection full of striking, singular art, the book features 50 profiles and illustrated portraits of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world, and also contains infographics about interesting and relevant topics such as lab equipment and rates of women currently working in STEM fields.


Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli:

What if the princess did not marry Prince Charming but instead went on to be an astronaut or an activist? What if the jealous step sisters were supportive and kind? And what if the queen was the one really in charge of the kingdom?

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives. From Marie Curie to Malala, Ada Lovelace to Zaha Hadid, this book brings together the stories of scientists, artists, politicians, pirates and spies. Each double-page spread contains a mini-biography written in the style of a modern fairy tale and a full-page portrait capturing the spirit of each heroine, by one of the sixty female artists from across the globe who were commissioned to illustrate the book. Powerful, moving and very necessary, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girl will inspire and delight readers of all ages.


Shout Out to the Girls by Various: 

Let's hear it for the Australian women who have shaped our history and are expanding our future!
Shout-outs to 50 awesome Australian women with easy-to-read biographies of their incredible achievements. From Cathy Freeman to Turia Pitt, Edith Cowan to Julia Gillard, Mum Shirl to Vali Myers, plus rally car drivers, molecular biologists and more, this book is a celebration of women in all fields, from all walks of life, and from Australia's past and present.

Happy First Birthday QBD Wollongong!


Our Wollongong store is having their first birthday this weekend, March 4th!

Make sure you pop on in and wish them a Happy Birthday!



We asked the team at Wollongong what they have loved reading over the past year. There's some pretty amazing titles in this list!

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Set in the year 1922, The Great Gatsby is a story of the death of the American dream. It is a wistful tale of lost love and the inability to recapture the past. Jay Gatsby's love for Daisy Buchanan is one of passion, greed and sorrow. Fitzgerald takes us on a journey into the post World War One Jazz Era of lost souls, old money, dazzling parties and bootlegging. The narrator, Nick Carraway is an outsider and one deeply affected by the events of that summer. He weaves a tale juxtaposing the grandeur of Gatsby's parties and the loneliness one can feel even when surrounded by hundreds of people and more money than you could ever spend in a lifetime. Obsession and unconditional love are flawed and sometimes fatal. - Mel (Store Manager)

Green Arrow Volume One by DC Comics:

The DC universe rebirth did not fail to its mark with Green Arrow vol. 1. A fast paced introduction quickly reintroduces the Emerald Archer with the surprising but welcome addition of Black Canary, bringing back and potentially restarting DC's powerhouse Duo and most beloved couple. Oliver's life takes an unexpected twist as Dinah brings into question the sole reason as to why he fights, raising the question as to why he stands up to the big guy, when he is the big guy. In a sense of unfortunate timing, the return of a family foe in Shado and the betrayal of his half sister Emi, se's Oliver fighting to not only stop crime, but to convince himself he is indeed fighting for what is right. - Riley (Relief Manager)

The Secret History Of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost:

As a huge fan of the TV show, this is an admittedly biased review, but this book is everything fans of the show could have wanted. Deepening the lore, tying up loose ends, and even retconning some of the not so great elements from the original show, Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost has created a book that both satiates lingering questions while also teasing out new ones. With another book announced coming out in October, after the conclusion of the new season, now's the time to get stuck into the history of the remarkable place that is Twin Peaks. - Tyler

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty:

One of her first novels, The Husband's Secret precedes the popular Big Little Lies and is a must-read for any Moriarty fans. An intricate story about a perfectionist mother and wife, the novel takes many twists and turns after Cecilia discovers a long-hidden secret about her husband. Like many of Moriarty's books, the story involves a number of characters that build up to a suspenseful ending you won't expect. A personal favourite, and one of those books you just can't put down. - Hannah

Macca the Alpaca by Matt Cosgrove:

The cutest way possible to explain bullying and brains over brawn! Macca the Alpaca is small, friendly and loves cuddles. His existence is carefree until he meets the bully Harmer the Llama. This is a gorgeous and funny tale for all ages. - Meg