The publication of Incitement was almost purely a stroke of good luck. In the space of six months, the book went from sitting on my computer, where it’d been for a few years, to being available in bookshops throughout Ireland and, subsequently, to all of the main outlets online.
Incitement had been completed over 3 years earlier. As most writers do, I’d eagerly set out to find an agent but then the rejections started coming back. Once the number of ‘no’s exceeded thirty I became disheartened and decided to put the book to one side for a bit.
Then for whatever reason, I picked it up, read it again and it immediately became apparent I was trying to tell the story from too many perspectives. Boiling it down to its essence I realized that there were really two characters I had to primarily focus on. What resulted was a far tighter, easily accessible manuscript. Once I completedIncitement, however, I never got around to resubmitting it. I would often point to other commitments such as family, work etc. as the reason but I don’t know how much of it was a desire to avoid further rejection.
I was driving to the office one morning in May 2013 after dropping the children to school when I heard an announcement on RTE Radio 1, Ireland’s national broadcaster. One of their leading programs was running a competition for unpublished authors with the prize being a publishing package. I deliberated for a while but in the end decided I’d nothing to lose and entered Incitement. I’d completely forgotten about the competition when a few months later I received a call telling me I’d made the shortlist of five from over 500 entries.
Despite being delighted to have made the shortlist, my expectations still weren’t particularly high. The competing books appeared to me to be much more in tune with the tastes of the listenership. Incitement isn’t a typical crime novel by an Irish writer in that it doesn’t feature Irish protagonists. The story begins with a series of violent incidents. A bloody massacre at a Mexican heroin refinery; a Miami-bound freight ship hijacked for its cargo of illegal narcotics; the assassination of a Kosovar drug lord – all pointing to a war between two drugs superpowers. A DEA Agent, Diane Mesi, investigates and becomes convinced that the conflict is being orchestrated by an unknown third party but she’s marginalised by her colleagues and her judgement is challenged at every turn. On the other side of the conflict is Michael Larsen, a Danish ex-soldier who’s been hired to fuel the conflict until it destroys both sides. He hopes that bringing down the cartels will atone for some of his past actions. Neither Mesi or Larsen know, though, the full extent of what is being planned or the stakes involved. As they each pursue their own resolution, the violence escalates and they become increasingly isolated and vulnerable.
The finalists were invited on the air in August while the judges discussed the merits of each entry. One of the judges was Ferdia MacAnna, a BAFTA winning director and writer of a novel that had been adapted into a film with Jared Leto and Christina Ricci. Ferdia was very generous in his praise for Incitement, saying “… a page-turner, couldn’t put it down … I’m amazed it’s a first book, it’s like a 3rd or 4th from an established writer …. It’s a great book, if you like thrillers …”. To my absolute surprise Incitement won and, just like that, was going to be published.
WINNER THE JOHN MURRAY SHOW / RTE GUIDE / KAZOO COMPETITION
A brutal conflict unleashed.
Who stands to win?
A bloody massacre at a Mexican heroin refinery; a Miami-bound freight ship hijacked for its cargo of illegal narcotics; the ruthless assassination of a Kosovar drug lord – a war has erupted between two drugs superpowers.
As DEA Agent Diane Mesi investigates she becomes convinced that the conflict is being orchestrated by an unknown third party. But she is marginalised by her colleagues and her judgement is challenged at every turn. Only if she can expose the truth will she be able to stop the violence and save her career.
Michael Larsen is an ex-soldier and hired mercenary who has been contracted to fuel the conflict at every opportunity until it destroys both sides. As he battles his own demons, he hopes that by directing the violence he will attain some measure of redemption.
But neither Mesi nor Larsen know the full extent of the forces at play or of what is truly at stake. As they each pursue their own resolution, the violence escalates and they become increasingly vulnerable to the dangers that stalk them.
Incitement won the John Murray Show / RTE Guide / Kazoo Competition from over 500 entries.
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – R
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