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I don't know about you all, but I'm about done with winter. Here in Frozen-tundra-land, we've still got a foot of crusted snow on the ground, and snowbank and street alike are topped with about three inches of rock-solid ice. Even in late February the windchill is enough to take your breath away. But March is on the way. So I close my eyes and wait, and dream of spring softness, the forest floor of an oak wood filled with snowdrops.
Here's a short clip of my friend Susan McKeown singing a Scottish song, 'The Snows They Melt the Soonest.' To me, it's a perfect song for the end of winter. And here are the original lyrics as printed in Blackwood's Magazine, 1821 (Just so you know, 'wad' is Scottish dialect for 'wager.'):
O, the snow it melts the soonest when the winds begin to sing;
And the corn it ripens fastest when the frosts are setting in;
And when a woman tells me that my face she'll soon forget,
Before we part, I wad a crown, she's fain to follow't yet.
The snow it melts the soonest when the wind begins to sing;
And the swallow skims without a thought as long as it is spring;
But when spring goes, and winter blows, my lass, an ye'll be fain,
For all your pride, to follow me, were't cross the stormy main.
O, the snow it melts the soonest when the wind begins to sing;
The bee that flew when summer shined, in winter cannot sting;
I've seen a woman's anger melt between the night and morn,
And it's surely not a harder thing to tame a woman's scorn.
O, never say me farewell here—no farewell I'll receive,
For you shall set me to the stile, and kiss and take your leave;
But I'll stay here till the woodcock comes, and the martlet takes his wing,
Since the snow aye melts the soonest, lass, when the wind begins to sing.
THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN HITS THE SHELVES MARCH 5
[SOUND OF TRUMPETS] I'm thrilled to say that THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN will be in bookstores everywhere on Tuesday, March 5! To celebrate my new release, and Paddy's memoir being distributed in the US (see below), we're having a double launch party down at the James J. Hill Library on Rice Park in Saint Paul. (The Hill Library is in the same building as the Saint Paul Central Library, where we launched FALSE MERMAID.) Our friends Ann and Charlie Heymann will be on hand to play some traditional harp tunes, jigs, and reels; we'll have refreshments, maybe even a few door prizes. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library (thanks, Friends!) so it's free and open to all.
March 5, 6:00-9:00 pm
SAINT PAUL, MN
LAUNCH PARTY FOR THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN &
THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH
Sponsored by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library
James J. Hill Library
80 Fourth Street West
Saint Paul, MN 55102
Live Irish music, refreshments, cash bar
We've also got loads of other great bookstore and library events coming up for March: reading with Wendy Webb at Common Good Books, Paddy and I are doing a special event at the Water Street Inn in Stillwater, sponsored by The Valley Bookseller, then we're at The Bookcase in Wayzata, Once Upon A Crime, SubText, Cafe 318 in Excelsior, and Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge, among others (see the full schedule), and we'd be delighted to see you at any or all of these great events.
I'm also thrilled that THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN has been picking up some nice reviews, from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews (click on the link to see the full review):
"Combines powerful insights into human nature and pristine prose...offers food for thought that persists beyond the immediate thrill of a well-told tale."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Hart's foray into soggy Killowen has a rock-solid foundation of musical language and deft plotting."
And I'm beyond thrilled to have received this lovely testimonial from Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and What We Saw at Night:
"Can the arcane science and lore of the Irish 'bog people,' who often died alone and in agony, be fuel for a mystery that actually does what The Da Vinci Code tried to do? A thousand times yes, if Erin Hart's storytelling witchery is at work. Intelligent, eerie, utterly compelling."
You can order your copy at an of these retailers:
BLOGGING ABOUT BOGS
I've been having great fun blogging about all the research I had to do for THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN, which was inspired by the real-life discovery of the Faddan More Psalter, a ninth-century book of psalms, in an Irish bog a few years ago. I was fortunate enough to talk to Ned Kelly, archaeologist and Keeper of Antiquities from the National Museum, who supervised the recovery, and even corresponded a bit with the book restorer expert who undertook the psalter's conservation. I also had great fun digging into medieval ink-making, and other wonderfully esoteric history. If you haven't seen those posts, you can catch up on all the fascinating scientific and historical background for the new book—over on my blog.
I'm also posting snips and images from the blog on my Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Pinterest, so you can also join me there. All for those, like me, who can never get enough pictures of bog people, artifacts, or ancient ruins...
THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH
For those of you who don't know about Paddy's book, it's THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH, Growing Up In Irish Music, A Memoir. Of course I'm completely and totally biased, but it really is a wonderfully entertaining account of life in rural Ireland sixty years ago. Paddy grew up in a thatched house with no running water or electricity, and his stories about all the local characters and his adventures as a boy musician are amazing and utterly captivating. And I'm not the only one who says so! We'll have Paddy's books and CDs on hand at all of the events on the schedule. Published by Orpen Press in Ireland, THE ROAD FROM CASTLEBARNAGH is being distributed in the US by Dufour Editions, the premier distributor of Irish books in North America. There's going to be a formal launch in June, but it's available from March 1 in bookstores and online in paperback and e-book. You can check Paddy's website for more information.
SAINT PATRICK'S DAY MUSIC
People have asked me to let them know when Paddy is playing, so I have a couple of local opportunities to hear him, coming up in March. I'm not performing at either of these events, but I'll be around, playing music groupie at the book-and-CD table.
March 16, 11:50 am-12:20 pm
SAINT PAUL, MN
IMDA Saint Patrick's Day Celebration
Weyerhaeuser Auditorium (lower level)
75 West Fifth Street
Saint Paul, MN 55102
Tickets: $6/adults, $4/kids 5-12, available at the door.
For group discounts call 612-990-3122 or e-mail Lisa@IMDA-MN.org.
March 17, 7:00 pm
CHULRUA IN CONCERT (Paddy and his band)
Phipps Center for the Arts
109 Locust Street
Hudson, WI 54016
(715) 386-8409 tickets
THE LOFT'S MYSTERY, CRIME, AND THRILLER CONFERENCE
I'll be doing a workshop, "Creating Your Cast Of Characters" at the Loft's biennial Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Conference on April 27. This was a whopper of a day last time around, great seminars, and a chance to mix and mingle with crime writers of every stripe and subgenre. I'm also hosting a "Memorable Characters" table at Lunch with An Author that day. Should be a ton of fun, plotting with fellow mystery buffs about imaginary mayhem.
April 27, 11:15 am
The Loft's Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Writing Conference
The Loft Literary Center
1011 Washington Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Workshop: Creating Your Cast of Characters with Erin Hart
Lunch with an author: Memorable Characters
BOOKS TO DIE FOR NOMINATED FOR ANTHONY AND AGATHA AWARDS
I am overjoyed to report that BOOKS TO DIE FOR has been nominated for two of the mystery world's most prestigious prizes, the Anthony and Agatha awards, given out by readers at two international mystery conventions, Bouchercon and Malice Domestic.
B2D4 is a collection of personal essays from 120 of the world's most beloved and renowned crime writers on the mysteries and thrillers that they most admire, edited by two of their own—John Connolly and Declan Burke. I'm one of the phalanx of contributors—my essay argues that A.S. Byatt's novel POSSESSION is actually a crime novel.
About their aim in putting the collection together, Connolly and Burke say on the book's website, "What we sought from each of the contributors to this volume was passionate advocacy: we wanted them to pick one novel, just one, that they would place in the canon. If you found them in a bar some evening, and the talk turned (as it almost inevitably would) to favorite writers, it would be the single book that each writer would press upon you, the book that, if there was time and the stores were still open, they would leave the bar in order to purchase for you, so that they could be sure they had done all in their power to make you read it."
And if by chance you don't know John and Declan, you should. John Connolly is the author of such international bestsellers as The Whisperers, The Gates, The Lovers, The Reapers, The Unquiet, The Black Angel, Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow, The Killing Kind, The Book Of Lost Things, and Bad Men. The eleventh Charlie Parker novel, The Wrath of Angels, was published in Ireland and the UK in August 2012, and was released in the United States on January 1, 2013. John is also the host of the weekly radio show ABC to XTC. He divides his time between Dublin, Ireland and Portland, Maine. Declan Burke is the author of Eightball Boogie, The Big O, Absolute Zero Cool, and the recently-published Slaughter's Hound. He is also the editor of Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century. He lives in Wicklow with his wife Aileen and daughter Lily, and hosts a website dedicated to the growing field of Irish crime fiction called Crime Always Pays.
Read more about BOOKS TO DIE FOR.
NEW 'BUY THE BOOKS' PAGE
So many people have asked where they can buy my books that I've had my fabulous web designer Maddee James come up with a new page that makes it easier. Just clickety-click on your favorite bookselling site on this handy page, and presto, a book or e-book can be delivered into your hot little hands. This page can also tell you where to shop for actual, hard-copy books in your own locality. Yay for bricks-and-mortar stores! Here's the link to clickety-click.
I think that's all the news for now. Wishing you all a beautiful, temperate spring, and happy reading!
Slán go fóill,*
* Pronounced 'SLAWN go foil,' and it just means 'bye for now.' Now you can say you speak Irish!