In 1998, leaving university, Neil worked as an editor for a dot com travel company.
Then, turning 30, he started sketching out a novel. And though the idea for his debut came some 10 years ago, he has written five non-fiction books during that time. There were two books about Dublin; then, for BBC Books, The Story of Ireland and the Secret History of London.
“Then I ghost-wrote a book for Jeremy Paxman on the Koreans. Then the authorised biography of David Frost.
“The week I finished Frost, I gave Inch Levels to my agent. It was picked up almost immediately.”
Inch Levels started life as a second world war story.
“I wrote the full-length novel, and put it aside. Then I realised that story was just a layer in the novel I actually wanted to write. I completely reworked it.”
Inch Levels has been shortlisted for the Kerry Group Novel of the Year Award.
Inch Levels; Head of Zeus, €9.45/ Kindle, €4.81
Patrick lies in a hospital bed in Derry. A teacher in his 30s, he has terminal cancer. He’s a terrible grouch, and has few visitors. He’s cool towards his mother, Sarah, and sister Margaret, and makes it clear that he doesn’t want to see his brother in law, Robert ever again. Why it in this way?
The Verdict: I adored this debut. It’s a perfectly judged account of the devastation that can occur when secrets rule our lives.
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