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Interview with Successful Liberties based Author Dermott Hayes

Dermott Hayes

‘Publishing can be a nightmare, but so can sleeping’, says self published author, Dermott Hayes, and he should know. Hayes is a resident of The Liberties, where he has lived, on and off, for 15 of the last thirty five years. He’s just published his first novel, Tito’s Dead and it’s receiving rave reviews from Amazon readers, here and abroad. Sales of digital novels, or ebooks, outstripped the sales of printed books, four years ago and one of its biggest growth areas is in self publishing.

‘Essentially, as the ownership of worldwide publishing fell into the hands of fewer and fewer global corporations, their ethos was profit driven. In that space, there is little room for developing new talent; it’s no longer the quality of the writing that counts, just it’s ability to generate profits for corporate shareholders,” he explains. And that’s how the gap for self publishing has developed. Why build a scrapbook of rejection letters if you can put your own book together at minimum cost and then publish it on the internet?

Tito’s Dead, Hayes’ first novel, ‘is a fast paced crime mystery set in Sarajevo and Dublin and follows undercover, Europol cop, Bernard Nolan, on a manhunt to find a killer and expose a crime syndicate that stretches across a continent and into high office, against a backdrop of treachery and double dealing, where he can trust no-one and time is running out…’, as described in the inside cover of the ‘book.’

‘It began life,’ he explains, ‘ as a short story, about a young Kosovan refugee, living in Dublin, who befriended an injured pigeon and nursed it back to health. That simple act of kindness for an injured creature, earned him respect, for himself and from those who watched him. It made me wonder why, without that simple act, we couldn’t see he was injured, too?’ ‘And then I began to think, I could turn that into a novel. I hid myself away in a farmhouse in County Clare for ten days and emerged with 25,000 words of an outline and a feeling there was no turning back.’

Three chapters of the first draft got into the hands of a London publishing agent who turned up, unannounced one day, on Hayes’ doorstep. ‘He told me I was Ireland’s answer to Harlen Coben and the Ian Rankin of Dublin – two writers I really admire – and for the next two years I jumped through hoops of rewrites and edits before I realised this guy had lost interest as my profit potential faded in his eyes.’

It was an object, if tough lesson. Hayes put the manuscript aside, in a shoebox (well, that’s where they’re supposed to go’, he jokes) and didn’t look at it again until last year.

In the meantime he published a book of short stories, Postcard from a Pigeon and Other Stories. ‘It was my first digital book and I did it to learn how it could be done.’ Hayes is no stranger to writing, of course. Hayes worked for 25 years as a journalist and contributed to most national titles in Ireland, particularly the Press Group. In 1995, he became the diarist in the Evening Herald and became known as ‘the Hat’, while he chronicled the hedonistic rampage of the Celtic Tiger. After two years as Show Business Editor of Ireland’s Mail on Sunday, he retired to become a part time waiter and a full time writer.

His first book, published in 1990, was a bestselling biography of Sinead O’Connor.

For a writer, Hayes says, writing is like breathing. Sometimes it’s hard, but you have to do it. The biggest headache is the marketing. Anyone can write a book, they tell you, but not everyone wants to write one, that’s the difference. And then when it’s written, it has to be published. That means designing it, formatting it and then distributing it. And you’re not finished then, because you have to sell it. So you become your own publicist and use all the social sites there are, like Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr and WordPress. I blog, twit and post with the best of them, says Hayes.

So, no overnight success then?

‘Everyone can be an overnight success, after twenty years of hard slog,’ he observes, ‘sure, it can happen but most of the time, it’s just a publicist’s gimmick. Tito’s Dead is a good book and I’ll keep telling people that and one day, they’ll believe it.’

At least four people believe it already, if the four 5 Star Readers’ reviews are anything to go by on Amazon. “An intelligent mystery,’ says an American reader, “Irish Noir”, a really exciting read,’ says an English reader; and his Irish readers appear to agree, ‘great booook,’ says one, ‘a novel worth reading’ and ‘a gripping read, fast moving and exciting thriller,’ says another.

If good wishes were pence, says Hayes, I’d be a millionaire. But he hopes the reviews will help persuade others to take a punt at Tito’s Dead.


Meanwhile, he says, he’ll keep writing. And living in The Liberties.


Gary Kelly,

Gk, FRG, D8, 2014.

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