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Author Mary Malone is a very exciting voice in women's fiction.  Her latest novel Never Tear Us Apart has received rave reviews and is published by Poolbeg Crimson, an imprint that promises 'fiction with an edge'.

How did you first get published Mary?

Persistence was my route to publication. After receiving numerous rejections for my first novel, I accepted it wasn't good enough and knew I had a lot to learn. I researched the craft of writing as well as doing an editing course and a journalism course. I had some short stories and newspaper articles published but I also worked hard on my second novel, Love Match. Second time around, I was a lot more cautious but finally submitted it to a few publishers. I couldn't believe my luck when Dodder Books called and offered me a contract a week after they'd received the entire manuscript. Love Match was published in July 2006, followed by All You Need Is Love in October 2007. In December 2008, I signed with Poolbeg Crimson and Never Tear Us Apart was published in May 2009. My next title, Playing With Fire, is due for publication in May 2010.

Is there a particular book or author that inspired you to be a writer?

My love of reading began with an obsession for Enid Blyton books. I used to write my name over Enid's, fantasizing that one day I'd be a writer too. But the real inspiration came after reading Patricia Scanlan's first novel, City Girl. For the first time, I could relate to characters I was reading aboutFor me, this was a turning point, a true inspiration to give my imagination free reign.

What is a typical writing day for you?

Every day is different. My intentions to write all day are always good but unfortunately life has a habit of getting in the way. For July and August I was in the lucky position of writing full time. I loved that. Losing myself in a storyline is magical, even more so when I'm not looking at the clock. But for the rest of the year, I work in the Central Statistics Office four days every week. Then I write at night, usually for around four hours - or as long as I can stay awake. But I love it and am addicted to it, so if a story is going really well or I'm under pressure to meet a deadline, I'll write through the night rather than leave my characters waiting for more.

Never Tear Us Apart is a psychological suspense novel and you have also written two romance novels, what was it that inspired you to write darker material?

The storyline itself was the inspiration for change. What goes on inside a woman's head has always fascinated me - how we over-analyze even the smallest thing. To explore the subject thoroughly, I had no choice but to be true to my characters and to do this effectively, I had to take a trip to the dark side!

Never Tear Us Apart focuses on two very different women - Vicky and Ariel.   Which of these characters did you most enjoy creating?

That's a difficult one, a bit like asking me to choose between two very good friends. I empathized with both characters, growing to understand their fears, aspirations and the reasons behind their actions. But if I have to choose...I'll choose the challenge of creating Vicky. The experience brought me (as a writer) to very new levels of my subconscious. I have to admit that there were times when I thought I was going a little mad - just like Vicky. I wrote a lot of her scenes very late at night and as a result, she stayed with me in my dreams and nightmares. Her paranoia became mine.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I'm knee deep in my next title, Playing With Fire. I feel as though I'm on the hundredth draft at this stage and the characters are still growing wings. But that's the magic of writing fiction.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Persist, persist, persist. Never give up. Don't forget to turn up at your page and write. Read as much as you can in the genre you're writing in as well as reading books about writing. Stephen King's book, On Writing, is a must-read for writers. Put constructive criticism to good use. But most of all, allow yourself to enjoy the process of creating a story from beginning to end and be proud of your achievements.

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Autumn is an exciting time in the world of publishing, with lots of hot titles due for release.  From blockbuster thrillers to supernatural ghost stories, no matter what your taste you are sure to find something to read this September!  Below are some top picks.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Neffinger
The highly anticipated second novel from the author of The Time Traveler's Wife is released on September 29.  Two American twin sisters are left an apartment by their aunt, near London's Highgate Cemetery.  There are two conditions to the inheritance - that they stay in the apartment for a year, and that their parents don't enter it.  The twins discover that things are very much alive in Highgate, including possibly their aunt!

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Everyone is talking about Dan Brown's latest novel, due for release on September 15.  This time, Professor of symbology Robert Langton is in Washington D.C. and his investigations centre around the Freemassons.  This is sure to be a massive hit and no doubt we will see a film adaptation in the future.  

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Released on September 3, fans of High Fidelity will be pleased to see Hornby returning to the theme of music for his latest book.  A couple in their thirties realise that their shared obsession with a reclusive musician may no longer be enough to hold them together. Annie and Duncan share a love for the fictional singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe.  The release of an acoustic version of his most famous album not only tears them apart, but sparks an unlikely personal connection between Tucker and Annie.  

The Perfect Man by Sheila O'Flanagan
This novel follows the story of two very different sisters, Mia and Britt.  Mia is in love with the married father of her daughter, and Britt is a classic ice-maiden, but ironically also a best-selling romance author.  The pair join a luxury romantic cruise, on which Britt is a guest lecturer.  Romance beckons for both ladies in this fun and flirty novel and it is available now.  

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bandslam-1sht-fin1simp.jpgBandslam is a movie about a Battle of the Bands competition starring Vanessa Hudgens.  My immediate expectations were something along the lines of a typically cheesy affair that would mostly appeal to the tween market, but in fact, I was pleasantly surprised. The movie is quirky and funny and a little bit darker than most of the movies in this genre. The characters are interesting and the actors work really well together.   

It tells the story of Will Burton (Gaelan Connell), a music lover and major David Bowie fan, who can't wait to move to a new school and start his life over.  He befriends Charlotte (Alyson Michalka) and agrees to manage her band in preparation for Bandslam - a competition for bands from local schools, the winner of which receives a prize of a recording contract.  Meanwhile he also befriends Sam (Vanessa Hudgens), but his commitment to the band threatens to put an end to their budding romance.  And as the competition draws closer, obstacles threaten to ruin Will's band's chances of super-stardom.

Will's Mum is played by the ever hilarious Lisa Kudrow. I must say I really enjoyed this movie and have since been humming along to its rockin' soundtrack!
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Can You See Me? is the latest novel from Ruth Gilligan. It tells the story of Alice, a first year History student at Cambridge. When Alice leaves Dublin and arrives at the majestic campus she is convinced she has found her wonderland. But one night something happens that threatens to ruin her adventure. 

Alice struggles to hide her dark secret until eventually the cracks begin to show, and she realises she may have to face up to what happened. Her weekly meetings with Flo, the stranger on the bench, become her lifeline. She becomes more and more detached from her friends and her studies as she tries to deal with the implications of that terrible event. 

The book is rooted firmly in reality, but the addition of one particular character gives it a little touch of magic. I don't want to give too much of the story away, as the book is much more driven by the characters than by the plot. Having said that, it is certainly a real page-turner, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. 

Ruth wrote her first novel at just 15 years of age, and like this book's main character, she went on to study at Cambridge and received a first in English from the prestigious university. This year, she is heading Stateside to study for a Masters at Yale. 

Can you see me? is an honest and sometimes graphic portrait of university life. Ruth tells it like it is, not afraid to hold back on some of the more shocking details. Ruth's writing is very assured the pace and flow of the narrative is very impressive. The raw talent that she exhibited in her first book has been polished here to quite a high standard. College-goers are sure to enjoy this!

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The Proposal' is easily my favorite movie so far this year.  It's been a while since a romantic comedy this great hit the cinema screens.  Sandra Bullock has definitely reclaimed her title as queen of the rom-com.  

The story goes like this: In order to avoid deportation back to Canada, high-powered book editor Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) forces her assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her. Like all her employees, Andrew hates the extremely scary Margaret, but he grudgingly accepts on the condition that she will promote him to editor. Facing prison if their bogus marriage is found out, Margaret and Andrew fly to Alaska for the weekend in order to persuade Andrew's family and friends that they are in fact a loved-up couple. 

This is a fun romantic comedy that has some really funny moments. Ryan Reynolds is amazingly comical, and obviously provides some top rate eye candy!  Sandra Bullock is brilliant as always.  She looks amazing in this movie and proves she is making a great comeback.  These two actors work really well together and I wouldn't be surprised if we see them pairing up again in the future.  If you like rom-coms, you're going to love The Proposal.  is both hilarious and heartwarming.  I really enjoyed it and honestly can't wait to see it again.
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I went to see Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince for the second time last night. I enjoyed it just as much the second time round, which is always a good sign. On its Irish release date, my friend and I arrived to a packed out cinema, where the film was playing on almost every screen.

We went to the 9 o'clock showing, therefore not a lot of kids were about - just throngs of teenagers, the occasional one donning a Gryffindor scarf or carrying a promotional plastic cauldron full of popcorn. Excitement spread through the crowd and none of the usual talking or texting interrupted the opening. We had all waited months for this and everyone's eyes were glued to the screen.

In several interviews Emma Watson described the latest offering as a romantic comedy and in some ways it certainly is. There are more than a few lusty laugh out loud moments and the chemistry between Ginny and Harry is electric. I must admit that I had my suspicions about how that relationship was going to turn out on screen, but Bonnie Wright (who plays Ginny) has really managed to transform her character from Ron's mousey little sister into a saucy and seductive young woman.

My second time to see it was with my 17 year-old brother, who loved it just as much as I did. The Harry Potter actors have never failed to disappoint. As always, Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter played their characters to perfection.

Evanna Lynch was hilariously endearing as Luna Lovegood and Emma Watson was as enchanting as ever. She even rivaled Rupert Grint's excellent comic timing. I had expected a much darker film - something more like The Prisoner of Azkaban, but having said that I certainly was not disappointed. I may even try to fit another showing in this week. Potter Mania is here for a while yet.
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Although it will not be released until September, there is already considerable hype surrounding Megan Fox's new horror film Jennifer's Body.  Starring alongside Megan are Mamma Mia's Amanda Seyfried and Adam Brody of The O.C. fame.  Fox plays the most popular girl in school, but she isn't your average teen queen.  This cheerleader is possessed by a demon and goes on a killing spree, specifically targeting her male classmates.  Her geeky best friend (Seyfried) must try to put on end to her demonic actions.  I've seen the trailer and it looks pretty much like your typical commercial horror flick, combining comedy and gore.  A teen slasher movie with Megan Fox in the starring role is sure to appeal to lots of guys, while the addition of nerdy heartthrob Adam Brody will certainly guarantee my place in the cinema!  It will be interesting to see if it lives up to the hype.  

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Hey everybody!  This my is my first post on my Films and Fiction Blog.  I'll be posting news and reviews about...you guessed it - films and fiction!  

The summer is in full-swing and it is the perfect time to treat yourself to some relaxing reading time.  If you're looking for an easy summer read, then I might have just the thing for you:

If this is Paradise, I want my Money Back
by Claudia Carroll
Published by: Transworld Ireland

Claudia first rose to fame as an actress in the Irish soap Fair City and has since gone on to become a very successful author.  She now writes full-time and If this is Paradise, I want my Money Back is her sixth novel.  
It tells the story Charlotte Gray - a thirty-something year-old assistant in a Dublin acting agency. Charlotte finds herself in a coma, hovering between life and death.  She was invloved in a car accident following a raging row with her ex-boyfriend James in which he dumped her for a young actress.  Charlotte is less than impressed with her afterlife.  Much to her disappointment, there's no Elvis Presley or Curt Kobain, it's just one big retirement home in the sky.  So when she is offered the opportunity to go back to earth as a an angel, Charlotte jumps at the chance.  Only problem is, she is assigned to watch over the very person that landed her in this position.  Carroll's new book is a delightful mix of magic and humour.  The coma plot has been used in countless films and books already, but Carroll puts a nice new spin on it.  If a light summer read is what you're after, then If This is Paradise... is definitely worth checking out.  
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