Andrea Carter is the author of the Inishowen mystery series featuring solicitor Ben O’Keefe. The latest in the series, The Body Falls was published by Little Brown on 2 April 2020.
Andrea kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Body Falls.
The Body Falls is a crime novel set on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal, where Ben (Benedicta) O’Keeffe runs the most northerly law practise in the country. A charity cycle brings strangers into town, but terrible weather prevents them from setting off. Torrential rain gives rise to severe flooding, making roads impassable and causing bridges to collapse. Soon the town of Glendara is completely cut off. Then, a body, dislodged from a high bank by the heavy rain, falls onto the windscreen of the vet’s jeep.
2. What inspired the book?
I lived in Inishowen for a long time. It’s a remote and hauntingly beautiful part of the world. I wanted to set one of my books around the real and devastating floods which took place there in 2017, when bridges were washed away, and towns were cut off. I try my best to portray Inishowen in all its beauty and drama and the floods were a major event at the time. Charity races regularly take place from Ireland’s northerly to southerly point, so a cycle seemed an ideal device to bring strangers into town and trap them there!
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I’m a complete pantser! I start with a location, (usually an ideal place to dump a body!) and I begin to write. I write a number of drafts. My first is a complete mess; the grammar is terrible, the writing poor, I’m even likely to change my characters’ names halfway through. But there’s a thread of a story, which I start to flesh out with the second draft, and with each subsequent one the characters come to life, the setting becomes more detailed and connections are forged. But it’s probably the fourth or fifth draft before I know the identity of the killer!
4.The Body Falls is the 5th book in the Inishowen Mysteries series. Do the characters still surprise you?
They do! Despite the fact that I know them so well that I feel I’d recognise them on the street. I think the introduction of new characters in each book helps. I never know how my recurring characters are going to react to a blow-in!
5.What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I run, I read, and I travel.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
The Wind in the Willows. It’s a remarkable book about loyalty and friendship, about respect for nature and other creatures, about adventure and home. The language is rich and complex and it’s a brilliant lesson in pace, alternating beautifully between wild larks and evenings by the fire. And although it’s a children’s book, there are adult themes hidden amongst its pages, themes like addiction, depression and mid-life crises. It is one of the earliest books I remember casting a spell, and the world of the riverbank has never left me. It’s a book which always makes me happy.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I wish that I would be asked what I consider the most important resource for a writer, and I would reply, without question, libraries. I joined the library aged three and I’ve been a member ever since. I wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t had access to countless books for free. In times like the present, when ignorance is celebrated, education and access to books is more important than ever, and not just for those who can pay for it.
About the book
April in Florida and Ben O’Keeffe is enjoying balmy temperatures, working the last few days of a six-month stint with her old law firm. A week later she returns to Glendara, Inishowen where a charity cycle race is taking place. But it starts to rain, causing the cyclists to postpone the start of their event and stay overnight in the town. But the rain doesn’t stop; it increases to become relentless, torrential.
In the middle of the night Sergeant Tom Molloy is called out to Mamore Gap, where a body, dislodged from a high bank by the heavy rain, has fallen onto the vet’s jeep. It is identified as Bob Jameson, a well-known local charities boss, and the organiser of the cycling event. Stunned, the GP confirms that the man has suffered a snakebite.
Terrible weather persists and soon bridges are down and roads are impassable. Glendara is completely cut off, with a killer at the heart of the community. Who is responsible for Bob Jameson’s death? One of the strangers in town or someone closer to home? It’s left to Molloy, with Ben’s assistance, to find out what is going on.
About the author
Andrea Carter grew up in Ballyfin, Co. Laois. She graduated in Law from Trinity College, Dublin, qualified as a solicitor and moved to the Inishowen peninsula where she lived for eleven years. In 2006 she transferred to the Bar. Having practised as a barrister for a number of years, she now writes full time. Her first three books have been optioned for television. She was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards in 2019. She lives in Dublin with her husband.