Clare Dowling


An October hello

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The year has flown by and suddenly it’s publication time again – the paperback of A Special Delivery is just out in time for Christmas. I’m really excited about this book, which has got a great reception so far, and some lovely reviews. It’s a bit of a departure for me into grittier drama, but still with plenty of laughs. The story involves the Brady family of Dublin, who, like a lot of families, have had their fair share of problems, misunderstandings, and growing buy allegra pains as the children of the house have become adults, leaving parents Aisling and Mossy to negotiate what it means now to be a parent. They’re about to find out all over again as a baby boy is abandoned in the nativity scene in their front garden on Christmas Eve, and it all takes off from there. I had such great fun writing this book, with characters I grew to love. It’s been hard letting them go and moving onto the next book!

Coming up with characters

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We all remember them – the outstanding fictional characters who stay with us for years afterwards.  Here are just a few of my favourites: Hermione Granger, Bridget Jones (and Mark Darcy of course!), the Walsh sisters, Lisbeth Salander, Hannibal Lecter, Elizabeth Bennet ….the list goes on.

Pippi Longstocking was probably my earliest fictional heroine.  What a girl – baking millions of cookies and fighting off robbers single-handed, with not an adult in sight.

Whether funny, tragic, powerful or too fond of Chardonnay, these are all characters who’ve hijacked our imagination and more than made their mark.  As a reader this is fantastic.  As a writer facing into a new book, these iconic lads and ladies can make the task of creating our own characters a little, well, daunting.

So what do we want in our characters?  They should be well-rounded, complex and interesting. They should be capable of sustaining secrets and intrigue.  Readers should want to know what happens to them, even if they hate their guts and want to see them destroyed. The last thing we want is for them to fizzle out halfway through, because we haven’t given them an engine big enough to power them through to the end.

Having written ten novels, and for television and theatre for twenty years, here’s a simple checklist of things I do for every character I create.

Assign a character function. What is their purpose in the book?  Hero or anti-heroine? Are they an agitator, a confidante, a comic foil?  Each character has to earn their place in the story and giving them a label will help.

Interview them.  What do they eat for breakfast, do they own a pet, have they ever been cheated upon and what has their buy avodart response been?  It’s good fun and helps round your characters out.  Their responses will often surprise you and that’s when your character begins to take on a life of their own.

Write a biography. I do this in conjunction with interviewing them.  Even if you never directly use the information in the book, give them birth dates and childhoods and a three-legged dog, or whatever else takes your fancy.  All of it creates colour and a history.

Choose names carefully. It really does make a difference. Sometimes a character who is elusive and difficult to get a handle on is just struggling against the name Maureen, or whatever it is you’ve given her.  Maybe she’s really a Marilyn.  Take a step back and see if your character is actually someone else.

Give every character a journey. Some mightn’t have a huge part in the plot, but giving them their own arc, however small, will give them purpose and keep them relevant.

Choose your conflict. Adversity brings out people’s true nature, so decide what challenges and conflict you’re going to throw at your character, and see if they sink or swim.

Give your characters room to breathe.  It’s annoying when you get halfway through a book and realise that your main character just isn’t playing ball with the plot you’ve so carefully mapped out. But this is a time to regroup and look at your character’s construction.  You may have missed a step along the way.  Or the story they’re suggesting might actually be the one you need to write.

Love your characters.  If you don’t, nobody else will. Get to know them and feel passionately about them, and that will translate to the page.

Happy writing!


Happy New Year

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A Special Delivery, out Feb 2014

Hope you had a great Christmas and have already leaped into 2014.  First up on my calendar is the Irish publication of A Special Delivery, a big, emotional family drama centred around an unexpected arrival.  I had a brilliant time writing this and I can’t wait to see it on the shelves.  I’ve been buy adderall given a whole new look by my publishers, and the cover looks just great.  After that, it’s on with a children’s book that I started in the summer and want to finish, and I’m also continuing to write for television, with a few other projects bubbling away too.  Do keep an eye out for A Special Delivery, published 13th February!

All go!

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Where did the summer go?  Um, probably in that missed deadline which, you’ll be glad to know, was finally met on the 1st of July, when I proudly handed in the manuscript of the next book.  It’s called ‘Special Delivery’ and I’ll say no more, except that it’s about a family which could be living next door to you, and who have the usual complement of dark secrets and dirty linen, which is all about to be aired spectacularly.  I had a GREAT time writing it, and I’m not just saying that.  It’s very much a gritty Dublin family drama, with lots of blow-ups, mysteries, unrequited love, and few lads smouldering in the background. I loved my characters and was sad leaving them.  But it won’t be for long, because the copyedit buy aciclovir will be landing back on my desk at any minute and no doubt I’ll be wishing I’d had a bit longer away from them.

On other fronts, the paperback of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ is out on the 7th of November in Ireland and the UK.  It’s got great reviews, and readers seemed to have liked it a lot.  It’s got a bit of a dark edge, and a good dollop of suspense, which is a departure for me.  Other than that, I’m delighted to be back writing at Fair City – we’ve had a lot of great drama on screen recently – and am NOT counting the shopping days till Christmas, even though I got my first marketing email during the week saying I should be.  Thanks for reading! x

Publication time again!

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Can't Take My Eyes Off You

My new book, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,’ is out on the 14th of March and I’ve just got a lovely box of early copies.  The story is about an ex who never quite goes away, with increasingly unpleasant consequences.   But there are plenty of light moments and laughs too, and it was a book I particularly enjoyed buy generic cialis online india writing, which is always a good sign!  I’ll be on the publicity trail for the next few weeks, and out and about meeting booksellers and unsuspecting members of the public (sorry in advance).  Then it’s back to the grindstone to write book number eleven which is still small but perfectly formed.  More soon.