November brings us a Q&A with Ciara Delahunt, a new author from Ireland that I know you are just going to love. Killer Instinct is the prequel to the Dublin-based urban fantasy Hybrid Wolf Series, containing shifters, magic, high stakes, a sprinkle of romance and plenty of humour along the way. Check out her Instagram page to keep up to date with progress as this novel will be dropping soon!
Ciara is an urban fantasy writer from Ireland (the place where leprechaun’s don’t actually exist). She works as a data analyst by day in Dublin city, and lives in the countryside with two cats and a dog that thinks he’s a princess.
Her love of reading bled into writing when she was a teenager, but then life got in the way. After getting a ‘real job’ and reigniting her passion for writing in her late twenties, Ciara set her sights on realising her childhood dream of being an author.
She grew up reading YA, urban, high fantasy, and everything in between. Paranormal romance is her guilty pleasure. She decided there wasn’t enough urban fantasy set in Dublin, and she’s going to change that.
A self-confessed book worm, you will often find Ciara with her head in a book. She’s an animal lover and her fluffy writing buddies are plastered over her social media. She can’t write without music, and can often be caught dancing around the kitchen. Ciara loves nothing more to be curled up with her laptop and a hot chocolate in her favourite Starbucks, writing to her heart’s content.
Getting to Know You
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I used to write non-stop in my late teens, but I stopped for almost ten years. Back then, Amazon was barely a thing and I didn’t have a Kindle, publishing meant getting an agent and querying. It was never really on my radar.
Once I started writing again, I couldn’t stop. I created my instagram account with absolutely no expectations of it going anywhere, just for inspiration really. As I kept writing, I stumbled upon indie author accounts and realised publishing your own work wasn’t just possible, it was something tonnes of writers were doing.
I have a full-time job, I’d never be able to work against someone else’s deadline. Not only that, I want freedom. I’m stubborn as hell, not to mention picky. I don’t want some publisher telling me what cover I should have, or to change parts of MY story. Nah, once I looked into indie publishing, I was sold.
My books, my ideas, my stories, they’re all mine and I’m keeping it that way. I love that indie publishing is giving authors their power back. The rights to a book should always lie with the author. Maybe it also comes down to me not being good at doing what I’m told!
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I used to go to the gym a lot pre-lockdown, but now I stick to home workouts. I’ve gotten really into yoga over the last few months as well.
I stay at my boyfriend’s most weekends, so that’s my time off to chill out. I hang out with my friends (pre-covid), go to the cinema and eat way too much popcorn. I’m a huge rugby fan, so weekends often involve me yelling at the tv. I love nature, when the weather is nice I’ll walk the dog somewhere pretty and just take some time out to re-centre.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Oh god… that’s a hard one. I think it’s seeing my world come to life. When you start off with a small seed of an idea and it blossoms into a novel, or a series. That’s the magic of books. We create an escape. If I can make readers laugh, cry, care about my characters and their world, then my job is done.
The Writing Process
What is your writing process?
I brainstorm in my notebook, jot down random ideas and start piecing them together. Once I have a rough idea of the plot, I’ll use Plottr on my laptop to map out the timeline and organise scenes. After adding brief notes to each scene, I’m ready to write.
Every morning before work, I try to fit in at least 30 minutes to write. My aim at the moment is 1,000 words a day, but I’m hoping to up that.
About one third of the way in, I get lost, rearrange a few scenes, rewrite a tiny bit, and then continue on my way. I usually do two to three drafts before it’s ready for editing — and that’s when my editor fixes my mess!
How do you get inspired to write?
I’d love to be one of those writers who say life is a constant source of inspiration from the world around them… but honestly, I don’t know. Some days I’m not in the mood, other days the words pour out. I think the clearer my idea or the scene I’m working on, the more inspired I am.
I don’t know where my story ideas come from. I’ve had ideas in the shower, when staring at my notebook, even when I’m drunk. I’m definitely influenced by what I read, what I’ve experienced, and then the rest is just… one very overactive imagination I suppose!
I definitely brainstorm best while curled up in Starbucks with a hot chocolate, not sure why. I think I need a kind of cosy atmosphere to get my brain going. I need to feel like I’m about to read a book and then open up my notebook instead.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Start. I know this sounds really silly, but putting words down on paper is the only way. When you’re thinking about writing a whole novel, it’s bloody terrifying. A novel is a bigggg mountain to climb. But if you write, even 100 words a day, you’re slowly taking steps towards your goal.
Consistency is the key. Stop telling yourself you don’t have the time, you do. Those five minutes (more like five hours) you spend scrolling through social media? Cut them out, replace them with writing. Be strict with yourself. Pick a time, even if it’s only a few minutes a day, and sit down to write. I don’t care if it’s pure nonsense, write. You can fix it later.
One more thing, don’t worry about being scared, I’m constantly terrified. Imposter Syndrome is real. But if you surround yourself with the right supports, you’ll be fine. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing half the time and I’ve had to learn to be ok with that.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Damn. This is tough.
- The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan (I can’t pick a single book for her)
Trudi is hands down my favourite high fantasy writer. The worlds she creates are so intricate and unique, along with the vast cast of characters she incorporates into her books. She always follows the underdog too, and I love a good underdog story. Her heroines are kick ass and her books have been known to make me throw a temper tantrum when she breaks my damn heart. But that’s good writing, she makes you feel everything.
- Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (and the rest of this series)
I’m a sucker for a werewolf romance, what can I say? This book really launched me into urban fantasy. I loved the world building and the way more and more characters and layers to the paranormal world were introduced and linked throughout the series. Again, strong, badass woman leading the show. I’m seeing a trend!
- Crown of Conspiracy (The Illvanian Chronicles) by Kara Weaver (ALL OF THEM)
These books really play with my heart. I love having a strong main character that I can root for, along with some nice romance storylines. Throw in high stakes and death at every hands turn, and I’m sold.
- The Wicked King by Holly Black (whole series really)
Controversial, I know. I loved these books but the cliffhanger/twist at the end of this one had me almost throwing the book in the pool on holidays. I’m not a huge fan of fae books, but the characters in these books and the world are the perfect mix of fantasy and drama. I do enjoy lots of lies and deceit woven through a book.
- The Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
This probably seems like a bit of a cop out, but I can’t ignore the profound impact the Harry Potter books had on my childhood. I was obsessed, I still am. Her world brought magic to life and I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of the stories. Pure happiness bottled.
How do you discover the books you read?
Years ago, I’d go to bookshops. Now, I find most books through Amazon ‘also boughts, through fellow indie author recs, or books I see promoted on Instagram.
What books are on your reading list this year?
I’m currently reading The Hunted Maiden by Douglas Pierce, I’m also reading 3 Minutes to Midnight by L.M. Hatchell. I need to catch up on the newest releases in The Fire Salamander Series by N.M Thorn, so I’ve lots of amazing books to read!
Killer Instinct, The Hybrid Wolf Series: Prequel
The alpha was murdered and it was an inside job. Can Tom step up and save the future of his pack before it’s too late?
Getting the call to say his alpha had been killed in an accident was the last nudge Tom needed to come home. The move would be a fresh start. Or so he thought.
Tom’s homecoming quickly becomes a nightmare when he discovers the alpha’s death wasn’t an accident. He teams up with old friends to find out who is responsible.
He finds himself playing undercover detective while juggling a toddler and family tensions. Helping his best friend’s brother ends up bringing up emotions and a connection that Tom never thought he’d feel again.
When the truth comes to light and Tom realises just how far the culprit is willing to go in their hunt for power, he has to choose between family and his pack’s future. Can Tom find a way to salvage his pack before it’s too late?
Killer Instinct, The Hybrid Wolf Series: Prequel – Ciara Delahunt
What inspired you to write Killer Instinct?
I wrote the first book in my Hybrid Wolf Series, Wolf Bait, last year. I finished that in January and realised I wanted to write the prequel to dive into the history of the Faolchúnna pack, and some events that have knock on effects in the main series. And so, Killer Instinct was born. I also wanted to have a book that could introduce readers to the world I’d created and give them a bit more backstory.
Is there going to be a follow up to Killer Instinct?
Yes! The first book in the series, Wolf Bait, will be released in 2021! I’m thinking early March, but nothing is set in stone.