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Updated: 2016-02-18T09:07:22.862-08:00


Maurice Bo BO Ward


We are once again urging anyone who has information on the murder of Maurice ‘Bo Bo’ Ward to contact the police. Bo Bo was shot dead just hours after he finished writing ‪#‎RoughJustice‬ in April 2002. His book, which became a bestsellers In Ireland, recounted Bo Bo’s incarceration in Upton Industrial School, Co Cork, the sex abuse and violence he suffered at the hands of the religious there, and what drove him to turn his back on crime to campaign for the victims of childsexual abuse. Bo Bo was murdered by two masked on the night of April 28, 2002. His killers kicked in his front door, forced him to kneel on the ground before they shot him at point blank range in front of his five young children. His murder remains unsolved. Bo Bo never got to see the publication of Rough Justice but we hope he was proud of it. RIP Bo Bo.

Beyond the Call of Duty: Heroism in the Irish Defence Forces


Maverick House is pleased to announce it will be publishing Beyond the Call of Duty: Heroism in the Irish Defence Force. The book will tell the stories of the forgotten heroes of the Irish Defence Forces, the recipients of the Military Medal for Gallantry (MMG).

The MMG is awarded to soldiers in recognition of acts of exceptional bravery involving risk to life and limb. Beyond the Call of Duty recounts the stories of the soldiers who have performed acts of heroism in the most adverse situations. This is an account of stunning force and is an unforgettable reminder of the horrors of war.

Declan Power is a security and defence journalist. He formerly served with three combat arms of the Irish Army before attending military college. His first book, Siege at Jadotville: the Irish Army’s forgotten battle, published in 2005, was critically received. The book is now the subject of a major motion film staring Jamie Dornan.  





Three Years Later


I just received another short message on Facebook this week from someone who had just read my book. He said that he was moved to tears by the end of the book, and that he found it inspiring. I quickly replied, thanking him for reaching out to me. It is still gratifying for a first-time author to receive readers’ letters many years after my book’s initial release.Maverick House Publishers released my book, OF GOD AND MEN: A LIFE IN THE CLOSET, three years ago, in March 2012. Its previous iteration was as a self-published novel, God Loves Bakla, published two years earlier in Cambodia. It was briefly on the bestseller list of National Book Store in Manila, but sales have slowed down, as might be expected. But there remains a market for the book out there, and the recent Facebook message I received proves this.The world has changed a lot since I first self-published my memoirs about my life in the closet. We are three months away from a possible United States Supreme Court decision declaring same-sex marriage a fundamental human right in every state of the country. The implications of such decision will be enormous, and the United States will become the biggest country in the world where same-sex marriage is recognized. In my home country, the Philippines, which catches a cold every time Uncle Sam sneezes, I am sure that the US Supreme Court decision will lead to more discussions on LGBT rights, and perhaps my traditional, conservative, devoutly Catholic country will finally begin taking steps to recognize the rights of LGBT Filipinos as a minority group justly deserving state protection.But then again, the Philippines has never followed the US on the issue of divorce, so perhaps the US Supreme Court decision would not be as consequential as I would like to think.Beyond the legal arena, much has changed in the Philppines when it comes to LGBT rights. I had been one of the Partylist candidates of Ang Ladlad LGBT Party in the 2013 midterm Congressional Elections. I volunteered to be one because there was almost no one who was both willing and qualified to speak out for our community. In next year’s elections, that would no longer be the case. Between 2013 and now, I have seen so many of my LGBT sisters and brothers step up to the plate to speak out for our community. Some of them, to my mind, would make excellent candidates. Moreover, there would no longer be just one LGBT partylist; there would be several, and this is certainly a case where we should let a thousand flowers bloom. We saw how Ang Ladlad failed to unify the LGBT community in 2013. Maybe the solution is to have more sector-specific partylists, which could then mobilize more effectively and campaign more successfully.Purchase Of God and Men on KindleI would still like to be able to do LGBT advocacy in the Philippines, in one form or another. But the urgency for my personal participation is no longer there, as we have many young people who are bravely speaking out, and who could communicate our ideas and principles more effectively to their generation. And if my voice is somehow sought after again, OF GOD AND MEN will always be available.I am currently based in Vientiane, Laos, where I have lived for close to two years with my partner, John. I moved here in July 2013, right after the elections, and began the work of setting up an international law firm to cater to foreign companies investing in Laos. This was the same work I was doing in Cambodia before I came home to the Philippines to campaign for Ang Ladlad. This is my livelihood at the moment. It pays my bills and allows John and me to build a comfortable home and a happy life together. Laos is a wonderful place to live and work in, and I am slowly improving my Lao language skills in order to be more integrated into the local community. How long John and I will stay here we cannot say. But we do not mind staying in Laos for another two to three years.Later this month, the directors of Out Run are coming to La[...]

Lissa Oliver, the author of Gala Day and Chantilly Dawns, is writing another thriller


I’ve heard it said that an author should write the book that’s missing from their bookshelf. While it’s sound advice, I couldn’t imagine doing otherwise. In my day job as a horseracing journalist I only write the features that I would like to read and when it comes to my first love, writing novels, it really is pure self-indulgence.My passion for writing came as soon as I could hold a pen and form a letter, and my passion for racehorses a few years later, so I’m at my happiest combining the two. Chantilly Dawns really was the book I most wanted to write – it didn’t follow the usual trend of a racing thriller, but instead offered me an opportunity to really explore, and abuse, my protagonist’s psyche. It was written for myself, but thankfully quite a few others share my tastes!Although I set my books within the horseracing world that I know and love, I try to be aware that they should appeal to non-horse people and I take care not to be technical or use jargon. But the self-contained bubble that is the racing world does present me with an excellent base on which to build a story and really test a character.Purchase Kindle edition of Chantilly DawnsPurchase Kindle edition of Gala DayGala Day may be a typical horseracing thriller, but again it was the book I most wanted to read. I’d grown up with the Dick Francis thrillers and their imitators, but I always found them detached from the real, ground roots stable in which most of the industry work. I didn’t like the oh-so-perfect heroes, who described pain and discomfort as ‘boring’! I wanted an ordinary hero who felt pain like any of us and felt fear, too, but was prepared to fight for his reputation, simply because he had to.Right now I’m working hard on a third horseracing thriller, which could be described as a combination of the two books. I enjoyed the fast-paced whodunit aspect of Gala Day, so that is certainly the main premise of my current novel in progress, but I also enjoyed my sadistic role as an author in prising out and preying upon the hero’s weaknesses in Chantilly Dawns. Currently I have two central characters, the hero and the villain, both with their own set of emotional problems. The plot revolves around their tortured relationship and its repercussions. Once again, the racing world is merely a backdrop. I find when I’m writing a novel that the first three or four chapters are the most difficult and take far too long to write. But they are the crucial foundations of a story, establishing characters and plot. As soon as I’m comfortable with them, the remainder simply flows, rather like following the characters visually and recording their actions. From that point on, despite only writing in my spare time (it’s surprising where you can conjure it up from!) I tend to write non-stop and so far have completed each of my three published novels in nine months; not counting those first long and laboured months or even years of getting past chapter three. As I’m approaching the halfway point of thriller number three, it’s safe to say: Watch This Space![...]

Netflix to premier Jadotville


NETFLIX TO PREMIERE JADOTVILLE, A TALE OF WAR, IMPOSSIBLE ODDS AND INCREDIBLE BRAVERY, STARRING JAIME DORNAN AND GUILLAUME CANET Directed by Richie Smyth, Jadotville Will be Exclusively Available on Netflix in All Territories in 2016. Beverly Hills, California, 16 Feb 2015, – Netflix will premiere the new war thriller Jadotville, starring Jaime Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Guillaume Canet(Tell No One), across all its territoriesin 2016. Netflix acquired Jadotville at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival. The film will go into production in April. A gripping true story of incredible bravery against impossible odds, the film thrillingly depicts the 1961 siege of a 150-strong Irish UN battalion under Commander Patrick Quinlan (Dornan) by 3000 Congolese troops led by French and Belgian mercenaries working for mining companies. Canet plays a French commander who sought to defeat Quinlan and his men. Directed by Richie Smyth, a well-known commercial and music video director (U2, Bon Jovi, The Verve) and written by Kevin Brodbin (Constantine), Jadotville will be filmed in Ireland and South Africa. Alan Moloney and Ruth Coady will produce for Parallel Films (Haywire, Albert Nobbs, Byzantium). Netflix acquired Jadotville at the 2015 Berlinale. “The story of how Pat Quinlan led his troops against an overwhelming force without losing a single man is one of the great stories of the 20th century, and we are proud to be working with such a talented and committed team to bring it to life,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “This film will be an amazing addition to our global original films initiative.” “As filmmakers, we are constantly looking for new ways to bring a movie to the largest possible audience. Netflix has already reinvented the TV market and is now moving front and centre into the film business. We are proud and excited to be part of their story and innovation.” said Parallel Films’ Alan Moloney. About Netflix Netflix is the world’s leading internet television network with over 57 million members in nearly 50 countries enjoying more than two billion hours of TV programmes and films per month, including original series, documentaries and feature films. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on nearly any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without adverts or commitments.

Gangster: The biography of the international drug trafficker John Gilligan


John Gilligan was never one to mince his words. When I met him many years ago, he couldn't help but brag about how much money he had amassed from drug dealing, hijackings and contraband smuggling. He was organised crime personified."I have just moved IR£15m (€19m) out of the country where the gardai will never get their hands on it," Gilligan told me in an interview in London.It was August 1996, barely six weeks after Veronica Guerin, a 37-year-old crime reporter with the Sunday Independent, was shot dead in her car while stopped at a traffic junction on the Naas Road, near Clondalkin, at lunchtime on June 26.Her murder had shocked the world.Even by the vicious Dublin gangland standards of the mid-1990s, Guerin's murder was cold-blooded. Her killers had discreetly followed the young mother from Naas district court in Co Kildare, where she had appeared on a speeding charge.When Guerin stopped at the intersection, a powerful motorcycle with two men pulled up. The pillion passenger dismounted, strode towards her car, and fired shots at point-blank range with a Magnum revolver, killing the journalist instantly as she left a message on a friend's phone. It was a brutal killing.Gilligan was the prime suspect for ordering a murder which convulsed Ireland and the world. Yet he seemed more concerned about his appearance as pictures of him began to appear in newspapers. Power and wealth seemed to have gone to his head. The five-foot-nothing criminal was almost enjoying the attention."Do you think I looked good?" Gilligan asked me in a strong Dublin accent, as he ate his fast food. "Everyone said I looked cool. Some of the fellas from home even rang. They thought I looked cool. Like a guy from the Mafia — a real gangster."During that conversation, Gilliganfreely admitted to being ruthless, including attacking Guerin when she confronted him outside his home the previous September. He also admitted to calling her mobile phone and issuing threats to kidnap and rape her six-year-old son, Cathal, in order to deter her inquiries into the source of his wealth."I knew she didn't fear for herself. It was only a tactic I used to try to frighten her off," he remarked of the threat to Cathal.While Gilligandenied ordering the journalist's murder, he made no secret of his wealth, his position in the underworld or his knowledge of organised crime."Let me tell you this: anyone can get anyone killed if they have the money," he said. "You don't have to be a criminal. I could have ordered Veronica Guerin's death, but I didn't. I had no hand, act or part in it. That's the truth."Those words would prove to be his last as a free man. In October 1996, he was arrested by the British police at Heathrow Airport in London as he tried to board a flight to Amsterdam with IR£330,000 in cash, stuffed in a suitcase.Gilligan fought his extradition to Ireland from Britain but lost and eventually stood trial in Dublin in 2001. He was eventually acquitted of Guerin's murder but found guilty of drug trafficking.He was released from custody after serving 17 years in jail in October 2013. So who was John Gilligan. He was born on March 29, 1952. The eldest of nine children, he left school at 14 and got a job as a cabin boy on Irish Ferries. The gangster had his first brush with the law when he was charged with larceny at the age of 15.He grew up on Lough Conn Road in Ballyfermot, a working-class suburb in west Dublin. He married Geraldine Matilda Dunne, a childhood friend, when he was 20. Their first child, Tracy, was born six months later.Martin Donnellan, a retired assistant garda commissioner, remembers him as a common thief. "I was stationed as a young garda in Ballyfermot in the 1970s. Gilligan was just another local hood. I never considered him to be anything extraordinary," he said."Many of his contemporaries left crime behind when they settled down and married. You could say children andmarr[...]

Billy Moore on serving time in a Thai prison


Conditions in Thai prisons are some of the world’s most notorious. Billy was held in Chiang Mai. Like almost every British person there, he relied heavily on Prisoners Abroad’s support…‘The first time I walked into my cell was like heading into the lion’s den. The room was big, but not big enough for the 70 people it held. The cell floor resembled a mass grave, with arms and legs all over each other. The smell of human faeces was so strong I wanted to vomit. I saw a motionless body on a damp-stained mattress, insects hovering over him. “My God”, I thought. When I dared to look again, my worst thoughts were confirmed. He was really dead.This was the first day in my new home. And as the new guy, I spent that night lying next to the man’s body. This wasn’t the last dead body I’d see there – and as I soon discovered, every day would be a struggle for my own survival.Getting enough food was a daily challenge. Once a day, you’d be given a meal. It was always rice, a liquid of some sort, and some inedible meat. It might be a chicken’s head with the eyes intact, sometimes it was snake. Usually though, you couldn’t even identify it. We were starving – we just ate it, we had to.I was thousands of miles away from home, and it really felt like it. I’d lost touch with my family back in the UK: I couldn’t ask them to support me – I began to feel so isolated.So when money started appearing in my account, around 1,800 baht (£35) per month, I was very surprised. I didn’t know where it was coming from, and I wasn’t sure why anyone was helping me. Eventually I discovered it was a grant from a charity back in London called Prisoners Abroad.It was just brilliant and it really helped. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it was enough to help me survive. Now I could afford to buy proper food for myself, I didn’t have to live solely on the inedible prison food any more. Soon I started receiving correspondence from the Prisoners Abroad team, as well as their newsletter – I always looked forward to reading that. I wrote back to them many times. I shared my story and let them know what was going on, I even got myself in the newsletter!Because the prison censored my letters, I couldn’t exactly explain the full horror of what I was seeing. But I had no doubt that Prisoners Abroad knew what I was going through.Despite the physical support they were giving me, the pressure of life inside had quite an effect on my mental health. I was paranoid with fear – convinced that people were talking about me because I couldn’t understand what they were saying.But Prisoners Abroad helped me there too. They sent me books and newspapers, and these made such a difference. They offered an escape to a different world and they helped me move away from where I was mentally.Prisoners Abroad’s support helped me survive my time in Thai prison. And I know that if it wasn’t for them, a difficult situation may have become an impossible one…Kindle edition of A Prayer Before Dawn[...]

Lissa Oliver on writing fiction


Although I regularly facilitate creative writing classes, I’m probably the last person to hold up as an example of a good writing process. While I hear many writers say they work best in the mornings/evenings and reserve two hours of their day before breakfast/before bed to write, I’m more of a serial dinner-burner and non-hooverist, squeezing in my writing at any point of the day I can – and then getting carried away to the exclusion of all else.“Mum, the dinner’s ready!” are the usual cries ensuing as the smoke detectors go off, but as an expert at juggling my time and prioritising, my response is usually, “Okay, just one more line…” A slightly burnt sausage really doesn’t taste that bad, but a thought or idea or precious line of dialogue allowed to evade the memory forever could lead to stomach ulcers and other severe nervous disorders.Because fiction writing is not my full-time profession (very few writers, sadly, earn a living from their novels) I have to fit it in where I can, but luckily I am addicted to writing and find other distractions more of an inspiration than a hindrance. I am able to write anywhere, at any time, with any amount of background interference. My best environment is on my sofa, with my laptop, and rock music blaring out at stadium decibels. I find silence a little harder, but conversation, television, or playing ball with the dog, one-handed as I type, is of no inconvenience whatsoever.For me, the process of writing a novel does not only involve typing. Away from the keyboard, the characters are still holding my attention in my mind for much of my day. In any given situation I find myself, I’m also wondering how this character or that might cope. It probably takes me about two to three years to actually write a novel – although once I begin to set it down on paper, it’s usually completed within nine months. The closer I get to the finish, the more I exclude other activities, such as housework and the day job!My physical writing process is very tight, but slow. I always begin by reading over what I’ve previously written, which can slow me down as the book grows. In a typical two-hour period I will be happy if I complete a paragraph. I edit and refine as I go, often deleting more than I type in any one session. When I type my final Full Stop, that generally is my novel finished and ready for publication. I may go back over and find the odd typo, but basically it has been proofed and edited while in progress. My day job is a sub-editor and proofreader, but long before that role it just seemed to be in my nature.I would guess that always reading good writers and well-crafted books helps. I have always written, as soon as I could write words, and I tended to mimic my favourite authors. A precocious reader, I wrote Toyland stories about my own toys, á la Enid Blyton, as a pre-schooler and later had my friends and I on great adventures, á la Richmal Crompton. Solving crimes like the Famous Five wasn’t for us, but finding a plot (and innocent mischief!) within the daily mundane world around us, like William and The Outlaws, was.My fiction has always been character driven. As a reader I need to identify with and empathise with the hero. William and the outlaws were my best friends. Some very strong characters, such as Anne Rice’s vampire Louis, have become lovers. So when I write, I want to feel that same depth of passion for my hero. The plot is secondary. The reader has to care what happens to the hero and I am the reader – I always write the book I want to read.I know much more than is necessary about all of my characters – their childhood, schooldays, parents, etc. Little things in their past provide me with clues as to how they will react within the plot. That’s why, even though none of my books are prequels or sequels, they do tend to have th[...]

Declan Power writes on the film adaption of his book Siege at Jadotville


The news that at last a film will be made about the stand taken by Irish troops at Jadotville while serving with the UN force in the Congo has been welcomed across the board by the Irish defence family. For many of the troops fighting at Jadotville the journey to Africa had started on the square in Athlone's Custume Barracks, coming as the majority did from the 6th Infantry Battalion.In September 1961 the rebel-held province of Katanga was located in the very bowels of the Congo. It was in this province that 157 men from A Company of the Irish 35th Battalion were deployed to a mining town called Jadotville to protect the largely white Belgian inhabitants from massacre by marauding tribal groups.But within a very short space of time the troops were to find the settlers had turned on them and were attacking the Irish positions with an overwhelming mercenary-led rebel force.The Irish positions were attacked while the main body of troops were attending mass parade with their Chaplain, Fr Tommy Fagan. As the native troops and their mercenary officers swiftly advanced sprawled across their jeeps like extras out of Kelly's Heroes they felt invincible.Why wouldn't they when information had been passed to them by a Belgian businessman about the morning's mass parade. The Irish wouldn't know what hit them.However, they didn't bank on Offaly man, Sgt John Monahan. In his singlet, having just finished shaving and with his towel still draped around his shoulders, Monahan vaulted a couple of trenches to get to the nearest Vickers machine gun.With this belt-fed weapon he started to lay down accurate bursts of machine gun fire which broke up the Katangan attack and caused the jeeps now to career wildly. This was to be the start of a week-long siege of the Irish positions by an enemy force that at its peak numbered 3000. Most of the men were lucky, their commanding officer, 42 year-old Kerryman, Commandant Pat Quinlan, had ordered them to dig trenches on their arrival and this effort was now saving lives. However, Platoon Sergeant Walter Hegarty wasn't in his trench the morning the mortars fell. Ever mindful to his men's welfare, the 29 year-old Galwegian was returning to the trench lines with fresh water."I heard the plop of the rounds as I was coming across open ground. I knew I was out of range of their machine guns, but not the mortars. As the rounds flew through the air I had a couple of seconds to drop the water and jump into a small depression in the ground."I remember how clear and sharp the colour of the grass was as the rounds came in". Crump! Seconds later Hegarty could feel the burning shrapnel lacerate his flesh."I could feel the blood running down my back and legs, but I wasn't in pain, just a daze and a voice in the back of my mind reminding me that the next round was just seconds away".Hegarty was on his feet and sprinted like an Olympian to the nearest trench, tumbling headlong in on his fellow troops. Though later brought back to the rear for treatment he insisted like other Irish wounded on returning to the action until the end of the battle.This was Ireland's first significant involvement in the UN's first large-scale peacekeeping operation in the Congo in the early 60s. Unfortunately the ineptitude of arrogant and naïve UN civilian administrators caused the deaths of many of the international troops sent to keep the peace, including the Irishmen who were killed at Niemba.Such ineptitude and an inability of senior UN officials to follow military advice led to the deployment of troops to Jadotville. However, when the troops arrived they found the settlers to be hostile and sympathetic to the mercenary-led forces of Katanga, a mineral-rich province causing chaos by trying to break away from the newly independent Congo.Similar to the [...]



Here is a new blog post from Leanne Waters author of My Secret LifeKnowing what’s left to say about my eating disorder is as definitive as a tide washing up on the shore. Some days, I feel as if I have talked myself dry of all feeling, all history and all connections to who I was when I suffered with bulimia nervosa. And then there always comes a point when past and present get confused again and who I was then by contrast to who I suppose myself to be now become uncomfortably mingled with one another. I suppose this is the difficulty when you’re “post-recovery” from an eating disorder; always pushing to escape it and yet still living in fear that if you get complacent, it will undoubtedly make a vicious return once more. Or maybe I’m just too scared to accept that I’m fully recovered. If I do, it means I’ve let go of an intricate – albeit horrid and destructive – part of who I am. I’m scared to do that, mostly because I’m still searching for the person who was hidden beneath my bulimia for so long. That, or else I’m not looking to resurrect myself; I’m looking to create myself all over again.My bulimia consumed me to a point where reality and illusion had become a toxic concoction that guided my life and the decisions I made. Everything I did – the fasting, the binging, the purging, the seclusion, the constant self-condemnation – had a goal, a purpose. That purpose was to fuel the psychological leech that was my illness. Now, objective is mine alone to create. The purpose my life has now is whatever I give it. Reassuringly – thank God – though this is a daunting realisation, it’s also a liberal one. The choice of deciding what gives my life meaning and how to productively accomplish that meaning is more liberating than my bulimia ever was. Whereas, I sought relief via purging and fasting, that same need is now catered to in the form of overcoming daily challenges, accomplishing life-long goals, stabilising the self I had denied for so long up until this point. More than any of this, relief comes in the faces of loved ones. The guilt that once burdened me, as a result of all the pain I caused them, has subsided and nearly disappeared. They know the truth. I know the truth. And miraculously, life has gone on. The past is our tool to work towards a better future. As humans, I guess that’s all we can do.This is all terribly simple isn’t it? Get sick, get help and get better. Then you’ll be happy. Well, not quite. For me, it was more than just getting help. What a lot of my own recovery came down to was a conscious investment in myself. I invested in my emotions with the ambition of taking care of them, being sensible with them and sensitive to them. I invested in my thought-processes; how I interpreted the world, broke information down and consequently what about that process had to be changed to bring me to a new point of understanding and a new method of coping with it all. I invested in my past and brought to light old wounds that had been previously buried beneath years of unbearable rubble. Only in doing so could I finally be free of them and the pain such memories caused. What all this sums up to is essentially this notion of redirection. I didn’t change myself. I redirected myself. My bulimia had been a coping mechanism by which I could feel normal. Today, I would probably say that normality is an idealistic horizon line that, as we approach it, gets further and further away. Surely, the dynamics that conduct our multi-faceted society are too rigorous for such a word to even exist anymore?Yet here so many of us still are, starving ourselves, purging ourselves of illusionistic sin and abusing the natural order of our own birth right. It’s not our fault. This, I maintain fervently. The conscious evolution[...]

Why I love Christmas in Thailand - by Paul Garrigan author of 'Dead Drunk'


It is now only a few weeks until Christmas, and I must admit to feeling a bit excited by it all. The decorations are already up in our house; this year we bought our biggest plastic tree yet. If you walk past our home here in Minburi there is a good chance that you will hear Christmas songs. It really is the most wonderful time of the year for me – I love it.Pagans and Jingle BellsMy current enthusiasm for Christmas is a bit surprising; especially when I consider that it was only a couple of years ago that I was debating whether to even celebrate it anymore. After all, we live in Thailand and we are not a Christian family. I also wondered about the ethics of introducing my son to the whole Santa idea. Then I remembered how much this time of year had meant to me as a child. I don’t want my son to miss out on any of that. Most of my favourite memories of growing up are connected with Christmas. Even when I stopped believing in Santa I still wanted to believe in him – I sort of still do.A cynic could point out that Christmas is all just manufactured hype; a cunning marketing ploy to get people to empty their pockets before the beginning of the next financial year. Of course it is a special day to most Christians, but even some of them do not agree that it is actually the birth date of their saviour (which is probably in January). It is more likely that they selected the 25th of December so as to take over the winter solstice celebrations that were so popular with my European pagan ancestors. This helps explain why so many of the festive traditions are more related to paganism. So the Christians stole Christmas from the pagans, and marketing gurus in the twentieth century managed to hijack it and turn it into the celebrations we love today. You don’t have to dig deep underneath the surface of Christmas to see that it is built on a shaky foundation – even the much loved song Jingle Bells wasn’t actually written about Christmas!I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday – So Does Tescos!Despite the reasons to be cynical this is my favourite time of year. It is a part of my culture that I love sharing with my son. Timmy is growing up in Thailand and it can be a struggle to keep him interested in his western heritage; this is one part of my culture that he willingly wants to embrace. My wife never celebrated Christmas until after my son was born; during our first few years together in Thailand I didn’t even bother with it. Now she loves this time of year too.Growing up in Ireland I naively assumed that everyone on the planet celebrated this holiday. The Coca-Cola advert assured me that this was true and in those days we were less savvy about marketing gimmicks. I thought it was so wonderful that we had this one day when we all tried to be friends. It gave me hope because if we could get one day right then it would be a lot easier to get other days right too. If that could happen it would be our highest human achievement so far. I’m older now and realise that Christmas is far from perfect, but it probably is the nearest we have gotten to such a marvellous day.Happy Christmas* * *Click here to check out more of Paul's blog posts, on his website[...]

Wanting more this Christmas


Since the release of My Secret Life: A Memoir of Bulimia, I have been graced with words from various people around the world. It shocks me still to know that there are so many others currently enduring that which I have detailed in my aforementioned title. My perceptions on my past are ever-changing as time goes on and as I grow. Some days, I find myself frustrated and angry with the issues that plagued my young life. Other days, I feel ready to reconcile both with the past and the person that has been formed as a result of it. But neither is a permanent fixture and I can only push as hard as possible for the latter.While writing this book, I had hoped to touch into more than just what an eating disorder is; I sought to understand myself and analyze the facets that have proved so monumental in my life: bullying, self-worth, my relationship with God, humiliation, body-image, romantic relationships and the idiosyncrasies of my childhood.Along with these things, I hoped to touch on the presence of the western media. While I have found liberation on a personal level with so many things in my life, this remains something I simply cannot escape. None of us can apparently. It’s on our television screens 24/7 and proving a worrying powerful force in our everyday lives. It’s shoved down our throats in music videos, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, fashion and all the everyday TV shows telling us how to ‘dress to impress’, ‘beat the bulge’ and ‘make an impression with show-stopping make-up’.Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for looking my best and what’s more, being the best me I can possibly be. But is this really what the media are asking of us? It seems not lately. The size zero culture has not only gripped our contemporary society but is steering it down a detrimental path. I worry for future youths as exposure to such ‘ideals’ becomes more and more ostentatious. All it can surely succeed in creating is a generation of anorexics, bulimics and people doubting who they are against the might of the beauty machine of western culture.In the face of prescribed perfection – and by perfection, I mean that 10% of individuals who strut catwalks and are thus determined to be the epitome of what we should look like and how we should behave – I wonder if we are risking the magnificence of the individual for a now unattainable status-quo? With so much importance being placed on aesthetics, we could well be losing sight of the best parts of the human condition: passions, creativity, a need to explore and learn and teach, kindness, ambition, empathy and understanding.Okay, I’m sure I sound like I’m preaching now. But as we approach the holiday season and we’ll soon all be contending with our belts getting that bit tighter, perhaps it couldn’t do any harm just to bear these things in mind. I may be a recovering bulimic, but I am still a 21-year-old woman. And like all women my age, I feel the pressure of keeping up appearances and not over-indulging during the holidays. And like all women my age, I probably will do so anyway, promising myself that the New Year will bring some form of reformation and redemption.Pre-New Year’s resolution? Relax, Leanne. You’d rather be indulgent and jolly than dieting and miserable. I have been blessed this season. I’ve had the opportunity to document my struggles in a memoir, thus emancipating myself from the pain they carry (Apparently it took bulimia and going to hell and back just to get me to enjoy my Christmas turkey and be comfortable with all my own wobbly bits and curves). What’s more, I’m spending this Christmas doing what I love: writing. The novel takes its turns – sometimes slow and sometimes practically writing itself. [...]

On-wards and Upwards


My story has been one of repeated triumph and failure. Each has been as prominent in my life as the other, serving to produce a concoction of highs and lows, laughter and tears and the scariest roller-coaster ride that has spanned these last four years. In four years, I have gone from being a high-achiever, who was well liked and had everything going for her to a depressed, suicidal and seemingly hopeless bulimic. From there, my life became all work in the form of university studies, my personal development and writing a memoir. This was my personal hibernation. And now that I am here – published, happy and pushing on towards the future – I realise that I have come full circle. If you are one of those lucky people in the world who fortune has graced, perhaps you have arrived to this place without much turmoil. In this case, I am so thoroughly happy for you. But if, like me, you have done loops and turns over and over again just to get here, let’s congratulate ourselves on simply surviving it all. I am not writing to boost my own ego or that of anyone else; I write now instead merely to mark a new phase in the chronology of my life and my ongoing story. I am alive and what’s more, I’m actually living.The launch of my book, My Secret Life: A Memoir of Bulimia took place on Tuesday last, November 1st 2011 in the Dublin Book shop on Grafton Street. For me, to say it was a success was an understatement. The night was a pleasant array of old faces and new. I was more nervous than I can say. When the time came to say a few words to all who attended, my knees were clattering off one another and a lump formed in my throat at the sight of their ever-supporting eyes. That is to say, I was moved beyond all recognition. My life – and in particular, my life of the last four years – had always been leading to that point (no matter how many diversions I seemed to take!). And I can only say how extraordinarily happy I was to be able to share it with people who have graced my very existence with their mere presence.I am a lucky person in a great many ways, more than I could ever express. And as I move on-wards and upwards in my professional and personal pursuits, I do so with the utmost humility, humbleness and irrevocable gratitude. I have taken a leave of absence from my studies and have routed myself on a highway of what I hope is full of creativity and growth. I have begun my first fiction novel and already – as with all things we undertake in life – my perceptions of this complicated world are changing yet again. Good Lord, I don’t think the learning curb is ever meant to stop. Let’s hope not.The issue of destiny is a complicated one, like everything else apparently. Whether it is something set out for us or something we create and build ourselves is completely yours to decide. It makes no difference to me either way, because regardless of whether I chose this path or it was given to me, I’m just happy to be on it. And what’s more, I can see it now clearer than ever before. My path is set. And while I begin the closing down process of this chapter in my life, naturally I start a new one with full hope, ambition, determination and unrestrained gusto! I can only see so far ahead and to be honest, I don’t think I’d like to see much more. For now, I am happy and that’s enough.Huge thank you to Maverick House Publishers, John Mooney, Fiona Lacey, my family, my friends, everyone who has bought my memoir, everyone who has inspired me over the years and of course, to all the media outlets who have taken heed of my story and sought to spread its message. And to all still suffering, you’re always in my prayers. I have one message to you: hope.~ LeanneMy Secret L[...]

'My Secret Life' book launch November 1st


Maverick author Leanne Waters talks about her new book 'My Secret Life: A Memoir of Bulimia' in her latest video blog here.My body had never felt so small or so fragile. In one sense, it was a moment of ecstasy and I was comforted with soft, almost compassionate, encouragement. Delicate, she said. The word imprinted on me like the cold before it. I was weak and going numb, but I was delicate. This is what I had wanted. I wanted to lose weight and retain some ounce of delicacy to resemble that of the spider-figured women I had seen in all those flashing images. Suddenly, the lack of strength displayed by my body was counterbalanced with a surging lease of mental satisfaction and might. As I lay in bed, buried under all my layers of clothes and bed sheets, the warmth still could not reach me. It was too late for that now and I didn’t care. I just wanted to sleep, basking in my success and enduring the cold until I could finally slip into a forgetful slumber.‘My Secret Life: A Memoir of Bulimia’ by Leanne Waters will be available on Kindle next week.Leanne's book will be launched on Tuesday November 1st in the Dublin Bookshop on Grafton street. All are welcome!You can follow Leanne on twitter, facebook and tumblr.RSVP to the launch of My Secret Life: A Memoir of Bulimia by clicking here![...]

Paul Garrigan Blog- 12th October 2011


The Floods of Minburi – Greetings from Fortress Garrigan 12 October 2011 The water is continuing to rise outside our home here in Minburi. I can once again hear thunder clouds in the distance so we can look forward to another downpour this evening. Our main worry is Friday; this is when the water released from reservoirs in the north of the country is set to hit Bangkok. In other to save the financial areas of the capital this water is being diverted into the canals (you can read all about this here). Our house is situated in an area that is most likely to be affected. Already the local roads are impassible so we are stuck here until the emergency ends. Bangkok Floods Have Caught Many With Their Trousers Down I think most of us here have been caught by surprise. It is only really in the last couple of days that people have been taking the whole thing seriously. Some of my neighbors have abandoned their homes to go stay with relatives; others have barricaded themselves in for the duration. We left it too late to buy sandbags; apparently there still some available in the centre of Minburi but we’ve no way of getting to them. Some people have parked their cars in the airport or in department stores, and I sort of regret not doing the same. A View of the Approaching Floods From Our Window Building Fortress Garrigan -My wife is the smart one in the family and if it wasn’t for her we would be facing the floods unprepared. She has built a wall at the front of our property to protect us from the water. Our main concern is to keep the car safe. If water invades the house it won’t be nice, but it won’t be the end of the world either. The only thing that we need to be careful of is that we turn off the electricity before that happens. The worrying thing is that the water is rising even when it isn’t raining. Last night there was no rain but the water level rose silently. I must admit that Oa did a fantastic job on the wall, but she made one glaring error. She cemented in the rain drainage pipe on our side of the wall. Luckily we noticed this before the cement had dried. I can’t help worrying how we are going to remove this construction once the flood is gone. Can You Spot the Flaw in My Wife's Flood Barrier? The weather people are predicting that once we get past the weekend it will be the end of the rainy season. The next few days are going to be interesting, but I doubt we will suffer anywhere near the same amount of hardship as people in some other parts of the country. I’m amazed at how little coverage this event is getting in the western media. [...]



The book launch of 'My Secret Life: A memoir of Bulimia' by Leanne Waters will take place on November 1st at 6.30pm in the Dublin Bookshop on Grafton Street. All are welcome, we'd love to see you there!

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Follow Leanne on twitter and facebook.

To hell and back: An expat's life on the edge in Hong Kong


In the 1990s, former Royal Marine Chris Thrall found himself being sucked into a downward spiral in Hong Kong, when his work as a Wanchai bouncer drew him into the world of triads and crystal meth addiction. Now 42, off drugs and pursuing a new life, Thrall reveals how he saw the end -- and found a future -- in his autobiography "Eating Smoke." CNNGo: Considering your addiction, how were you able to remember things so clearly? Chris Thrall: Using crystal meth and the psychosis I experienced didn’t affect my memory. I think when you’re young and finding yourself in the world –- especially in such a memorable setting as Hong Kong -– you remember an awful lot, particularly the pertinent things like relationships you had with people and the crazy things you get up to. "Eating Smoke" is a collection of those memories. I also experienced a great deal of highs, lows and trauma. Incidents you don’t forget in a hurry. There’s probably also a lot I don’t remember and probably just as well. CNNGo: When was the point when you felt things had gotten seriously out of control? Thrall: When you’re sliding into addiction you don’t realize things are getting out of control. You just believe that if you can score more drugs then you can make it all good again and everything will be just funky. The psychosis was impossible to appreciate as it happened, too. I’d recover from a meth binge realizing that some weird things had gone on. For example, at one point I was convinced that everything in Hong Kong had a secret set of pulleys, cables and motors linking it all up like an enormous pinball machine or a city-sized version of the ghost house at the fair. Yet after a bender, my mind just seemed to link the experiences to being high and I didn’t feel the need to explore and question them at the time. I just had to deal with the here and now. CNNGo: Could this have happened to you anywhere, or was Hong Kong partly to blame? Thrall: No person or place is to blame for anything, certainly not Hong Kong. Despite the highs and lows, I had an unbelievable time that I wouldn’t have done if I were stuck in an office in Britain. So much so, I felt compelled to write about it, 15 years on. A raft of factors combine to make certain individuals predisposed to addiction, but rather than bore the reader with theory, I instead wanted them to go on the fast-paced and thrilling journey that I did. I’ve dropped in the occasional hint of back story so they can work out for themselves how I went from a glowing career in an elite commando force to drug-induced psychosis and working for a Hong Kong triad family. CNNGo: Although under unfortunate circumstances, you got to know a side of Hong Kong that most people will never see –- how would you describe it to them? Thrall: Butlins [a holiday camp] for psychopaths. I’ve done my best to detail it in "Eating Smoke." For me it wasn’t so much learning about the triads but getting beneath the skin of Hong Kong itself. There’s so much more to this unique enclave than meets the un-primed expat eye. I read up on Hong Kong’s history, its culture and economic positioning. I got stuck into the language and cuisine. I learnt about etiquette, superstition, customs, religion and feng shui. And I made many Chinese friends. Through this I got a better idea of Hong Kong Chinese philosophy, and began to notice the subtler aspects of Cantonese life -– how everything ticks. If you do this and a bit of research on the origins of the triads, the so-called "brothers of the mars[...]

'Eating Smoke' reviewed by the South China Morning Post



Check out this great review of Chris Thrall's debut book 'Eating Smoke: One Man's descent into drug psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heart Land. A true Story'. Click on the image to enlarge.

Click here to read more about Chris Thrall on his website.

Eating Smoke by Chris Thrall is now available to buy from the Maverick House website, click here to get your copy.

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The Problem with Travel – Leanne Waters


When I first arrived in Vietnam, my own arrogance inhibited my ability to predict the very weighty effects the country itself would have on me. After all, I had traveled before, had seen poverty in all its extremities, had tested my body physically (as is required I am told for the sake of mental flourishing) and surely, had already met the greatest of people. Nam wasn’t going to have a scratch on me, I was sure of it.Hoi An, VietnamThe ‘traveling bug’, which we have all heard of so many times before is just an idea we are aware of when in the complacency of our own homes. It is only when we actual make that definitive trip that such a disease becomes reality. You catch it like you catch a common cold in winter. And by God, I caught it this time round!In many ways, I suppose it’s a trap you fall into while away. The given destination initially presents itself as a temporary escapist route, which you have surely earned for one reason or another. And yet, when cast under its spell, a profound trick is played. Said destination seduces you into believing that your escapist environment is in fact a reality to which you could commit yourself fully. In this way, I abandoned almost everything I had left behind in Dublin. I had little interest in them anymore because Vietnam was far too beautiful to wish for anything that could be offered outside of its golden cocoon. But I think travel itself, no matter where the place, has that effect on people anyway. I was living in paradise and a lifestyle too simple to allow struggles of the past to infect its splendour. That’s why it’s wonderful though, right? Because everything of who you were and the life you lead back home is thrown by the wayside and forgotten at too rapid a pace to care for why it now means so little. It was just too easy to forget everything back home. So forget I did.Taking such trips, I believe, also encourages you to see the best of people at times. For a start, the Vietnamese as a society are the most gentle, docile and accommodating people I have ever come across. They made it impossible to want to come back. But more than this, the conversations I had with other travelers and the camaraderie felt between us all on our journeys was something that could not be found in any circumstance but the given. As travelers, we convince ourselves of our own worldly enlightenment and worse still, feed off one another on the matter. Sure, it can only prove to heighten the hazy ecstasy of your trip, but will undoubtedly make the return journey all the more depressing. Never a good thing when you don’t have a choice in the matter!I met two other globe-trotters while away who have had more of an impact on me than I believe anyone has had in years. The first was a 73-year-old man from Belgium that I met in Hanoi in Northern Vietnam. He partook in a three-day trip to Halong Bay in which I had the absolute pleasure of his company and many wise words. How very cliche, I know but it’s the truth. An educated man who spoke fluently in five different languages, he was traveling alone and doing the same route I had just finished in reverse. His youngest child was 20-years-old and the man himself never failed to make friends along the way. I wouldn’t dare so much as attempt to convey the wise words he passed along to us all on that trip, as to do so would surely be inadequate and thus undermine the weight with which they were first delivered. All I will say of him is that this man simply astounded me and I am sure of the fact that I will remember him for years t[...]

Siege at Jadotville


The extremely popular Siege at Jadotville by Declan Power will shortly be making its ebook debut, on Here's a little reminder of how the book was first received back in October 2005, with an excerpt of a review by Don Lavery in the Irish Independent."Author Declan Power, himself a former soldier and now a journalist, has written a superb account of a bitter infantry battle where the Irish peacekeeping soldiers were attacked by thousands of troops led by experienced mercenary officers who had served in World War 2, Indochina and Algeria.The Irish who were subjected to intense fire from small arms, artillery and air attack, fought back from their trenches. Waves of up to 600 enemy soldiers attacking at the time were mown down by the Irish using everything from elderly Vickers machineguns to modern FN rifles.Inflicting at least 300 dead and twice as many wounded on the attacking Katangan force the Irish had no heavy weapons, no artillery support, apart from a few small 60mm mortars, and no air cover despite repeated UN promises.The new book shows the absolute folly in sending the Irish company to Jadotville, a small mining town to protect people who later turned on them. The single company had replaced two companies of UN troops in Jadotville in a tactically dangerous position.Two key figures in the affair, head of UN operations Conor Cruise O'Brien, and Lt Gen Sean McKeown, the Irish general commanding the UN forces, later agreed the order to send the company to Jadotville came from UN HQ in New York. When the Irish positions in Jadotville came under siege young Irish soldiers fought off the attacks thanks to the leadership of their tough commander, Comdt Pat Quinlan and his NCOs.Repeated rescue attempts by Irish and Indian troops to break through to the besieged outpost failed, the promised UN fighter jets never appeared in the skies over Jadotville, and after days of intense fighting the Irish surrendered.'Seige at Jadotville' has a few minor errors such as describing an attacking Fouga plane as a jet fighter – in fact it is an armed trainer – or referring to elderly Irish armoured cars as Vickers 1945 vintage vehicles when they are home built Ford armoured cars armed with Vickers machineguns.These aside the book is well written and researched using veterans words and reminisces to describe the battle in stunning detail. It outlines the bravery and professionalism of the Irish soldiers in contrast to the bungling of their military and political masters who sent them to Jadotville and left them to their fate.The book is a welcome addition to the small number of books written about the Congo operation and should be required reading for officers taking the Army's Command and Staff course, as well as the Cabinet table."- Dan Lavery Irish Independent October 1, 2005Siege at Jadotville is available from the Maverick website and will be available as an ebook from in the coming days.[...]

Maverick House Book Trailers


Here at Maverick House HQ we have been busy creating book trailers for both our forthcoming and current titles.

Check out our new vimeo widget below to see our latest trailers!


Do you enjoy watching book trailers for forthcoming titles? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Who Turned The Lights Out? – An excerpt from Chris Thrall’s e-mail diaries


Date: Sat, 10 Jul 2004 10:20:03 -0700 (PDT) From: "Chris Thrall" To: Mission Control Subject: Who Turned the Lights Out? Hola Amigos! Here I am in sunny Florida, in week two of flight-school training for a private pilot’s licence. Firstly, please excuse any punctuation, grammar and spelling mistakes in this e-mail. The only thing you learnt at my school was how to push a big cupboard in front of the headmaster’s office so he couldn’t get out. He was only five foot one – which made it all the more hilarious! I think our school must have produced quite some many furniture removers. The other day I flew solo for the first time. I can’t believe these maniacs trust me with a whole aeroplane – but as they have an airport full of them, I suppose they can afford to lose one or two. Yesterday evening I flew a Cessna 172 to a tiny airport called Okeechobee, right out in the sticks, to do some practise landings. My instructor had warned me that it got dark around 9pm, so I decided to leave at 8.30pm for the half-hour flight back to Fort Pierce where the flight school is. For a student pilot, it’s strictly against the FAA regulations to fly solo at night. Just as I’d taken off, it started to sink in it was getting dark already. But as I climbed to cruise altitude, I realised that wasn't such a problem – the problem was the swirling fog coming out of nowhere and reducing visibility to under a mile! No pilot is supposed to fly ‘visual’ flights (i.e. without specialised instruments and training) in less than three miles visibility unless they’re granted special landing clearance from Air Traffic Control. If I didn’t get this permission, it would mean flying back Okeechobee and then a sleep in the plane to avoid the alligators. As it got darker, I thought it best to make myself visible – that way the trees might see me coming and get out the way. I put on the red flashing beacon light, the white strobe lights, the red and green navigation lights, the tail light and the landing spotlight. I would have put on the Christmas lights, too, if I could have found them and at one point was considering setting fire to something – perhaps a wing and anything else you have two of. I radioed through to the control tower, hoping it would be that the guy from the Airplane movie – the one who’s so completely wrecked on every substance known to man that he would clear me to land upside down and backwards if I wanted. Fortunately, it was him – either that or just a very nice man with a soft spot for lost English halfwits. Not only did he clear me for approach, he didn’t even mind when I mistakenly gave my position as east of the field instead of west! Actually, it’s easier to fly at night in many ways. You can use the street lighting for navigation and the airports have a flashing green and white beacon (so long as your pointed in the right direction or it seems to go out). He gave me ‘number two’ in the traffic pattern behind another plane that I had to avoid crashing in to. I had no idea what it looked like, but at night that’s not such a problem – especially when he or she has more lights than you do. Then he very kindly gave me a short cut, ‘straight-on’ approach instead of a ‘holding pattern' landing. By this time, it was great fun, a light aircraft landing on a strip designed for DC 10s and jets. The runway is all lit up and it’s just for you! I was hoping h[...]

Chris Thrall Interview with 'Time Out Hong Kong'


Hannah Slapper of 'Time Out Hong Kong' speaks to Chris Thrall about his book 'Eating Smoke: One man's descent into drug psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad heartland'

Here's an excerpt from the interview:

What kind of trauma did you experience?

To descend into mental illness is an incredibly sad thing for anyone to have to go through. I can’t say too much about it, but in the club I worked I was set up to be murdered one night, by these foreign triads that I mentioned. And there was that cold dark moment of reality where you realise you’re about to die. I actually turned it around, but I’m not the sort of person that is easily intimidated.

How much do you think Hong Kong is to blame for making you the way you were?
It probably doesn’t help that Hong Kong has the most hardcore serious drug known to man available in abundance on every street corner, if you know where to look. Hong Kong really brought home to me how cultures can differ immensely. It’s about the philosophy and the psychology. And the Asian psychology is so ancient; it’s so different to the West.

You can read the full interview on Chris Thrall's blog here. You can also explore book trailers, blog posts and and author bio.

Eating Smoke will be released by Marverick House in October 2011.

Leanne Waters Interview


Earlier last week our very own Leanne Waters spoke to Cliona Byrne of 'The Irish Catholic Newspaper' about her struggle with bulimia, how it effected her loved ones, her upcoming memoir 'My Secret Life' and how recovery from bulimia is possible.

"The treatment Leanne undertook was psychological and focused on the 'triggers' which caused her eating and purging habits.''Bulimia can be the loneliest place in the world. But for all my harrowing loneliness during that period, I had brought my friends and family down into the darkness with me. Only after therapy did I fully comprehend how much I'd hurt them. I still remember my mother crying herself to sleep through the bedroom walls,'' she says.

Recovery is possible for those who suffer from an eating disorder and Leanne is proof that it is possible to overcome bulimia. ''I think it is very possible for anyone to recover from an eating disorder, with the right help and support system. I am still in recovery, I believe. But I have every faith that one day, this chapter in my own life will be finally closed fully,'' she says"

Read the full article on by clicking here. If you want to learn more about learn visit or follow her on twitter @leannewaters