Carlene O'Connor is the author of "Some Of Us Are Looking."

Munster towns inspire mysteries

Carlene O’Connor has taken a 180-degree turn, and her fans and the critics have taken it with her. 

She is the author of the Irish Village Mysteries series, which has drawn lots of four-star reviews from Publishers Weekly, among others, and has been described as “cheery” and “charming.” But her new County Kerry Mysteries are far from cozy. Think Tana French meets “The Banshees of Inisherin.” 

“Some of Us Are Looking” is the second book in the County Kerry Mystery featuring veterinarian Dimpna Wilde and Detective Inspector Cormac O’Brien. Mystery Scene described the first, “No Strangers Here,” as a “knockout” and it was a Barnes & Noble’s “Our Monthly Mystery/Thriller Pick” for September 2023. 

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In “Some of Us Are Looking,” it is late summer and the Dingle peninsula is full of tourists drawn to County Kerry and its picturesque views. “Like a female James Herriot, Dimpna Wilde has moved to Dingle from Dublin to take over her family’s veterinary practice.” She has returned “despite deeply complicated feelings about her hometown and the traumas she had left behind long ago—until Dingle becomes the setting once again for a brutal murder.”

In Wilde’s practice, “an imminent meteor shower has elevated the usual gossip to include talk of shooting stars and the watch parties that are planned all over Dingle. But there are also matters nearer at hand to discuss—including the ragtag caravan of young people selling wares by the roadside, and the shocking death of Chris Henderson, an elderly local, in a hit-and-run.”

Another town in a neighboring Munster county figures prominently in the writer’s biography. “Although I currently live in New Mexico,” O’Connor said, “I spent 15 years in New York City where I did extensive research while sitting in Irish pubs. On my first trip to Ireland with Irish friends I fell in love with Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, a medieval walled-town, and was inspired to create the fictional village of Kilbane [of the Irish Village Mysteries]. 

“There is a Kilbane, Ireland, but it bears no resemblance to the one in my series,” said the author, whose great-grandmother emigrated to Philadelphia from Ballymena, Co. Antrim in 1898.

For more about the author read below and visit her website here

Carlene O’Connor

Date of birth: April 18, 1970

Place of birth: Ravenna, Ohio 

Residence: Albuquerque, N.M.

Published works: County Kerry Mysteries — “No Strangers Here” (2022) “Some of Us Are Looking” (2023); You Have Gone Too Far (Coming October 2024). Irish Village Mysteries — “Murder in an Irish Village”; “Murder at an Irish Wedding”; “Murder in an Irish Churchyard”; “Murder in an Irish Pub”; “Murder in an Irish Cottage”;“Murder at an Irish Christmas”;; “Murder in an Irish Bookshop”; Murder on an Irish Farm”; Murder at an Irish Bakery”; “Murder at an Irish Chipper” (Coming next month). Home to Ireland Series — “Murder in Galway”; “Murder in Connemara.” Novellas — “Christmas Cocoa Murder”; “Christmas Scarf Murder”; “Halloween Cupcake Murder”; “Irish Milkshake Murder.” 

What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?

I used to write in coffee shops, but now I write from my home office. I tend to start in the morning, take a break around noon for lunch and to walk the dog, and then back at it for another few hours. There are no ideal conditions—I used to love the coffee shop vibe but only if the chairs are comfy and I find a place near an outlet. It’s hit or miss! I would never be able to write in a quiet library, I like noise around me. 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Study the craft. Let your first draft be messy—and write the entire first draft before re-reading and rewriting. Understand that writing is rewriting. Don’t let perfectionism get in your way.

Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.

“Skippy Dies” by Paul Murray; “Let the Great World Spin” by Column McCann; “My Belief: Essays on Life and Art” by Herman Hesse.

What book are you currently reading?

“The Club” by Ellery Lloyd

Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.

“Whiskers, Feathers, and Fur” by Austin Donnelly (Irish veterinarian memoir)

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?

John Irving

What book changed your life?

I can’t pick just one! As a kid: “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,” “Sam Bangs and Moonshine,” “The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles,” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”; as a teenager all books by Lois Duncan and Judy Blume; and as an adult books by John Irving, Colum McCann, Barbara Kinsolver, Paul Murray, Margaret Atwood, Herman Hesse, Tolstoy.

What is your favorite spot in Ireland?

This is tough! Once again I have to name a few: Kilmallock; Kinsale, Dingle, Galway, Connemara, Dublin

You're Irish if...

You have close to a dozen words to describe the rain and you can sing along to Christy Moore.