Amy Cronin always loved reading and writing. As a young girl growing up in Shanbally, Co Cork, she kept the stories she wrote in an empty chocolate box.
“Do you know those really old, giant Milk Tray boxes? I had one of those full of my stories,” Amy recalls with a smile. “That was dumped long ago. The equivalent of that when I was older was my laptop. I was constantly writing and I’m still constantly writing.”
It was a natural choice for Amy to study English after secondary school, and she did in University College Cork (UCC), but it was short lived.
“I finished school and went to UCC to study English. I don’t know what happened me, just one of those big mistakes. I changed that course to business,” Amy explains.
“I carried on with that and I worked in it, but I always kept tinkering around with words and kept writing. I was always doing it for myself as opposed to thinking I could do it as a career.
“Doing business, I was trying to find something I thought could be a career that I could succeed in. Maybe I didn’t really feel confident at the time in my writing. I was looking for what you might call ‘stability’ in a career.”
I turned 40 during the first lockdown and I had this moment of, ‘If you don’t try this, if you don’t try and get something published, you’ll regret it forever.’
Upon finishing college, Amy moved to Northampton in England for a time, working in the area in which she studied. She then sat the civil service exams before coming home to work in the Department of Agriculture and then the Department of Social Protection.
She moved to Oysterhaven near Kinsale with her husband. They live there alongside Amy’s brother-in-law’s dairy farm and now have two children, Fionn and Ciara.
When the children were younger, Amy took a career break. In 2019, Ciara, the youngest, started school. This presented an opportunity to Amy.
“I had more time on my hands. I found the start of Blinding Lies and I really liked it. Just a chapter and I thought I’ll pick that up again, I really like this.”
Amy had written that first chapter over 10 years previously. When she started writing again, the plot came quickly to her. When the pandemic struck a few months later, it was a unique opportunity to drive on with the book.
“I turned 40 during the first lockdown and I had this moment of, ‘If you don’t try this, if you don’t try and get something published, you’ll regret it forever.’ It became a very strong feeling. Maybe it had something to do with the pandemic and everything that was going on around us. Maybe it had to do with having such a big birthday, I don’t know. But it was like, ‘Just go for it and see what happens.’”
By the summer of 2020 Amy had finished Blinding Lies. A few short months later Poolbeg Press offered her a three-book deal.
Blinding Lies was on shelves in February of this year. The contemporary crime thriller follows the tale of Anna Clarke, who works as a civilian in a Garda station. It’s set in none other than Cork.
“Initially when I decided I would finish this, I was toying with the idea of setting it somewhere else because Cork is very small,” Amy says. “Everyone knows everybody. Dark things happen in the book, I played around with different locations and even a fictional location.
“Then I realised, what am I doing? Everything is so familiar to me here, I should use my home city and county. Anna lives in Kinsale and she works in Cork city. I’ve lived in Cork city and I live near Kinsale now. It drew me further into the story as I wrote it, when it was set in a familiar place.”
Personal to published
While Blinding Lies is Amy’s first published book., it’s by no means the first book she has written. Amy’s daughter Ciara has a peanut allergy. Using her literary skills in a very innovative manner, Amy wrote a children’s book Ciara could relate to.
“I wrote it about a little girl who has a peanut allergy and the things she has to do in her life to stay safe. Ciara was saying things like: ‘That’s the same as me.’ So it was great.
“It’s just for us at home but it was a lovely feeling to be able to do that. I was like: ‘God I really do like doing this, I should really go for this.’ It was almost around the same time that I was starting to write Blinding Lies again.”
Reflecting on Blinding Lies, Amy is very glad she took the leap to pick up the pen in a serious way. She says writing books feels like something she does just for herself and is also cathartic.
“I know this sounds strange, even though it’s crime, I find it’s like meditation. It’s the equivalent of going out for a really long walk. It just clears my head.”
Who knew writing the twists and tales of a thriller could be so therapeutic?