Interview With The Author: Patrick “Paddy” Hirsch
by John Dwaine McKenna
Our author interviewee this week is Patrick Hirsch, known to his fans, friends and the world, as Paddy. He’s a warrior, a newsman, and a TV commentator, a financial analyst, and historian—a Renaissance man if one ever lived! Thanks for joining us today and offering your insights, expertise and commentary to our audience. We’re all eager to hear from you, so let’s get right to it. The first questions is:
Why do you write?
I’m a finance and economics journalist, which means I deal with facts all day long. And reporting the news, and separating fact from fiction, has become more difficult of late. I’ve found that writing has given me a creative release from day-to-day journalism that I’ve found very helpful in these turbulent times. It’s been useful not just as an escape, but also as a way to get context on the economic and political news of the day.
What do you write about?
I write historical fiction. My debut novel, The Devil’s Half Mile was conceived as a non-fiction history of the New York Stock Exchange. As I researched the project, however, I found that the work was all reading and very little writing. So I wrote a little murder mystery into the narrative, a kind of creative sidebar – just to keep my hand in, you understand! Turns out, the fiction was much more fun to write – and continues to be so.
Do you read your reviews?
Yes. All of them. I’m happy to say that periodicals and professional reviewers have been very positive, as have most readers. But I have had some bad reviews. And that’s fine with me. My work isn’t for everyone, just as a lot of award-winning authors aren’t my cup of tea. I read every review, and I don’t take the sour notes personally. It’s all information, and so long as a reader doesn’t get rude, crude or personal, I’m happy to hear what they have to say.
Does luck play into success?
I’ve been very lucky as an author. I found both my fiction and non-fiction agents through personal connections. But luck isn’t something that the Irish are born with; it’s the point at which opportunity meets preparedness. I’ve met fiction agents before, but I wasn’t ready then. When I was introduced to my fiction agent, Lisa Gallagher of DeFiore, I was fully prepared, mentally and practically. I had a manuscript ready and polished and a mental attitude to match. To me, that’s luck.
And Proof Positive that the harder you work, the luckier you get!
How did your book first get published?
Quickly. Once I’d hooked up with Lisa, we moved fast. We signed each other up in September of 2016, she sold the book the following December, and we were done editing by March the next year.
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Whether you’re pitching an agent or dealing with a publisher, be professional. Don’t take edits or feedback personally. I’m an editor myself, so I know how tough that job can be. So I did what I ask any of the people I work with to do: I stayed objective; I stuck to deadlines, and I filed early. Weirdly, the last of these may not have helped much in terms of getting the book out (editors have multiple projects, some of which will take priority over yours), but that kind of discipline and professional attitude certainly endears you to your publisher, and that’s a very important thing.
It’s also invaluable advice for everyone, and exemplary behavior of the kind all of us should practice. Thanks Paddy, for taking the time with our readers today and sharing your thoughts . . . kindly keep us informed about your next project. We’re looking forward to more historic crime fiction from you. Lots more!
Paddy Hirsch is a journalist, broadcaster and former Royal Marines officer, who works for NPR. He is the author of Man vs Markets, Economics Explained, Plain and Simple. The Devil’s Half Mile (Tor/Forge), a historical thriller set on Wall Street in 1799, is his first novel. The sequel, Hudson’s Kill, comes out in September 2019.
Sales link for The Devil’s Half Mile: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780765399151
Sales link for Man vs Markets: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780062196651