Irish launch events – RMS Tayleur

Following on from the success of the Warrington and Glasgow launch events for “The Sinking of RMS Tayleur”, I’m delighted to announce that come May I’ll be in the Dublin area visiting key areas featured in the book, and paying my respects at the memorials in Rush and Portrane.

The schedule currently looks like this:

The Sinking Of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story Of The Victorian Titanic

The Sinking Of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story Of The Victorian Titanic

EDIT: Tonight’s talk and signing event, planned for 6.30pm on Wednesday 14th May at Hodges Figgis, Dublin, has been CANCELLED due to circumstances beyond my control.

Weather permitting, on Thursday I’ll sail to Tayleur Bay to see the wreck site and view the cliffs survivors climbed while talking with people who’ve dived on the actual Tayleur wreck.  Many thanks to Howth Sailing and Boating Club for making this possible.  Once back on dry land I’ll pay my respects at the Tayleur‘s anchors, which serve as memorials at Rush and Portrane.

On Friday I’m visiting the (very) Grand Hotel in Malahide, where the first inquest took place amid much skulduggery (and being interviewed for RTE’s ‘The History Show’).  If I can master the DART and bus service, I’ll also visit the Maritime Museum where the artwork featured on the cover is located along with artefacts recovered from the wreck, and St Stephen’s Church and Herbert Place which also play a part in the book.  I’m REALLY excited about all this, especially since I’m meeting up with other people who share my passion for the Tayleur.

If you have any questions about the schedule, suggestions for the trip, or information about the Tayleur and the people involved with her tragic voyage, please contact me on twitter (@GillHoffs) or email me at

Typing tag – My Writing Process, Q&A

My Writing Process is a series of blog posts in which authors ‘tag’ each other to answer some questions about their work.  The award-winning writer Victoria Watson asked me to take part.  Here’s a bit more about the lovely Vic:

Victoria Watson is a writer, teacher and proofreader. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and her latest short story “Dangerous Driving” is available for download now at  You can follow her on Twitter as @vpeanuts. And if you’re looking for a proofreader, check out Victoria’s website at

What am I working on? 

I’m currently writing the last few stories in a series of 12 about a Mancunian sex worker and what she gets up to on the 9th of every month of 2014 for Pure Slush’s “2014 – a year in stories”.  This is an ambitious project masterminded by Matt Potter, PS creator, editor and publisher extraordinaire, involving 31 writers each allocated one day per month for the whole of 2014, their stories anthologized in a set of 12 books – for further information, click here  I’m fond of my character and will be sad to see the back of her when I’m done – I have that in common with her repeat clients.  For the sake of my dad and brothers who might be reading this, I shall state for the record that any resemblance between she and I is purely coincidental etc. etc. m’lud.  Apart from that, I’m writing articles and guestblogs to help promote my current book about a Victorian shipwreck, organizing talks on it, and preparing to research another shipwreck for my next nonfiction book.

The Sinking Of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story Of The Victorian Titanic

The Sinking Of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story Of The Victorian Titanic – OUT NOW!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The other 30 story-threads in the 2014 series are each wildly different from their sibling pieces.  Mine is a raunchy, explicit, tongue-in-cheek (and often elsewhere) account of an unnamed escort in the North-West of England who has themed pubic hair – e.g. a heart for February, a Christmas tree, a maple leaf – and a crush on her agency’s secretary.  It’s a world away from what I’ve spent the last two years working on, a nonfiction book called “The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’” which is out now from Pen & Sword.  That had me crying over my laptop, this has me giggling as I type.

Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s what comes into my head.  I read across many genres and enjoy a variety of styles, and I think this is reflected in my work.  Also, I have a pretty infantile, filthy sense of humour – say “fart” to me (as my six year old often does) and I can’t help but snigger – so I tend to write about sex in a way that makes me laugh.  Writing about something relatively lighthearted is a real palate-cleanser after spending so long immersed in the tragic death of hundreds.

How does my writing process work?

If I have a first line – a remark, a line of description, the much-sought-after telling detail – then the rest of the story will flow.  I tend to have the end-line or image or action in mind when I start too.  I like to write as much as I can at once, in one go, but if I have to break off then I find it easiest to rejoin the story if I stop mid-sentence or mid-thought at a point where the piece is flowing easily.  I like to eat as I sit down to write, something tasty and usually bad for me (Nutella is thanked at the back of my shipwreck book for good reason), and sometimes if there’s a particular tune or song or film looping in my head then I’ll put that on in the background on loop so it frees up whatever mental energy I’m using up on remembering those words or images for mine.  Certain films and songs have really strong associations for me as a result, e.g. M*A*S*H* and the Blur documentary “Nowhere Left To Run” are shipwreck accompaniments, and Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Killing Moon” takes me back to writing a short story for the US-based site Literary Orphans last year.  I find writing a purgative process that’s also great for stress relief and a source of huge satisfaction.  I’m glad my brain derives such pleasure from what’s essentially just word-arranging and day-dreaming.  If my ‘everything is okay’ button was pressed by something risky or expensive or annoying then that wouldn’t be much fun for my family.  Thankfully, indulging my sweet tooth with chocolate dipped in Nutella is as decadent as I get.

These two brave writers will share their own approaches next week:

Matt Potter is an Australian writer born and based in Adelaide, who keeps part of his pysche in Berlin.  He is the founding editor of Pure Slush.  Matt has also been nominated for the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll’s Best Magazine / e-zine Editor.

Shane Simmons writes in between being a till monkey, stuffing his face and having brain frazzles in the middle of the night. He lives in miserable Glasgow, came from miserable London and is willing to listen to strangers talk about their lives if they buy him cakes. He doesn’t like Twitter as there is a word limit but he can be found blogging at

If you have any questions about writing processes, my Nutella habit, or a rude joke to share do feel free to comment or email me at