Joseph Éamon Cummins

Short Bio

Joe. IMG 8452. Polo. Adj Color. Gavin Photo 2014Award-wining author Joseph Éamon Cummins taught creative writing and psychology for ten years, earning multiple Best Professor citations. He now leads workshops internationally in the area of organisational psychology, human achievement and resilience, and occasionally speaks on psychology in fiction writing. He lives in Ireland with his wife, Kathy, and serves clients in the US and Europe.

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Now Available

On the Edge of the Loch: A  Psychological Novel set in Ireland can be ordered from Amazon as an eBook or Print book at reduced launch prices http://amzn.to/28RRRdt.

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On the Edge of the Loch: Back Cover Copy

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A fleeing man, a woman trapped in long-gone love, a covenant demanding irrational courage . . .

Ten years ago, 17-year-old Tony MacNeill went to the penitentiary for a crime he denied; Lenny Quin was queen of Manhattan art circles, soon to succumb to a mind that stopped working.

They meet in a tiny seafaring village in Ireland. 

Both are obsessive, both exceptional.

Tony’s oath is sworn: become who he was meant to be, belong again to a place, maybe to someone. For Lenny, the future lies entombed in the past; she’s elegant and odd, some say dangerous.

Together, their fire is intimate . . . 

But unnerving events force them apart, and secrets and silence fog what’s true. A strange disappearance and spine-chilling drama draw out old woundings: his taking to the streets at fourteen, soul-deep scarring, compulsive courage; Lenny’s walkout on celebrity in NY, heroic zeal in wartime Iraq, her reclusiveness.

Against all that divides them . . . for all they together might be,

Tony MacNeill will be unstoppable . . . once again.

From Ireland to America to the underbelly of Baghdad, this deeply moving story spins with surprises as it unveils two impassioned people, the extremes they’ll go to, and the frailty and resilience of the human heart.

‘Solemn, resplendent, cinematic . . .’  James Rutherford, Author

‘A journey of heart-stopping moments . . .’  Emma Feix Alberts, Author

Reviews: International Praise for On the Edge of the Loch

New, unmistakably Irish, this is a social and psychological cosmos of evocative writing, the authenticity of J.M. Synge, the thuggery of Brendan Behan . . . one exquisite insight after another into the mind of the protagonist, what it is like to be lost and flawed, maybe insane.

I found it compelling, each chapter a literary or visceral delight; I could neither wait for nor predict the sublime outcome. I commend this work in the strongest way. It has epic qualities.

Jack Engelhard: International Best-Selling Author of Indecent Proposal

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A taut, richly atmospheric tale of romance and redemption set amid the wild grandeur of Ireland’s Atlantic coast. At its heart On the Edge of the Loch is an exploration of hope, the shining possibilities, the harsh limits. Hope is the strand that runs through the lives of almost every character, binding them one to the other, a silvery thread reflecting light in shadow.

Geography is a full-blooded character here, a rejuvenating, life-giving force, and Cummins’ gift for describing it, alternately solemn and resplendent, is as cinematic as the sweep of the land itself.

James Rutherford: Author of Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump (Crossroad Press, 2016)

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This story is dark and frightening and brilliantly bright, with twists and turns like the back roads of its west of Ireland setting.

Just when the author gives you enough to let you think you have figured out the two lead characters, here comes another of those perplexing but pleasing turns, and heart-pounding action scenes to increase the stakes and your nervousness. On my second read I will take more time to appreciate the creative turns of phrase that seem the gift of the Irish. And I’ll listen again for rhythms of other Dubliners, like James Joyce. Yes, it will be worth the second read.

Dick Noble: Author of The Adventures of Mousco Polo 

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I read a book with the anticipation of a journey that will take me out of the ordinariness of life, into places unknown. On The Edge Of The Loch gifted me this and so much more. I feel fortunate to be asked to read an advance copy. The reader is introduced to characters who immediately feel alive; you truly care about them. I found very early that I had become a part of the story, continually imagining the climax (with anxiety), hoping I had foreseen what lay ahead. I hadn’t! 

The book lived up to all the big expectations it built up in me – it’s a journey of heart-stopping moments, not without romance and tenderness. What a great movie or TV series this would make!

Emma Feix Alberts: Author of All That Is Familiar

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On the Edge of the Loch builds its deeply focused qualities around one seemingly simple concept: Leave the reader wanting more. This is what each chapter accomplishes as the plot becomes more complicated with each new psychological twist.

Cummins’ gift lies not only in his ability to weave a theme through intricate wording and exquisite characterisation, he presents layer upon layer to force the reader to constantly question. What appears at first as conventional perspectives on love, moves far beyond cliché with surprising results. In the tradition of Thomas Hardy, Cummins blends the Irish landscape with psychological intrigue to produce a truly compelling read.

Daniel R. Flinn: Author of Dancing with the Ants

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A story as inspiring as it is original, full of brooding, suspense, tension, complex character relationships, the superiority of new dreams. But it’s also a romance. In many scenes the music of Riverdance played in my head, words dancing off the page, beautiful poetic language, nothing short of startling at times; and the scene at the cottage with Lenny and her mother is haunting.

This is simply a beautifully crafted story, compelling and original. I was transported back in time to many happy visits to Ireland.

Amanda Clowes: Cambridge, England

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Cummins delivers at a forceful pace the near cursedly indomitable spirit at the very essence of what it is to be Irish. His characters range from the living souls of its city streets to the mercurial, earthy and embracing denizens of its rugged coastline. This ‘hero’s journey’ is a tapestry woven from themes jagged and brutal, forgiving and abiding. You can touch the texture of the thoughts and feelings of Cummins’ characters. Above all, though, it’s honest, unpretentious, and unapologetic. A very good read . . . one very memorable tale.

Robert S. Galasso: Vancouver, Canada

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From start to finish I was captivated – by the main characters, the scenes in Dublin, western Ireland and America, all presented in such vivid terms. I loved how the writer describes the emotions of the characters; I felt I was almost part of their souls.

At times you think you know where the writer is bringing you, then you realise you don’t have a clue! It’s a compelling love story, with a backdrop of the complexity of relationships and life experiences. If you love a novel full of raw emotion and fantastic characters, this is for you!

Janet Mooney: Dublin, Ireland

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A vivid picture of the human condition, it left me wondering what became of the characters as their lives went on. Many aspects of human life are alluded to: the utter inhumanity of war, the hopelessness of incarceration, unbridled self-sacrifice, etc.

The author draws upon powerful imagery to illustrate challenges that can seldom be altered. References to Mweelrea, the enchanting yet foreboding mountain, reinforce the enormity of the task facing protagonists Tony and Lenny. But Leo and Cilla’s selfless qualities lift the novel. This examination of loss and its impact upon those who have yet to fully understand how their lives have been affected by it, provides the reader with many layers to ponder.

Nigel Castle: Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK


Joseph Éamon Cummins, an award-winning writer, taught creative writing and psychology for ten years. His new novel On the Edge of the Loch: A Psychological Novel set in Ireland is available on Amazon in print or ebook – http://amzn.to/28RRRdt.

 

New Release Includes Book Club and Teacher/Student Guide

on the edge of the loch book-mock-up for WEB low res

Joseph Éamon Cummins, an award-winning writer, taught creative writing and psychology for ten years. His new novel On the Edge of the Loch: A Psychological Novel set in Ireland is available on Amazon in print or ebook – http://amzn.to/28RRRdt..

Contains a 10-page Guide for Book Clubs, Teachers, and Writing Students. Plus, an in-depth interview with the author.

Getting the Psychology Right

As with all psychological novels, one of the biggest challenge with On the Edge of the Loch was building discrete mindsets and personalities for about ten important characters. Each must think, act, and decide differently from all others, and each must have something significant to win or lose in the plot – ‘skin in the game’, as they say.

Despite my work in psychology, this was still quite a task, but an enjoyable one.

I will write more about ‘getting the psychology right’ soon – of particular importance to writers, but nonetheless vital for a novel to be credible to the reader.

Finally, some people tend to confuse two terms: ‘psychological novel’ and ‘psychological thriller’. They’re not the same thing, though the media often don’t seem to notice.

The psychological novel explores the mental and emotional drivers of behaviour – what makes people do what they do and be what they are, and in this way shapes the storyline. The psychological thriller typically focuses on criminal behaviour, victims, police, killers, psychopaths and such like – a different genre.

Both types of novel can be edgy and thrilling, just not via the same ingredients. However, usually the psychological novel requires deeper engagement by the reader; the events of the story need to be thought about – because much less is ‘told’, guessable, or apparent.

JÉC


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All Writers Suffer Writer’s Block – Don’t They?

IMG_1740No. They don’t. Those who do – probably the majority – are led there or kept there, at least in part, by conditioning. When your peers, media, and other influencers keep talking and writing about it, and how hard it is to escape, you may come to expect it, even accept it – unconsciously. Which is the proverbial self-fulfilling prophecy.

I have listened to (literally) hundreds of writers describe their experiences with writer’s block. No one solution will work for every writer; that’s true. But there are a few proven remedies any writer can try. All start with putting the mind to work against it.

Incidentally, I saw a post recently that was titled something like ’47 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block’. This kind of ‘list article’ is, at best, interesting. More likely, it worsens the problem it’s trying to solve. First, what thoughts does this put in your mind? How many of the 47 ways will you have to try in order to find one that works? And in practice, will you keep trying after three fail? After ten fail? I doubt it. What then will you conclude about writer’s block? That it’s infinitely complex, that it might take forever to find a remedy? This is the risk – often unseen – that’s inherent in the 47-ways type article.

Here’s a different approach, with much better odds.

Writer’s block is a mental phenomenon, ideas are all around us, we have fertile minds, we’re competent scribes, yet somehow an internal obstacle is stopping the flow of good ideas.

From my work in behaviour (I’m an organisational psychologist) I have learned – and tested over time – two approaches that have proved successful for many of the writers with whom I have worked.

Remedy 1: Begin writing another story (presuming you’re a fiction writer)! This is what I advise first. Start another story (or scene) with no plan for how long you will continue, and be genuine and committed in what you write. There’s a good chance that what needs to click will click, and your block will disappear. The bonus here is that you may be creating your next project, or a new scene for your current work.

Remedy 2: Begin ‘automatic writing’ on a blank sheet of writing paper. Some writers find that writing by hand re-fires the brain faster (alternatively, start typing at your keyboard). Let your hand write without directing it – anything that comes along. You’ll probably start out with no faith in this approach. Do it anyway. Give your brain an opportunity to surprise you, which it can do. The fact is, our unconscious mind is often smarter than our conscious mind (what we think we know) but we typically stifle it with ‘logic’.

At minimum, keep an open mind. If you remain cynical, chances are you will blunt your own progress. The question to ask, and answer, is this: Are you hurting enough, right now, to start tunnelling your way out?

Reject your disbelief; it’s just resistance masquerading as intelligence. Give an honest try to Remedy 1 or Remedy 2. And see what happens.

You have little to lose. What might you gain?


Joseph Éamon Cummins, an award-winning writer, taught creative writing and psychology for ten years. His new novel On the Edge of the Loch: A Psychological Novel set in Ireland is available on Amazon in print or ebook – http://amzn.to/28RRRdt