Today's Roving Eye interview is with crime writer, William Ryan. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin and the University of St Andrews he worked as a lawyer before taking up writing full-time. His first novel, The Holy Theif, was short-listed for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, The CWA John Creasy New Blood Dagger and a Barry Award. His second novel, The Bloody Meadow, was short-listed for the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year.
When did you first realise that you wanted to write for a living?
Certainly when I was at school - I was lucky enough to know people who made their living from writing when I was growing up so it always seemed possible to me. But I think writing isn't always something you're ready to do earlier in life. I had a brief go at writing screenplays professionally in my early thirties but it wasn't until I was nearly forty that I was able to produce anything decent. Or maybe I was just a slow developer.
What made you chose crime fiction?
Ithink it's all about moral choices - and that's interesting for most writers. And I like reading crime fiction, so it's good to be writing something you're enjoying reading at the same time.
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
Very difficult - but almost everything Georges Simenon wrote was brilliant.
Who is your favourite author outside of crime fiction and why?
I don't have a favourite author as such - but I certainly love writers like Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel and George MacDonald Fraser. I like books that entertain me basically - and keep my mind working at the same time.
What’s the earliest memory you have of writing a story?
I remember writing short stories at primary school - but I'm pleased to say none of them have survived to this day. I can't remember what they were about but I suspect they featured cowboys and knights and so on. Maybe I'll find one in the attic one day and be pleasantly surprised, but I doubt it.
If you weren’t a writer, what else could you see yourself doing?
I'd do whatever I had to, I suppose. I had a lot of dodgy jobs when I was a student - including being a bathroom attendant in a New York nightclub. In fact, I wouldn't mind doing that again - the tips weren't bad and I met some very curious people ...
What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
I find the time around publication to be pretty stressful. You hope your book will do well but you never know how people receive it until it's out there. The Twelfth Department is coming out on 23rd of May, so I'm a little nervous in the run up.
One record and one book to a desert island, what would you take?
It's another tricky one - I'd take the Encyclopaedia Britannica, if that wasn't cheating (and if it still existed) - otherwise the risk of taking a much-loved book and ending up hating it would be quite high, I think. But maybe Anna Karenina - that's a book you could read over and over, I think. As for one record? Maybe Henry Purcell's Rondo from Abdelazar - I'd play it as I made my way down to the beach for my morning swim.
With the rise of ebooks and self publishing, what are your thoughts concerning the current state of the literary world?
I'd imagine you get some fairly long and detailed answers to this but I'm afraid all I can say is that, despite all the doom and gloom, I'm optimistic that the publishing industry, which includes indie writers as much as anyone else, will start selling books at price levels which bear some relationship to common sense.
Sum up your latest novel in less than 20 words.
A Soviet detective finds himself caught between rival branches of State Security, with his son's life the price of failure.
And, lastly, just for fun..
Have you read or would you ever consider reading 50 Shades of Grey
It's not my sort of thing - but I'm not going to judge it. Anyone who manages to finish a novel gets a pat on the back from me. And if they manage to sell as many as EL James has, then I'm delighted for them.