Continuing with my Interview with Irish-born author, Dervla McTiernan
Q. What first inspired you to write?
DM. I’ve been an obsessive reader since I was three years old, and at a certain point reading became less satisfying to me, which was awful. I still read constantly, but it felt like something was missing. It took me a long time to realise what was missing was writing my own stories. As soon as a realized that I could experience the same joy and pain, the same highs and lows in writing my own stories I was utterly hooked and I knew I would never stop, whether or not I was ever published.
Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?
DM. Character first usually, then situation.
Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?
DM. Yes. Absolutely. Usually when I am deep into a first draft – maybe after the forty/fifty thousand word mark. Characters come alive and the story really takes off and I just want to stay in it all of the time.
Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.
DM. Yes…but I’m not allowed to talk about it! Which is a pain because I am VERY excited about this story.
Q. When did you begin to write seriously?
DM. 2014. That was when I gave myself permission to really take it seriously. I had been playing with the idea of doing an MBA, because I wasn’t particularly happy in my job. An MBA would have taken five years part-time, and when I really thought about it I realized I had absolutely no urge to go back and study again, nor had I any real interest in studying business. What I had always wanted to do, and never ever thought I could do, was write. Given the massive changes we’d already made in our lives (moving to Australia from Ireland in 2011) committing myself to writing didn’t seem all that crazy! So I kept working part-time, and when the kids were in bed I would write for two hours, every night, except Thursdays (wine-night – very important).
Q. How long after that were you published?
DM. I signed my contract with Harper Collins in October 2016, and The Ruin was published in Australia in February 2018, and shortly after that in the US (Penguin) and the UK/Ireland (Little Brown) and then a few other territories followed. Then The Scholar came out in 2019, and The Good Turn will be out in 2020.
Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?
DM. No, genuinely, no. I think with the absolute ubiquity of smart phones, we’ll continue to see growth in audiobooks. People still love story; they’re just so time pinched that they have to try to fit them around everyday life. But for me personally, there’s something that switches off in my brain on those occasions when I get to lie down on the couch with a paper book in my hand, screens and phones off or away from me. It’s such a release from the constant connectedness of my daily life. I think there’s a reason that the growth in ebooks has pretty much stopped and paperback sales are stable. We all want that release. That moment of indulgence.
Q. What makes a writer great?
DM. To me it is a writer is great if they can create characters who feel genuinely real to me. Characters I care deeply about.
Characters I want to spend time with. Everything is secondary to character for me. I absolutely love the Robert Galbraith crime novels, which are just getting better and better I think (Lethal White was awesome) because I love Cormoran and Robin and I want to be in their world. I love to disappear into a book the same way I used to when I was a kid, and that happens so rarely now but it’s no less intensely joyful when it does.
Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?
To find out, don’t miss Part 3 of this fascinating Interview ~~ January 27th
Did you miss Part I? Click here
MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with best-selling AUTHORS! December: Dervla McTiernan ~~ January: David Poyer
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