Monday, January 11, 2010

Author Mike Ryan

Please join me in welcoming multi-published and award-winning author, Mike Ryan. Mike, I’m so glad you could join us today. Please make yourself comfortable and grab you a piece of apple crumb cake and/or a brownie. The beverages are in that little fridge there next the book shelf. Don't you just love my virtual interview lounge:-)?

Why don’t we begin by you telling us when you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I fancied myself a writer in high school, but I didn’t take it seriously. What was rewriting? Weren’t my first drafts wonderful? What a dope I was. I thought I might be a poet, but I was terrible. I wrote for high school and college newspapers. When I went to grad school for journalism at Boston University was when I really took writing seriously. Writing for a small, daily newspaper also honed my skills for writing fast, writing often, and writing accurately. You were forced to write everyday. If you didn’t produce copy, you were in big trouble.

I would imagine. Were books a big part of your life growing up? If so, what books would you say influenced you most as a child?

Absolutely. My mother took me to the local branch of the Boston Public Library when I was in the third grade. It was like stepping into Oz. My mother was the reader in our family and that’s where I got my love of books. As a child, I gravitated to history and adventure books. Random House published a long list of histories and bios for young adults. I tried to read as many of them as I could.

Please share with us a little about your publication journey.

A good friend of mine’s brother called me up to tell me he was going to be at a local Barnes & Noble to sign his book. My family went to his signing. I found out he and his brother were publishers. I submitted one manuscript to one brother and another to the other. Prior to that, I went the traditional route of querying publishers and agents. The reams of rejections could easily have wallpapered my bathroom. Through the wonders of print-on-demand, I’m now a published author. People also can read my books on Kindle or on their computers.

Your book, Begin with Me, won an EPPIE in 2007. What was that experience like?

I got a phone call on a Saturday night. I was totally blown away. I hadn’t won a writing contest since the fifth grade at St. Kevin’s School in Dorchester when I wrote the winning essay with the theme of “Reading is the Key to Adventure.” The Eppie sits on top of the television in the living room.

That’s wonderful, Mike. Congratulations! Where did you come up with the idea for it?

I was sitting in church on a hot, summer afternoon. I wasn’t paying attention until the priest mentioned how tired he was from saying a lot of Masses over the course of the past week. He was a one-man show. I felt bad for his heavy workload. I wondered if nowadays anyone could impersonate a priest. That was the thought that sparked a novel.

Interesting! Tell us about your other books you have published.

I have two historical mysteries, Boston Baked Churchill and Boston Crème Curley. They are based in the early 20th century Boston. The protagonist is a probation officer while is brother is a Boston cop. In the first book the Connolly Brothers try to prevent the assassination of a young English politician, Winston Churchill. In the sequel set again the backdrop of the first World Series in 1903, the brothers try to protect the life of a rising young Boston politician named James Michael Curley. My latest book, Grapes for a Guinness, deals with a high school senior who is trying to celebrate his last year in school. Mickey Paquette wants to celebrate a lackluster high school career. Mickey decides to break the Guinness record for grape toss and catch. He enlists buddies and tries to pull off this stunt amidst romance and small-town politics.

How much research do you usually do?

My historical mysteries require more than my contemporary novels. I have a file cabinet full of notebooks and a plethora of index cards. I know as a reader I want to learn about a certain historical era, event, or person, but the trick is that I don’t want my writing weighted down by too much detail. If you have ever read any of James Michener’s books, they are tomes. I consider his books to be histories disguised as novels. Historical fiction has to be a delicate balance of a good story with a healthy seasoning of history. I hope my readers learn something about that era while enjoying the story.

Are there any works in progress we should keep our eye out for?

Right now I’m writing the third in the Cootch Connolly mystery, No Fun in the Fens. This book takes Cootch Connolly into the world of art and Mrs. Isabella Stewart Gardner. I went to Boston State College which shadowed Mrs. Gardner’s art museum. Not once did I visit one of Boston’s great attractions.

I just finished, hopefully, a novel about a guy who approaches 50 and who wants to track down five people from his past. The other book deals with the peculiar New England institution known as town meeting. I worked as a reporter and used to cover town meetings.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started writing?

I wish I knew that getting published and trying to promote your books is more challenging than actually writing.

Since becoming a published author, what has been your best experience?

Anyone who enjoys one of my books gives me a thrill, even if it’s a family member or a friend. I do enjoy unexpected book reviews.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers out there?

Stop talking about writing and plant your butt into the chair. It’s that simple. People complain about not having enough time. If you say that, you’ll never write.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My office in the cellar. My late father-in-law Hugh saw me writing in an unfinished basement under a 40-watt light bulb. He decided to build me an office. I was his gofer. Thanks to him, I have a suitable spot for my writing. Despite marrying his daughter, he was a big fan of my writing.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what are some of your favorite bands/artists?

I always play music when I’m writing. My faves include the Beatles, Beach Boys, CCR, the Moody Blues, the Dave Clark Five, Poco, Jimmy Buffett, Frank Sinatra, movie soundtracks, the Bee Gees (not disco), the Assocation, America, Buffalo Springfield, Loggins & Messina, Donovan, and Dan Fogelberg.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

My wife and I enjoy biking on Cape Cod and in Rhode Island. And, no, you won’t see us wearing Spandex. We love going to Ogunquit Beach in Maine. Besides reading, I follow the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox and all Boston teams. I also enjoy playing board games.

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

I played the accordion when I was in the third grade, and I won a Cub Scout talent contest by impersonating JFK. Obviously, there was a limited talent pool in the Cub den. I was the worst Cub Scout.

Lol. Okay, let’s pretend you’re at the checkout counter in your favorite department store and you’re purchasing something from the book, music & movie sections. What are you buying?

It depends on what catches my eye. I may be on a mission for a particular book, DVD, or CD, or I might get distracted by something.

Do you have a favorite TV show? What’s your favorite movie?

TV shows include Cheers and The Prisoner. “The Adventures of Robin Hood” with Errol Flynn is my favorite movie. “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne is my other favorite.

Where can we purchase your books, and do you have a website?

My books can be purchased from Whiskey Creek Press, Charles River Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Fictionwise. My website is

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m just waiting for the Farrelly Brothers to make a movie of Grapes For A Guinness. Maybe Matt Damon or Ben Affleck will star as the protagonist in the film version of Begin With Me. I won’t hold my breath, but you never know.

That’s right, Mike, you never know. Thanks again for joining us today. Good luck to you with your writing career. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about you in the future. I also want to thank everyone for dropping by and supporting Mike. I encourage you to check out his books.

Also, be sure to drop in on Thursday. Mystery writer, Kathleen O’Conner will be joining us for an interview.


Nancy Rutledge said...

Interesting interview, Mike. A belated congratulations on you Eppie.

jrlindermuth said...

Enjoyed the interview. Good luck with your writing, Mike.

Kathleen said...

Your books sound fascinating and congratulations on that Eppie.

Joe said...

How's your Heinie, Mike?