What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
Blimey. Well, I suppose before the age of thirty-nine (four years ago), my writing experience was restricted to bits and pieces at school. Apparently I won a Wombles story writing competition when I was about eight or nine, but from then on it was all down hill. The stories I wrote in senior school in response to the teacher’s story titles saw me relegated to the bottom English class in the school. Didn’t quite fit what was expected for the curriculum, apparently.
Reading became my teacher. I read loads of Charlie Dickens, I read my dad’s copy of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich when I was about fourteen, and also his copy of Catch-22 – and whatever else I could get my hands on – none of which helped my school work, but hey ho, you know, wasn’t the end of the world. Then, at thirty nine, a voice came into my head and started telling me a story. I wrote it down – pretty much verbatim – and had no idea what to do with it. It was really sweary and pretty violent. I found a writing site, posted it, and within a couple of hours it was picked up by a publisher. And I just carried on. I’ve since had forty short stories published, a novel, and a novella – all written in the same haphazard way.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
I try to write every day. I sort of have a wordcount in my head for the novel of about seven hundred words. I don’t always get there. But I no longer beat myself up about it. Being a house-husband of varying degrees of incompetence, with three kids (Mollie – 14, Charlie – 10, and Summer – 5) to sort out in the morning, Tescos to negotiate a couple of times a day, plus whatever cleaning I remember, the time tends to crumble away before my eyes. I tend to write in my head on the way to places, then quickly get it down on paper when I get back home. The whole of my novel – ABIDE WITH ME – was written in this way, at bus stops, train stations, waiting in the playground, wandering round Tescos. It’s all sort of chaotic, but sort of works for me.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I never think about genre when I am writing, but my writing seems to have found a natural home in the crime/noir genre.
What draws you to write in that genre?
I always tend to tell the story of characters who are lonely and lost. Somewhere, deep inside, I guess they all come from that place within me. My writing has a strong cathartic element, so perhaps it is not so much I am drawn to the genre, but the characters I ‘create’ gravitate towards it.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
I am currently twenty thousand words or so into the follow up to my debut novel – ABIDE WITH ME. I am also nearing the end of an English Lit. Open University Degree, studying and writing screenplays. Takes up a lot of time, but I’m absolutely loving it.
What are your writing plans for the future?
I’ve got a rough ambition to complete a novel, a novella, and a short story collection every year. I managed it this year with ABIDE WITH ME (novel), ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF JASON DEAN (novella), and UNCLE MILDRED AND OTHER STORIES (short story collection). Next year, I’m hoping to finish the follow up the ABIDE WITH ME, plus I’ve got a couple of ideas for novellas. From January, I’m hoping to be disciplined enough to knock out a short story every few weeks, enough to put a collection together at some point towards the end of the year.
Where can people find out more about you?
I have a blog at: www.ianayris.com
My Twittery thing is: @ianayris