Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 35:17 — 32.3MB) | Embed
Don't miss out on the latest episodes. Subscribe now! Spotify | More
This week on The Joys of Binge Reading to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, a little bit of green. Irish thriller author Catherine Ryan Howard with her latest nerve shredding suspense Runtime.
It’s a book that was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Crime Fiction Book Of The Year, and is a Top 10 Kindle Best Seller.
Hi there. I’m your host, Jenny Wheeler, and on Binge Reading today, Catherine talks about her psychological thriller about an actress cast in a horror film that begins to mirror real life.
And as well as talking about Run Time she also tells us how she plots her intricate stories – she has a very special Excel spreadsheet for the job – and how she came to be dubbed the Queen of High Concept thrillers.
Links to Things Discussed In The Show
Beyond the Woods: the horror movie Catherine’s brother was in:
The TV Set: a comedy movie about making a comedy – one of Catherine’s favorites: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473709/
Jurassic Park: (1990 novel by Michael Crichton) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic_Park_(novel)
Netflix documentary on Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier: Unsolved Cork murder:
Danya Kukafka: Notes On An Execution: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57773248-notes-on-an-execution
The Secret Race: Inside The Hidden World of the Tour De France: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Race-Inside-Hidden-France/dp/034553042X
The Quiet Tenant: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/705718/the-quiet-tenant-by-clemence-michallon/
Michael Connelly: https://www.michaelconnelly.com/writing/desert-star/
Strong Irish Crime and Thriller Writers:
Liz Nugent: https://www.liznugent.com/
(Liz is coming up on Binge Reading mid year.)
Jane Casey: (Maeve Kerrigan series) https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1173340.Jane_Casey
Jo Spain: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14190033.Jo_Spain
Jo on Binge Reading: https://thejoysofbingereading.com/jo-spain-best-selling-irish-thrillers/
Andrea Carter: https://andreacarterbooks.com/
Dervla Mctiernan: https://dervlamctiernan.com/
Where To Find Catherine Ryan Howard Online
As usual we got a historical fiction giveaway – New Year’s Historical Fiction – lots of historical fiction free for download, including Tainted Fortune Book # 7 in my Old California Of Gold and Blood Mystery series.
DOWNLOAD HERE IF BUTTON DOESN’T WORK! https://books.bookfunnel.com/historicalgiveaway0423/yk7cg8skez
Links to Catherine’s books and the giveaway as usual can be found in the show notes for this episode on the website, www.thejoysofbinge eading.com.
If you enjoy the show, don’t forget to leave us five stars, or a pleasing comment on your favorite podcast provider, so others hear about us and can enjoy the show too.
But now here is Catherine. Hello there, Catherine, and welcome to the show. It’s great to have you with us
Introducing thriller author Catherine Ryan Howard
Catherine Ryan Howard: Thank you so much for having me.
Jenny Wheeler: Now you are in Dublin and I’m in Auckland, so we’re just about as far apart as we could be, but it’s wonderful to be able to talk directly like this.
Catherine Ryan Howard: I think if, we went any closer, you’d start coming back to me. We are literally on the opposite sides of the world.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s right. Look, you’re an award-winning, internationally best selling thriller writer whose books have been optioned for screen, From your debut, you’ve enjoyed a great level of success. Tell us how you actually got started on this trip.
Catherine Ryan Howard: Thank you for that lovely recap. I always wanted to be a writer. As I work, I have a picture on the wall behind my computer screen here of me aged eight, and it was taken on Christmas morning.
I’m in my night dress. I’ve got a little ponytail coming out either side of my head and I’m tapping away on the typewriter that I asked Santa Claus to bring me.
So, I always wanted to be a writer. Now, when I was younger, when I was in my twenties, I made a mistake, which was that I became obsessed with getting published.
I would read all the books and I’d go to all the talks and I knew exactly what I needed to do. But I never actually did any writing, which it turns out is a crucial part of getting published.
When I finally realized that’s what I needed to do, I had read an article about an employee who disappeared off a Disney cruise ship.
A Disney story got Catherine’s fiction career launched
And I used to work for Disney. I used to work on all Disney World in Florida. That’s why I was reading the article, but it mentioned something called the International Cruise Victims Organization.
Now, I had never been on a cruise. I certainly haven’t gone on one since, or I’m planning to go.
But when I started researching maritime law, I basically discovered that, if you go on a cruise, it’s like going on holiday to a country where there’s no police. And I thought that’s a great setting for a thriller.
I finally sat down and started writing it. And once I did that, once I forgot all the silly, being obsessed with looking for an agent and how to do this, once I just sat down and started writing it, actually, I wouldn’t say it was easy cause it’s been a very long road.
But then everything happened quite quickly.
I got an agent, she got me my first book deal, and then we were off to the races after that.
Jenny Wheeler: Fantastic. Was that first book the one that you got inspired to write, was that the first one that was actually published?
Catherine Ryan Howard: Yes. It was called Distress Signals. Prior to that, write three chapters of something or five chapters of something.
But I never tried to write crime. I was always again, trying to write – like -stupidly what I thought would get me published. My heart wasn’t in really.
But I should have tried to write crime from the beginning. Because that’s what I love. That’s what I love to read and have been reading since I was way too young to be reading crimes.
Write the book you want to read but can’t find
Once I realized, and I say this to other writers, like my favorite advice is write the book you want to read but can’t find on the shelf.
And I think once I did that, everything then clicked into place.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s fantastic. Now this book that we are talking about today Run Time, which is the latest one that you’ve published. It’s the story of a down on her luck former soap actress.
She’s had a wonderful career in soap. She thinks she’s going to use it as a platform for launching herself into international stardom.
She almost slaps the soap people down and says, “I’m moving on to bigger things.”
And then she has difficulties and she is desperate enough to take this role in a rather B grade horror movie.
As soon as she gets onto the set weird things start happening, which mirror what’s supposed to be happening in the script.
You’ve said that the original idea was inspired by your brother. Can you tell us about that connection
Catherine Ryan Howard: He loves when I do interviews about this book because he gets a mention.
He is an actor, and a few years ago he was in an independent Irish horror movie called Beyond the Woods. And of course he was telling me all about the experience of being on set.
And one of the things he said, and it will sound very familiar if you’ve read Runtime or seen Beyond The Woods, because it was filmed in this house out in the middle of nowhere in the core countryside, in the dead of winter overnight.
Perfect cover for the perfect crime…
They were shooting everything in the movie at night, and he said one of the first things they did is the director had to go to the local police station. and say, look, if someone calls you at four in the morning to say, “I hear screams, I think someone’s getting murdered, they’re not. It’s just us filming.”
And of course, being a crime writer, I immediately thought, what if it is someone getting murdered? That’s a great cover story.
You’re giving yourself a bit of time to get away, a headstart. When I sat down to write the book, that idea turned into something else.
But that’s the initial seed. And I loved the idea of there being a script for a horror movie, that when the actors go to film it, the same things that are happening in the script start to happen, on the set.
Because of course, your first question I think would be, is this really happening? Or is my director, secretly filming me or something? It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not. And I think that’s at the core of the novel.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, exactly. You do open with a scene where the director and assistant go and knock on someone’s door and say, if, you hear any screaming, don’t worry. And I immediately thought, oh, what a perfect cover for a crime. Exactly that. The story does show a very close understanding of the filming process, what happens on set and all the different roles that there are in the production side of things, and I wondered if you’d had any personal experience of that yourself?
Catherine Ryan Howard: I really don’t. First of all, my brother was a great resource, of course, and I have a couple of other friends who’d be involved in the industry.
The movie industry’s insider stories
If there was something specific I wanted to know, I would go and ask them. And then I made sure after I had written it, that I had done it right. But I actually love movies about movies, so I love for your consideration movies like the TV Set, which is about trying to get, a comedy made. and they’re both comedies.
I love all that kind of insider, inside the industry story. I wouldn’t have any deep knowledge of it, but I think there’s a lot of parallels between being an actress and being a writer in that you’re both in this entertainment industry, in a creative industry.
I used every little thing I had heard about. There is some stuff that literally I got from people I know, especially there’s a scene towards the beginning where Adele, the main character, goes to audition for a commercial and my brother has done lots of commercial auditions and I was asking him, what are they like?
He said, the funniest thing is you’re often given completely contradictory instructions so that you go into audition and they say, your character is confident, but also terrified, show a that, and what are you supposed to do?
I just love all that. I think it’s hilarious and I used as much as I could in the book to make it seem like I had some in depth knowledge.
Jenny Wheeler: It switches between the book that the film is based on and the film set itself and it’s quite hard sometimes to think about, hang on a sec, are we in the book or are we in the movie?
It gets very intense, so I wondered, how did you plot it? Did you have it all sorted out at the beginning? Did you use a spreadsheet? How did you keep track of all those intense twists and turns?
Catherine Ryan Howard – famed for plotting spreadsheets
Catherine Ryan Howard: I’m famous for using spreadsheets. I’ve never written a book without a spreadsheet , and every time I start one, I think this time I’m going to keep it simple.
But it seems I can only write one kind of book, and they’re complex, like this book is almost like a Russian doll in that you’re taking out all these different stories.
To keep things easy for myself, the first thing I did was decide what happened in the movie script, and I started with that and I had a good idea, of where I was going with it.
And then I went and I wrote what happens on set as they’re filming this book.
Oftentimes you meet people beginning of their career and they’re say ‘I could never write a book this complicated,’ but it doesn’t come out that way.
You do numerous drafts and you get to fix all your mistakes as you go along.
It takes a lot of work. to get to that, to get to that final point. And Runtime is probably the most complex novel I’ve written. It’s supposed to be a bit of a game, a bit fun. It’s not supposed to be too serious.
I want you to be like, wait a second. The movie or the book, I want that feeling because that’s what Adele feels in the book.
She doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not. And so, for me the aim is to make the reader feel that as well.
Fly on the wall filming
Jenny Wheeler: It was actually interesting because you did mention just a moment ago about the feeling that the director might be secretly filming her being bewildered and I gathered from the background that you’ve given the book that there was a period where there was quite a popular film trend for that to happen.
Where they did a live fly on the wall filming, and it never occurred to me until you suggested it in the book that they could be actually pulling a double kind of, trick on her.
That introduces a third level of deception, of ‘hang on a sec.’ Does everybody else on set know this is happening? Except her, is that it?
Catherine Ryan Howard: That’s the beauty of it. I thought of this novel as being on like moving ground. Like you’d never feel steady footing as you were going through it because you would be second guessing everything. and I loved it. I had great fun
Jenny Wheeler: Now you mentioned drafts. How many drafts would you normally do for a novel?
Catherine Ryan Howard: I always tend to do three drafts and then a kind of half draft where I just go back in and move a few things around, but I don’t really write three drafts.
I write three books in the sense that I write a draft and then it goes to my editor, and I hope she’s not going to have remorse that she gave me a book deal and then I start again with a blank document.
I start from scratch, a second draft, and I do the same thing with the third draft, although the third draft usually has chunks of texts that survive.
Three rewrites of every book her process
But I just like to rewrite entirely because I think that’s how you get really lovely. Smooth storytelling and tight prose and it’s just the best way for me to do it.
It forces you to get the best sentence you can, each time, and I just love doing that. That’s my way.
I’ve tried to work in more efficient ways, but I think I’ve figured out now, I’m writing my seventh book at the moment, but there’s no point trying to change that. That’s my process and I need to embrace it.
Jenny Wheeler: Amazing. I think I might find it a bit boring to write the same thing again.
Catherine Ryan Howard: But it’s not quite the same thing because I’m setting aside the earlier version and now that I have a bit more confidence now.
I know, like for instance, when I’m writing the first one, I probably don’t have the ending all figured out. But then when I get to write the second one, I know exactly what’s going to happen.
The hard work is done. And now that I have this confidence and I know where I’m going, it’s much more fun to write that part. But I’m changing everything as I go. All that really stays the same, is the general idea.
Like character name changes, villains change, twists change. Each draft is its own discovery, if you like.
Jenny Wheeler: Wow. and how many sections would these spreadsheets have? how extensive are they?
Catherine Ryan Howard: They are horrendous. They look like schematics. They’re all color coded.
When I showed them to other people, I actually stopped showing them to other people when I saw their faces when I showed them what they looked like.
The Covid lockdown novel that became her breakthrough book
The other thing is, I’m a really big procrastinator, so I probably don’t need to color code the spreadsheets, but I do because if you’re color coding a spreadsheet, you can’t start writing it.
There’s probably an element of that to it too. But they are quite complicated. they’re a bit scary. Even. I would say, especially for this one,
Jenny Wheeler: That’s amazing. You didn’t have any background in kind of maths? It sounds like you’re a real kind of nerd brain
Catherine Ryan Howard: I have an absolutely zero ability. I can’t even add Scrabble scores together. Like I’m definitely not a nerd.
I am quite visual. I do like planning stuff out and being able to see the whole story at a glance. So I think that’s the point of it.
Jenny Wheeler: Oh, that’s great. Look, the book before this one also sounded very interesting.
56 days is set in Covid lockdown, and this couple decides to move in together very quickly, because of the fact that if they don’t, they’re not going to be able to see each other and they don’t know how long lockdown is going to last.
And you actually wrote it in lockdown. I think. Is that right? I thought that would be quite a weird experience. If you could expand on that a bit for us?
56 Days – and at the end of them someone is dead…
Catherine Ryan Howard: I think it was a weird experience, anyway, to be in lockdown.
New Zealand can probably relate to Ireland more than most because we both had very severe and strict lockdowns, whereas our neighbors here in the UK just didn’t experience the same thing we did.
So back in March, 2020, the 27th of March, we were put into lockdown and the main rules were you.
You had to stay at home unless you were grocery shopping or were taking individual exercise, meaning alone, within a two kilometer radius of your house.
And everything stopped. Schools, non-essential businesses, public transport, it just all went away overnight. And I was supposed to be writing a book that I was contracted for which I had decided was going to be about a shooting in a nightclub.
And of course that involved crowds and international travel and all sorts of things, which just went away.
So overnight, this book became science fiction. And at the time, everyone was like, this is an unprecedented global catastrophe, so I wasn’t worried about missing my deadline.
I was like, no one’s going to care that I’m missing my deadline. The world’s falling apart.
And then we did hear about people, if you were dating someone, and you knew you had to stop dating them or move in together if you were going to stick by the rules.
Haunting a deserted city gave Catherine material for 56 Days
You weren’t supposed to mix with people even outside who didn’t live in your house.
And for a while I’d had this like very vague idea about a couple who meet and fall in love, but all is not what it seems. But I had nothing for them to do for a whole book.
I knew what the ending would be, but I didn’t know what would go on for, a hundred thousand words. And suddenly we have this lockdown situation and I just thought, “This is the perfect plot for those two characters.”
I couldn’t invent a better situation for what they both need to do. And I live alone. I was living alone then, and I was in a much smaller apartment than I am now.
A studio apartment that was about the size of three parking spaces. I was going absolutely nuts. You think you want to be told to stay at home and watch Netflix and read and you do for a few weeks, but then you know, things start to go a little crazy.
I lived in the center of Dublin, so I’m walking down what is normally one of the busiest streets in Europe. And it’s empty, at lunchtime, on a weekday. Because I was in the city center, I was getting to see things not many people did.
It was like walking around a zombie apocalypse movie. I’d come home and I’d take whatever I had seen that day and I’d put it into the book. I was nearly writing that first draft in real time. and it was weird, but honestly, it also kept me sane.
Like I’m so grateful for that book, not just because like it’s been my most successful book to date, and it changed a lot of things for me. It changed my career. But also I am thankful for it, for just keeping me sane during those very odd months.
Weirdness in the city during lockdown
Jenny Wheeler: Can you give us a teaser line from it without giving away the story? We know that they moved in together, but something happens, something drastic happens, doesn’t it?
Catherine Ryan Howard: I would say it starts with a body being found in the apartment that they shared and then we flashback to 56 days ago to the day that they met.
And the question is what went so badly wrong in between to end up with one of them being dead and is lockdown providing the opportunity for the perfect murder? Question mark?
Jenny Wheeler: Just as a little aside, I think I read somewhere that – was it a wolf was seen coming down the main street of Dublin during lockdown or some wild creature anyway – that it’s not normally seen in those environs was wandering about.
Catherine Ryan Howard: I didn’t hear that, but that’s so possible because we have, I’m not sure about wolves, but we have so many foxes and things.
Jenny Wheeler: Oh, it might have been a fox. Yes.
Catherine Ryan Howard: Honestly, they’re practically tame – around here anyway. I’m right in the city and I hear foxes outside my door every night because people are feeding them.
The seagulls really took over the city because they were a scourge anyway. And then when lockdown happened, of course they’d no food to steal. and they just went, I think they went nuts, basically.
You would just hear the screeching of the seagulls anytime you walked around. So yes, it was very weird and I think we still don’t really appreciate how weird it was.
Catherine Ryan Howard – queen of high concept thrillers
Jenny Wheeler: I read one reviewer who called you the “queen of high concept thrillers.” I’ve now been writing historical mysteries for a couple of years myself, but when I first came across this term high concept, I wasn’t even quite sure what it was meant to be talking about.
There’s quite a few readers who probably haven’t come across that term, although they have probably read a high concept through without realizing that what is what it was.
Could you just give us a bit of an insight into what high concept means?
Catherine Ryan Howard: I think high concept is one of those terms that really. publishers use that has escaped out into the book world and readers don’t care about things like that.
But high concept to me, there’s many different definitions, but high concept usually means something that you can describe in a couple of sentences and those couple of sentences give you a very good idea of what the book is about and they also really make you want to read it.
And my favorite example of high concept is my favorite book and movie of all time, Jurassic Park, because that I think is the highest high concept idea ever. Genetically engineered dinosaurs brought back from extinction and put in the theme park.
Even if you’ve never seen or read Jurassic Park, you have a fairly good idea what’s going to happen.
It’s not going to be a happy day at Disney World. So that’s really what high concept means.
Is that like it doesn’t take you five minutes to explain the plot of the book. There’s a very succinct, easy premise that can be relayed in a couple of sentences. A couple moves in together at the start of lockdown.
At the end of lockdown, one of them is dead. That’s high concept.
Oh Gosh I really must read that – making books irresistible
Jenny Wheeler: Now, do you deliberately work on your story idea until it gets to that level of honing it? Do you deliberately aim for high concept books?
Catherine Ryan Howard: Absolutely. I wouldn’t say it’s something that happens consciously because these are just the kind of books that I write and what I think of as an idea is always something high concept
If it doesn’t feel like that, then it’s not really an idea for me. It’s not a goer. I think that we have to appreciate how much work the idea has to do.
I think we need to understand that the vast majority of people who read your book, that comes at the end of the process.
Most of the people along the way do not read your book. I’m talking about people in publishing meetings. I’m talking about sales agents going into the book seller and saying, will you take this book?
I’m thinking of us as readers. reading reviews and hearing what, that’s all about the idea. if a friend of yours reads a book and loves it and says to you, I love this book, that’s great.
But the majority of people are deciding what to read based on little succinct idea. And so you can write the greatest book, but if you can’t convince someone to read it, if you can’t entice someone into reading it, there’s not much points.
So for me, I think having an idea that can be really strongly and succinctly communicated and makes people gosoh, I really want to read that.
That’s the best thing you can do for your own work to make sure that it’s read.
Catherine Ryan Howard ‘monogamous with ideas’
Jenny Wheeler: Does it take you a long time to get there?
Catherine Ryan Howard: I’m very monogamous with ideas. I only have one at a time, and I have to trust that after I have written the one I have now, another one will come along.
I’m not one of these writers who has loads of ideas and is “oh, I just need time to write all the ideas.” I’m not like that.
I have one idea. I work on it, and when I’m coming to the end of that, then another one starts to bubble up.
I’m at this stage now with my next book that will hopefully be out like in 2024. I have a book coming out in August, not that one, but I’m talking about the book coming out after it. I’m starting to write that now.
At this stage I’m taking what has been bubbling and I’m actually putting it on paper for the first time. But if my editor doesn’t like it, I don’t know what I’m going to do because there’s no other idea. I’ll be in trouble.
Jenny Wheeler: Moving away from specific books to looking at your wider creative life.
Tell us a little bit more about your life before writing and how those experiences might have fitted into your writing. It sounds like you did some interesting things before you settled down to write.
Everything was preparation for her dream – to be a writer
Catherine Ryan Howard: I did, but I did them because I wasn’t writing in the sense that like I always wanted to write, but as I mentioned, I never did any actual writing, and it wasn’t happening.
My big dream was of being a published author and I did some boring office jobs that you take because that’s all you can do.
I decided when I was 23 that I was going to go on an adventure, and I started working abroad.
I worked in the Netherlands and I worked in France very briefly. And then, I got a job in Walt Disney World in Florida, so I went there for a year and a half, which was as long as I could go on my work visa.
And while I was there, I started writing about my experiences like in a non-fiction memoir.
When I came home I had a book, which I ended up self-publishing, and then that was right time, right place.
Self-publishing was really taking off at the time because for the first time, anyone could put a book on Kindle and everyone was buying a Kindle.
I started getting invited to do talks and I got some work helping other people to self-publish their books and things like that.
And that then gave me the time and the headspace and the money for ink cartridges that I needed to actually go and write my novel.
What Catherine is reading now
I had some really amazing adventures, but everything I ever did was, for me, a means to an end, like to kill time until my dreams came true, and I could have this job.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s wonderful. Look, this is the Binge Reading podcast, and we do like to ask you about your own reading habits and if you’ve got any recommendations to share with readers.
What do you like to read now, and even just in the past, mention again, some of your favorites and what you’re reading at the moment?
Catherine Ryan Howard: I’m a huge crime thriller fan. That’s what I read, more than anything else.
And my favorite book of last year is a literary thriller, I would describe it. Notes On An Execution by Daniel Kukafka. I just thought it was an incredible book that I wish I could read again for the first time. I love to read non-fiction and I tend to do a lot of binging on subjects.
So I will read a book like one time I got really into everything about doping in the Tour de France, even though I would never watch the Tour de France or have any interest in cycling whatsoever, . But you read one really good book, which was The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton, and then I had to go and read everything else I could find about the same subject and Jurassic Park, my favorite novel of all time.
Michael Connolly is my favorite crime writer in terms of someone who has a reoccurring character and writes a series. and I’ve just read an amazing novel, a debut actually that’s out, this summer called The Quiet Tenant by Clemence Michallon.
She’s French, but she lives in New York and it’s stunning. it’s the book I’m going to be recommending to everyone this.
The strong cohort of Irish women crime writers
Jenny Wheeler: That’s wonderful. Actually, as you were talking, it does come to mind that Ireland has got a very strong crop of female, not only female, but heavily, strongly, women writers doing crime and thrillers, doesn’t it?
Catherine Ryan Howard: Yes. And we all know each other, so we have a great laugh yeah, we’re really punching above our weight with Irish female crime writers, and one of them is closer to you, Dervla McTiernan, because she’s based in Australia, but she’s from Galloway and she sets most of her books here.
We have people like Liz Nugent, Jane Casey, Jo Spain, Andrea Carter, like I could name, so many names.
We are really lucky to have an amazing group of predominantly female Irish crime writers. It is funny that we have a relatively low crime rate, just like Iceland. They have hardly any crime and loads of crime ratios, but that’s better than it being the other way around.
Jenny Wheeler: It is. I wonder if there’s anything that creates that environment? Australia also is coming through very strongly with crime writers these days, and it seems as if sometimes one genre really takes off.
I wonder if it’s partly writers encouraging one another?
The changing face of crime in Ireland
Catherine Ryan Howard: I’m not sure what starts it. Like we all have different theories. one of mine is actually connected to the book that I have out in August, which is that when I was a child in Ireland, I didn’t think crime was a thing that happened here.
We don’t have guns and we never had any like murders that I know of that you see on TV and stuff like that.
And crime was something that happened in New York or London. And then during the nineties when I was a teenager, we had a case here that we called the Vanishing Triangle, where an unofficial tally of eight women literally just disappeared off the face of the earth.
Three decades later, none of their disappearances have been solved and none of the women have been found.
We also had the murder, then the brutal murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Cork, where I’m from, which a lot of listeners may know from the Netflix documentary that was out in 2021. And so when I’m a child, Ireland is an incredibly safe place where nothing happens.
And by the year I turn 18, we have eight missing women and this unsolved, brutal murder in my own county.
And I think that had a big effect on me because it made crime real. And there was no justice, there’s still no justice for any of these women.
To be a woman in Ireland is to of have the message that you don’t matter as much as the men and people can take you away and people can murder you and there’s no comeuppance.
A response to the historical long unsolved murders
And I think a lot of the fact that we as Irish women are writing crime is in a way a response to that. And then of course, if one person is doing it, It seems more achievable to other people, so then more women do it. And I think, it’s a mix of that, that we have the situation we do, which is great.
Jenny Wheeler: Yeah, it is. Looking back down the tunnel of time, if there was one thing about your writing career that you’d change, what would it be?
Catherine Ryan Howard: I’d have started writing sooner. I would have stopped all the faffing about and the reading the books about how to write a book, and I would have just started writing a book.
Jenny Wheeler: Do you think the advice helped you when you did actually get started?
Catherine Ryan Howard: It did. None of it was a waste of time. And look, I really think everything has worked out the way it was supposed to. And I don’t regret anything. I messed around for a long time, but I was 33 when Distress Signals was published, and I don’t think I could have written that book when I was 25.
I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I didn’t have enough life experience. I just think everything happened the way it was supposed to
Jenny Wheeler: So tell us just when you’re looking ahead over the next 12 months for yourself as a writer, what have you got on your desk and what’s coming up?
What Catherine is writing over the next year
Catherine Ryan Howard: I’m starting my eighth book, but no one will know anything about that for a long time yet.
But in August, over here, and I presume Australia, New Zealand will follow shortly thereafter, my seventh thriller, The Trap will be released and the starting point for that book, it’s entirely fictional, but the starting point for the idea is those missing women in the nineties.
I often think about their families and I just don’t know how they get through an hour of the day, let alone 30 years not knowing what happened to their loved one.
And I think I was wondering, is there a point where the torment of not knowing. becomes worse almost than the grief of the loss. And if there is such a thing, if that moment does happen, what happens then?
And so in The Trap, a woman takes matters basically into her own hands to try and find, her missing sister. It’s not as complicated as Run Time, but it’s still pretty complicated.
Lego, Jurassic Park and other obsessions – Catherine online
Jenny Wheeler: Do you enjoy interacting with your readers, and where can they find you online?
Catherine Ryan Howard: Yes, I’d probably interact too much with my readers. I should be writing instead of being on my phone. Instagram is my happy place. I’ve half abandoned Twitter and Facebook at this stage.
But I do love Instagram. I genuinely love it, love being on it, love talking to people on it. And so if anyone is looking for me, they will find all my Jurassic Park and Lego stuff, and crime writing on there.
Jenny Wheeler: Fantastic. Did you say Lego stuff?
Catherine Ryan Howard: Yes, I have bookcases and all along the top of the bookcase is my Lego Street. I have a hotel, a bank, a cinema, a restaurant, a bookshop, a garage, a detective’s office. It’s all on Instagram, And I’m 40.
Jenny Wheeler: Oh, Catherine, it’s been a delight to talk. Thank you so much for your time today.
Catherine Ryan Howard: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.
If you enjoyed Catherine you might also enjoy Jo Spain
Another best selling Irish crime writer…
Next Time On The Joys of Binge Reading
jenny Wheeler: Next time on Binge Reading -in two weeks time – on March 21. Whip smart, laugh out loud romcoms from Canadian author Lily Chu.
Lily releases her books first on audio, and they’ve been top of Audible books in 2021 and 2022. That’s Lily Chu in a fortnight on the Joys of Binge Reading podcast.
And remember, once again, if you enjoyed listening today, send us some stars or leave us a positive comment on your podcast provider. It really does help others find us to see your comments and take a look.
That’s it for today. Thanks for listening and happy reading.
Leave a Reply