#01 | Donal Ryan

In this first episode of WriteStuff, we interview Donal Ryan. Donal is one of Ireland’s greatest literary talents, he has won a range of literary awards for his four novels and one collection of short stories, including The Guardian First Book Award for The Spinning Heart in 2013. Donal has just released his fourth novel, From a Low and Quiet Sea, which is receiving widespread praise for its weaving together of three seemingly distant narratives.

We talk about his new book and how he came to write about a Syrian refugee in From a Low and Quiet Sea. We touch on many aspects of Donal’s views on writing in this interview, including his advice for building fictional characters, finding his voice, dealing with good and bad reviews, his writing process from conception to publication, discipline, editing and drafting and his obsessive compulsion towards paragraphs.

Donal reveals his period of shame for writing in an Irish demotic voice before he overcame this to feel comfortable with pursuing writing in this vernacular. He critically reflects on the Spinning Heart and what he sees as its faults. He talks about the challenges he faces in his role as lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick and how that might influence his own writing and we use this perspective to talk about the current Irish writing scene. At the end of this podcast, Donal reads a very powerful passage from his new novel.