Tell us a little about yourself. Where you live now, and where you grew up?
I was born in Pittsburgh four years after World War II ended and am the middle child in an Irish Catholic family of five children. My father and mother were married during the war and started their family after Dad came home in 1945. I have their wedding photo. He was in uniform and my Mom was in a beautiful dress – her mother’s wedding dress. Things were very different then. People were happy to be at peace again and struggling to rebuild their lives, always hoping for things to get better. There were no personal computers, no Internet, we shared a phone line with the neighbors, TV – if you were lucky enough to have one – was black and white. And if you were a writer, you used a pencil and paper.
Today, I live on a small farm on which things grow despite my best efforts. I have been married since 1980 and have two sons in their twenties. We are still all together on the farm, though I suspect my younger son will be moving out soon. I love my family and I love my writing space at the house – an enclosed sun porch that gathers the morning light and graciously provides me my best spurts of creativity.
Do you feel that the environment you were raised in has any effect on your choice of genre?
I grew up loving stories and apparently I was fairly adept at spinning yarns and tall tales when the need arose, not that I got in any trouble when I was young! Not me. Mystery, science fiction and fantasy were my favorites. I don’t know that my environment had an impact on the genre of “Four Years from Home,” but it certainly had an impact on the setting, the plot points, and the need for a message within the story. “A King in a Court of Fools,” my latest novel, was definitely affected by my strong sense of family.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing novels around 1980 and have written four. “Four Years from Home” and “A King in a Court of Fools have been published. I started writing because of the need to express what was rattling around in my head.
What inspired your first book?
The first was a fantasy called the Windshaper Chronicles. The premise was – what if you could change things but had to go to such extreme lengths to do so, that you could lose it all? Would you do it? Some people, who would probably disavow knowledge of it at this point, liked it. When I submitted it to a literary agent, the primary criticism was that it was printed on a dot matrix printer. I’m sure someone out there remembers what they were. My second novel, from 2003 was called ForestWalker. It was a fantasy-reality mix piece, in the guise of a mystery, in which the protagonist and the story moved back and forth between the reality of an online game world and the real world. It was an interesting concept that I didn’t pull off. Someday I may go back to it when online games are obsolete and see if it can be salvaged. “Four Years from Home” was inspired directly by my Irish Catholic upbringing, as was “A King in a Court of Fools.”
How do you come up with your titles?
I don’t recall how the first two titles came about, but “Four Years from Home” was a simple line from the book and it captured the essence of the story in four simple words. ”A King in a Court of Fools” came from a novel created within “Four Years from Home,” a book referred to within the book, as it were.
Is there a specific message in your novels that you’d like the reader to grasp?
Always. For “Four Years from Home” it was — What if someone sacrificed everything for you? What would you do? For “A King in a Court of Fools,” there were a few messages — What is the value of friendship? Is your enemy really your enemy? Why do we think kids have it easy when their lives are just as complex as ours?”
How much of your books are realistic or based on real life issues?
Tom Ryan, the protagonist in both novels, is a hyperbole. That is a given. But messages conveyed by hyperbole can have their own distinct, and in some ways more effective, impact when the truth is finally known. The issues presented, of redemption, of sacrifice, of brotherly love, these are real.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I believe I began my writing career in the 5th grade. Miss Mellucci was the best. I had a minor setback in 6th grade when I got my first “D” in penmanship, but I have overcome that with therapy and coffee.
Do you have a specific writing style?
“Four Years from Home” is written as if spoken by Tom Ryan’s mind, so the style is at times wandering, disconnected, and full of things you and I would never think to say but just might dare to think. “A King in a Court of Fools” is written as a retrospective, so the narration is more direct.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Agatha Christie – she’s extremely cool.
What book are you reading now?
“Thalo Blue” by Jason McIntyre. I love it, but I am such a slow reader.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
There are so many wonderful authors in the independent community that I am going to refrain from naming any one or two. I might regret this when they are famous and I am trying to get them to push “Four Years from Home the Exercise Video.”
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?
Maybe a word or sentence here or there, but not the heart of the story.
Are you currently working on a new book, and if so, can you share some of it with us?
Yes, I’m so glad you asked. I am working on a new novel. It is a Christmas tale involving the Ryan children. I am hoping to have it out by Thanksgiving, unless the world continues to move Christmas shopping up and I need to finish it next week.
What is the most challenging part of writing your current work in progress?
The timeline. I am a very slow writer (and reader). I started this one in August and it has been way more writing than I am used to doing in a day.
Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Agatha Christie, the Hercule Poirot books, and their inspirational way of delving into the “little grey cells.”
Jules Verne – I really love the adventure in all of his writing. They seem dated now, but I read and re-read as many of them as I could get my hands on.
Do you have to travel much concerning your books?
This must be a question for an author who is actually popular?
No, I don’t travel. I might have deleted an email from Letterman once, but that was an accident, honest!
Do you design your own covers?
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I believe I was writing “Four Years from Home” to myself. I believe I am and have been in the throes of a metaphysical debate over the exact issues in “Four Years from Home” for quite some time. The debate is not over, but I am feeling better about it. “A King in a Court of Fools” helped.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you know, picture the scenes, the characters, make it as real for yourself as possible. It won’t seem real to anyone else if it is not real to you. (This applies to fantasy as well, but I am not recommending any weird dress-up thing, just so you know.)
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
To my readers, I say, “Thank you. I write for you. If you liked it, great; if not, I’ll try harder next time.” To those who are not my readers, I say, “You do know that Tom Ryan has your home address and email, right?”
My site – http://www.larryenright.net/
Purchase links –
Four Years from Home http://www.larryenright.net/id3.html
A King in a Court of Fools http://www.larryenright.net/id4.html