To celebrate the launch of our new book club we spoke to author Eimear Ryan about her new book, Holding Her Breath.

1. When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer? 

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I was lucky to grow up in a house full of books, and read a lot from an early age. I remember being interested in the ‘Also by the author’ page towards the front – the likes of Roald Dahl had such a long list. I became fascinated by the idea of becoming an author, and started to write my own stories. Reading and writing have always gone together for me. 

2. What do you enjoy about the creative writing process? 

I love the sense of immersion and flow you get when you’re working on a piece of fiction. It normally takes me about an hour to warm up and get into the thick of it; that first hour at the desk can be hard work. But once you’re deep into the story, the rest of the world disappears. It feels closely related to the pleasure of getting lost in a book. 

3. Where do you find inspiration for your stories and characters? 

I’m definitely a writer who works from experience and observation rather than pure imagination, so going out for walks and people‐watching are very inspirational for me. I’m also very much inspired by the pop culture I consume. There might be a question or a theme explored on a podcast or in an article that won’t leave my mind, or I might want to capture the mood or atmosphere of a certain song or film. Those are usually the things that will trigger a story idea for me. 

4. What is most rewarding about your work? 

Hearing that something I’ve written has resonated with someone. Writing is so solitary and can feel like a stab in the dark. You ask yourself, is it just me that cares about this, or is interested in this? When someone reads and appreciates what you’ve written, it reminds you that you’re not alone. 

5. What would be your dream project? 

I have huge affection for science fiction as a genre – I grew up watching Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X Files – so I’d love to tackle a sci‐fi project at some stage in my career. I’d need the right idea to come along first though! 

6. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? 

In another life, I’d be a sports psychologist. 

7. Who is the most inspirational person in your life and why? 

I really look up to my sister Eileen – she’s multitalented, tremendous fun, a powerhouse at work, and mother to three brilliant and hilarious kids. 

8. Favourite holiday destination? 

I lived in Brooklyn for a year in my early twenties and have been back a few times since – it’s somewhere I always feel both exhilarated and completely at home. In lockdown, I’ve also been daydreaming about Italy quite a bit – specifically, sitting in a sunny square and eating a bowl of pasta. 

9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

I interviewed the writer Kevin Barry when I was a student and he said something about ‘rotating the crops’ that always stuck with me. He meant don’t limit yourself as a writer to any one idea or any one mode of writing – try everything, always have a couple of projects on the go. When you’re stuck on one project, you can switch to another. 

9. How do you relax at the end of a long day? 

Comfy pants, a mug of ginger tea and an episode of Broad City.