Today I’m delighted to feature author Ronan Ryan. His debut novel, The Fractured Life of Jimmy Dice, published by Tinder Press, was named by the Irish Independent Review as one of their ‘Books of the Year’ and was a finalist for The Lascaux Prize in Fiction.
Ronan Ryan is an Irish writer, based in Dublin, who has also lived in France, Japan, the US, Singapore, Australia, England, Scotland, and New Zealand. He has an MSc in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington.
His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Irish Times, Banshee, The New Guard, The Honest Ulsterman, Boston Review, and Action, Spectacle, and was a finalist for the Machigonne Fiction Contest and a two-time finalist for the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction. He has won bursary awards in literature from the Arts Council of Ireland and Dublin City Council, and he was a Writer in Residence at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris and the Kerouac House in Orlando, and will hold a residency at the Heinrich Böll Cottage on Achill Island in 2023.
Over to Ronan :
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Song for Bob by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I like having music on while I’m writing but anything with lyrics distracts me so I listen to playlists of film scores and this forlorn piece of music has always been inspirational to me.
A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke. A great song to listen to first thing in the morning if you’re in a rut and hoping things will turn around.
Hey Ya! by Outkast. My favourite dance song.
Fair by Remy Zero. A gorgeous song that, for me, is about letting go of someone you care deeply about, and it reminds me of a close friend who passed away.
Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler. Because she puts more emotion into one song than most us experience in our entire lives and I aspire to increase my EPM (emotions per minute). Plus, it’s a good song to scream-sing along to.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
The freedom to write. Writing is my life’s passion and I wouldn’t know who I am if I couldn’t do it.
Coffee. Which I need to get up and go.
Red wine. Which I need to wind down at the end of the day and balance out my coffee intake.
My exercise routines. Which I need to balance out my red-wine intake.
A sense of humour. I think we all need one of those.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Err on the side of giving others the benefit of the doubt. You’ll get burned occasionally but you’ll miss out on fewer positive experiences than you will if you’re reluctant to trust people.
However, when people show themselves to be unreliable, wish them well in life but stop relying on them.
Don’t take the appearance of confidence in others at face value. Everyone has hidden insecurities and just because someone is smiling and joking around that doesn’t mean they haven’t had a worse day than you so be mindful of that.
Once you discover you love to write, you’ll never have a moment of boredom for the rest of your life so discover it as early as you can.
Don’t ever dash across a tiled bathroom floor that has a puddle of water in the centre of it because you’ve just taken a shower and you’ve realized you’ve forgotten to leave out a towel and think you can quickly grab one from the closet in the hall without anyone catching sight of you naked. This advice will save you from fracturing your elbow.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
In most situations, I’m an introvert but on the dance floor I dance like a man possessed.
When the pandemic kicked off, I had just started a writing residency at the Kerouac House in Orlando. In May 2020, I was able to return to Dublin. It took three flights and the second, flying over the Atlantic from Newark to Heathrow, was operating at about 10% capacity. One passenger was wearing a Spider-Man costume and another was wearing a hazmat suit and it was very Twilight Zone-esque.
Back in Dublin, because I was waiting until I could get vaccinated, I went two days short of a year without meeting up with another person and during that time I only ever left the one-bedroom flat I rent to fetch groceries. It wasn’t the healthiest of experiences but I gained a lot of self-knowledge and self-knowledge is invaluable.
Increasingly over the last seven years, I’ve become obsessed with yoga. I’m presently up to nine classes a week, and the more intense the class, the better – my yoga happiness can be measured in how much I sweat so about half the classes I take are hot yoga.
I can be a little reserved when I’m greeting people or saying goodbye to them because I’m trying to anticipate the method they’re most comfortable with and defer to that but at heart I’m a hugger.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Learn how to do a revolved bird of paradise on my left side.
Spend a year, or more, travelling the world and chasing the Sun.
Make enough money to buy my own place.
Write a book which will resonate for generations to come, just that. Something that will make people feel less alone.
Get a huge dog. A Great Dane will do.
Many thanks for joining me today Ronan and for bringing me some ‘new to me ‘ music. I haven’t heard Remy Zero before, but it looks like I’m 20 years behind the curve as they disbanded in 2003! A sense of humour is definitely a pre-requisite for getting through life, especially in these trying times. Your advice to your younger self sounds very heart felt. While I wasn’t naked (thankfully) I remember a youthful run through the kitchen which resulted in nasty gash along my shin when I slipped and hit a large metal bucket. Your dancing revelation reminds me of my OH, he also has (or had – we’re getting on now) a tendency to unleash on a dance floor. Don’t ever put him and Blue Pearl’s Naked in the Rain on a dancefloor at the same time! At least when you’re our age, I’m sure your yoga classes will guarantee you can still move. I really hope you can achieve your dreams. Getting your own place will certainly put you in a position to get your huge dog.
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The Fractured Life of Jimmy Dice
Jimmy is born a twin, and while he doesn’t know it, his nearest sibling has stayed with him forever, overseeing the drama of his life played out and acting as a narrative voice.
As a young boy, aged seven, Jimmy loses a lower limb to an attack dog – the first of many disasters that shape him for the future. Jimmy is a chancer who becomes a wilful man unafraid to stand up to a notorious Dublin gangster. He’s also a young man with heart and belief: a loyal son, a good friend, a courageous brother and a sweet and passionate lover.
Part love story, part coming of age, The Fractured Life of Jimmy Dice is also the story of a life in the changing streets of Ireland, from the days of the Troubles to the boom and bust years and Dublin today.