Hi everyone, and this evening I’m delighted to welcome crime writer Ian Ayris to the blog. Alongside crime writing, Ian is a creative writing mentor to unpublished authors. I was delighted when he agreed to answer a quick question or three on his journey to publication.
Over to you, Ian…
1) Did you always want to be a writer? Was there a turning point with any particular book that made you go ‘Wow!’
Growing up, I never had any intention of being a writer. I’d probably say – even after I’d had forty or so short stories published, a trilogy of novels, and a novella, it wasn’t until the brilliant Fahrenheit Press published a the trilogy in a single six hundred page volume did I sit back and realise it was me that hadn’t written it. In that moment of realisation, I came close to considering myself a writer.
2) Did you enjoy English at school?
Although I loved writing at school, unfortunately the English teacher I had when I was thirteen didn’t take kindly to my off the wall take on her story titles, putting me down to the bottom English class as a consequence. It took to my late thirties before I wrote anything again. Getting a first class honours degree in English Literature a couple of years became an oddly bitter-sweet achievement.
3) Are you a full time writer? If so, what was your ‘life’ before turning to writing full time?
Although I’d love to be a full-time writer, it remains but a dream. I work full-time as a Teaching Assistant in a junior school, am a supervisor in a counselling agency, and work as part of an Arts Council project teaching Creative Writing and mentor writers throughout the completion of their first novel.
4) What advice would you give to the unpublished author?
Never write with the sole aim of getting published. Write what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, what makes you scared, and angry, and sad. Write something that makes you feel, write it well enough, and someone somewhere who reads your writing will feel it too. Then send it out into the ether. It will land where it will. Now write something else.
5) Did you dream about being an author as a child? Did you often wander round bookshops thinking ‘That will be me one day’?
As I mentioned earlier, I had no notion whatsoever of being a writer. I don’t remember there being many bookshops around in Romford, where I grew up. Other than WH Smiths, I’m not sure there were any. For me, the library was the place I fell in love with books. I never dreamt I’d ever write something that might end up in a library, so to see my books there now is always a surreal feeling.
6) Outside crime fiction, what other genre do you enjoy reading?
Charles Dickens is my favourite. I also love the Russian writers, the likes of Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Solzhenitsyn, Chekhov. Love Virginia Woolf, Stephen King, Tolkien, John Fante, Spike Milligan, Alan Sillitoe, Herman Melville, Victor Hugo, Jane Austen, and too many more to mention.
7) Through lockdown, what have you been watching on television? Do you have a favourite drama that you watch religiously?
Never been one much for telly. But during Lockdown was blown away by Mindhunter. I’ll watch something if it catches my eye, but television has never much interested me, to be honest.
8) Through lockdown, have you found that your reading habits have changed at all?
Through Lockdown, I have begun reading loads of non-fiction – particularly Roman history – for reasons I really have no idea about.
9) Can you name one fiction author that you admire, and why you like their particular style of writing? Why do their stories intriguing?
Although I love Charles Dickens, it is the books and writing of Solzhenitsyn that I read with absolute awe – particularly One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The First Circle. Simply incredible books, so profound, so full of pain, the lives of characters examined and pulled apart with the simplest of words. Writing with no pretension, words behind which the reader cannot hide. Brilliant stuff.
10) If you could only listen to Rod Stewart, Freddie Mercury or Brian Johnson (AC/DC), who would you choose and why?
If I lived in a world in which I could only listen to Rod Stewart, Freddie Mercury or Brian Johnson (AC/DC), I would probably throw myself out of the nearest window.
Okay, at a push, Rod Stewart – but only for his cover of Tom Waits Downtown Train.
Thank you for your time this evening Ian, it was a pleasure to interview you. I wish you all the best with your writing and your next novel.
Bio: Ian Ayris was born in Dagenham, Essex, in August 1969. Having spent most of his childhood more interested in kicking a tennis ball about the school playground with his mates than actually learning anything, he managed to leave the public education system in 1985 with but two O’ Levels and a handful of C.S.E.’s. And a love of writing.
His academic achievements set him up nicely for the succession of low paid jobs he has maintained to this day. These jobs have included a three year stint as a delivery boy for an electrical company, five years putting nuts and bolts in boxes in a door factory, one day in a gin factory, and three months in a record shop, He then spent more than twenty years working with adults with mental health issues and learning difficulties.
In the meantime, Ian qualified as a counsellor, and now supervises trainee counsellors at a counselling agency in Dagenham. He finally completed his English Literature degree in 2018, and has spent the last three years working as a teaching assistant in a local junior school
Ian’s love of writing resurfaced late in his thirties, in the guise of short stories, having his first story published in the legendary Radgepacket. He has since had almost forty short stories published both in print and online, as well as three novels and a novella.
Ian lives with his wife, Karen and dog, Kobi, in Romford, Essex, and is a lifelong Dagenham and Redbridge supporter.
Contact Ian –
Publishers: Fahrenheit Press (Twitter @fahrenheitpress)