RICHARD T. RYAN INTERVIEW
What can be more creepy than finding the corpse of a stranger in your favourite chair? It happens to the genius detective, Sherlock Holmes, who faces a mysterious enemy. This extraordinary plot makes Richard T. Ryan one of the most creative and successful novelists.
We live in Hungary, far from him, but we have heard about his amazing books. It was especially honourable when he sent us the following message: „Love your website! My pleasure. Just keeping busy but I go there for breaks.”
Nowadays there are lots and lots of Sherlock Holmes novelists. It is said that more than ten thousand authors have written books about the great sleuth. It’s impossible to read all their works or ask them a few questions. Richard T. Ryan is a true, wise Sherlockian, so we were glad that we had the opportunity to interview him. It was a very pleasant experience for us, and we hope our visitors will enjoy it as well.
When did you start writing?
I worked as a journalist for 40 years, so I was always writing. However, I didn’t finish my first novel, The Vatican Cameos, until about 18 months before I retired. I was 63 when I started it.
Had you one or more family members who had anything to do with literature or you are the first?
I’m really the first. My brother worked as an engineer, one of my sisters was a pilot and the other owned a business with her husband.
Who are your favourite writers? Do you have a role model?
My favorite living authors are Lee Child, Kyle Mills, Stephen Hunter, Dan Brown and Michael Connelly. Other writers include John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie and, of course, Conan Doyle.
I think my style – blending history and mystery as it does – is closest to that of Brown.
Is there a special reason for choosing Sherlock Holmes to be your hero?
One can’t help but be impressed by his breadth of knowledge and the manner in which he arrives at his deductions. It’s like watching a virtuoso.
It’s a big challenge to publish another book about the detective, because there are so many pastiches on the market. How can a new novel be unique?
I think you have to begin with an appreciation for the language because that’s what sets Doyle apart. His plots are flawed and there are inconsistencies, but the writing is above reproach. You also need to have an thorough understanding of how different the Victorian era was from our own, in terms of language, manners, customs and social mores. I think if you begin with those and develop a premise and plot that are suitable for Holmes and Watson, you have all the ingredients for a successful novel.
How much time do you spend with research for your books? What are your main sources for that?
I spend months researching each book. Everything has to be ’’period perfect.” I check everything from train speeds to the origins of phrases to the streets in London at that period. I also research artists and contemporaries. In short, I try to read everything and anything that has to do with the subject I am writing about.
When have you read the works of Conan Doyle for the first time?
In my early 20s, while I was a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame, I borrowed a book from another fellow in my dorm and I was hooked.
Do you have a favourite story from the Canon?
My favorite novel is The Valley of Fear and my favorite short stories include "The Final Problem”, "The Empty House” and "His Last Bow".
Do you have a favourite among the adaptations (tv series, movies, etc.)?
I am terribly partial to the Rathbone films and the Brett TV series. When I write, they are the two actors I have in mind.
Do you keep tabs on Sherlock-themed books? Which one do you like the most?
I edit a great many Sherlock Holmes books, so at the risk of offending anyone by omission, I’ll plead the fifth.
From your own books which do you like the most, and why?
My first book, The Vatican Cameos, is my favorite. I tried to emulate Doyle but give it a twist. Instead of a book with two distinct settings divided in halves such as The Valley of Fear or A Study in Scarlet , I wrote a book that switched back and forth between settings at the end of each chapter. There were a few naysayers, but I think more people liked it than not. My other favorite book is Three May Keep a Secret, which will be released on Nov. 29. I’m very fond of the plot and the characters.
You’ve written a Holmes book especially for children. Why do you think it is important for them to get to know the detective?
Holmes is iconic, a touchstone if you will. I think he is a name everyone should be familiar with in the same vein that we know Tom Sawyer, Holden Caulfield and Ulysses. He is a unique creation, and even if you don’t grow up to be a fan, I think you should at least have a nodding acquaintance.
You can buy here: B is for Baker Street children book
Why do you think the audience/readers should have a "basic" knowledge/information about the canonical Holmes stories?
To appreciate Sherlock Holmes, I think it is imperative that readers know the character created by Conan Doyle. Unless you are familiar with the original and the time period in which the stories are set, it is impossible to know whether an imitation is true to the original or how far it deviates. All pastiches are copies, and some are more true to Doyle's vision of Holmes than others. If you've never see the Mona Lisa, how could you judge whether a copy was good or poor? In fact, you couldn't. If you've never read Doyle, you might think Holmes was set in contemporary London or even contemporary New York -- and nothing could be further from the truth.
Our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Ryan to expend his precious time to answer our questions. We wish him lots of successful new books, good health and all the best.
You can follow him on the Twitter: Twitter: @RicRyan52
THE BOOKS OF RICHARD T. RYAN - The Vatican Cameos & others here: AMAZON.COM
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