Beginner’s Pluck

Donal Ryan

A voracious reader, Donal always thought of himself as a writer. Encouraged at school, he wrote stories and novels constantly, but never finished anything.

“I finished a rough draft of a novel in my twenties, but I didn’t follow through.”

In 2008 he was writing a novel which was going well. But he got stuck. And his wife insisted that he finish it. “She had a great affection for the character. I needed that push.!”

He submitted that book, along with The Spinning Heart, and the publishers accepted them both.

Who is Donal Ryan?

Date/place of birth: Feb 27, 1976 / Nenagh, Co Tipperary

Education: School in Nenagh. Limerick Institute of Technology — an unfinished Engineering degree, then law in University of Limerick

Home: Just outside Limerick City

Family: Wife, Anne Marie, Thomas 4, and Lucy, 2.

The Day Job: A labour Inspector for the Department of Enterprise.

Hobbies: I do a lot of running. I’m aiming for a half-marathon next year.

Favourite Writers: John Steinbeck, David Mitchell; Mike McCormack; Kevin Barry; John Boyne.

Second Novel: It’s set in 2001 when the economy was starting to inflate, and is set in the same village as A Spinning Heart. It’s coming out next year.

Top Writing Tip: Stick at it. Finish what you write. For years I failed to do that.

Web/Twitter: Neither.


The Spinning Heart. Doubleday Ireland/Lilliput Press, €11.99; Kindle, €9.45

The inhabitants of a small Irish town are coming to terms with Ireland’s financial collapse. From the victims of failed property developers, to those living in ghost estates, tensions are running high. The stories, told by each character, link to give the reader a richly authentic tale.

“I didn’t set out to write a ‘recession’ book; I just wanted to tell the story of the kind of people I know. Some of the characters just wrote themselves.”

The Verdict: Hugely impressive. The most perceptive novel to have emerged from Ireland’s Recession.

— Interviewed by Sue Leonard

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