Daniel Seery on cookery books, erotic fiction and murbling
This week, to mark the end of our How to Write a Book series, we have a daily Q&A with a debut author
Daniel Seery’s short stories have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies. His first novel is A Model Partner, published this year by Liberties Press. He lives in Dublin with his wife and two daughters; danielseery.com.
What was the first book to make an impression on you? JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I had never come across a voice quite like it.
What was your favourite book as a child? I loved the Just William books and Enid Blyton, but I was completely mad about Roald Dahl. The Witches was probably my favourite. Creepy and funny, the perfect combination for kids.
And what is your favourite book or books now? It changes all the time. Recently I loved The Orphan Master’s Son and the brilliant Christine Dwyer Hickey’s The Cold Eye of Heaven, but To Kill a Mocking Bird is always an old reliable.
What is your favourite quotation? I’ve a terrible memory for quotes but this one has stayed with me : “Give a man a fire and he’s warm for the day. But set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life.” (Terry Pratchett, Jingo)
Who is your favourite fictional character? I have a soft spot for Arthur Dent from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books. He’s just such an unlikely protagonist.
Who is the most underrated Irish author? I think a lot more modern Irish writers deserve to be household names. I don’t want to say any particular one is underrated, just in case they actually believe themselves to be nicely represented in the old ratings department.
Which do you prefer – ebooks or the traditional print version? Print books all the way.
What is the most beautiful book you own? I’ve a battered copy of The Bodhrán Makers on my shelf which is beautiful in that it has given joy to so many readers.
Where and how do you write? I usually write when the kids have gone to bed, on the laptop at the kitchen table. The lure of the kettle and chocolate biscuits can sometimes be a problem when working in the kitchen. And at times I find myself standing in front of an open fridge and not really knowing how I have gotten there.
What book changed the way you think about fiction? George Orwell’s 1984. It was like going to the deep end of the swimming pool for the first time.
What is the most research you have done for a book? I read a lot of psychology journals before I created the character of Tom Stacey for A Model Partner, mainly to figure out how far I could take him. Mostly I prefer to follow my imagination.
What book influenced you the most? As a writer, probably something by Tobias Wolff. He proves that the skill to being a good writer can often be the ease at which you bring the reader with you. As a person, one of the many books I read about John Lennon or George Harrison.
What book would you give to a friend’s child on their 18th birthday? You’re a Bad Man Mr Gum, just so they won’t be in such a hurry to run away from being a kid.
What book do you wish you had read when you were young? Probably The Rules of the Road and I might have learned how to drive as a young man.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Patience lies at the heart of a lot of good books
What weight do you give reviews? Reviews are like getting the results back from an exam you didn’t realise you were sitting. The odds are always stacked against you.
Where do you see the publishing industry going? I think, if publishers focus on producing original, well-written fiction, there will always be a market out there.
What writing trends have struck you lately? I’m not sure about trends. Cookery books seem to be doing well. And erotic fiction. Might be interesting to combine the two: 50 Shades of Granola – a tale of love and rolled oats.
What lessons have you learned about life from reading? The world is a strange and wonderful place.
What has being a writer taught you? Beauty lies in unexpected places.
Which writers, living or dead, would you invite to your dream dinner party? I don’t think I’d make the most entertaining host at a dinner party. I’d probably prefer to go for a burger with Hunter S Thompson or maybe take a train journey with Maeve Binchy.
What is the funniest scene you’ve read? That would probably be something from Catch 22 or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Hilariously brilliant books.
What is your favourite word? I like the word murmuring a lot. And I like the word mumbling (probably because I do a lot of it). How about a new word . . . Murbling (verb – to murble: to say something indistinctly, unintentionally annoying your spouse in the process).
If you were to write a historical novel, which event or figure would be your subject? The life of Mary Shelley would make a great book, full of tragedy and interesting characters.
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