Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Welcome, Mike Ryan!


Welcome to From the Pages, Mike. So glad you could drop by and visit with us today. I've got lots of questions to ask, so if you don't mind I'd like to just dive right in.

Where do you write?

Usually in my office in the basement and occasionally on the commuter rail.

Did you always know you wanted to be an author?

Yes, probably since I started reading.

Does your family support your writing career? How?

Yes, they support me by tolerating my sometimes visits to historical places or listening to me ramble about historical people.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Reading, biking with my wife, and following the Boston Red Sox.

Great hobbies! I'm a baseball fan, too.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?

I’m working on the third Cootch Connolly mystery, No Fun In the Fens; a novel about a guy hitting 50 not sure how to commemorate that milestone, and a political novel.

Sounds intriguing!

How long did Grapes For a Guinness take to write?

About two years. Grapes For A Guinness stemmed from a lousy short story I wrote. I liked the idea, junked the short story, and turned it into a novel.

Where did you get the idea for this story?

From reading the Guinness Book of Records.

Hmm, I don't think I've ever had anyone give that answer before. It just goes to show that inspiration can strike from almost anywhere. Very interesting.

The question most readers want to know but never get the chance to ask, do you ever write in your pajamas?

Yes, whatever it takes.

Any advice for an author just starting out on the writer’s journey?

Plank your butt into a chair and type.

Excellent advice.

How did you meet your significant other?

Ironically, it ties in with the supermarket setting in Grapes For A Guinness. While I was in college, I worked part time running the front end of a supermarket. One of the bundle boys said to me, “I have sister your age.” I was single, I was available. “Really,” I replied. He said, “Yuh, she’s five-nine and ugly.” That killed my interest.

A few months went by. The store sponsored a softball team and I played on it with Bob the Bundleboy. He invited me to his high school graduation party. I went to the party to be polite. I met his sister Debbie. I was smitten at first sight.

I grabbed Bob later at work. “You’re an a**h**le,” I said. “Your sister isn’t five-nine and she’s not ugly.” He shrugged his shoulders. “You know how brothers and sisters are.”

She had a boyfriend, and for once I didn’t take a pass. We’ve been married for 29 years and have two great children.

What a great story. I love it that you got the chance to see Debbie for yourself, and it's great that you didn't let her brother or her boyfriend get in the way. Good for you!

How many books have you written?

Four of my books have been published. I’ve written four others.

Do you speak a foreign language?

I studied German for four years in high school.

Do you have a role model?

My father.

Do you listen to music while you write?


What brings you the most joy?

My family.

What do you love most about being an author?

Having someone read one of my books and tell me that he or she enjoyed it.

I agree. That is one of the best feelings in the world.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

I had two great writing teachers. In high school it was Paul Wilgoren. I was too much of a wiseass to accept his constructive criticism. In grad school at Boston University, I studied magazine writing under Tim Cohane, former sports editor of Look Magazine. Tim Cohane possessed a great love of good writing and passed it along to his students. Sadly, both men are deceased, and I wished they were around so I could have thanked them in person.

Readers, Mike has generously offered to give away a print copy of his book, Grapes For a Guinness, to one lucky commenter. So comment away, and check back to see if you're the randomly drawn lucky winner!

Thanks so much for visiting today, Mike. I have enjoyed getting to know you and I look forward to hearing more about your upcoming novel.

Grapes For a Guinness blurb:

Mickey Paquette lives a quiet life occupied mainly by working to help his father—his mom died when he was twelve years old, his dad’s a recovered alcoholic. Mickey doesn’t make waves at school and doesn’t worry about his social life. Near the end of his schooling, Mickey stumbles on an intriguing notion to celebrate those academic years —to try to gain an entry in the Guinness World Book of Records. He hatches the idea to break a world record after watching two friends throw and catch grapes at lunch. After embarking on his quest, Mickey soon discovers he has an amazing mix of friends, helpers and adversaries, most of them tangled up in the often-vicious environment of small-town rumor, romance, and politics. Despite setback after setback, he pursues the record—but will there be one final stumbling block?

Excerpt from Grapes For a Guinness:

They walked, passing a few ranch-style homes. They arrived twenty minutes later in downtown Knightsbridge. Inside Fielder’s Package Store they bought soda and stood over a footbridge overlooking Potter Falls. Plants lined the footbridge shooting the floral scents, while bees flitted from pistil to pistil.

Despite the closing of the mills in the seventies the water remained brown when it gushed toward the waterfall.

Barry broke the silence. “You really like Charlotte. Don’t you?”

“Yup. She thinks I’m a pimple on the rear end of progress.”

Barry laughed. “She thinks better of the fleas on her dog’s ass.”

“I really want to do something this year.”

“Take Charlotte to the senior prom?”

“Without Travis and his thugs tossing me over this bridge?” Mickey chugged his root beer.

“We have to do something big this year, Bazz.”

“Senior prank or senior skip day?”

“I heard that one class tore apart a Volkswagon and reassembled it in the bell tower.”

“I think Dad said it happened before him.”

“Senior skip day is dumb. Drive to the beach and try not to get arrested for drinking on the beach in Rhode Island.”

“I can see the wheels turning. You’ll come up with something, Mick. I know you will.”

“I hope so. I hope so.”

Buy Grapes For a Guinness here.

Mike Ryan is the author of the EPPIE AWARD winning novel BEGIN WITH ME.

Visit Mike Ryan's website at


Tess MacKall said...

Great interview, Sarita. Thanks for introducing me to Mike.

Mike, I just stopped by your website. I see that religion plays an important role in your life. Your idea for Begin With Me came to you while sitting in church. How does your faith spill over into your writing? And do you hope to convey some message of faith or at least hope when you write?


Sue W. said...

Fantastic interview, Sarita. I enjoy hearing about new writers and their books.

Grapes for a Guinness sounds like a super read. The excerpt has me very interested.

Good luck with the new book, Mike!

Dru said...

What a great interview and this book sounds like fun.

Mike, what would you call this type of book?

Mary said...

Great excerpt!

sharon said...

I checked out your website, Mike. Enjoyed the stories, especially the one about setting foot in a temple. Very amusing. *G*

Nice interview!

Jen said...

This is a great interview--the story of how Mike met his wife is classic. It's too bad the interview didn't cover favorite books. I always love to hear what influences authors. :)

Pam said...

Love the interview! Mike, what kind of music do you listen to when you write?

Mike R said...

Begin With Me obviously is my religious novel. One of my friends said to me, "I can't believe you're so Catholic." I hardly consider myself devout. The protagonist is a lapsed Catholic who turned against his faith long ago when his father died. The theme of the book is personal redemption.

Two of my books are historical mysteries and only touch lightly upon religion. Grapes For A Guinness includes a priest as a minor character. The protagonist and his father go to Mass, but that's all as far as religion in that book.

I checked out your website. The Quiet Man is my second favorite movie behind only The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Thanks for your interest.

Mike Ryan

Mike R said...


I would call the book mainstream fiction or even inspirational fiction.

Best regards,

Mike Ryan

Mike R said...

Sue and Mary:

Thank you for comments.

Mike Ryan

Mike R said...


I still can believe I missed Mass while I was at temple!

Mike Ryan

Mike R said...

I'm glad you enjoyed how I met my wife.

I have a lot of favorite writers, both fiction and nonfiction. In fiction I like Bernard Cornwell, Stephen Lawhead, Tolkien, Michael Dobbs,Ian Rankin, and many others. I devour history and biographies, and I have too many faves to list here.

Mike Ryan

Mike R said...


As a Baby Boomer, I love oldies. My favorite groups and performers are the following: Beatles, Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffett, CCR, America, Dave Clark Five, Moody Blues, Buffalo Springfield, Byrds, Eagles, Poco, Loggins & Messina, Hollies, CSNY, Elton John, Bee Gees (pre-disco), and the Association. I also love movie soundtracks, folk, jazz, soul,psychedelic pop, and Irish music. You never know what I'll thrown on when I'm in my office.

Mike Ryan