As you may remember I recently read an excellent novel called Distress Signals based around the idea of cruise ships. I’m now delighted to be able to welcome to acrimereadersblog the author of that novel, Catherine Ryan Howard who has agreed to answer some questions.
Thanks for joining me Catherine, and thanks for the advanced copy of your debut novel. What was the inspiration behind the story in Distress Signals?
Back in late 2011 I read an article by Jon Ronson in the Guardian’s Weekend magazine which detailed a number of mysterious or unexplained disappearances from large cruise ships. He mentioned the International Cruise Victims organisation, which really struck me because I thought cruise ships were sunny, idyllic places where people went to have relax and have fun and drink cocktails with little umbrellas in them. I’d never once associated them with anything dark or untoward. I started doing research online and I was really quite shocked at what I found. I thought, A cruise ship is the perfect place to get away with a murder. And then, You should write a novel about that.
Exactly what I had always thought. Certainly not now, I think you may have put me off cruising for life. What would you say your typical working day is like?
I am the world’s worst procrastinator, so it’s 90% coffee-making and Twitter. 3pm is the danger time because I work from home and that’s usually when a nap suddenly starts looking like a REALLY good idea. It also almost always involves a trip to Starbucks. I love a wet (i.e. no foam) venti latte and two years or so ago I moved from Cork, which had just ONE Starbucks at the time, to Dublin which has one on every corner, so it’s difficult to resist the temptation. Plus, it helps resist the naps!
I did not know that wet meant no foam, I’ve always taken the wet part for granted when ordering coffee! Obviously it would include coffee, but what else constitutes your ideal afternoon off work?
Maybe lunch in the Pepperpot café in Powerscourt Townhouse Centre (near Grafton Street in Dublin), book-shopping in Dubray Books (on Grafton Street) and then a read-in-one-sitting session with my purchase on the couch at home until the sun goes down.
That sounds like my kind of afternoon. Do you read a lot yourself and if so who are your favourite authors?
I haven’t got much reading for pleasure done in the last couple of years, because I’ve been at college full-time AND editing Distress Signals and writing Book 2, but normally yes, I do. My favourite authors are Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben. I also love Tana French, Caroline Kepnes, Gillian Flynn… Outside of crime/thrillers, I love Kazuo Ishiguro and Lionel Shriver. And Jess Walter wrote what is probably my favourite book of the last five years, Beautiful Ruins. I could go on – the list is endless, really!
If you were not a writer what would be your ideal job?
For a very long time I dreamt of having a very specific job: a Biosafety Level 4 virologist specialising in the Ebola virus and working at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infection Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland. (Don’t ask!) It’s probably for the best I stuck with the writing instead…
Hmm, moving swiftly on! What are you working on next?
I’m finishing the first draft of Book 2, which is another standalone thriller due out this time next year.
I can’t wait! Thanks very much for answering my questions Catherine. I look forward to reading your new book next year.
If you would like to find out more about Catherine, or Distress Signals see below:
Read a preview of the first three chapters here:
Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.