Writers need talent and a thick skin – Donal Ryan calls himself a model for stubbornness
Donal Ryan emailed to thank me for my post yesterday about the 47 rejections he endured before his first novel The Spinning Heart was finally accepted by The Lilliput Press.
It went on to win Book of the Year and Newcomer of the Years 2012 – Bord Gais Energy Awards, was long listed for the Guardian First Book Award AND long listed for the Booker Award (the long list isn’t very long – there were just 13 titles on it). Donal explained that the very first publisher he contacted about The Spinning Heart was The Lilliput Press, where a manuscript of The Thing About December (his second novel due out early 2014) was later picked up by Sarah Davis-Goff, then an intern, now the publisher at Tramp Press.
“I suppose (Lilliput) are, in a way, the 48th, as well as the first!” says Donal. “Brian Langan of Doubleday Ireland came across The Spinning Heart at approximately the same time that Sarah found TTAD. I actually heard from them first, but Lilliput were first to offer a contract. They ended up co-publishing. It’s less complicated than it sounds!
He denied he was a role model for other writers. “Maybe just a model of stubbornness.” Here he is reading from The Spinning Heart at Kenny’s, the world famous Galway bookshop.
Set in a Irish town in South West Ireland when the economic crisis hits, The Spinning Heart reveals how the collapse of the local building firm affects the 21 narrators – the Daily Telegraph described the structure as “a more caustic version of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood”. Donal’s second novel The Thing about December is set in a small Irish village a few years earlier when the Celtic Tiger was still roaring and its hero is a lonely man struggling to make sense of a world that he no longer recognises.