SUE Ryan didn’t have any grand plan in place when she decided she’d try her hand at writing a novel, except to write about what she knew.
Lucky for the Surrey-born mum-of-two that included an interesting and successful career in advertising in London in the 80s which provided lots of the inspiration for Pools of Blue.
The mum-of-two started writing the love story a few years ago, and got it over the line during lockdown, with the help and support of her two creative sons, one who is a fellow writer and another who is Hozier’s musical director.
The feedback to her self-published novel has been hugely positive.
‘I remember thinking that I had to begin it with something major or intriguing to try and capture the reader’s attention. So it starts with the main character about to leave hospital where she’s spent the last few weeks at the hands of her husband. I didn’t know where the story was going to go beyond that!’
The book’s main character is a young woman, Sarah, who is trying to hang onto her marriage and the man she loves. ‘He’s an alcoholic so the relationship is beset with problems. It’s told from Sarah’s perspective, looking back over how they met and fell in love and how Sarah tried to manage everything, often creating her own narrative rather than facing the truth,’ explains Sue.
‘I did a vague outline for the story but it actually changed quite a bit during the writing and the ending is not what I originally planned at all! I have no experience of being in an abusive relationship. I just used what I’ve learned from talking to people and what I’ve read to hopefully make that side of it believable.
‘For the relationship between Sarah and Becky, I took some inspiration from one of my long-standing friendships. As to whether any of the escapades they get up to are based on truth, I couldn’t possibly comment …!’
Sue, her husband Nick, and their two sons, moved from the UK to Bonane, Kenmare in 2000. Nick, known for his creation of the iconic and well-known ‘Just One Cornetto’ advert, sadly died from an illness last year and without him, Sue said the boys were most definitely her ‘wingmen’.
‘My oldest son, Patrick, is a writer/director. He has written and made his own films – one of which was taken up by Netflix in the USA and Canada – and he is hoping to get his latest script off the ground one day. Currently he is very much enjoying working as a lead writer on a popular video game. He edited my book, making some valuable contributions and has helped me considerably with my writing.
‘Alex studied music at Trinity, where he met a certain Andrew Hozier Byrne.
‘He joined Hozier’s first ever band while still at college and has remained with him ever since as his musical director and bass player. He loves his job and can’t wait to get back on the road – which will be some time in 2023. He also composes his own music and choral pieces, and he and Patrick write and record music together, too. Alex did the beautiful front cover illustration of my book, based on an idea I had. The Southern Star’s very own Irene Paradisi used her expertise to finish off the cover design for me.’
Sue’s already thinking through ideas for her next book, a sequel, or something completely different … who knows?
‘I definitely want to get back into writing as I really enjoy the creative process,’ she said.
• Pools of Blue is available from any bookshop in Ireland or the UK, or online from The Book Depository (free delivery to Ireland), Waterstones or Amazon.