"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Sir Richard Steele

Monday, February 28, 2011

Interview Wtith Ian Ayris

It is with a great deal of pleasure that I am interviewing Ian Ayris on my blog today. Not only has he become my friend; but this is my very first interview and Ian's also. That makes it all the more special to me. So, without further ado, I will get started with today's guest.

Bio: Ian Ayris lives in London, England, with his wife and three children. He has had over thirty short stories published in the last two years. His stories can be found in all four of the Byker Books 'Radgepacket' collections, plus two Static Movement anthologies and Out of the Gutter 7. Online 'zines carrying his work include Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, Pulp Metal Magazine, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, Curbside Splendor, Powder Burn Flash, Yellow Mama, The Flash Fiction Offensive, and the Waterhouse Review.

Ian, I do love that pic of you. It makes you look like you are up to some mischief!

 Okay, lets get to the meat of things.

1) I know you have a book coming out with Caffeine Nights Publishing. What is it called and when can we expect it?
   My debut novel is called 'Abide With Me' and is slated for release some time around October this year.

2) Can you tell us a little bit about the book?
  ' Abide With Me' tells the story of John and Kenny-two boys growing up in the East End of London in the nineteen-seventies. John is streetwise and football mad, growing up in a loving, hard working family. Kenny, slow-witted and forever silent, lives in the house opposite, his family dominated by a drunken, abusive father. When John sees Kenny on Cup Final day nineteen seventy-five tumbling out into the street, blood streaming out of his nose, the fate of the two boys becomes inextricably linked. John takes Kenny under his wing, looks out for him like a big brother. But not even John can see the fire burning deep within Kenny. No-one can. Until it's too late.

   John's own life soon begins to descend into the darkness, a life once perfect now utterly broken.

   When John and Kenny are reunited years later, dragged down to the wastelands of Wapping by local villain, Ronnie Swordfish, it seems the game is all but up. But the waters run deep in Kenny. Deeper then John can imagine. And as it turns out, John doesn't even know the half of it....

   The book is told in the first person, through the eyes of John, in the East London vernacular. It's a story of hope, friendship, football and gangsters. It is the story of John and Kenny, who against all odds, against all their shattered lives have to throw at them, find the strength to stand together in the darkness and emerge as men.

3)Who has had the most influence on your writing and why?
   I think the biggest influence on my writing has been James Ellroy, specifically his book 'L.A. Confidential'. I remember thinking, 'Blimey' I never knew you were allowed to write like that. Reading that book made me realize that there is a whole world out there beyond the rules of writing.

4)Do you tend to write in a specific genre? If so, what and why?
   I don't consciously write in a specific genre. I suppose my writing falls into the Realism world, if any, perhaps even the Naturalism. My short stories have tended to veer towards the dark crime/noir genre. I think I have fallen into that area for a couple of reasons. A lot of my life is taken up looking after my children- my counseling work and my work in a care home, also involving taking care of others to some degree. So Jung's shadow side, that place in the darkness we all have, doesn't get much of a look-in. The writing, therefore, becomes a necessary cathartic exercise, I suppose, a balancing of the Ying and the Yang. In my counseling work I've also had the privilege to witness the extraordinary capacity of those once broken and lost to find the courage within to face their deepest pain. Noir, to me, is all about experiencing that pain, drowning in the darkness. But I've got such belief, such faith in the power of the human spirit, I'm not sure my writing will remain strictly within the bounds of the dark crime/noir arena forever.

5)What is the best thing about writing?
   The thing I love most about writing is the freedom to say exactly what I want in exactly the way I want to say it. The freedom to make a real something I've yet only to see inside my head. It's like a magical process. And you can't beat that.

6)Do you have any other writing projects in the works?
   I've just been asked to contribute a short story to a really exciting e-book anthology. I can't say too much about it yet, but some of the names of my fellow contributors make it an absolute honour to be along for the ride. I've also got some vague notion of constructing an e-book of selected short stories I've had published in the last couple of years; but that is probably a little ways off yet. But the main thing is knocking 'Abide With Me' into shape ready for publication. All else, apart from existing commitments, will have to go on hold for that.

7)Many authors write trilogies. Do you see yourself doing this? If not, why or why not?
   I don't think I've ever read a trilogy-tell a lie- 'Lord of the Rings'. But that's about it. I don't ever see myself writing a trilogy as the characters I tend to create seem far more suited to stand -alones. With all the blood and dark and warped characters spewing out of my head, I doubt I'd be able to get a character to last for more then a book and a half anyway. Dangerous places, them pages. You never know what might happen....

8)Have you always wanted to be a writer? If not, when did you get serious about it?
   Like a lot of kids growing up, all I wanted to do was play football for England. By the time I was in my mid-thirties, it no longer seemed a viable option, so I had a go at writing a couple of stories. I was enormously lucky to have the first one I ever wrote published.Then the next, and the next, and the next. I didn't really take writing seriously, it was just fantastic fun. I'd write a story, submit it to a publisher, it would get published. I'd write another one, etc. It was only when I began writing 'Abide With Me' about eighteen months ago that I realized I was writing something that meant far more to me then merely words on a page. The experience of finishing the book, and the confidence it gave me, led me to believe I could really make a go of this writing lark. I began to write a few short stories whilst the book was doing the rounds with agents and publishers, and was amazed at how they were just snapped up. After having twenty-four short stories for publication last year, plus 'Abide With Me' being accepted by Caffeine Nights, I now take the writing very seriously indeed. I have to, just to keep my head above the proverbial water. Drowning just isn't an option.

9)Who is your favorite author and why?
   My favorite author, blimey, there's so many. At a push, I reckon I'd have to say Ernest Hemingway. I first read 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' about five years ago. Just blew my mind. Never had I read an author who wrote with so much pretension. It completely changed the way I approached literature, and subsequently, my own writing. The ghost of Hemingway hangs over every sentence I write, sitting there with his elephant gun, ready to blow to bits any adjective that may slip through.

10)What do you do when you are not writing?
   Being a house-husband of varying degrees of incompetence, when I'm not writing. I've got a house to clean, dinners to cook, kids to take to school and pick up, lunch boxes to remember, etc. And I can't go half a day without reading something. I have to have a book on the go. I've got lists upon lists of books. I love a good list, me. As soon as I finish one book, I begin another straight away. I can't have a gap. I just can't.

Ian, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview for me and letting us get to know you better. I so look forward to your book coming out and hope to have the opportunity to read and review it for you.

Just want to thank you, Eva, for inviting me to do this interview. It's been a fantastic experience.
Warmest regards, Ian


  1. Smashing interview, folks. Ian - I can hardly believe this is only your first one! So looking forward to ABIDE WITH ME. That book - like this interview - will undoubtedly be the first of many. Great stuff!

  2. Hi Jools. It's the first one where I didn't know the questions. Over at Nigel Bird's fantastic Sea Minor I had a bit of a go at talking to myself. But this was the first one where I was actually being asked the questions. Thanks so much for your encouragement and support through all this, my friend. Means loads :)

  3. Thanks for a great interview, Eva and to Ian for the interesting insight. Top marks all round.

  4. Cheers, Alan. Your support has been magnificent, mate. Can't thank you enough :)

    And not long till the landing of Radge 5, eh. Can't wait for that one . . . should be a cracker!

    All the best,


  5. I reckon that Abide With Me is going to be a biggy. Smashing interview.

  6. Cheers, Paul. You know, without your help and support, I'd still be wandering about me own head. You're a diamond, mate. And an inspiration.

  7. Ian is one of the good 'uns. Writes like a scary bastard too ...

  8. Ian's got that slobber knockin' mash nose razor cuttin' left for dead style that he thinks makes you forget he's capable of a blinding beauty that brings tears to your eyes. Like:

    "And I let the snowflakes fall onto my face and into my eyes and into my mouth and they float down inside me, drift down, till all the dark I got’s covered up with this sort of ice-cold blisterin beauty.

    I can’t feel the dark no more. None of it. But the ice-cold what’s covered it up, it burns.

    It burns so fuckin much."

    Thass my buddy Ian, poet with a straight razor, he is. His novel's at the top of my list.

  9. Jason, you're one of the finest writers I know - with excellent taste to boot ;) Still savouring Confessions of a Beaten Dog. One of the best books I have ever read. Really something to aspire to.

    And AJ. Not for the first time, you've brought tears to me eyes, mate. You've got this way of cutting through to the essence, of seeing, not just in you own writing, but in your constant encouragement of others. Special, that is, mate. Just so special.

  10. Smashing interview! Ian's startlingly powerful work seems to be popping up everywhere today.

    LA Confidential, which I read a few months ago, changed a lot for me too--Ellroy's style is so drastically different. I'm planning on reading White Jazz over spring break.

  11. Great interview all around. It was wonderful to gain some insight on how your mind works and where your inspriation comes from, Ian.

    You'll be posting information on how to buy 'Abide With Me' I trust? Yes? Please?...

    Take care,
    Rain :)

  12. Great interview and insight Ian! Eva, you asked all the right questions to open Ian to the public eye! Thank you for that! After reading Ian's comments and other comments that refer to 'LA Confidential', I just may have to go into town tomorrow and pick it up! My 'inspiration' has been Homer for so long, I think it's time to open the doors a mite further!
    Where you find the time to write Ian may still be a mystery to many 'house-bound' Mums and Dads out there! Amazing stuff! Keep popping out the incredible work!
    I look forward to reading the finished product!
    All the best,

  13. Ian,

    What, with the love of writing 'n' reading, the footy, the kids 'n' the tight writing schedule, you're a man after my own heart, fella.

    I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about you in this top notch interview - one of the best I've read, especially considering you're both virgins :) - and a hat tip to Eva for a pertinent line of questioning.

    May I wish you all the best with 'Abide with me' - can't wait to devour it!

    Respect & Regards,

  14. Ian,
    Your heart and spirit breathe through this interview. I'll never forget reading that first story of yours at PMM and thinking HOLY SHIT this guy dodges the mind and goes straight for the heart. I loved this "The thing I love most about writing is the freedom to say exactly what I want in exactly the way I want to say it." Amen, Brotha! Can't wait to read "Abide with Me".

    Wonderful interview, the both of you.

  15. I've said it before and I'll say it again...

    this kid will go far.