Author Richard T. Ryan is a lifelong Sherlockian whose own novel, based on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was released on paperback today! Thank you, Richard, for taking the time to chat to me. Please sit down, get comfortable and let’s begin.
About Richard T. Ryan
A lifelong Sherlockian, Richard T. Ryan is the author of “The Official Sherlock Holmes Trivia Book” as well as a book on Agatha Christie trivia. The paperback version of his first novel, “The Vatican Cameos: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure,” is due out today (Nov. 7) from MX Publishing, London. He is also currently working on his next Holmes adventure.
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in medieval literature, he is a die-hard fan of the Fighting Irish — it doesn’t matter what sport.
He has been happily married for 38 years and is the proud father of two children, Kaitlin and Michael.
What’s the name of your new book?
The Vatican Cameos: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure
Tell us a bit about your book
When the papal apartments are burgled in 1901, Sherlock Holmes is summoned to Rome by Pope Leo XII. After learning from the pontiff that several priceless cameos that could prove compromising to the church, and perhaps determine the future of the newly unified Italy, have been stolen, Holmes is asked to recover them. In a parallel story, Michelangelo, the toast of Rome in 1501, after the unveiling of his Pieta, is commissioned by Pope Alexander VI, the last of the Borgia pontiffs, with creating the cameos that will bedevil Holmes and the papacy four centuries later. For fans of Conan Doyle’s immortal detective, the game is always afoot. However, the great detective has never encountered an adversary quite like the one with whom he crosses swords in “The Vatican Cameos.”
If there was a film or TV adaptation of your book, who would you like to see play your characters?
I have always thought that Jeremy Irons would make a splendid Holmes, and I would love to see Iain Glen as his Watson.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Names are extremely important to me, but I must admit that I slyly inserted the names of a few friends as supporting characters.
Give us an insight into your main character. What makes them unique?
The book actually has two main characters – Sherlock Holmes and Michelangelo. Holmes, I think, speaks for himself as does Michelangelo. They are both geniuses in their fields and the thought of joining them in a book intrigued me from the start.
Where do your ideas come from?
Honestly, I wish I could answer that because I would visit that place more often. I just sit down and write and the book takes me where it wants to go.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Personally, I think my biggest accomplishment is staying married to my wife for more than three decades and raising two terrific children.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully, I’ll be retired and able to devote a great deal more time to my books.
Have you always liked to write?
I really learned to write while I was a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame, with the help of a man named Robert Cross. Once I realized that writing was just an alternative to my own voice, I embraced it. I’ve been writing — mostly newspaper articles — ever since.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Just stick with it! Writing is lonely work, but at the end of the day, you will be glad that you did.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I’d like to think that I might have been able to make a living as an actor or an attorney.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
I think it’s painting myself into a corner, which I do frequently and by design. As a result, I am often trying to extricate myself — no easy task.
How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a book?
This book took approximately eight months to finish.
What are you working on now?
I am currently at work on another Holmes pastiche as well as a Holmes short story.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your workinprogress?
I can tell you that there is no shifting between time periods in this one, but it is filled with interesting personages from Victorian England, as well as characters from the Canon. I really don’t like to say anything about a project until it has been completed.
Why should a potential reader buy your book(s)?
As Sir Philp Sydney advised, I try “to teach and delight” However, for teach, think more inform. The book offers a decent mystery as well as several subplots, and I hope an array of interesting characters.
What’s an interesting fact about your book?
I think it moves Holmes into a new environment. As far as we know, the only client Holmes ever worked for on more than one occasion was Pope Leo XII. In my story, Holmes must travel to Italy to assist the pontiff, so it casts him in an unusual setting.
Where did your love of books come from?
I have always been a reader – Tom Swift, the Hardy Boys and then as I got older John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. It’s why I majored in English.
Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?
I am a newspaper editor.
Are your characters based on real people, are they imaginary or a combination of both?
They are a blend of both, although many of the characters in “The Vatican Cameos” are based on real figures. However, you have to take certain liberties with them.
When you’re writing, do you listen to music or do you need silence?
I usually write in silence because I still haven’t figured out how to get my computer to play music.
Who are your favourite authors, and why?
Shakespeare, Chaucer, Lee Child, Stephen Hunter and Daniel Silva. I love the classics but great stories, told by anyone, are things to be treasured.
Available formats: ebook, paperback and audiobook