Saturday, 11 March 2017

Writer Interview: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

This week our writer interview is with Ryan Quinn Flanagan! We talk to him about the editorial process, meeting other writers, and setting himself on fire. Enjoy!


When and why did you first start writing?

I started writing at a pretty early age.  Not out of some great welling or vocation or anything like that, but because I had to for a school assignment.  I found that I could write (at least I thought I could) and the mechanism was a release.  The writing itself was awful, of course, I was ten years old.  But I kept writing after that on and off through my late teens and twenties when I could.  That is when I also came across many of the writers that would shape a very large part of my life and my outlook.  That maturation process has continued through my thirties as well.  Nearing forty, I have been at this some time now, but the first effort was at ten and I guess I was kind of sold after that, without even knowing what writing was, or what had been written and was really out there.

Who is most supportive about your writing?

My family and friends have never supported my writing.  I come from a non-artistically inclined family and a small redneck town in Canada where people sit in their garages and smoke and listen to very bad country music.  Ironically, I escaped this town only to end up in an even smaller redneck town up north in the Canadian Shield full of hunters and fisherman and little besides.  The library used to be in the mall, but when the mall caved in they had to throw away all the books.  There is no library now, but they do have a Dollarama here.

My other half is the one who has been most supportive of my writing.  She does not read the stuff personally, but she is completely supportive of the mechanism and that is all you can ask.  She even helps with edits sometimes and is most helpful with providing cover art for some of the books.  She has my back and that is a good feeling. 

What do you enjoy writing, and what do you find yourself writing about most often?

I don’t know if I really enjoy it, but I find myself writing about the daily things I see around me.  They are often unpleasant things that most people would rather not address, but such things fascinate me.  As well as interesting moments in my past.  And cats and dogs, of course.  Animals often fascinate me in a way humans only can to a lesser degree.  But I find myself writing a lot about people on the skids or down on their luck or dealing with mental illness (as I do) or substance abuse…these are the people and things I can relate to the most.  I think that is true for many people who write, certainly the ones I have read.

Where do you write? Do you have a writing space or a particular process/routine?

I write in my upstairs office, surrounded by a plethora of books and many odd items I have collected or been given such as this ceramic skull on a stick that my sister gave me, or a calendar on the wall from 2004 with Jim Morrison’s arrest photo.  I enjoy having my office upstairs so that I can sit and look down on things, even if the view here is rather plain and simple, and snow covered for half the year in these parts.

I do have a routine that I go through.  But my acute OCD assures that I have routines for everything.  For writing, I have to have a magnum or two of wine on hand or some beer and I always write to music.  Something in the background that I can just kind of zone out to and type away.  When I am finished for the day I am often in a pretty bad state and remember little of what I have written.  I have fallen down the stairs on three different occasions (a hazard of working on the second floor), and set myself on fire once.  Nothing too serious, just a crunchy singed beard and hair that reeked something awful.  I had to shave my head to fix that one J  I always believe in the idea of: write drunk, edit sober.  I keep the two processes completely separate.  I don’t know about others, but that seems to have worked out alright for me so far.  

What’s your favourite word?

My favourite word is “slapdash.”  It is odd and whimsical and fun to say.  I even wrote a poem many moons ago about how it was my favourite word for these very reasons.

What do you find the most difficult or challenging about writing?

The editing process.  I never change what has been written, but spelling and punctuation issues must be dealt with and I hate doing that.  Writing is good to do, building the MS into books…all that.  But editing sucks with a capital “S.”  If I didn’t have to do it, or could get out of it somehow I would, but I can’t have sloppy unintended mistakes breaking up the flow of the point I am trying to get across.  I know it is distracting to me as a reader when it happens, so I try to limit it on my end.  Also, when you are working with your editor going back and forth, you want to catch as much as you can.

Tell me about the piece of work that you are most proud of writing, or about the writing accomplishment you are most proud of.

I don’t have a single piece of work that I am most proud of writing.  I tend to favour some over others, but that changes from time to time so that it is never a constant thing.  I am also always onto something new, so all my energies tend to go towards that and the other works don’t get as much attention.

It may not really be an accomplishment to some, but I have enjoyed all the really cool people I’ve gotten to work with from all over the world.  This would have likely not been possible without the internet and social media: many amazing writers, editors, publishers, reviewers, book lovers, and fine artists.  There are a lot of super talented people out there and I have had the opportunity to work in some capacity with many of them.  Others I have not, but I enjoy their work from afar.  Especially the fine artists, what some of those individuals can create is truly stunning!

What are your writing plans, goals or dreams for the future?


Just to keep on writing and branch out and work on as many cool projects with as many cool people as I can.  Beyond that, it’s all gravy.


Would you like to take part in an interview for the Peeking Cat blog? Email editor@peekingcatpoetry.co.uk

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