Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Push-Ups: Ian Ayris

Ian Ayris.
So, what you pushing right now? 
My second novel, April Skies, is released on April 7th through Caffeine Nights Publishing. It is the sequel to my debut novel – Abide with Me, carrying on the story two years later. Abide with Me received such a phenomenal response, I’ve sort of got everything crossed for April Skies. Writing a sequel, trying to meet the expectations of the readers of Abide with Me, whilst also meeting the expectations of brand new readers has been a real struggle. In the end, I just wrote it for myself. I’m really happy with it, and sort of sad I won’t be revisiting the characters again.
What’s the hook? 
Here’s the blurb for April Skies:
Sometimes, you don’t know what sort of man you are until you are called upon to protect your family.

Bethnal Green, East London. Nineteen-ninety-one. 
John Sissons is out of work, out of friends, and out of luck. Fortune soon smiles upon him, though, and he gets a job in a door factory.
It’s not much, but it’s something. 
But as the days go by in the factory, and the layers are peeled away, John realises he didn’t get this job by accident. 
His past is exploding in front of his eyes. And when you have a past like the one John has, he knows he’ll be lucky if he makes it out alive. 
Every fibre in his body is telling him to run. But John’s had a lifetime of running. Running is no longer an option. 
When his sister goes missing, John knows it’s only a matter of time before they come for him. 
But he won’t be going down without a fight. 
Not this time.
And why’s that floating your boat? 
I never planned to write a sequel to Abide with Me – even though so many readers urged me to do so. The original took so much out of me emotionally, I’d written off the prospect of ever doing it all again. But then, one day, the voice of John – the narrator of Abide with Me – entered my head once more, and began to speak. I’ve learnt over the years, that once a character inside your head begins to speak to you, as a writer, you better listen. So listen I did, although at times I really, really tried not to, and three years later, April Skies was winging it’s way to the publisher.
When did you turn to crime? 
I wrote my first ever short story way back in 2008. It began as a voice in my head coming back from Tescos. I listened, and I wrote down what the voice was telling me. It wasn’t a very pleasant voice – a bit angry and a bit sweary, you know, and somewhat psychotic. The story ended with the narrator bludgeoning someone with the bottom end of a fire extinguisher. Lovely, I thought. Not knowing what do with the story, I posted it on a website, completely unaware of how the publishing industry worked, and was fortunate enough to have the story picked up by Byker Books, and published in their inaugural Radgepacket series. I’ve since had about forty short stories published online and in print, as well as a novella – One Day in the Life of Jason Dean – originally published by Byker Books, now published by the brilliant Near to the Knuckle. 
Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary? 
I’m pretty much a traditional sort when it comes to my reading. Stuck in the 19th century, mostly. But I love the old hardboiled stuff. One of the best Christmas presents I ever got was last year from my girlfriend. She bought me the complete set of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett in old fifties paperbacks. Much as I love the old gumshoes, I am more naturally drawn to the downtrodden and the dispossessed – those just trying to get through a day the best they can. Which is why Runyon, Higgins, Goodis, and James M. Cain probably come out on top for me.
And, what’s blown you away lately? 
Just finished reading Tony Schumacher’s The Darkest Hour, and absolutely loved it. Currently getting stuck into Ways to Die in Glasgow, by Jay Stringer. Another fantastic book. First met Tony and Jay at the Theakston’s Crime Festival at Harrogate a couple of years back. Top blokes. Real privilege to know so many great authors in person – gives a real different dimension to reading their books.
Apart from the books I’ve already mentioned by Tony Schumacher and Jay Stringer, I re-read Maggie – a girl from the streets by Stephen Crane recently. Always blows me away, that does. Crane’s been dead over a hundred years now, so he’s unlikely to be at Harrogate this year. I’ll keep looking, though.
See any books as movies waiting to happen? 
Every book I read, and everything I write, I see as a film inside my head whilst in the process of reading or writing them. Would love to see Nick Quantrill’s Joe Geraghty books on the telly, mind.
Mainstream or indie - paper or digital? 
I tend to read more indie stuff, as that is the world I sort of inhabit. In terms of mainstream, like I said, I love the classics – Dickens, Dostoyevsky, even Jane Austen and the Brontes. It’s all fair game. As for the paper/digital thing? My first love is paper, and all my old hardback/paperback classics. But as I get older, and my eyes become old and bent, I am using the old Kindle more and more. I deplore fundamentalism in all its guises. There is always room for difference in this world.
Shout us a website worth visiting … Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
Apart from my own website – www.ianayris.co.uk - Paul Brazill runs a fantastic website for all your Brit Grit and International Noir needs over at www.pauldbrazill.com and the Near to the Knuckle website at www.close2thebone.co.uk is brilliant too.
Any old shit . . . well, I currently teach novel writing on an Arts Council funded project for Barking and Dagenham council, I am a qualified counsellor and I live with my lovely girlfriend, Karen, and my three lovely children – Mollie, Charlie, and Summer - in Harold Hill, Essex. I am also a lifelong Dagenham and Redbridge supporter.

That’s about it, really . . .