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Donal Ryan's The Spinning Heart

Donal Ryan was born in Tipperary and holds a degree in law from the University of Limerick

His novel, The Spinning Heart, was the winner of the Bord Gáis Energy Book of the Year 2012, the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year at the same awards and longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. The Spinning Heart also won a European Union Prize for Literature in 2015.

On October 1st  2013, the selection for UL’s inaugural One Campus, One Book initiative was announced: Donal Ryan’s The Spinning Heart, last year’s winner of the Irish Book of the Year Award, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Following the introduction of the book and the UL One Campus, One Book initiative by Professor Paul McCutcheon, Vice President Academic & Registrar, Professor Sarah Moore Associate Vice and President Academic and Limerick Mayor Kathleen Leddin, those present listened attentively as Donal gave a short reading of portions of The Spinning Heart.

Just before Christmas, 2013, a group of twenty or so readers gathered in the Millstream Commons for our second 2013/14 UL One Campus, One Book event, Professor Sarah Moore enquiring and inviting others to enquire about Donal’s The Spinning Heart. Many of those attending were thrilled to have such a rare opportunity to ask the author about the motivation for Donal’s many creative decisions. Interestingly, there were as many questions about Donal’s writing process as there were about the motivations for what he put in the book.

It is that fascination with how people write such great books that motivates the third and final event in the 2013/14 UL One Campus, One Book calendar: a How I Write, Ireland interview with Donal on the afternoon of March 12th, 2014. The How I Write, Ireland interviews are a feature of the Regional Writing Centre since our first interview with another local creative writer, poet Jo Slade, three years ago. Since then, RWC Writing Consultant Lawrence Cleary has interviewed five others not about what they write, but about how they write. How I Write, Ireland interviews focus on the process that good writers go through in order to achieve their writing goals. Good writers, the thinking goes, must be doing something right. The thinking is, of course, that we can become better writers ourselves if we had writing processes that we could model.

The UL One Campus, One Book How I Write, Ireland interview is an opportunity to inquire into Donal Ryan’s process. Lawrence Cleary will begin the interview with questions about Donal’s writing process, his writing strategies, his assessment of context for writing, etc. After a short 25-35 minute interview, Lawrence will open the floor for questions about Donal’s writing process, about how he writes. Novice and practiced prose writers, or any kind of writer for that matter, are invited to ask questions that might give them insight into how they might alter their own writing process in order to better achieve their own writing goals. We should learn as much from what good writers do as we do from what good writers write. You can watch Lawrence Cleary's How I Write, Ireland interview with Donal here.

A full set of resources from this How I Write, Ireland interview is available here.