Last month international bestselling author Frank P Ryan's epic fantasy series, The Three Powers, saw the publication of the third book in the quartet, The Sword of Feimhin. We thought it a great time to catch up with Frank and talk to him not only about the new release but also about all those authors and books that have influenced and inspired him throughout his life. This interview forms part of our “How Stories Connect Us” series.
Hi Frank, thank you for talking to us today, here are the questions! Which book do you own that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy just by holding it in your hand?
Mort, and its many companions, by Terry Pratchett – I have many of Terry's books in hardcover first editions. I've been a fan of Terry's since I picked up his first book. The book, like the man, is quintessentially, and lovably, human. Others I might include are The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, The Commitments by Roddy Doyle, and a relative newcomer to me, the more savagely witty, Shovel Ready, by Adam Sternbergh.
Which book or series do you read that makes you feel nostalgic, remembering the period in your life you first read it?
Here it would have to be Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in fantasy, and that great series of science fiction novels by Iain M Banks, including Feersum Endjinn, Look to Windward, and Against a Dark Background. I read Tolkien while on holiday in the Algarve and I read many of the Banks books (who I was on writing terms with) while holidaying in the Canaries. So I now associate them with the best of reading pleasure, glorious beach views studded by Canarian pine trees, breaking surf… and the old vino. Hard to beat!
Which book or series do you read that make your blood pump and your palms sweaty?
Stephen King's It is far and away ahead of any other for me. It was the first of his books that I read. At the time I had the same UK publisher, Hodder, and the editor there would give me his latest first edition hardcover when it came out. I would put King ahead on many of his books, since they combine terror with reader-friendly characters – and don't underestimate his wicked sense of humour.
Which book or series do you think you could implant one of your own characters from The Three Powers trilogy into? And would you want them to thrive and integrate, or would you want them to burn it all down?
This is a difficult one. I doubt if my characters would easily fit into any of the books I have quoted above, but if any might allow it, though relatively awkwardly, it might be Lord of the Rings. I share the same love and fascination for youthful innocence and personality as Tolkien. Indeed I had my characters, at the teenage stage, joking about Gollum at the onset of Book One, so perhaps they might work better in LOTR rather than any other. But I should emphasize that my heroes, Alan, Kate, Mark and Mo are modern teenagers, with an Earth background, so there would have to be an important crossover element. The crossover element is a major narrative component in my series.
I suppose that if there were a series where my characters might challenge the flow, it might be George RR Martin's Game of Thrones. It isn't that I don't like the series – I love it. But it might provoke a conflict of interest if the Tyrant of the Wastelands, empowered by the Fáil, were to intrude into the power scheming. The schemers might encounter a being colder and even more ruthless than themselves. To be really tongue in cheek about it, the four friends, Alan, Kate, Mark and Mo, possessed by – they might see it as in possession of – major supernatural powers, might also proved to be awkwardly resistant to “hero execution”. As to the dragons, here the two series might fit in pretty well – dragons love company.
Is there a particular author that leaves you thinking: “One day I want to be able to write like that?”
A tricky one since I've been a professional writer now for something like 30 years. I don't really aspire to write like any other writer. It would probably be more a case of… It'd be nice to be able to use landscape to build up mood with the guile of Tolkien; or to make characters as engagingly next door as Stephen King; or to have the feather-light delicacy of touch you sometimes see with Neil Gaiman (though not in his poetry); or the razor-sharp irony of Margaret Atwood, or the sheer sonorous clarity of Ursula Le Guin…
Thank you for your time Frank. The Sword of Feimhin by Frank P Ryan Jo Fletcher Books, published 4 Sep 2014.
The Tyrant now threatens Earth as well as Tír…
In a violently dystopic London, where Mark and Nantosueta are searching for Padraig and the Sword of Feimhin, Penny Postlethwaite, a gifted but emotionally troubled teenager, is mapping two Londons, the tormented 'City Above' and an eerie and frightening 'City Below'.
On Tír, an army of a hundred thousand Shee has invaded the Wastelands, intent on attacking Ghork Mega, the Tyrant's capital city, but obstacles of malevolent cunning obstruct their path at every turn.
Meanwhile, in Dromenon, while exploring the labyrinthine roots of the Tree of Life in her attempts to save the Momu, Kate finds herself in the Land of the Dead. Her only recourse appears to lie with the serpent-dragon Nidhoggr, whose very soul is chaos…
Day by day and hour by hour the looming threat grows…
This book tells the story of 4 orphans, Alan, Kate, Mark and Mo, who find each other in the Irish town of Clonmel, but it seems that their coming together may not have been accidental. It is suggested by Alan’s grandfather that the reason they all became orphaned may well have been at the behest of some power with the sole purpose of bringing them altogether at this time and place, what this purpose might be however and the truth of why their parents died is to be found in another world! With the aid of Alan’s grandfather, the four of them find the means of travelling from earth [...]
Fate has brought together four young people from our world into the enchanted world of Tir. Together Kate, Alan, Mark and Mo present a formidable new force for good in this war-ravaged world: they are Hope for the millions of oppressed peoples that live here. The four have been split up, with one of their number kidnapped, one lost and one changing almost beyond recognition, and it falls to Alan to unite them once again and restore their strength. But the Great Witch Olc, scheming in her Tower of Bones, is planning to lure Alan into a trap. And she has resurrected the demigod Fangorath, a d [...]
For those of you who don’t know, this is a story about 4 youngsters living in Ireland (but not all are of Irish nationality) who find themselves going through a portal to another world (Tir) in order to solve the mystery of their parents’ deaths. They have met varied strange creatures and new races along the way. The female warrior Shee can turn into great cats, the Garg sound like pteranodons who can talk. There are also the Olhyiu, who are of bear origin and also the Cill who are amphibian humanoids and in this book are about to become extinct. All of these people have become [...]
The type of story the author tells is a difficult one for this modern age, not because it deals with current day themes, (although it does do this), but that the idea of 4 kids from Earth having adventures in another, ‘magical’ and more spiritual world sounds a little old fashioned. But Tir is a long way from Narnia.Ryan uses non-stop action and mature themes to draw us in. He doesn’t stay in the magical world; he also takes a gritty look at what might happen if the darker powers of the magical setting were to invade our own world. He has a style that is easy to rea [...]