Name: Ryan Bracha
Where are you from: Doncaster originally but I now live in Barnsley
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc:
I live in Barnsley with my wife, who I’ve been married to for about nine months, we have a cat. I originally did a degree in Film and Media, and went on to form a not for profit film company with a friend, which allowed me to write and direct my feature film ‘Tales From Nowhere’ and we arranged to have shown it at various local cinemas, it performed quite well. In that time I also directed a music video for a band called Lyca Sleep, which is still viewable on Youtube, and I was paid eight cans of lager for my trouble! It was all just for fun, and I enjoyed the process, but I fell out with my business partner shortly after and I ended up going down the route of getting a ‘nine to five’ job, and continued to want to tell stories. My debut novel, ‘Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet’ took four years to write, on and off, but once it was done I had the bug, and have written in every minute of spare time that I have. My second novel, the sequel to the first, called Tomorrow’s Chip Paper, was released in April.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m working on my third novel, which is to be called Paul Carter is a Dead Man. It’s totally different to anything I’ve ever done before, and I really think it’s likely to be my best work yet. I’m also working on my ‘The Short Shorts’ project, which is a series of short stories and novellas released on a monthly basis, which will form part of a larger anthology next year.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing just because I love to tell stories. If something bad or just plain stupid happens to you, the chances are you’ll laugh about it one day. I live for those moments that I can tell with a shameful look on my face, but know that it’s going to make me, or the people I’m with laugh. I like to transfer this kind of experience into that of my characters. The chances are that whatever my character does or says in any of my books, has probably been experienced by me or somebody that I know at some point, sometimes exaggerated for the purposes of a good story, of course. But I’ve always been really imaginative, and my strength at school was always English.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think when I got my first decent review by somebody that I didn’t know. That external authentication by a stranger is key. You can write all the stories you want, but if it’s only your mum that says it’s good you’re still just a literary version of a face that only a mother could love!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Boredom, more than anything else. I didn’t have a clue what to write about. I just had this urge to write a story which was told by fifty different voices, nobody to be repeated, just let the story flow, through these fifty different opinions and voices. I got to a couple of characters that I just had so much fun with though, and didn’t want to let them go, wanted to nurture them, and see them grow with the story. So the story evolved into the Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet that’s available now.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
It’s been called experimental, uncompromising, I personally think it’s very honest writing, I think it’s real, and funny. Very Scottish was another comment. I think that may come from the fact that my favourite authors hail from Scotland. I have a very intentionally love-it-or-hate-it style. The people that hate it mean as much to me as those that love it. I live for the response.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet was just a strange thing that clicked for me as I was sitting on a bus reading my work. The characters are all strangers, yet throughout the course of the book become at least aware of each other, some become friends, but the nature of what they’re involved in means it’s very much dog eat dog. The title is what gives that particular book the attention it’s currently getting. It seems to stand out more than anything else I’ve done.
The second novel, Tomorrow’s Chip Paper, came from the fact that our media is always on the look out for the next big story. We’re force fed a big story for about a week before Victoria Beckham farts in public, or another hate figure dies and we all feel sad. This is the nature of the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Just realise how much of yourself that you’re giving to Facebook. There are people on your friend’s list that you’ll pass in the street without so much as a nod of acknowledgment. My novels focus on this all consuming monster that Facebook has become, the quickfire route to celebrity, and the way our media will manipulate us. The messages are subtle though, I’m live and let live. I’ll say my piece and move on.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The stories, maybe not so much. They’re exaggerated versions of real life. The characters are realistic. I’ve met the characters of my books a dozen times over. I like to think that I put realistic characters in unrealistic situations.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Going back to an earlier question. A lot of the stuff in my books has happened to me, whether it’s a direct translation or a grossly exaggerated version, is for you to guess..!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I’ve absorbed the way I like to see a book written, and probably subconsciously sought to replicate that in my own work. My first real favourite author was Chris Brookmyre. I loved the way he’d tell an action packed story, but there was always this underlying satire about it. Then somebody I knew read the first half of my first novel, and told me that I’d probably enjoy books by a guy called Irvine Welsh, whose name I knew, but had never read. I picked up Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, and now I’m at the first of the queue when a new Irvine Welsh book comes out. If I had to stick a top three books out there, in no particular order, I’d say Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr, Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs by Irvine Welsh, and probably One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night by Chris Brookmyre. Ask me tomorrow and it would be different.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
He’ll not believe I said this, but Keith Nixon, author of The Fix, basically guided me into the maniacal path I’m following right now. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when I first published Strangers Are Just Friends.. I just discovered that I could put my work out there, then I just sat back and watched it do nothing. Sold it to maybe a few family members and friends, but it was just another book in a sea of other books. Keith showed me how to get my work noticed by other authors, helped me to realise that there was this massive community of extremely talented authors, who are all happy to help each other out. Mark Wilson, Gerard Brennan, Paul Brazill, and David Ross, all very good blokes that I’ve come to know and follow through Keith Nixon. I owe him a lot.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve got two on the go. I’m reading a book called Loisaida by an American woman called Marion Stein, whose work appears to be influenced directly by another of my favourite books, Last Exit to Brooklyn. I’m also a few pages into Life is Local by an up and coming Scottish author by the name of Des McAnulty.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
There’s new, and there’s new to me. Personally I’m enjoying the works of Mark Wilson, whose books have recently come into my centre of gravity. His new novella, Head Boy, is gruesome but you just can’t take your eyes off of it for a second.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m about to release volume four of my ‘The Short Shorts’ project, it’s called The Bad Day, and is a bit of a curve ball for people who kind of know what to expect from my work. Going back to that ‘experimental’ tag that I said that somebody had given to me, this is what I want to do. I want to challenge your expectations. I might be new, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hit the ground running. I want people to look forward to seeing what I’m going to do next, and whether they love it or hate it, they still want more.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Friends. I honestly did not expect the support I got when I started out. It humbled me to the very core.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Hopefully yes, but if not then it’s not the end of the world. There’s more money to be made in the kindle market that there is the paperback one, but my pleasure really does lie in knowing that somebody I don’t know has a copy of my book on their bookshelf. Chuck Palahniuk once wrote ‘The aim isn’t to live forever, the aim is to create something which will.” This is the ethos that I’ll always take with me. I can work for money, but writing will be my legacy.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nothing. I don’t believe in revisiting, and rewriting my work. I’ll check for plot holes and grammatical errors, but I always think that the new book I’ve written is the best thing ever. I sit there, and write. Whatever comes out is the way it’s going to be.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
At school I wrote a story about nuclear war that got a little bit of attention. At university a film I made was used on the show reel to attract future students. I liked that my stories could do that. I wanted more.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Just a little! Paul Carter is a Dead Man supposes that a bomb goes off in London in 2011, religious extremists take responsibility, and there’s an uprising. A revolution. The face of the country changes dramatically, but one man doesn’t like the way it’s going. That’s enough.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Would you think bad of me if I said no? Okay. I find it hard to plan a book. A story, or a plot. I find I work best when I just have the time and space to sit in front of my computer and just write. It’s a bit unorthodox but I find I work best when it’s spontaneous.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Irvine Welsh. By a country mile. His work stands head and shoulders above every other writer I’ve ever read. His stuff is funny, tragic, violent, gut wrenching, uncompromising.. I could go on.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, any overseas scenes come from my own past experience. And Googlemaps.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The first was done by a friend of mine, Benjamin Brown. After that though, I found it much better to start figuring out how to do it myself. I started making daft images on some publishing software, then eventually the stuff started looking quite good, in my opinion, so I do it all myself from now on. I’ve tried to remain as self sufficient as I can. I have a vision, and I find it’s just easier to create if I do it myself.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The first one was getting it finished. Four years is a long time. Now I don’t worry about what’s tough and what’s not. I just write. One of these days I’ll write something utterly rubbish, then I’ll reassess my approach.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Not to let bad reviews hurt you. Sometimes they help.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
As above. You can’t please everybody all of the time. Make sure that you’re happy with what you’re writing, it’s what YOU’RE putting into the world, make it a good representation of you.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done ?
If it were easier than it actually was, I’d love to have gone into film making professionally.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? if so what is it?
This should do enough to see what I’m doing and what I’m all about, come say hi. https://www.facebook.com/Ryanbrachaauthor