Interview with Ian Lahey

Ian Lahey is the author of Matt Murphy Private Eye, as well as our upcoming story The Janitor. Ian kindly answered a few questions from Karl and me…

1 What gave you the idea for your character Matt Murphy?
I used to run a small school comic book publication when I was at high school, and Matt Murphy was the protagonist of one of my strips. I’m not very good at drawing and so I would make him wear a black hat and a grey trench coat with the collar up so that only his eyes and cigarette would be visible.
2 Do you have a favorite author who inspires you? What is it about their work that stands out?
I find inspiration in many authors and  it would be impossible to pick only one. Instead I could say that for each aspect of writing I have a favorite writer, for instance I look to Anne McCaffrey for the impressive range of vocabulary, Isaac Asimov for plot design, Terrry Pratchett for wit and dialogue, to name the first three that come to my mind.
3 Are you working on another story at the moment?
I have two projects under development right now. One is a short story based on a real event which happened in WWII, but set in a dieselpunk framework.  The other is a much more ambitious project, a full novel which writes, and often re-writes itself, at its own leisurely pace.
4 Your writing has a fast-paced, ‘pop’ feel to it. Were you always drawn to this style of writing?
As a matter of fact my writing style depends greatly on the character and the general setting of the story., though I generally like to keep my prose agile. Thus the writing style for Matt Murphy was essentially born with and for that character.
5 How would you describe the difference between popular writing and literary writing?
This brings  to my mind another question, which for me is closely related: do you see the film first and read the book later, or vice-versa?  For me literary fiction is the kind of story which is written first, and then can be made, with varying success, into a film, and in this order it should be read, and then seen on the big screen, if the director hasn’t made a mess of it.
Pop fiction is different, because its rhythm and language are much closer to film language. It is written during the making of the film – of course in this case the film is in the author’s mind – and this translates into more immediate and direct enjoyment for the reader.
6 Do you have plans to publish a collection of short stories later?
Why not? It could be a collection of my more successful ones or maybe all of Matt Murphy’s adventures.
7 What do you see as the strengths of the traditional publishing model? What are its weaknesses?
The strengths of the traditional publishing model are in its established position on the market and the selectiveness of agents and editors, which guarantees that the reader will only get top quality books from great writers, and no surprises.
The principal weakness? No surprises.
8 Would you consider self-publishing?
Yes, but limited to electronic form, the much coveted paperback format is too clogged by the system for any single author to reach any notoriety without massive support and publicity from other media.
9 You were born in Milan– do you feel living abroad has influenced your writing?
Definitely. Being bilingual means I’ve been able to read twice as many books in their original language. And this was great, because when I was a teenager I just devoured books.
10 When do your ideas most often come to you?
To my despair, ideas come when I’m furthest from any means of writing them down, when I’m driving or carrying shopping bags. As a result I have about six notebooks scattered around the house and at work and rely heavily on my smartphone’s notepad application. When I can relax I look at what I’ve written and realize it’s not as great as it initially seemed to be – some ideas are actually pretty zany – but as I read my notes and try to improve them, my creative process gets into gear, and that’s when the really good ideas start coming.


Thank you, Ian!