Arts Q&A: Crime writer Anthony Quinn on Schubert, Beckett and the perils of social media

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Tyrone crime writer Anthony Quinn

Co Tyrone crime writer Anthony Quinn – after 10 years as in social work I thought I'd go mad if I didn't write a book
Co Tyrone crime writer Anthony Quinn – after 10 years as in social work I thought I'd go mad if I didn't write a book

1. When did you think about writing as a career and what were your first steps into it?

I started writing when I was six and have never really stopped. When I left Queen's University with a degree in English I wrote short stories, which were shortlisted for awards. However, the idea of giving up a year or two of my life to write a novel daunted me. So I did a Masters in social work and became a mental health social worker instead, and immersed myself knee deep in reality. After 10 years in that field, I thought I'd go mad if I didn't write a book. I started writing my first book, Disappeared, at the age of 36.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

Gigs? What are they? I gave up my social life a long time ago to write. I write every night with a target of filling one page. Spending a few hours alone every day with a blank page changes you, for the better, I hope. It becomes like a form of meditation.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

The Smiths.

4. The record you’d take to a desert island?

Schubert's Winterreise. He's the Morrissey of the classical world.

5. And the book?

Raft-building for Dummies.

6. Top three films?

Annie Hall, Manhattan and Cinema Paradiso.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

I love Bill Murray, but it has to be Lost in Translation.

8. Favourite authors?

Samuel Beckett, Graham Greene and John Le Carré.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

GAA – whenever Tyrone are on a good run.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Granada or Seville. Failing that a beach holiday in Sligo.

11. Pet hate?

Social media. Dickens and Shakespeare accomplished so much because they didn't have followers and friends waving at them from their inkwells.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? My oven-baked chicken curry.

Dessert? Plum sorbet laced with sloe gin.

Drink? Sparkling water.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

My wife Clare. We met when we were students in Lavery's attic disco. We're both short-sighted and neither of us were wearing our glasses that night. We literally bumped into each other on the dance floor. As they say, true love is blind.

14. Is there a God?

I'm a pessimist by nature, but yes.

:: Anthony Quinn's award-winning Inspector Celcius Daly series is set in the Tyrone and Armagh countryside. The paperback of the latest in the series, Trespass, was published this month, while Undertow will be released in November. He will be reading at the Hinterland Festival at Kells on June 25 (Hinterland.ie)