John Boyne is the author of nine novels for adults, five for young readers and a collection of short stories. His most recent novels are The Heart’s Invisible Furies (February 2017 – a Richard and Judy Bookclub pick, now shortlisted for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award) and A Ladder to the Sky (August 2018).

Where are you now?

On a plane, flying home from London to Dublin.

Where and when do you do most of your writing?

My favourite is at home in my office, overlooking the garden. But I travel a lot so am happy to write in hotel rooms, trains, planes, bars, wherever I find myself.

If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?

Checking emails and favourite websites. Turning my phone to mute.

Full-time or part-time?


Pen or keyboard?

Keyboard for first draft. Pen for every subsequent draft.

How do you relax when you’re writing?

By reading.

How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?

The story of a sociopathic aspiring writer who lacks an imagination but makes up for it by his ability to manipulate powerful people into helping him.

Who do you write for?


Who do you share your work in progress with?

No one.

Which literary character do you wish you created?

Harry Potter, for obvious reasons!

Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.

“In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.” – John Irving.
(I have a tattoo on my arm with the latter 5 words.)

Which book do you wish you’d written?

The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley.

Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?

Markus Zusak’s Bridge of Clay.

What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?

Lloyd Jones’ The Cage.

Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?

James Joyce, Ulysses. I’ve never gone there and doubt I ever will.

Which book/s do you treasure the most?

I have a beautiful signed special edition of A Widow for One Year by John Irving, my favourite writer, and I value this greatly.

What is the last work you read in translation?

Sjón, CoDex 1962.

Which story collections would you particularly recommend?

Curtis Sittenfeld, You Think It, I’ll Say It.

What will you read next?

William Boyd, Love is Blind.

What are you working on next?

A new novel for younger readers.

Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Gore Vidal, Oscar Wilde, Kate Bush, Emily Dickinson.

If you weren’t writing you’d be…?



John_Boyne_290John Boyne’s latest novel is A Ladder to the Sky (Doubleday, £14.99). His previous novel The Heart’s Invisible Furies, now in paperback from Black Swan, is shortlisted for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2018, the winner of which will be announced on Thursday 27 September.
Read more 

Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award