An Comhrá / The Chat with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.

Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is another congoer and enthusiastic supporter of Dublin 2019. He’s an RPG writer, and has recently finished the gigantic Dracula Dossier project, which he wrote about here for us. Gareth is published by Pelgrane Press, another one of the small presses with a strong Irish connection that works to make the SFF universe a better place! We caught up with him after Dragonmeet in the UK and got him to chat with us!


(Image courtesy of Paul and Fil Baldowski)

Social media has revolutionized publishing for everyone involved by collapsing the space between creator and consumer. Has the rise in social media affected you in any way (good or bad)?

Social media’s collapsed the spaces between everyone. We’re all in on top of one another now, sharing our lives. For writers, this is tremendously useful – we’re lonely, fearful creatures by instinct, and Twitter lets us have water-cooler conversations and gossip without leaving solitary confinement. It’s also immensely reassuring to see other, more established writers wrestling with doubts and problems, same as the rest of us.

Social media lets you see how the sausage of life gets made.

And that last line is why I probably shouldn’t try working in marketing.


It is said that learning to write well is like experiencing a series of never ending writing related epiphanies. If you had to pick one, what is the most important lesson you have learned, so far?

What you’ve written isn’t as awful as Microsoft Word makes you think it is.

I’ll unpack that a little. It’s easy to see the flaws and problems in a piece of text when you’ve been dragging it into existence on the screen. The computer screen is an operating table in a battlefield hospital, drenched in gore and bodily fluids. Get your writing out of there and into some other format, and it magically becomes better. Time and again, I’m shocked to discover that something I’d convinced myself was irredeemably awful is actually quite ok after someone’s laid it out nicely and printed it. (Time and distance can do the same thing. Anything that breaks the mental connection between the process of kicking the story into shape, and the story itself works, as long as you end up seeing the text with fresh eyes.) It’s not a panacea. Bad writing is still bad writing no matter what, but it’s easy to convince yourself that everything is awful and terrible and nogoodallbad when you’re in the trenches.

(As a warning, the same magic also hides typos. You see more spelling errors in the first minute of looking over a printed copy of your book than you do in ten hours of proofreading…)


(Image Courtesy of Adam Thornsburg)

What are you working on now? Any new projects, novels, or stories that will be out soon?

Right now, I’m putting together the last few bits of the Dracula Dossier project, a huge adventure for the roleplaying game Night’s Black Agents, where you play burned spies and vampire hunters in a shadowy war against Count Dracula himself. In the last year, we’ve rewritten Dracula to reveal the clandestine truth behind Stoker’s novel, built a century of secret history, created more characters, monsters and conspiracies than I can easily recall, faked government documents, and even recorded a wax cylinder.

It’s been marvellous fun.


As an author or creator, why is attending conventions important, and what do you love most about them?

Conventions are the foundation of my career. I started out writing games for roleplaying cons, and that led to a little paying work, which became a sideline in freelancing, which became a full-time job. Conventions are bubbles of warmth and joy and friendship and fun; they’re parties with intent. I love them because they’ve been very good to me, and I want other people to have the same sort of wonderful, lifelong sense of friendship and camaraderie that I get from them.


Why do you support the Dublin 2019 Worldcon bid?

It will be grand, in both the conventional and uniquely Irish senses of the word.


Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is a writer and game designer living in Cork with more children, dogs and Apple products than he ever expected.

Facebook: /garethhanrahan

Twitter: @mytholder


(Image courtesy of Craig Oxbrow)