Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Niall Leonard

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Niall Leonard

Crusher (Random House Canada) is Niall Leonard's first novel. Niall is no stranger to writing though, having already forged a successful career as a screenwriter in the UK, working in film and television and leading seminars and workshops for the BBC and the Northern Ireland Film Council amongst others.

Today Niall takes on the Dirty Dozen interview, a series which invites authors to share twelve unexpected facts about themselves. Niall talks to Open Book about the culinary benefits of a big family, a haunted apartment and a plethora of Niall Leonards.

  1. I have five brothers and two sisters. We used to fight constantly as kids but now we meet up every year with our families for a big week- long party. With so many children my mother needed help in the kitchen so she taught me how to cook. Now I cook for fun but I haven’t taught my own sons how to cook, and all they ever make for themselves is pasta with pesto sauce.
  2. The working title for Crusher was Dead Dad. I tried a hundred titles before I came up with Crusher, and chose that because I couldn’t find many other books with exactly the same title. The book’s not named after the hero — he’s named after the book.
  3. Crusher is my first published novel, but I wrote one when I was twenty, as part of my English course at York University. That novel was called The Fool’s Apprentice, and it was never published because it was truly awful. In fact I may track down everyone who has ever read it and kill them.
  4. I once accidentally drove over a wildcat in Italy. I felt terrible about it — though the cat felt worse — and ever since I always slow down for cats. You just don’t know what they are going to do.
  5. One of the first things I notice about people is their teeth, because mine aren’t very good. (I ate too many sugar sandwiches as a kid.) The ones at the back are mostly fillings.
  6. The first flat I ever rented in London was haunted. It was like being in a house where an alarm is going off really loudly, only you can’t hear it. I lasted one night and had to move out. The weirdest part is — I don’t believe in ghosts. Go figure.
  7. I used to think my name was unusual but it turns out there are half a dozen Niall Leonards just in Southern England. One is a doctor in Brighton. Another is an Irish diplomat who is also an expert on Turkish rugs. We corresponded once, briefly, but of course we didn’t have very much to say to each other, apart from, ‘Oh, you’re called Niall Leonard too. That’s funny.’
  8. I have different colour vision in each eye. My left eye sees red more brightly than my right. I’m not sure if that’s unusual, but it surprised me when I found out.
  9. I collect musical instruments, because I’d love to play in a band, but I have never had enough patience to learn any of them. My younger brother plays the guitar brilliantly. He used to play ‘Hotel California’ over and over again while he was learning, and I had to listen, because we lived in a very small house. Whenever I hear that tune now I want to bang my head against the wall. He knows this and likes to play it when I visit him just to watch my reaction.
  10. My friends and family think I am some sort of computer expert because I can usually fix problems and know how to clean out viruses and Trojans. They don’t realize I am looking up the answers in Google, and I never tell them because I like to pretend I’m clever.
  11. I was the captain of York University Karate Team for three years. My best mate at the club, Phil, was a better fighter than me but I got the job because I have a very loud voice. Knowing a bit about fighting comes in handy when writing punch-ups like I do in Crusher. It’s good to know all those multi-coloured bruises and cracked ribs weren’t for nothing.
  12. When I was a kid I didn’t want to grow up because I thought it would be no fun. I was wrong, as it turned out. Just as well, because I didn’t have much choice in the matter.

Niall Leonard is a drama and comedy screenwriter, born in Northern Ireland and living in West London with his wife, bestselling author E L James, and their two children. Among his many television credits, he has created episodes of Wire in the Blood, Silent Witness, Ballykissangel and Hornblower. He has also led seminars and workshops on screenwriting and script editing for the BBC, the Northern Ireland Film Council and the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild, and has lectured on the creative process at the University of Reading. Crusher is Niall Leonard's debut novel.

For more information about Crusher please visit the Random House Canada website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

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JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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