Book Talk: Irish writer John Boyne tackles Russian tsars

Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:41pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - Irish writer John Boyne set out to write contemporary novels, but his fascination with history kept taking him back in time to produce seven novels including best-seller "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas".

Boyne's latest novel, "The House of Special Purpose", is centered around Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov, the last royals of Russia, and the events that led to the collapse of autocracy.

Boyne, who was born in Ireland in 1971 and studied English literature and creative writing, spoke to Reuters:

Q: Did "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" change your life?

A: "Considerably. Before that book came out I had been published for a number of years and been a writer since I was a teenager but my books had not been successful in a commercial sense. All those years I had wanted to reach a readership and wanted to prove myself and this gave me some authorization. So many readers were moved by it and had an emotional response to it and it made me more ambitious."

Q: Are you now writing fulltime?

A: "Yes, there is also the freedom that a book like that gives you, being able to devote yourself entirely to writing so that you can become a focused writer. I worked in a bookshop for seven years when I used to write in the morning before going to work. About a year before "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" came out, I decided to go fulltime as a writer as I needed to focus and take my chances. I moved out of Dublin to a small village on the coast of Ireland where it was cheaper to live."

Q: Are you back in Dublin now?   Continued...

<p>Irish author John Boyne stands during a photocall to promote the film of his book "The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas", on the second day of the 56th San Sebastian Film Festival September 19, 2008. REUTERS/Vincent West</p>