Lord of the Rams is a self-published a comedy memoir, and it’s author Ronan Smith will be selling and signing copies at Le Cheile this Sunday.
He has also given us a free extract for meg.ie readers. Click here to have a quick read.
According to Ronan, “several chapters in the book are set in Oldcastle and many of the characters hail from Meath, meaning that it will be of extra interest to those in the Meath area”. We caught up with him recently to find out more.
What inspired you to write Lord of the Rams?
I guess the idea stemmed from my desire to write a book that casual readers – perhaps people who seldom pick up a book – could enjoy. And I think the best stories are often the ones based on fact – real people doing the most outrageous things that you couldn’t even begin to make up. One reviewer recently commented that I “probably had this book written in [my] head for quite some time” and he was definitely on the mark. I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up with and meet some very eccentric characters over the years, and I guess one day I realised that some of the shenanigans we got up to would make for a good book. And I think most people, not just the Irish, will be able to relate to the characters in Lord of the Rams. There’s not too many books out there that can make you laugh, but I’d like to think that this is one of them.
How did you feel when you were writing the book?
Writing Lord of the Rams was a slow but enjoyable process. I certainly couldn’t be accused of rushing things. It took me three years to get the first draft together and another year to apply the final spit and polish, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I didn’t want to finish writing the book and then realise a year or two later that I’d forgotten important elements, so I spent a lot of time mulling ideas and memories around in my head before committing them to paper. Overall I’m happy with how it turned out.
You published the book yourself. Any regrets that you took that approach?
No, not at all. I always had a vision for the book and thought, given the “play it safe” approach of the publishing industry in general, that a conventional publisher would demand changes/compromises to the book that I wasn’t prepared to make. Publishing it myself allowed me to be free to control all aspects of the book, from the cover design and marketing of it to, most importantly, the story itself.
On the downside, it’s definitely been harder to promote and distribute the book myself than I initially thought – especially when working full time. And then there are the costs, which have been substantial. So it’s great that the organisers of Le Chéile have given me the opportunity to sell the book to a ready-made audience at the festival. I’m looking forward to meeting some familiar and not so familiar faces on the day.
And now, a year after the initial release of the book, has it all been worth it?
Yes, most definitely. I think most writers like to get feedback on their work and I’m no different. I wrote Lord of the Rams with a male audience in mind as I felt that particular market was being neglected by the publishing industry. So I feel my work has been somewhat validated by some reports I’ve received about fellas who, having barely ever read a book in their lives, read Lord of the Rams and enjoyed it. Having said that, it would seem that more women than men are reading the book, and that it itself has been a pleasant surprise.
As a massive Lord of the Rings fan, I have to ask where the name for your book came from? Is there a connection to Tolkien’s classic?
No, there isn’t a connection – at least not directly. A friend of mine brought me back a t-shirt from New Zealand, which had a big picture of a Ram’s head on the front with text beneath it saying “Lord of the Rams”. Obviously the t-shirt was a play on the books/movies. However, given that my nickname, and thus the main character in the book, is called “Rams”, I thought “Lord of the Rams” would make a great name for the book. And the rest is history!
Click here to read an exclusive extract from Lord of the Rams.