Sheila Ryan

Sheila Ryan

My family hail from Ireland and have passed on their love of storytelling. I have written a number of short stories and published my first book - Untold Stories Beachy Head in 2010.

For 20 years I have worked as a medic for London Ambulance Service. I live in Surrey with my five sons, three of them are still living with me even though they all have beards now!

I have an MA in Creative and Professional Writing which I took at Roehampton University, aged 48, despite having never done an undergraduate degree.

One thing I've learned - the hardest thing to write about is yourself.


Sheila Ryan in 60 seconds

When did you start writing?

I started writing short stories over 10 years ago. But have always scribbled ideas and characters ever since I can remember.

What do you love about short stories?

I love short stories because they are relatively quick to write, it gives me a real feeling of achievement when one is finished. I also love reading them because they are an instant fix for a reading addict.

Do you write in other forms?

I have written creative non-fiction, publishing my book Untold Stories Beachy Head in 2010. It began as a 4,000 word essay but as more stories began to emerge it eventually became a book taking three years to finish.

What distracts you from writing?

Most things distract me if I'm honest. When I was writing my book I wore different coloured fascinators in my hair to warn my boys whether or not they could interrupt me. A red headband was a signal that I was not to be disturbed for anything that was less than imminently life threatening. A pink-feathered fascinator meant it was OK to approach me - but make it quick. And a purple-ribboned headband meant that I was looking for any excuse to escape the keyboard. It worked like a charm.

Outside of writing, what are your other passions?

My greatest passion is my family - my sons. Also lighthouses, Irish fiction and history, reading, and plays.

What is your favourite book?

I love Irish stories and tales. Into the West By Mary Ryan made me cry and The Van By Roddy Doyle made me laugh out loud. Bliss.

Who are your favourite writers?

Khaled Hosseini, Samuel Becket and Oscar Wilde.

Where is your dream location?

Anywhere with uninterrupted sunshine and sea.

What one item would you put into Room 101?

The song Dream by The Everley Brothers makes me cringe.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Just get writing and don't stop.

Work by Sheila Ryan:

The Green Coat
Sheila Ryan
£1.59 Added
A young girl from a poor family walks to and from her job in a factory in clothes ill suited to the cold winter weather. Her father, despite their lack of money, thinks something should be done about this.

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