A Bite of… JD Byrne

Q1: What’s your favorite book of all time and why did it speak to you so much?

I’m not a huge fan of questions about favorites because they seem to change on an almost daily basis (if you’d asked for a favorite album I’d just throw up my hands and run away – too many possibilities!). Having said that, going back through books I’ve loved and stuck with me and could qualify as the all-time favorite, I’d have to say it was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
For one thing, it’s funny. At the time I first encountered it in elementary school, thanks to my decade-older brother, sci-fi and fantasy to me was serious business. It was all about big ideas and probing issues related to the future of humanity. Sure there were swashbuckling adventures, but even those got framed in big-picture terms of good versus evil. The idea that you could take the same kind of setting, front load humor and satire (Star Wars may have made spaceships look junky and had a parade of wacky looking aliens, but did Lucas ever conceive something as wonderful as Vogon bureaucracy?) and still slip in some deep thoughts (so to speak) on the back end. These kinds of stories didn’t have to take themselves so seriously.
But one thing I’ve really loved going back to the Guide (in all its forms) is how much Adams uses the freedom of writing silly sci-fi to do really interesting things with world building (again – so to speak). The Hitchhiker’s universe is filled with wondrous, astounding, and downright amusing things that probably don’t have a lot of connection to scientific reality. I’ve noticed similar things in later books that I’ve come to love (Banks’s Culture series, the comic Saga) and it’s given me a little more confidence as a writer to do “weird” things in the worlds I create.
None of which is to say that anything I write comes out anything like The Hitchhiker’s Guide… of course.

Q2: If you had to move to another country, which would it be and why?

Given the current political climate I should probably give this some more detailed thought, but my choice right now would be the United Kingdom, probably (at my wife’s demand) somewhere in Scotland. I have an affinity for lots of British things – soccer, Formula 1, progressive rock – and I think it would be a generally pleasant place to be. It’s got its own problems, of course, but just about anyplace would. Plus, no need to learn a new language!
Besides, we’ve never been there and what better excuse is there for exploring than finding out about the place where you’re living?

Q3: If you received enough money to never need to work again, what would you spend your time doing?

I’d probably flip my life as it exists now. Right now I work full time as a lawyer and only get to write part time. If I was suddenly wealthy I’d go to writing (and promoting) full time. I’d be interested in seeing how productive I could be if I could dedicate my morning hours (when I tend to be more full of energy) to writing. I suspect I could get into a pretty good groove in terms of producing books and getting exposure for them.
But I wouldn’t give up practicing law altogether. I think I’d like to have a small pro bono practice where I could pick and choose a case here and there, help out a really worthy cause or client.

Sometimes the law gives you a chance to play Don Quixote, going off tilting at windmills. I don’t think I’ll ever to be able to give that up completely.

JD Byrne was born and raised around Charleston, West Virginia, before spending seven years in Morgantown getting degrees in history and law from West Virginia University. He's practised law for more than 15 years, writing briefs where he has to stick to real facts and real law. In his fiction, he gets to make up the facts, take or leave the law, and let his imagination run wild. He lives outside Charleston with his wife and the two cutest Chihuahuas the world has ever seen. You can catch up with JD Byrne on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and his own website.

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