At 22, a few years after dropping out of college, Catherine became a campsite courier in the Netherlands. Then it was off to Disney World for 18 months; an experience that she wrote about.
Back home, Catherine started several commercial women’s fiction novels, but her heart was never in it.
Meanwhile she self-published three non-fiction books, and worked freelance for a publisher, managing social media.
“That gave me the time and space to write.”
The idea for Distress Signals came from an article her mother gave her about a girl who went missing on a cruise.
“I researched the subject and was horrified to learn that hundreds of people had disappeared. I was appalled, but thought, as a writer, that a cruise ship would be the perfect place to get away with a murder.
“I realised that was the book I wanted to write; before it was all about getting published.”
30,000 words in, Catherine got stuck, and to divert herself, applied to read English in Dublin. Then, sending her work out, she gained an agent, and, six weeks into her university course, a two book deal. Distress Signals is being published in America, and has been optioned for TV.
Who is Catherine Ryan Howard
Date of birth: 5th July, 1982 in Douglas, Cork
Education: Regina Mundi College; Lancaster University; dropped out after three weeks. Currently second year at Trinity College Dublin, English.
Family: Mum and Dad, younger brother and sister.
The Day Job: Student and writer.
Interests: Travel; Formula One; crafting.
Favourite Writers: Michael Connolly; Harlan Coben; Gillian Flynn; Caroline Kepnes; Liz Nugent.
Second Novel: It’s set in Ireland and is on dry land.
Top Tip: Worry about the book, rather than the mechanics of getting published.
Web: www.Catherineryanhoward.com Twitter: @cathryanhoward
The Debut: Distress Signals. Corvus:€17.99. Kindle: €5.12.
When Adam Dunne’s girlfriend fails to return from a business trip to Barcelona, he is bemused. And when he discovers that she was on a cruise ship, and was with another man, his world goes into tailspin.
Has she left him, or is it something altogether more sinister?
The Verdict: Compulsive and clever. I read it in one sitting.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 7th May
© Sue Leonard. 2016.