Talking Thrillers with Author Catherine Ryan Howard: 56 Days

Catherine Ryan Howard is an internationally bestselling author from Cork, Ireland. Her work has been shortlisted for the CWA's John Creasey New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Dagger awards, and in 2019 her novel The Liar's Girl was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. The Nothing Man was a number 1 bestseller in her native Ireland. 

Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as an administrator for a travel company in the Netherlands and a front desk agent in a hotel in Walt Disney World, Florida. She was once obsessed with the idea of becoming a BSL4 virologist and she still hopes to be a NASA astronaut when she grows up.

She studied English Literature at Trinity College Dublin as a mature student – taking the first of her first-year exams the day before the launch of Distress Signals – and alongside internationally bestselling authors Carmel Harrington and Hazel Gaynor, is a founding member of The Inspiration Project. She is currently based in Dublin where she is binge-watching Netflix, drinking copious amounts of coffee and working on her next novel.

Below, we catch up with Catherine to chat about the launch of her brand new smash-hit thriller, 56 Days.

TFx: Where did you come up with the idea for this book, and what can you tell us about the plot?

Howard: In March 2020, Ireland was put under a strict lockdown that meant, effectively, we had to stay at home unless we were shopping for food or taking brief, individual exercise within a 2 kilometer radius of home. At the time I was living alone in Dublin city center and working on a book about a shooting in a nightclub – but suddenly, that started to feel like science fiction.

Then I heard the UK’s deputy chief medical officer advise new couples to either press pause or move in together in order to get around the ‘no mixing between households’ rule that meant you couldn’t see anyone socially, even outdoors, that you didn’t already live with.

For years I’d had a vague idea for a thriller where a couple meets and falls in love, but all is not what it seems – and now I had the perfect circumstances in which they could do that. I like to think that for both me and my characters, this story would’ve happened anyway, but lockdown gave us all the opportunity for it to happen like this.

TFx: How did you choose the setting(s)?

Howard: I like my books to be realistic so there was no question that my couple, Ciara and Oliver, would be locked down in the same 2 kilometer zone of Dublin city center that I was – which is an area on the south side of the city that goes from a picturesque stretch of Grand Canal all the way to Trinity College.

I spent that lockdown in my increasingly claustrophobic studio apartment but as soon as restrictions began to ease, I moved further out of the city to a bigger place. So, in the book, Ciara lives in a version of my old apartment and Oliver lives in a version of my current one.

TFx: What are you reading now, and what good books have you read lately?

Howard: I’m currently reading Seven Days in June by Tia Williams which is one of the most enjoyable novels I’ve read all year – the insider publishing stuff is delicious! Recently I’ve read and adored Dream Girl by Laura Lippman, Bath Haus by PJ Vernon and The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer. It’s been a great summer for crime fiction fans.

TFx: What are you working on now?

Howard: My next book is set on a movie set and it was sparked by something my brother told me. He’s an actor and a few years ago he filmed an indie horror movie at a secluded house in the Irish countryside. One of the first things the production did was visit the local Garda (police) station to say that if they got any reports of blood-curdling screams during the night, not to worry, it was just them filming a scene. I thought, if you wanted to get away with murder, a movie set might be the perfect place to do it…

Get Howard's latest release, 56 Days out now on Amazon.

56 Days

No one even knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.


Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores.


When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who—and what—he really is.


Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime?

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