Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)
The Fifth Quadrant by C.J. Ryan
Add The Fifth Quadrant to bookshelf
Add to Bookshelf

The Fifth Quadrant

Best Seller
The Fifth Quadrant by C.J. Ryan
Sep 26, 2006 | ISBN 9780553902969

Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Sep 26, 2006 | ISBN 9780553902969

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Product Details

Author Q&A

C.J. Ryan


Moment you knew you’d become a writer:
I can recall writing “books” when I was about seven or eight, so I guess it was always in the cards. I wrote my first novel when I was in high school. It was terrible, and the next one was even worse. But I won a major writing award in college, and that made me think that a writing career might be possible. Possibility became reality when I sold my first book at 27; you don’t really feel like a legitimate writer until you cash that first check!

Writing habits:
I work in a sealed, soundproofed bunker, a thousand feet below ground level. Trained wolverines guard the entrance to the shaft, and the surrounding area has been mined. The neighbors are beginning to complain, but screw ‘em — this is about art!

Best moment in the writing process:
In writing a novel, you are really creating a puzzle that must be solved. You begin with an overall theme and plot in mind, but even if you have a detailed outline, you still face the challenge of tying the whole thing together in a way that’s honest and makes sense. Frequently, you don’t know how you are going to solve specific parts of the puzzle until you reach that point in the story. If you have set things up well, it often happens that the dynamics of the story and the personalities of your characters will come together in a way that solves the puzzle for you. When that happens, it’s an incredibly rewarding moment.


Favorite scene / character:

My favorite scene in The Fifth Quadrant comes near the end, when Norman Mingus tells all. The whole book is aimed toward that scene. And when it came time to write it, it felt right and true to the character. I always enjoy the Mingus scenes — I mean, how often do you get to write about a character who’s 130 years old? He’s a wise and decent man, but he has a past, and not every chapter in it has been entirely honorable. The price he pays for being who he is, and what he has been, turns out to be higher than even Mingus expected.

Every book has many sources of inspiration, but I think that The Fifth Quadrant owes a lot to the famous final lines of The Great Gatsby: “And so, we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.”

What’s next:
The fourth book in the Dexta series, Burdens of Empire, is scheduled for publication in August 2007. Most of it takes place on a strange and hostile alien world, where Imperial occupation is opposed by a determined and mysterious insurgency. Any similarities to other occupations and insurgencies in other centuries is purely fortuitous. Meanwhile, I’m currently working on the fifth book in the series.


C.J. Ryan is the pseudonym for somebody else, about whom little is known. It is thought that he was born in Hannibal, Missouri, and spent an idyllic childhood along the Mississippi River. He later became a steamboat pilot, then went West to the mining camps, where he became a newspaper correspondent and the author of…oh, wait a minute… that’s a different pseudonym.

Books currently on the nightstand:
I read a lot of history. Recent reads include Joseph Ellis’s Founding Brothers and American Sphinx. For fun, I enjoy Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin tales, and George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series.

Books you wish you’d written:
Oh my! Well, I suppose I wouldn’t mind selling forty million copies, even if it meant writing an unmitigated piece of crap like….well, you know which book I mean. But as for books I’d put my real name on, I suppose I’d choose The Great Gatsby and Gravity’s Rainbow. Fitzgerald and Pynchon are two very different writers, but I stand in awe of their talent.

Favorite band:
I pretty much stopped listening to popular music when Disco came in. Has it left yet? Is it safe to come out? Meanwhile, I enjoy the music of the Beatles, CSN & Y, the Dead, James Taylor, Paul Simon — the usual suspects. I also have a soft spot for Big Band Jazz from the 30s and 40s.

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Back to Top