Paul Murray studied English at Trinity College Dublin, but it took a Catalan businessmen he was teaching in Barcelona to point out ‘the many faults in my grammar I had not known about hitherto’.
Although Murray’s Barcelona experiences put him off the profession, teaching forms one of the strands of Skippy Dies. The novel started as a short story but, he says, ‘I kept having more and more ideas’. It finally emerged as a 661-page novel published in three volumes. Another of Murray’s pre-writing stints was a year spent working for Waterstones booksellers, which made him realise that ‘writing’s a very, very precarious business’. Despite this, he himself became a writer, almost by default. Every other job he tried ‘turned out, on investigation, to be much more boring than I’d imagined. So I suppose the solution was to just keep on imagining’.