1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
My name is John Ryland. I like to write short stories and novels that tend to hang out in the dark corners of society where weird stuff happens.
2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?
My latest novel is Peripheral, a horror thriller about a young woman who finds herself in a shadow world after hitting her head in a fall. Aided by a young girl she’s seen all her life and thought a ghost, she learns that she was dragged into this side world known as the Peripheral that exists at the fringes of our world in an eternal state of limbo. Time passes, but its inhabitants never sleep, eat, or enjoy any aspects of their old selves. The demon that drug her to this place did so to enjoy all the vices that our world has to offer, ie: drugs, alcohol, sex, and even good food. Unfortunately, they do this to excess and eventually ruin the physical body. Now she must find a way to regain her body and defeat the powerful, centuries-old demon before it’s too late.
3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?
Camille powers is a stay at home wife and enjoys her life. She is tenacious, strong, and adaptable. Unfortunately, she is also stubborn and takes too many chances, especially with the demon.
4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?
The hardest scene to write in Peripheral was the confrontation when the demon (who possesses Camille’s body) attacks her husband, Bo. Hopelessly outgunned, Bo gets the hell beaten out of him when he stands up to the demon, but also must endure a powerful psychological battle between who he sees as his wife, but knows she is a demon. Getting the fear, anger, desperation, and pain just right took several rewrites.
5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?
Peripheral and another novel (The Man with No Eyes) were traditionally published, but I did self-publish two novels and a collection of short stories prior to their publication. For me, there have been good and bad on each track.
6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?
I think one of the most difficult things to get used to are rejections and the disappointment that comes with them. I’ve had hundreds of rejections and they still hurt, but not as much. The best advice I could give is twofold. Write what you want to write. It’s your book. If everyone wrote like the authors who are successful now, nothing new would ever happen. Even the “greats” were unknown authors once upon a time. The back half of that is to never give up. Never give up honing your craft, and never give up pushing it into the faces of publishers, agents, and readers. If you don’t advocate for yourself, no one will.
7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
All of my books are stand-alone novels, but like others authors, most take place in a fictitious county in Alabama.
8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?
Being from the south, I was enthralled by southern writers like Capote, Harper Lee, Hemingway, and such. It made me think that some kid from Alabama might have a chance. I read To Kill A Mockingbird in seventh grade and fell in love with the idea of books set in the south.
9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?
The best way to advertise books is always a mystery. I’ve run ads and promotions with mixed results. I think connecting with people helps sell books. You’re selling yourself as much as the book.
10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?
I don’t like the “it was all a dream” troupe. I think a writer employs it as a last result when they’ve written themselves into a corner and can’t come up with an ending. Personally, one of my favorites is just to leave people hanging. It is what it is. People can then build their own conclusion in their minds, plus it leaves the door open for a possible sequel.
11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?
I always read reviews, but sometimes wish I didn’t. I realize that it’s a person’s opinion, but sometimes I think they miss the premise of the book. I usually brood about bad reviews for a day or so then I dismiss them. People have a right to not like my work. I realize it’s not for everyone. I like to come up with original plots, sometimes that is hard for people to grasp, thus, they miss some of the larger themes.
12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?
I prefer to “wing it”. I’m 100% pantser. The story unfolds before me like a road, and I follow it. I have a general feel for what I want, but the characters run the show. Of course, this sometimes requires a lot of work on the first pass to smooth plot holes etc. but it’s fun to write. It’s like reading a book while also writing a book. When I’m working and it’s going good, all I need is a keyboard and my reading glasses. I don’t need music, silence, or anything. Actually, I wrote my first published novel, Souls Harbor, sitting at the dining room table while kids played and watched TV. Now I have an office and a desk, but the kids and the dog still come in and visit.
13. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?
Up next is a long novella entitled The Unkindness of Ravens, which should be out this fall. It’s the story of an emotionally troubled young girl who follows a raven into the woods and finds the dead body of a kid. one of the tag lines I’ve been using is: “It’s not exactly finders’ keepers, but it’s not completely different either.”
14. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:
You can find all my buy links, sign up for my blog and monthly newsletters, see all the newest details, and check out poetry corner on my website.
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