First, I read and reviewed his debut novel, South of Bixby Bridge. Then, having been a tad bit annoyed, I called his bluff--which, much to my surprise, he answered. Later, he released the first two books in The Park Service Trilogy: The Park Service and Isle of Man. I also reviewed both of them here and here. And most recently, he released his newest novel, Jane's Melody, which, of course, I also reviewed.
It was this last book that prompted me to actually formally interview Ryan. Why? Well, because Jane's Melody is an adult romance, and I love romance. I knew before I even read this book that I was going to have some questions for Ryan. So, here they are...
1. Where did you get the idea for Jane's Melody?
I’m never entirely sure where a story comes from when I write. Jane came to me one night in a dream and I woke knowing her history and her pain and what she needed to heal it. But how that healing might find her was still a mystery when I began writing.
2. Did you find this harder to write than your other books? If so, why?
I never find it particularly difficult to write. It usually comes natural to me once I start a story. However, this was a very emotional book for me and it did sometimes take a toll on my heart. In the end, it was a cathartic and uplifting experience finding peace and love along with Jane.
3. First there was South of Bixby Bridge, which isn't really genre specific. Then there was The Park Service Trilogy, which is young adult dystopian. And now there's Jane's Melody, which is romance. What made you decide to branch out into yet another genre?
I didn’t decide. And I can’t imagine ever making that decision. I don’t consider myself a genre writer. In fact, I couldn’t really tell you what genre a story belongs in until it’s finished and someone needs to categorize it for readers. When a story comes to me I do my best to tell it the way it wants to be told. I would imagine that if I spent any energy at all considering genre when I write then other forces would creep in and tinker with the story’s structure or style and I’d end up with something that wasn’t pure.
4. Did you do any sort of research for this book? If so, what? Did you read any romance novels before writing this book? If so, which ones?
Yes and no. I’m always researching and sketching characters, often without knowing what story they will inhabit. Jane had been with me for a while, and Caleb too, through songs and poems I had been writing, and then their story presented itself and I had very little research to do outside of small bits of fact checking after I had written it. I did not read any specific books to prepare for writing this one.
5. I know the final Park Service book will be out later this year, but what else can we expect from you?
I wish I knew. I’m working on several things now but I never know which of them will take over and become the story I have to tell. I have some manuscripts hiding in drawers that I don’t think are ready yet to publish, and some of these other stories I’ve started might keep me from returning to them to make them ready, at least for now.
6. Is there a certain story or type of story you want to write, but haven't yet? If so, why haven't you written it yet?
I’m fascinated by the mind and how it works and how it sometimes works against us. I have a character that I love and continue to get to know and his story deals with mental illness from an insider’s perspective. I really hope to someday finish it.
7. Your books have been widely popular. Has this success changed you or anything in your life in any way?
I hope not. I’m still just as tickled when anyone reaches out to let me know that they enjoyed something I’ve written. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that. I feel a very personal connection to my readers—maybe because I spent so many years working without them and I had to imagine a friend that I was writing for. I think every reader I come across embodies that friend somehow. If anything, my work finding some success has made me more appreciative of the process. I can take very little credit outside of doing the work. The stories come from somewhere else entirely and I hope to never lose contact with wherever it is they’re born.