Featured Author Interview, Ryan Gladney
It's featured author Friday! Okay, that's something new I'm shouting out but it will be a thing. I joined a site called Goodreads last year and joined a few groups and one of them features authors once a week to help with exposure. Now that I've gotten my blog rolling I'm adding the features to this on top of my facbook page, twitter, and google+ features.
So, without further adieu let me introduce the Goodreads featured author, Ryan Gladney!
Welcome Ryan, why don't you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Do you have pets? Family? Imaginary unicorn friend?
My name's Ryan. I'm from Minneapolis. No unicorns (yet), but I do have two cats, one wife, and one baby son at home, plus a bunch of other familial relations across the country.
Do you write for a particular genre, or do you cross genres? If so, what is your favorite genre to write for?
I don't write for a genre, but not for lack of trying. I totally thought I was writing sci-fi when I started Nine Lives of Adam Blake, but the end product is really not sci-fi at all. There is a speculative fiction element to the book, but it takes up maybe 5% of the whole. I was honestly kind of surprised to go back and read it and realize that, on a page-by-page basis, it's much more of a self-discovery/coming-of-age novel, heavily concerned with a particular love-story.
It’s said the are two types of authors planners and “pantsers” (those who plan out their books meticulously and those who write by the seat of their pants). What are you?
A pantser? I've never heard that term before—at least in regard to writing. I guess I'm both a pantser and a planner. The first few stages of my writing process are very pantserly. I brainstorm, outline, and write my first draft in a complete stream-of-conscious type state, without rules, concern for story, theme, grammar, narrative consistency, or anything else. Just vomit the whole thing out on the page. But after that, I get really analytical and rewrite, over and over and over again, slowly sculpting that original draft into something that resembles literature. I rewrote Nine Lives of Adam Blake about a dozen times, over the course of a year and a half.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading?
I'm on a classics kick at the moment. In the last month or so I reread Heart of Darkness and Call of the Wild, and right now I'm reading My Antonia. As far as new stuff, I read The Fault in Our Stars for my book club last month and loved it.
What was your experience with getting your book published? How did you start out? Did you have help?
I hired a professional editor, and I hired a friend of mine who is a graphic artist to do the cover art, but otherwise publishing the book was all on me. I’ve always been a writer, but I used to be put-off by the publication process: the hunt for an agent; the hunt for a publisher; the inevitable rejection letters. About two years ago my wife forwarded me an Amanda Hocking interview where she talked about her experience self-publishing. I remember reading her story and just feeling so energized. I could do this! Everything she said really resonated with me. I liked the autonomy, the responsibility, the DIY nature of self-publishing, the elimination of traditional gatekeepers, and the somewhat Darwinian forces that affect ebook success. It was like that cliché of the light-bulb flashing over my head. I knew self-publishing was the way to go. I never second-guessed it.
Did you find marketing difficult? What strategy do you use, if any?
Marketing is tricky, and I'm still learning as I go. I'm realizing that building relationships with people who share my interests is a lot more valuable than bombarding potential readers with ads or spamming twitter and facebook all day. The best advice I've heard is to think of the last 10 books you bought, and why you bought them. People are going to buy your book for the same reasons, which likely includes word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted friends. And remember to be patient! Books aren't like songs, in which the artist can post a new song and people consume it within minutes, share it with friends who also listen within minutes, and all of a sudden it's everywhere. Musicians can be overnight successes in a way authors cannot. Books take time to build an audience. So be patient, stick with it, and eventually you start to see small upticks in sales that gradually increase in size and frequency, and hopefully someday it reaches the tipping point and blows up.
Let’s keep talking about books. Specifically about your books. Tell us a little about the world of your latest or favorite book or series.
The “world” of my book is our world, present day, mainly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at this bar called the Triple Rock Social Club that’s primarily known as a punk venue but that I’m more familiar with from these dance nights they used to host. The only difference between our world and the world of the book is this peculiar afterlife my main character experiences. Adam dies and finds that his afterlife is his own life, lived over and over again. He doesn’t know why, doesn’t know if this is something that happens to everyone, or if his experience represents some weird glitch in the afterlife system. Much of the book is about Adam coming to understand his strange predicament, and eventually wondering what awaits him on the other side of death when the cycle of life after life finally stops.
How about you introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
My main character is Adam. He doesn’t start the book in a very likable state – he’s a borderline alcoholic with a job he hates and an ex-girlfriend he won’t leave alone. But over the course of many lives, Adam comes to understand himself, his purpose, and his values. You’ll see Adam as a child, an old man, a disembodied spirit, rich and world-famous, penniless, happily married, lost and suicidal, and plenty in-between. The Adam who begins this journey is very different than the guy at the end of the book. I like him for his passion and commitment to those he loves, and for the curiosity with which he explores his many lives.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?
Haha, no. I should keep that threat handy in my back pocket, though.
Editing is always important. No one can argue that that. So, the big question some people are unwilling to answer…do you self-edit? If so why is that the case?
Oh my god yes. If I didn't spend 18 months on rewrites (which is a form of editing), my book would have been unreadable. The vast majority of writing is rewriting.
Even though you self-edit, do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited in the end?
Mine would have. When I finished my book, I read it, my wife read it, and I was hard-pressed to find errors in grammar, spelling, or story structure. I hired an editor to review it, and he pointed out plenty of things I wouldn't have seen until it was too late. I didn't apply all of his edits, but enough that hiring him well worth it.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books?
So far, not much. Adam lives in my hometown, among people similar to those I know. The sci-fi/fantasy element of the novel is made up, so I only had to remain true to the rules I came up with in my own head.
We're getting close to the end of our interview time. Why don'y you give a fun/silly fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
Um, I don’t know if I want readers knowing my secret silly facts. Okay, how about this: I can’t properly pronounce the word “both” (I say “bolth,” as if you just caught me with a mouth full of sandwich). I’m addicted to cold press coffee. When I eat pancakes, I cut all the cakes into small, bite sized squares before I start eating so that the cutting won’t interrupt or slow my dining experience.
And finally, is there any advice you would pass on to those authors who are still just starting out? Do's and don'ts?
Write every day, live a full life, and read good books. That’s pretty much it.
Thanks for participating in this interview, Ryan! I’m sending luck your way with all your planned releases. If anyone is interested in checking out more on Ryan, I’ve provided a tad bit more info about him and his book with links below.
Ryan Gladney is the author of Nine Lives of Adam Blake, a contemporary novel set in Minnesota that combines elements of speculative fiction, urban fantasy, philosophical fiction, coming-of-age, and literary fiction. It was released in February 2014.
Ryan was born in St. Louis, and has lived in Boston, Orange Country, Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, and Minnesota. He attended college at the University of Michigan. When not writing (or working), Ryan spends most of his time with his wife, son, and cats. He’s an active book-clubber, kickballer, bike-rider, brunch-eater, and live music aficionado. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Adam Blake knows what fate awaits him after death. He has died before, and will die again, and always it’s the same. For Adam, there is no heaven, no hell, no reincarnation, or cold, final sleep. When he dies, his life flashes before his eyes; it rushes backward—nothing skipped or overlooked—until it stops, suddenly, at age twelve, one week after he had mysteriously disappeared in the woods behind his childhood home. Then, he wakes up.
Adam is cursed—or blessed—to relive the same life again and again, from this moment onward, regardless of how he lives, who he becomes, or what ultimately causes next his demise. He is free to right past wrongs, avoid past mistakes, pursue any interest and chase any dream. But the longer Adam lives, the less anything matters but answers. He must know: Why is he stuck in this loop? What is its cause? How will it end? And what awaits him on the other side of death when it finally does?