Interview with Author John Ryland

  • Approximately 100-word (more or less) summary of your life

      I grew up with a big family rural Alabama in a tiny coal mining town named Brookwood. After high school, I joined the U.S. Navy and had the opportunity to see a large part of the world. After my stint was up, I moved back to Tuscaloosa County, and now live in Northport, Alabama with my wife and two sons.

  • What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

      Although I have had ten short stories published in wonderful journals, having two of my novels accepted for publication by traditional presses is my greatest accomplishment so far. These two books, Peripheral (World Castle publishing) and The Man with No Eyes (Moonshine Cove press) will both drop on 2022.

  • Why do you write?

     I am 100% a “pantser”, as in flying by the seat of my pants.  I cannot plot a novel to save my life. I’ve tried. The characters won’t mind. I do, however, think about a story for a long time before I sit down to write it. I develop the general feel of the story and characters. When I do sit down, I just allow things to flow as they will. Sometimes this forces me to backtrack to fix plot holes, but the backbone of the story rarely ever changes.

  • What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

     I don’t really have a process. I now have an office and desk I write in, but I wrote my first novel, Souls Harbor, at our dining room table with kids and dogs running around the house. For me the story is ready to be written and all I have to do is stay out of the way. I do extensive revisions, often making eight or ten passes over a novel and countless passes over a short story. I have used Nicole Neuman on multiple occasions. She edited my collection Southern Gothic and several other short stories for me as well. 

  • How did you come up with the idea for your story “Last Chance Cabin”?

     I was watching National geographic Channel one night and they mentioned the fact that people who build remote cabins in Alaska always leave them unlocked when they leave in case someone is caught in a snowstorm and happens upon them. I began to think about being snowed in in one of these remote cabins, miles from nowhere. The isolation, the mental fatigue, the outright fear. It would have to be one of the worst feelings in the world. From there, my natural tendency to lean toward the macrabe took over.

  • What is your background in literature? How much reading do you do? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?

     I don’t have time to read as much as I used to, but I still read quite a lot. I think it’s imperative for a writer to read. I’ve leaned from reading the “masters” as well as pulp fiction paperbacks. For me it’s sentence structure, the ebb and flow, building relatable characters. As a writer you have to make your reader connect with someone you made up, seeing how others do it teaches you a lot.

  • Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

     My wife and my nephew read almost everything I write before anyone else. I also employ beta readers. Sometimes as a writer, it is easy to miss the most obvious things. Other eyes can catch what you miss. Having an editor that you trust helps immensely.

  • Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

     In Peripheral, a young wife is drug into a nether world between life and death and must find a way to fight a centuries old demon if she wants her body back.

     In The Man with No Eyes, a blind genius with the ability to control every system within his body must cross the perilous Yemen/Saudi border region to exact revenge on the sadistic owner of a secret lab that he used to work for who had his eyes surgically removed as punishment.

     Also I have a short story about a mother’s unique way of disciplining her children called “the boards”, and one about a young man who returns to the gravesite of a girl he murdered, only to find himself in deeper than he expected.

  • Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

     I will soon be featured on Twitter’s The Writing Wall podcast and I am organizing a local book signing. I have also just released a YA magical realism novel called Shatter. It’s not my typical genre, but it needed to be written. It’s the story of a young girl made of glass who is tired of playing it safe.

  • What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

     I would like to be successful enough to write full time, but also have at least a small group of devoted fans who really enjoy my work. Being recognized in a restaurant and having someone else pick up the bill wouldn’t be terrible either.

  • What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

     All reviews are just people opinions. There are people who hate Poe, loathe Stephen King, can’t stand Follett. That’s their right. I am lucky that I haven’t gotten anything less than a 4 star, but I am also aware that my writing is not for everyone. If a review is bad, but genuine, I think an author can learn from it. Readers have expectations, realistic or not, and whether we as authors live up to them is that reader’s opinion.

  • What advice do you have for novice writers?

     Never give up. Keep writing. Just write. It doesn’t matter if you never intend to publish that piece, it will teach you. I’ve written three other manuscripts that will never see the light of day, but I learned a lot about structure and flow from them.

  • What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

     The world around them. Most of my ideas come from simple things. I am writing a novella about what might be locked inside a bank vault I saw sitting on a vacant lot. I wrote an entire novel about a sign that I saw that simply said “Watch That Child.” Stories seeds are out there, we just have to find them and co something with them.

  • Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

     The best way to find all things John Ryland is at gspressbooks.com It’s my author website with all my book links, news, my blog, upcoming events, and even a “poetry corner”. I am also on twitter @johnryland10, Instagram at Ryland364 and I have a Facebook author page at https://facebook.com/JRylandtheWriter

  • You have two novels to your credit, Souls Harbor and The Man with No Eyes, which will be published by Moonshine Cove Press in March 2022. How difficult was it for you to find a publisher? Do you have an agent?

     I do not have an agent, though I have tried. It’s a tough business. Souls Harbor, Southern Gothic, and Shatter were all produced through my production company Gnat Smoke Press.

  • How did you find out about The Chamber Magazine?

     I saw your magazine on a submission call. When I checked out your site, I knew I had to submit.

  • Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

     I plan to be around for a while. With two novels coming out next year, two already written and waiting, and no end of ideas in sight, there will be plenty of reading material if you like my work.

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