Today’s post is with Ryan Dalton, Author of The Year of the Lightening. I have book promo, links and interviews waiting for you. Sit back and enjoy.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-year-of-lightning-ryan-dalton/1121750191?ean=9781631630507
“Exciting plot, smart characters, and engaging prose: Dalton’s writing jolts straight to your heart.”
– Ellie Ann, New York Times Bestseller
“With cheeky winks to classic time travel and a mind-bending central mystery, The Year of Lightning moves at a pace that lives up to its title and will keep your pulse pounding to the last page.”
– Karen Akins, author of the LOOP series
Now for our interview!
Christina: What’s your current project? Tell us a little about it.
Ryan: The Time Shift Trilogy will be my project for the next couple of years. So while The Year of Lightning is nearing its debut on January 12, I’m hard at work on the rest of the series. Currently I’m editing the Book Two, The Black Tempest, and outlining Book Three, which is yet to be titled. It’s been so exciting to expand on the world and the ideas introduced in the first book, and I’m so excited for readers to see what happens to the characters.
C: What has been your favorite scene to write so far?
R: My favorite scene in The Year of Lightning happens closer to the end, where two unlikely side characters gain an unexpected victory. I don’t want to say too much because it’s a big story moment, but that was probably my favorite scene to write. In The Black Tempest, my favorite scene is a conversation between two characters, both of whom are dealing with big changes to their lives. It’s a quiet moment, but I love their interaction.
C: Who or what has inspired your writing?
R: Inspiration can come from a myriad of sources, but music plays a huge part in my process. I make playlists for every book, and the songs help me develop scenes and find their rhythm. They consist of all types of music, whatever is speaking to me at the moment, everything from instrumental soundtracks to rock. Even as I type this, I’m listening to music from Thievery Corporation.
When I do the actual writing, though, I rarely listen to music with lyrics or heavy beats because I find it distracting. So I’ll usually listen to relaxation music or thunderstorm sounds. I’m a huge fan of RainyMood.com.
C: What is your biggest goal with your writing?
R: I want to evoke the same emotions and excitement in readers that my favorite books have evoked in me. When people find great books at a young age, books that make them feel something, it can turn them into book lovers for life.
C: Do you have any pre-writing rituals?
R: I don’t like writing at home, so I’m always looking for new places. When I find a place a like–usually some variety of coffee shop, of course–I pick a spot and put on my noise-canceling headphones. I like the energy of public spaces, but the noise is often distracting, so this way I benefit from the energy while avoiding the distractions.
C: What is the weirdest location you’ve ever written at?
R: Transatlantic flights, a pub in Melbourne at 2 a.m., the balcony of a concert hall, a hidden speakeasy in Phoenix, and the top of a mountain in Costa Rica.
C: How do you handle writer’s block?
R: This is one of my favorite subjects to talk about because many newer writers are given the wrong idea about it. The thing is, writer’s block isn’t real. What people call writer’s block is usually just fear of failure or not being good enough. And the great thing about fear is it only has the power you give it. So writer’s block is defeated by taking action, which is the antidote to fear. That means sitting down to write and not stopping until the words are flowing.
I once heard a writer say, “Writer’s block is for writers who don’t have to pay rent.” It’s so true! Everyone experiences blips and dips in their writing, but the pros don’t let that stop them. They take a break, go for a walk, do something stimulating, then sit back down and get to work. When you take action and start treating writing like a profession, writer’s block fades away.
C: How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?
R: For The Year of Lightning, I researched meteorology, electricity, quantum physics, nuclear power plants, and more. Since the story involves time travel, there’s a healthy dash of science fantasy involved, but I still wanted a solid foundation for the fictional elements. Wherever I could, I took real world science and extrapolated a sci-fi progression of those theories and technologies.
C: Are you a pantser or a plotter?
R: 75% plotter, 25% pantser. I do lots of heavy outlining because when I sit down to write, I want to know where I’m heading. So I write an early, rough outline with all the concepts and major beats. Then I follow with a physical outline–a timeline made of sticky notes on my office wall. Then I write a detailed outline for blocks of upcoming chapters.
But I don’t always decide everything before I start. Some of it I like to keep loose because I know a good idea will strike in the moment. I still leave room for changes, since inevitably I’ll come up with new or better ways to tell the story as I’m writing. I also do lots of unstructured brainstorming.
C: What has been your biggest learning experience so far in your career?
R: 2015 has been a big year for learning my own limits. No writer can do everything, and the schedules and goals I set for 2015 were overly ambitious, to put it mildly. I loved everything I was doing, but I also burned out pretty hard because I worked on them every waking minute. So I had to remind myself that I was human, and that I need breaks from writing and talking about books even though I love them so much. It’s still a challenge to strike the right balance, but I’m doing much better with it now.
C: Is there anything you wish you were told prior to writing or publishing?
R: The writer community, especially in YA, is so welcoming and helpful. I was welcomed into the tribe immediately, and it’s been such a great experience getting to know my fellow authors. That part has been far more awesome than I had expected.
C: What’s next for you?
(see question 1)
C: What do you like best about writing science fiction?
R: Science fiction is such a broad canvas. To me, it’s essentially a limitless genre. It can be so broad, with big operatic themes, or it can be laser-focused on very personal stories. It’s a wonderful sandbox to play in.
C: Is there another genre you have tried writing?
R: Sure, I’ve dabbled in quite a few genres. I’ve written mystery, comedy, different shades of fantasy, even a bit of contemporary–whatever interested me. As much as I love science fiction, I definitely want to branch out at and stretch myself as a writer.
C: Have you taken any writing classes? If so, share those experiences
R: I took one creative writing course in high school, but that’s it. The rest of my experience has come from reading and writing.
C: Is there any talent or skill you wish you were better at within the writing/publishing process?
R: I’m very much a beginner when it comes to the business side of publication. I’m still learning and developing what my approach will be to getting my work out there. I’m building the platform little by little and trying to absorb as much practical knowledge as I can along the way.
C: Have your parents read your work?
R: A few family members are always the first to read my books. They’re all bookworms, and they know I want constructive feedback, so they make note of what they like and what they feel needs work. It’s always nice to get their perspective and encouraging when they like a scene.
C: What made you decide to publish traditionally?
R: I’m still a fan of the traditional model. It presents hurdles and challenges, but for me anyway, the benefits outweigh the liabilities. I like having partners and people on my side, who are just as invested in my books’ success as I am. It’s great being able to leverage their knowledge and skills, and having a constant champion and advocate for your work is hard to beat.
C: What scares you the most?
R: Most new authors fear that no one will hear about their work. Exposure is a huge thing in publishing–if people don’t know about you, they can’t read your books. That’s why authors and publishers put so much work into publicity. I want as many people as possible to be able to read and enjoy these stories, so I’m always thinking about how to reach more.
C: When did you start to feel like an author?
R: When I got the book deal, I became a lot more comfortable telling people I was a writer. Inside, I knew I was a writer long before then, but the validation felt great and it made for something I could easily point to when people asked what I’d written. Every writer draws their own line with this, and there’s really no wrong answer, but this is what worked for me.
C: Have you ever acted out a scene to see if it worked? Share a funny or embarrassing story about acting it out.
R: I don’t physically act them out, but I know my face changes when I’m writing an emotional or intense scene. So there have been moments in coffee shops where people caught me making very odd expressions considering the setting. I never explained myself, so they were stuck with the mystery of why a strange man was scowling at his computer.
C: Which poets or authors have influenced you in your own writing?
R: I’ve been told that my style is very cinematic, and I think it’s mostly because of my character interactions. I love snappy dialogue, snark and and wit, but I also want characters to have real and emotional moments. Few people do this better than Joss Whedon. I’m such a fan of his work, and I watch so much of it, that there are probably shades of it in my own writing. There are lots of novelists whose work I admire, but Whedon is my gold standard.