Thursday, December 19, 2013

10 Questions with British Writer Frank P. Ryan (@FrankPRyan)

This Author Spotlight

Frank P. Ryan

author of

Book 1 of The Three Powers Series

This week's author spotlight features Frank P. Ryan.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Frank.

I write epic fantasy novels, which form part of a series, "The Three Powers".  I was lucky enough for the first two published books in this series, The Snowmelt River and The Tower of Bones, to have gathered excellent reviews from the British Fantasy Society and Starburst Magazine, which helped to push my fantasy into the top ten bestseller list of epic fantasy novels on American readers have always been able to buy my books as kindles, but I'm also delighted to say that The Snowmelt River was published in the US as a modestly priced hardcover in November 2013.  The third book in the series, The Sword of Feimhin, is with the publishers and will be published in 2014.

I have written each book so it features an adventure in itself - but there is also an epic narrative running through the series.  So I suggest that the books are best read in the right order, starting with The Snowmelt River.  I can promise high adventure and exciting highly original themes.

I wrote an apocalyptic science fiction novel, The Doomsday Genie, a thriller trilogy (Goodbye Baby Blue, Sweet Summer and Tiger Tiger) and a contemporary novel, Taking Care of Harry.

I teach writing skills and have been known to judge fantasy short story competitions.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I began to write spontaneously after a life-threatening motor-cycle accident when aged 19 yrs.  I also changed career from engineering to medicine.  I had never studied literature as such though I had always enjoyed reading books.  I wrote my first (unpublished, thank goodness) novel over the next two years without attending any classes on writing.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

The creativity.  My background is medicine/ science but I have always had a foot in the arts.  I also ran an art gallery for nine years while working as a consultant physician.  I feel an intense satisfaction from creating a novel.  I don’t write primarily for money although I do appreciate the income for obvious ordinary reasons.  I immensely enjoy the stage, when writing a novel, when the characters are moving around in your inner mental landscape and wanting to have their own say.  Hence I’m playing a kind of surreal game with my fantasy where the four main characters have their own Twitter outlets, although this is only just getting off the ground.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

There are two broad patterns that writers tend to follow.  Methodical writers plan it all in detail and tend to keep to a fixed regime.  I’m one of the other types, an inspirational writer.  I rely on waking up and the
next chapter just coming into my head.  This means that the writing has a compulsive quality, which is often remarked on by readers.  I do write any day I like, so it is often seven days a week.  But I only write for an hour or two a day.  In that time I can complete a novel in a year to eighteen months.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I read quite widely not just epic fantasy.  I like to read authors who have a sense of writing style as well as constructing interesting characters and an interesting narrative story.  Those three qualities are key to a good novel.  I was inspired, as a young man by great authors such as James Joyce (I loved Ulysses), Thomas Mann (The Magic Mountain), Jean Paul Sartre (The Roads to Freedom), Camus (the Outsider), Hemingway, Faulkner (The Sound and the Fury), Steinbeck, indeed many others.  In epic fantasy I like Tolkein, Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman (American Gods), GRR Martin (though not his killing off his heroes), Tad Williams, currently reading Wolfe, and indeed many more.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Outside.  I might add that quotes are dealt with differently in English English and US English.  Indeed there are far more differences in these versions of English than people realize.  When writing my US-based science fiction novel, The Doomsday Genie, I began to compile my own list of differences between US and UK English usage.  It soon grew into quite a big list.  I made sure to use an American editor.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I tend not to use it.

7.What is your book about and how did it come to fruition?

I’m currently writing Book Four in a four-book epic fantasy series.  The title of the series is The Three Powers.  It consists of The Snowmelt River, The Tower of Bones, The Sword of Feimhin and a fourth the name of which must be kept a secret for now.  I began researching the series long ago.  Indeed I wrote a book, The Sundered World, which might be seen as anticipatory for the series, which was first published in 1999.  In writing all four subsequent books I begin by going back to notes, character sketches, etc, done at that time.  Each book always contains one or more powerful narrative developments of its own, so that my readers can enjoy them without needing to have all of the series available, but there is a powerful central narrative to the whole as well.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I’m about half way through writing Book Four of the epic fantasy series, having recently revised and polished Book Three after the publisher’s editor had a look at it.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

I tend to read two or three books at once.  I’m currently reading Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood and Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

That’s a hard one to answer.  I have never lacked inspiration.  It just comes from some kind of a well inside me.  I think that the fact I love biology and I am fascinated by people, history, archeology, anthropology, and all aspects of life, are all grist to the mill.  You might be intrigued to hear that when I go on holiday I take interesting pictures with me rather than any literary source, which tells you that I am very visual in my inspiration. A single striking picture might inspire an entire chapter.  My publisher, Jo Fletcher at Quercus, has told me that my fantasy is different because of my scientific background.  I can see that I use biological knowledge in creating new worlds, strange life forms, etc.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

I have also edited science fiction and fantasy and ran a small press that published people like Sean Williams and Shane Dix as well as my own The Sundered World, so I may have a wider perspective on writing than, say, somebody who has only ever been an author.  This has helped me when employed to judge fantasy competitions.  I also helped Brendan Murphy to set up a teenage fantasy short story competition that went nationwide in Ireland and recruited tens of thousands of applicants.

Thank you, Frank.

Congratulations on your writing success! Be sure to let us know when Book 4 is available.

Be sure to visit Frank's website

And grab a copy of The Snowmelt River right now!



1 comment:

  1. What is notable to me is that Frank Ryan's interests as a reader are diverse. Unlike many writers, he reads a wide-ranging selection of authors, not just those who figure in his chosen genres as a writer.