November 30th, 2018
I asked Ryan where he would like to chat:
Snow flurried down upon the small town of Orion, Illinois. A raging wind tore through the night sky and swept over empty fields. Empty, at least, save for a rundown home. Single-storied, the house shook with each gust. A screen door thrashed against the faded siding, barely held down by a single hinge. Wooden planks were haphazardly nailed over a broken window, letting the cold seep into the kitchen.
A mountain of dirty dishes rested in the sink. The faucet dripped with the beat of the clock, giving life to the otherwise silent room. A cheap plastic table sat across the room with two folding chairs sitting on either end. Upon it lay a leather-clad tome with glowing red text.
Laura Mae: Hello Ryan! How are you doing this fine day, today?
Ryan Hickey: I’m doing well. I’m a bit of a night owl, so I was up fairly late! How are you?
L: Nice! I’m very well, thank you! What do you stay up so late doing, if I may ask? Writing perhaps?
R: A lot of the times it was writing. Last night I was staying up late consolidating my feedback notes for a book I had just finished beta reading for.
L: Oh very cool! That’s so awesome you help with that stuff! What was the book about? Am I allowed to ask? Haha!
R: It’s about a world balanced between light and dark, and zealots who think their light is superior to other people’s darkness, and hurting them for it. It was a really good story.
L: Awesome! That does sound like it would be really good. So you said, mostly you stay up late writing? What are you currently working on?
R: My big project is the Winter Saga. I have written the first book, Strings, and it is currently in the hands of betas. While I wait for their feedback, I’ve been working on a concrete outline for the whole series, which is twenty two books long. I’m a adament plotter.
L: Wow! I knew you were working on something but I had no idea the size of it! That’s incredibly ambitious of you! How long have you been working on it then?
R: The idea has been with me since I was five or six. I wrote one of the books, Gemini, twice already. Once when I was twelve, and again when I was twenty five, though they’ve gone through a lot of changes. As it stands now, Gemini will be the sixth book in the Saga.
L: Very cool! What was it that inspired you to write it? And also, can you tell us what it’s about?
R: The overall concept was inspired by how I’d use my imagination as a coping mechanism when I was kid. If things weren’t going well, I’d create a fantasy world to escape into it with heroes that could help me. The Winter Saga is centered around this concept. The narrative for the whole Saga is actually a bit of a spoiler, a riddle actually that the reader has to figure out during the first part of the series. But Strings is about a young man, Caleb Fleischer, who slays monsters and bags groceries in the small town of Orion, Illinois. He and his father are Scribes, people with magical tomes that let them cast incantations and fight off the beasts that slip in from a parallel dimension. However, Caleb would rather live a normal, calm life than the life of a magical warrior. Unfortunately for him, Heather O’Brien shows up at his door, begging for his help with her mother who is seemingly dying from a supernatural cause. After a lot of begging and guilting, she whisks Caleb off to Chicago where he discovers Heather’s mom is the beginning of a much grander conflict taking hold of the city.
L: Oh wow! That sounds like something I would really enjoy!
R: Thank you, and I hope so! This is definitely my passion project!
L: I can tell! So Ryan, do you have any favorite authors or books that you admire that maybe you grabbed ideas from for your own series?
R: Hmm. My favorite books are The Wise Man’s Fear and the Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. However, my style is very very different from his, so despite him being my favorite author, I don’t actually get as much inspiration from him. I would say I get inspired and learn a lot more from Brandon Sanderson, and his Mistborn books. I also watch his free lectures on YouTube all the time, and have learned a lot from them. If anyone hasn’t watched them, I couldn’t recommend it more!
L: I understand that. I’ll have to check him out! YouTube is so helpful with writers. I watch a lot of videos too. Especially helpful for indie authors who self-publish. Are you planning on self-publishing once the series is done or have you decided yet?
R: I want to pursue traditional, mostly because I know I need the help with marketing, book design, and all that. However, if it doesn’t pan out, I will then pursue self-publishing. This is a story I want to share with the world, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it out there!
L: Awesome! I totally know what you mean. I’m sure you’ll do amazing in whatever path you take! What would you say is your favorite part about being a writer?
R: Thank you so much! And, hmm. There are so many, being a writer has always brought me such comfort and joy, though heartbreak and pain too. I think the favorite part, however, is seeing a reader get attached to a character I’ve written. I love my characters so much, and when someone else likes them too, it means the world to me.
L: Exactly! It’s such a great feeling. Do you have any personal favorite literary characters that you love? Other than your own? Haha!
R: I love Kvothe from the King Killer Chronicles! Vin from the Mistborn Trilogy is amazing! Probably one of the first characters I fell in love with when I was young was Tobias from the Animorphs! I loved those books as a kid.
L: I forgot about Animorphs! I love that! Why Tobias?
R: If you remember, the characters in the book could change into animals, but only for two hours at a time. If they went over two hours, they’d be trapped as that animal forever. During a mission, Tobias got trapped as a red tail hawk, which felt terrible. Later, however, a god-like being from their universe gave Tobias a choice. The god would turn him back into a human, but Tobias wouldn’t be able to transform anymore, and therefore unable to fight in the war against the yerks. Or he could restore Tobias’ ability to transform, but he’d have to remain as a hawk as his “true” form. Tobias chose the latter, and I was always struck by the selfless nature of the sacrifice, giving up being a human so that he could still fight for humanity.
L: Ooh interesting! I can see why you like him then. I love characters who do things like that. Alright, so getting back to your writing. Since you have so much to do, do have a writing routine, any ‘must-haves’ or perhaps music to get you in the mood?
R: My routine is fairly basic, I just work when I’m able. Like I mentioned, I’m a heavy plotter, so my writing often involves me staring at it before, during, and after. And music is definitely important to me. I can’t write in silence, so I always have something going on in the background. Usually it’s music, but sometimes it’ll be a show that I’ve see a dozen times already. I have playlists that I’ve named after each of the seasons, and those are the ones I mostly listen to while I write for the Saga. My favorite song of all time, and one that often gets me in the mood for my stories, is Earth by Sleeping at Last.
L: That’s really cool you have one for each season! Music is important for me too, can’t do silence. Haha! What would you say is the most challenging thing about writing? Either about the writing process itself or anything in between?
R: I loathe writing query letters and a synopsis. I’m just terrible at it, and it’s such a different skill than writing a story. Unfortunately, it’s all part of the process. Thankfully, I’ve made some amazing writing friends who have helped me through the process, and I’m so thankful for them.
L: Those are the worst!! — Honestly probably one of the reasons I self-published. Haha! That’s so great you have writing friends to help with that stuff. It’s such a great community.
R: It really is. Discovering the writing corner of Twitter back in May has been such a positive change in my life. Now I don’t know what I’d do without everyone.
L: Same! It’s a great resource that I think we can both get behind 1000%. So Ryan, what else do you like to do outside of writing? Any hobbies or things like that?
R: I’m a bit of a dork. If I’m not writing, I’m probably watching anime or playing a video game!
L: Oh! What kind of games? I’m guessing heavily story based, yes?
R: My favorite game of all time is The Last of Us, so that one fits! But it does vary. My second favorite is Stardew Valley, which is more of a claming sandbox game! Some of my other favorites include the Zelda series, Mass Effect, Civilization, Divinity Original Sin 2, and Banished.
L: Awesome! Great games! A totally agree with Last of Us. I cannot wait for the sequel!
R: I’m very eager for the sequel! The E3 trailer was amazing!
L: It was! I can’t wait! Alright Ryan, it’s been soo much fun chatting with you today! Would you like to leave us with some of your most widsomy writer wisdom?
R: I’ve had a great time talking with you too! And I think the only writing advice I’m qualified to give is to not give up. Writing is so challenging, especially when dealing with the business/professional side of the industry. But it’s an endurance match, and I hope everyone doesn’t give up on their dream, and knows that so many writers are rooting for them to succeed, me included!
L: Lovely! Thanks so much again Ryan!
R: Thank you for having me!!
I’m 27 and currently reside in Seattle, but I’m from the Midwest and have lived all over the United States. I have been writing since I was kid and am presently working on a book series titled The Winter Saga. The first book, Strings, is finished and in the hands of beta readers. I attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland for undergrad. I received my B.S. degree in chemistry with a minor in Japanese, and earned my commission in the United States Navy where I served as a Nuclear Submarine Officer. I served for a total of eight years and get out of the Navy in 2017. Now, I’m pouring all my effort into achieving my dream of becoming a published author.
You can find Ryan on Twitter and reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.