An Interview with Ryan R. Reilly, author of ‘A Deep Dark Pit of Despair’
I haven’t read your novel. But you’re going to be promoting a comic! Why would I want to read that instead? From your other published novels, are there some that I should absolutely read?
Actually, I’m making a fully animated cartoon! It’s based on the first chapter of the book, and was originally supposed to be part of my pre-release marketing. Sadly, I bit off a bit more than I can chew with this one! I’ve made some short cartoons in the past, but the Pirate in Theory cartoon is practically feature-length by comparison. If all goes according to plan (that can happen, right?), the animated short will be out by the end of November.
As far as other published novels go, A Deep Dark Pit of Despair is it. I’m hoping to follow my debut up quite soon with another finished book I have, as well as a sequel that I’m still working on.
I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels for specific novels?
I kind of agree with you. I used to have a “rule” that I would not read any book in a series that was not finished yet, because I didn’t want to have to wait for the next installment to come out. That code lasted until 2004 when I picked up the second book of Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory’s Obsidian Trilogy, and waiting quite impatiently for the third book to come out! Now I’m doing it again with Patrick Rothfuss’ series. I’m afraid I don’t ever learn!
As for myself, I committed to writing a standalone book several years ago, and I think I’ll try to give that one another go at getting it out into the world. Honestly, though, I love series, and hope to have my own sequel finished by the middle of next year.
There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?
There are two, actually! I feel I have to finish the next PiT book while this one has any momentum. It’s called Out of the Pit, Into the Fire, and it builds on the events of Book 1 and takes our characters into foreign territory, as well as expands on the magic system that was introduced in the first book. In addition to that, I started a zombie/vampire story just before the bottom seemingly dropped out for both genres, but I still hold out hope for my tale. It’s called Afterdead and unlike my fantasy ventures, it focuses on real locations in Chicago and the surrounding area. Hopefully I’m not too late with this one!
Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!
I actually still have all the notebooks I wrote my first several stories in! So many unfinished works clutter various spots in my house, and I refuse to ever toss them out. Some might call me a pack rat, but I say I’m simply nostalgic.
My first finished novel was to be the first of a trilogy (here we go with another series!) called The One Warrior Saga. This first installment was titled the Warrior’s Heart, and I lost the first draft to a hard drive crash! I was devastated. Fortunately, the whole thing was printed, and I was blown away by the fact that my scanner could actually convert the pages into Word documents. This was 2002; I felt like I stumbled onto secret government tech for an episode of CSI! (The turn of the century was a simpler time)
Do you have a dedicated writing space? Do you have colourful post-it notes on the walls? How does it meet your writing needs?
I have a cluttered desk that can barely be seen beneath a pile of post-its, notecards, printed stacks, and CD-Rs! To anyone else, it’s an absolute mess; to me, it’s home.
What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it? Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-it notes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?
I used to always have a notebook handy to jot down whatever came to me, but now it’s either whatever scrap of paper I can get my hands on, or simply the memo app on my phone. My process when I sit down to write, however, hasn’t really changed for years. I sit at my computer, turn on a fairly mellow playlist, turn off all the lights except one small desk lamp, and then I spend the first twenty minutes or so just messing around on the internet (read: killing time on Facebook). My fingers are typing, my tea is steeping / coffee is cooling / beer is sadly getting a bit warm, and I slowly come to this relaxed place where I can start writing and simply lose myself for hours. This process used to always take place in the middle of the night when I could really get rid of all distractions, but now I have to be an adult and go to work in the morning, so the time I carve out to write has changed.
Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.
I only joined the modern age two years ago when I got a Nook reader as a gift, and though I’ve got a few books on there, I just prefer having the real deal in my hands. Even with my own book, yes, it is available in digital format, but I had to make sure that it could be acquired in paperback as well. I’m that way with music, too; I’d rather have the physical CD with the booklet and artwork than just an album download. Old soul, perhaps.
Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?
It means I better get serious about Twitter! I’ve had an account for years that I barely use, but that’s starting to change. I think social media makes it easier for independent artists—whether it be writers, musicians, filmmakers, you name it—to get their work in front of people. Do most of us even know how to use it? I don’t think so, but the interfaces are making it easier to bridge that gap. I ran a Facebook ad for a couple days just to test it out, and the data that you get back from that is incredible! I’ll definitely be ramping up my presence on social media.