Ryan is a novelist, poet, and screenwriter living in Seattle with his beautiful Muse and Fiance. His, break through debut novel South of Bixby Bridge, was published in 2011. Now, he has released The Park Service, and is busy writing the next installment to that trilogy. Ryan is an amazing author. He personally responds to his fans. Not many authors with the following he has, can say that. *Little known fact about me? Ryan is the reason I started writing again. I attribute his book South of Bixby Bridge to be my inspiration to return to what I love most, writing. To see someone have not only the courage to publish and promote them self, but to be successful, is amazing.
And.. stay tuned. We have some great prizes for you .. Read on down!
Ryan, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Not until later in life. Although I read a great deal when I was young, my early artistic pursuits were drawing pictures and painting fantasy figurines. As a young adult I kept a personal journal and I sometimes worked on poems. But my desire to write was waiting for me when I hit thirty and slowed down enough to get in touch with what I wanted to do with my life. I began taking screenwriting classes then and fell fast for storytelling.
How long did it take you to write your book?
My first novel South of Bixby Bridge began as an original screenplay that I wrote. It took me about nine months to finish the screenplay and I sent it off to Sundance for their screenwriter’s lab and they rejected it. But the characters haunted me from the drawer where I had buried them away, so I sat down one day and began writing it as a novel. The novel took another nine or ten months to write, using the screenplay as an outline.
What genre is your book? What made you choose to write in that category?
I have no idea what genre Bixby is. If I had to guess, I’d say real-life fiction or even literary fiction on days when I’m feeling good about the writing. I didn’t choose to write in any particular genre and I still don’t. I start by trying to tell a good story. Seems to me genre is a way to categorize a story when it’s finished.
What was your work schedule like when you were writing?
It varies. I woke at five this morning and wrote three thousand words before noon. Some days I wake at noon and write three hundred words by midnight. But I write every day. I write in my home office. I hand write in journals at busy coffee shops. I write on scraps of paper during dinner parties.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a very visual writer in that I see the scenes unfolding and the words and the page disappear. Sometimes I don’t know what I’ve written until I read it back. When I wrote The Park Service I was staying at a gorgeous waterfront condo on Oahu and for thirty days I wrote day and night until I brought home a draft. Now, when I think back, I have almost no recollection of the condo or the beach, but I can intimately recall the story I was writing. It’s a strange kind of magic.
Who doesn't like a little poetic talent?
I awake some mornings to the hollow echo of our well, the past trapped in the void, too painful yet to even tell. I’m empty and cold, empty as that well, but I know our heads will be together again peeking over its edge--I know it now, I know it well. It’s a fight to face the day, to smile, to pray—I feel myself fading away, hanging here by a thread until I know for sure you’re mine, until I have you in my bed. I remember your patience, your tears, your eyes as forgiving as a midnight mass, my salvation in your face as I poured the dirty water of my past into your clean and bottomless glass. Today it smells of rain, a promise on the wind of more cold mornings waking without you. And wherever you are, I just pray today that your moods don't fall with these leaves as mine are wont to do.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
All I know is that the idea for a novel isn’t there and then suddenly it is. Or maybe it was always there and you just wake up one day and can see it. These days I have notebooks filled with ideas competing for attention, so I have to be very passionate about something to pursue it. The thing I really love about writing is that it gives purpose to my natural curiosity. I read on a wide range of subjects that would be useless in any other profession.
From Ryan's own words: "Nothing has affected me as much as reading has. Dickens, Tolkien, and Lewis raised me. And while I've walked through my own hell, made my own mistakes, and found my own redemption, always there have been books. Books to help me escape, books to teach me when to stay and fight, books to help me see where I've been wrong and where I've been right."
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve published two books, with a third coming out this April. I have others that either won’t be published or aren’t ready yet. South of Bixby Bridge will always be a favorite. Not only because it launched my writing career, but also because it was a very personal story to write. The opening scene shows a young man standing at a drug rehab window on the day he’s set to be released, wondering what lies ahead for him and having no idea how much farther he has to go before he hits bottom. That man was me long before I discovered my love of writing.
Where can your books be found?
For a complete list of my work, people can look me up on Goodreads or wherever they purchase books. My author page on Amazon can be found here Ryan's Amazon Author Page
Are you currently working on another book? If so, is it part of a series or something different?
I just finished writing the second book in The Park Service Trilogy, titled Island of Man, and it will be coming out April 30. I’m working on the third and final book now. Also, I’m hoping to see a love story that I’m very excited about published this summer. Folks who are curious can interact with me on Facebook at Ryan on Facebook
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to hike in the wilderness. I climb mountains, I work out, I practice hot yoga. Reading is my favorite way to spend down time, but I don’t read while I’m writing so my list to be read is longer than I’d like. I love to travel—everywhere and anywhere. I just got back from a research trip to Europe, sleeping on trains and sneaking into castles, packing in seven countries in just seventeen days.
What does your family think of your writing?
I’m not in contact with any of my blood family for health reasons. But my fiancée loves what I do and she’s my biggest fan. And I have to give her props for putting up with my midnight readings in our downtown loft—and if you’ve read Bixby and met Paul Valombrosa then you understand.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books?
I learn something with every book I write. I think that’s why I write them. In writing Bixby I came out the other side with a much stronger grip on my own sobriety and with a much better understanding of forces that had motivated my early choices.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?
I’ve heard a saying somewhere that goes something like: you can tell a writer because they write. My advice would be to simply write. Words are free. I think in today’s world of independent publishing there is a tendency for new writers to focus on the wrong things. I get lots of questions from struggling authors about publishing or marketing but very few questions from them about writing. But these new opportunities to publish tell me that the writing has to be even better than it was before because everything you write is competing with more books for attention. Work on the craft. That is the advice I give myself.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from lots of readers and I love it. It’s probably the highlight of what I do. I get emails and messages on Facebook and I respond to every one. People react differently to each book so I love seeing what they connect with. Because Bixby was about getting sober, I’ve had some really rich ongoing correspondence with people who’ve struggled or had a loved one struggle with addiction or suicide. The Park Service has connected me with younger readers and I love that, too.
What do you think makes a good story?
Specificity, for one thing. I can always tell generic writing and it bores me as a reader. I think when an author starts with well-developed characters and sets them on a journey to solve a problem for which the author does not yet know the answer, the story works for me.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I’m not sure. I’m very disconnected from the child I was. Much of my personal writing exercises are in the form of remembering—my first hope, my first betrayal, my first kiss, and so on. I know I wanted desperately to be happy. Which I finally am.
Are you self published or do you have a publisher? If self published, what made you decide to go that route?
Self published. When I finished Bixby I just put it out there and went onto writing the next story. I would not have known where to begin looking for a publisher and I doubt I could have spared the energy or time it takes to secure one. I was very surprised by its success. Going forward, as long as I can reach readers I’m happy. If partnering with a publisher allows me to write more and do business less then I’m all for it. It really is about the writing for me.
Connect with Ryan:
The easiest way to reach me is on Goodreads or on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ryanwinfield
Want to win an Ecopy of South of Bixby Bridge?
2011 Breakout Novel -- About to turn 30 and being discharged from drug rehab, Trevor Roberts is sure he's hit bottom with nowhere to go but up. He soon learns that sometimes the "bottom" is just the beginning. With more twists than California's Highway 1, the intimate narrative follows a young man on a wild month-long ride to the dizzying, drunken heights of Napa Valley excess where he falls fast for his new boss's intoxicating wife and becomes entangled in a strange threesome affair. But things soon begin to unravel as Trevor is drawn into a secret world of sex and scandal, only to have his lust for success drag him down again through a phantasmagoria of hedonistic hell. "Shocking and unapologetic", South of Bixby Bridge barrels along with the "frenetic pace of a Hollywood blockbuster," delivering "poetic prose loaded with images". With gripping drama, witty dialogue, and sexy, jaw-dropping glimpses into the nouveau-riche underworld of California's wealthy elite, you won't be able to put this riveting new novel down. Buckle up and enjoy the read!
ADULT TOPICS (✓) FINANCIAL THRILLER (✓) CAUTIONARY TALE (✓) REDEMPTION QUEST (✓)
***If you or anyone you know has struggled with alcohol, drug, or sex addiction, you must read this!
Warning: This novel is an unfiltered account of a young man's struggle to overcome addictions and it includes some graphic language, descriptive sexual scenes, and adult situations.