Welcome, L. Ryan Storms! Your bio is pretty diverse. How did you end up writing?
I guess it took me longer than most to realize storytelling was my true calling. While I’ve always loved it, it never seemed like a viable path for me. As someone who has so many interests, it always made sense to follow a more “solid” career path, like science. As a result, I worked in pharmaceutical microbiology for years. I loved it! (I am a huge science nerd.) But I found I still needed to fill that creative void and writing was the perfect outlet.
In fact, I have to give some credit to the pharmaceutical industry for steering me towards writing. At one point, I left the laboratory and started as a technical writer in the R&D department. It was the first time I really learned how to piece together large documents on a regular basis and realize that I could jump around to fill in pieces as I gathered them. It didn’t quite feed the creative in me (Boy, is technical writing dry!), but it gave me a basic understanding of how I could delve into my own writing and not just start, but also finish novels. (Which is kind of important if you’re going to be an author.) As the years went on, I started to feel more at home with my writing and finally decided to take the plunge into indie-authorhood this year.
What’s your favorite kind of character to write?
That’s a tough one. One of the best parts about being an author is bringing to life so many different kinds of characters. I love the diversity of it. All in all, I’d have to say intelligent characters with just a little bit of attitude rank high on my list. I really enjoy the challenge of writing a character who has the brains to figure out how to take on the problems around them. That said, one of the most difficult things to write is a character who is a whole lot smarter than you are. I wrote a story about a time-traveling prodigy once and I had the most difficult time writing it because I just couldn’t process how someone that smart would think.
Quinn was probably one of my favorite characters in A Thousand Years to Wait because of the way his mind works. Because the story is told from Reina’s point-of-view, we don’t really get to see how Quinn thinks up front, which makes for a lot of speculation. It was lots of fun. If things go right, you might see more of Quinn’s thoughts in the future.
A Thousand Years to Wait is labeled as being Book 1 of The Tarrowburn Prophecies. Does this mean there’s more to come?
Maaaaaaybe. It was always my intention to make A Thousand Years to Wait the first of a trilogy. In fact, early versions of the book alluded to more prophecies and additional troubles. I am a huge fan of trilogies, but I love a first book that can stand alone. That’s what I aimed for with A Thousand Years to Wait.
I hope to write the second book this year. I’m in the middle of another project, though, and need to wrap that one up first. I’m not the kind of writer who can work on multiple books at once. I get too muddled and lose my way. Authors who can hop back and forth between projects with no problem are my heroes.
Speaking of A Thousand Years to Wait…let’s learn a bit more about it:
At eighteen, Moreina di Bianco is a young healer who believes in medicine, not magic, even while possessing a second sight she can’t fully explain. So when the Faranzine Talisman chooses Reina to reawaken an ancient magic and end a war, she must reconcile her beliefs, unlock the talisman’s secrets, and harness the magic within.
Reluctant to accept help, Reina agrees to allow two determined escorts to accompany her on her journey for truth, but each comes with a mysterious past of his own. Her estranged childhood friend, Quinn D’Arturio, left their village years ago and only recently returned, harboring dark secrets behind a solemn exterior. And despite his status as a perfect stranger, a dashing captain by the name of Niles Ingram is quick to fight by Reina’s side at whatever the cost. That someone she’s only just met would give his life for hers is a sobering realization of the ever-present danger Reina has jumped into.
There’s just one problem with Reina’s two companions. They, too, are featured in the talisman’s prophecy—as potential suitors. But what woman wants a suitor, let alone two, when she’s tasked with defeating a usurping general, ending a war, finding the true king, and rightfully seating him on the throne?
My goal is to have the second book of The Tarrowburn Prophecies released sometime in late 2020.
Why did you go the self-published route?
I think there comes a point in your life where you have to be comfortable in your own skin and with your own skills. Publishing is extremely competitive and a lot of writers call it quits long before getting to publication. After all, it’s really difficult to keep going when you’re faced with 90% or higher rate of rejection. (Seriously, 90% is being generous.) You can’t rely on others to reassure you of the worth of your work. You have to know, deep down, that what you’re writing is worth putting out there.
That said, beta-readers and critique partners are gold, and I would never, ever, ever publish without having multiple eyes and edits on my work. Self-publishing has a bad reputation because “anyone can do it.” This is true. It’s also why there’s a lot of sub-par writing when it comes to self-publishing.
On the flip side, there are a ton of self-published authors whose work is better than many traditionally published authors. I read Andy Weir’s The Martian not too long ago and it had me laughing out loud so often that my husband actually began to side-eye me from across the room. The Martian was self-published. Still Alice by Lisa Genova is another self-published success story that made it not only onto the NYT bestseller list, but also onto the big screen. There’s a lot to be said for self-publishing and it’s as legitimate a publishing path as any other.
There was a time when I pursued traditional publishing methods and queried a whole lot of agents. (I’ll leave the number to your imagination.) It was actually the responses of several agents that ultimately made me comfortable with the prospect of self-publishing. When agents compliment your world-building, your writing, and the story, and tell you to touch base with them for future projects? It’s eye-opening in a way that a friend’s “This is great!” isn’t. (Not that my friends aren’t positively amazing and cherished for their encouragement. They are. But when an agent compliments your writing? It’s a. Big. Deal.) That encouragement gave me the courage to take the leap.
How did you get into writing Young Adult Fantasy? And why Young Adult over Adult?
I love the young adult age category. I have always loved it. I wish it had existed when I was in middle school and high school, but back then there was a giant void between middle grade and adult fiction. I’ve really enjoyed seeing book stores labeling entire shelves as young adult over the last few years because, whether it’s contemporary young adult or young adult fantasy, it’s really important for teenagers to see themselves represented in stories as more than just a sullen side character with raging hormones.
Teens face a lot of unique problems that really only happen at that time in our lives. The “newness” of adulthood, the first love that you go through in your teen years, and the learning how to interact with others on a deeper, more personal level than “What’s your favorite food?” or “What’s your favorite animal?” is what makes writing young adult really interesting for me. (Don’t get me wrong. It’s still important that you know I love pizza, chocolate, and horses but who doesn’t?) Teens are in a really unique place in life where they can act like kids or act like adults, where they can process information in a way adults might not, see solutions adults might miss, and embrace change in a way adults might vehemently refuse to do.
Young adults deserve to see themselves as heroes, as strong characters who are capable of changing the world because that’s just who they are. The sooner they learn and accept that, the sooner they can get on with being amazing individuals and making an impact in the world.
Where can we get our hands on A Thousand Years to Wait?
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Book Depository
SPEED ROUND TIME!
Oxford comma, yes or no? Always (Seriously, say it in a Snape voice. *Always.*)
Coffee or tea or wine? Peach tea. Or water. Lots and lots of water.
What does your desk look like? What desk? My lap is my desk. Sometimes the dining room table if I’m feeling fancy.
What is your writing vice or must-haves? My laptop. Sounds silly, but I can’t write by hand. My handwriting is atrocious and my brain works far faster than my hands can keep up. Typing is the only way I can write.
Describe a perfect writing day. Wait. There’s a perfect writing day?
What are some of your go-to methods for writing? It’s like Nike always said. Just do it. I like to outline, but I don’t always *follow* the outline. One way or another, I sit my butt in the chair and write the words.
In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? Outdoor photographer
PSSST! She is an amazing photographer!! Check out some of her work here: http://www.thisartisticearth.com/ or here: https://www.facebook.com/artisticearthphotography/ and a few below:
Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? Bryce Canyon is high on my list. It’s magical in a way I can’t even begin to explain.
Beach, lake, or mountains? This is tough. Mountains and lakes are synonymous for me and they’re relaxing in a cozy, wear-your-sweater-and-drink-hot-tea kind of way. Beaches are relaxing in a let-your-muscles-unclench-and-sip-a-tropical-drink kind of way. So…both? All?
Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Night owl, possibly midday lark at times. Definitely, definitely not a morning rooster.
What comes first, character or plot (or other)? Character and setting.
L. Ryan Storms is a writer, photographer, traveler, and dreamer. She's a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of SCBWI who enjoys working PR & Marketing for her local library. She has written articles featured on the front page of local newspapers, but mostly she writes novels near and dear to her heart. She holds a B.S. in Marine Science from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and a Master's in Business Administration from Marist College, but writing young adult fantasy has always been her true passion.
Storms lives in Pennsylvania with her cancer-survivor husband, two children, and a "rescue zoo" featuring two dogs, two cats, and an ex-racehorse. When she's not writing, reading, or keeping her kids in line, she enjoys hiking, photography, and planning the next big adventure.
Find out what L. Ryan Storms is working on & visit her blog at www.lryanstorms.com. You can also find her frequently tweeting about writing (and parenting) on Twitter (@LRyan_Storms).