This Writer Wednesday, the spotlight shines on John Ryland!
A fellow Southerner, John Ryland resides in Northern Alabama and writes paranormal fiction, Southern Gothic, and poetry, among a list of other genres.
Publishing his interview felt like chatting with a cousin whose shared interest in '80s and '90s rock and alternative ballads and eerily stunning modern classics might keep the coffee pot brewing and the conversation lasting well into the night.
A quick note:
During this interview, you might note that many of the questions include the word “we” as if “we” asked them. Well, we did. This detail is meant to include you, my dear reader, and I do hope you enjoy each interview published to this blog!
Additionally, please note that each interview answer is the author's own words and the interviews in The Intuitive Storyteller blog are intended for informational and educational purposes only.
John lives in Northport, Alabama with his wife and two sons. He writes poetry, short stories, and longer works. A published poet since 1997, his latest poetry has appeared in the Birmingham Arts Journal and Subterranean Blue Journal of the Arts. He also has a poetry chapbook available in Amazon called The Strange: poems from the chair.
His first novel, Souls Harbor, was published in 2020. He has a collection of short stories entitled Southern Gothic, and a YA dark romance novel called Shatter. His third novel, Peripheral, a paranormal suspense thriller, will be released in January 2022 by World Castle Publishing. Also expected to be released in 2022, his fourth book is an action/adventure thriller entitled The Man with No Eyes.
John has also published a dozen short stories in journals such as Bewildering Stories, Otherwise Engaged, The Chamber Magazine, The Eldritch Journal, Ginosko Literary Journal, and in an anthology by Hell Bound Books.
About John's Book
When Camille Powers hits her head in a seemingly harmless fall, she finds herself in a strange world between life and death. Able to see but not interact with her regular life, she turns to the only friend she has left—Anna Grace, the spirit of a young girl Camille has seen around her house since her childhood. With Anna Grace’s help, Camille learns she didn’t just slip into this strange place but was dragged into it by a powerful demon that wants to possess her body. Known as a Looker, the demon is a terrifying, centuries-old demon, with tremendous power and a taste for the vices offered by our world. Camille’s uncharacteristic, indulgent behavior and the sighting of strange lights in her husband’s barn lead him to hire a paranormal investigator. When the demon discovers his actions, it begins to lash out, and Camille realizes time is of the essence. If she doesn’t find a way to save herself and Anna Grace from this haunting place the demon will destroy Camille’s physical body, trapping her in the Peripheral forever.
And now, the interview:
John, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Very early on, I discovered that I had an active imagination and a love to tell stories. In the second grade, after a school trip, we were instructed to write thank you letters to the local observatory. When the newspaper printed a story on us, my letter was on top of the stack in the picture. Seeing my first byline made me want to write professionally.
Tell us about the person(s) or event(s) that inspired you to write your latest work.
The Peripheral is a shadow world between worlds. It was inspired by the happenstance of thinking you see someone out of the corner of your eye, then turning only to find no one there. That is how we see people in the Peripheral, fleeting glances afforded them when the walls between worlds grows thin. The existence of multiple planes of existence enthralls my imagination.
What is your favorite genre to write and why do these types of stories appeal to you?
I generally stay within the dark fiction, Southern Gothic genres. I love paranormal/supernatural stuff, as well as folklore and ghost stories. I think what draws me is the question, “What if?” As a writer, it is a treasure trove of ideas.
Do you have a furry familiar? Tell us about them!
My wife has a beagle named Perry. He is actually a red beagle who doesn't look like people expect a beagle to look. He's a good dog, but not very bright, to be honest.
Tell us about your writing schedule and/or a ritual that is necessary for establishing and sustaining your writing mood and endurance.
I don't really have a schedule, though I do tend to write after my boys have gone to bed. I write at different times of day, whenever the opportunity presents itself. I wrote my first novel sitting at our dining room table. Now I have a home office off our kitchen, but the door always stays open. The dog and kids make frequent visits. If I could write fulltime, I'd probably write all day and into the night.
Why do you write? How does the act of storytelling affect you?
I simply love to write. I love allowing the plot to develop on its own. Sometimes, when I'm writing, I get the feeling of reading a book. The things that happen sometimes surprise me, make me mad, or break my heart. I give my characters carte blanche when it comes to determining what they do. Sometimes it ends up like herding cats, but it's always fun and invigorating.
Think about yourself back when you first started writing. If you could travel back in time, what would you say to that version of you (about the writing process, publishing, the world, etc.) that might help prepare them for today?
I took a long break from writing. Nineteen years. I'd go back and tell myself to push through those difficult times and write. Honing the craft of being a writer takes experience. You have to write, to know how to write. As far as publishing, I'd tell myself to develop a thick skin earlier in life. The acceptance/rejection rate is woefully uneven. I'd also tell myself to have faith in my abilities. Self-doubt can be crippling.
What are your recommendations for fueling your writing energy and promoting inspiration?
Look at the world around you. Notice things that average people don't. The devil is in the details, and sometimes so is the story. Allow your mind to wander, to dream. Never close yourself off, mentally, to the world of possibilities. The world is a strange, wonderful place full of characters.
The devil is in the details, and sometimes so is the story. –John Ryland
How intuitive are you and does your intuition affect your writing?
I consider myself a good judge of character. I value actions over words when it comes to people. I think I recreate that when I write. I have people commit deeds to show who they really are, to strip away their masks.
Tell us about your long-term writing and publishing goals.
I want to write as long as I am physically and mentally capable of entertaining people. I'd love to be successful, in that a lot of people want to read my books. Being rich and famous would be great, but I'd love to make enough to be able to write fulltime. Landing a deal with one of the Big 5 would be okay too [laughs].
For what or whom are you most grateful right now and why?
Right now, and always, my family. They believe in me and give me the time and patience to write. My wife is the first to read my work when I'm not and [she’s] my most honest beta reader.
Besides writing, what activities bring you joy?
I love to garden. I raise flowers from seed and spend countless hours in the yard during the spring and summer. Our yard is overflowing with flowers and it brings me great joy to see people enjoy it. I also coach my youngest son in baseball and basketball. Interacting with kids and seeing them improve makes me happy. My oldest son is a smartie. Watching him excel in scholar bowls and in school makes me proud because I always claim that he got his intellect from me.
Which book are you reading right now?
Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The Evening and the Morning, by Ken Follett
Fill in the blank: Magic is...
Magic is a delicate balance of wonder and science
Stay connected with John! Here’s where you can find him:
Next Magic Monday, I will continue my Tarot Stories series on the Major Arcana. Next up, The Emperor.
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself.
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.