Welcome everyone. Today we’re chatting with Valerie Ryan who comes to visit from the Tampa Bay area in Florida. Valerie, will you get us started by telling us a little about yourself and where you come from?
- I lived most of my life in Indiana and consider that to be my home. However, I’m currently living in the Tampa Bay area with no plans on leaving.
- I am married to a wonderful man, Mike, and we have a son, Daniel, and a daughter, Catherine, aged 13 and 10. We also have two cats and an eyelash crested gecko living with us. (The cats have us all well trained.) I have a Multidisciplinary Studies degree from Liberty University with concentrations in Business Management and Computer Science.
I lived in same area for a while before coming back to the Midwest. It’s nice to meet another transplant who’s put down roots there. And, speaking of roots, are there any fun stories about where the roots of your writing originated?
- My sisters, Teresa and Robyn, were always encouraging me. Without their support, I don’t know if I would have had an interest in writing. It is amazing how my greatest tormentors in life are also my greatest inspiration. (I’m the youngest, so drama is my specialty.)
- I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling stories and writing them down. I love to write. It is a way for me to escape reality and live in various lands. I began to seriously write after the birth of my son who was born nine weeks early. It was a way for me to deal with the depression that followed. My stories back then were very dark and no one will read them. I promised myself that I will only attempt to publish the stories that are uplifting in some way and hopefully inspiring.
- The birth of my daughter [inspired my first book]. Her presence in my life told me that I could do anything that I wanted and that there are no limitations on me. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have any other children after my son. If she could be here, then I could be a writer.
When did the realization come to you that you’d become an actual ‘writer’?
- April 30, 2015 when my first book was published.
::Chuckles:: The day you click the big button seems to be a common point among many of my visitors to tell them they’ve done the almost impossible. Did you have anyone help you along the way who wasn’t part of the family?
- A good friend of mine … is the first one to come to mind. My second book will be in memory to him, so look for that in my acknowledgments. He passed way last year and I know that it was his prayers and well wishes to me and my family that helped us through difficult times. I know he is still giving us strength.
It’s always so nice to have someone there to lean on when you really need the help. Do you have any favorite authors or books you look up to, and count as a mentor, even if you haven’t met them in person?
The book titled “Who Moved my Cheese” by Spencer Johnson. Somehow, I feel it is odd that I would write down a book that is not science fiction or not even close to my genre but when my husband insisted that I read it, it became my final push to try to find a publisher for my story. I couldn’t just sit in my corner of the maze we call life and not even try to find my cheese! It is a short story that I encourage all people to read.
- On a more related subject – the series of books that most influenced my life were the Percy Jackson books written by Rick Riordan. It was uplifting to read stories where the heroes are not perfect. I have lived my life with ADHD and we are usually portrayed as the class clowns and the spaz’s who cannot control how quickly we talk. I grew up believing this portrayal. Then Mr. Riordan changes that entire perception where the reason the heroes are so great is because of their ADHD! How awesome is that? Percy and the gang of demigods have become great inspiration for my children as well, who both have ADHD.
- It’s probably obvious from my above statement that I would love for Rick Riordan to be my mentor. If he is not available, I would ask Brandon Mull. Is it odd that I write adult science fiction but I love to read young adult science fiction?
Not odd at all. A couple of my recent finds that I really love going back to read write YA, but I tend to wander over on the more mature side of dark fantasy. Sometimes I think that just having the different styles between reading and writing provides enough of a buffer between what you are reading and what you are writing you can keep your current read from accidentally bleeding into your own writing style. Have you found this to be the same, or have you developed a style that is uniquely yours, in spite of what you read?
- Not that I know of. I guess you could say that my style is rambling.
Rambling works, too. I’m sure it makes it easier to weave in elements of realism or experiences you’ve hand or heard of. Or is that an incorrect guess?
- My imagination has a mind of its own at times.
- My first instinct is to say that there is very little realism in my book. But then I think that my story is all about evil in our world and our heroes have to stop that evil. It is probably more realistic than I would like to admit.
What about messages? Do you ever weave any in for your readers to find?
- There are many messages that I would like readers to take from my story. But the main message is that people have to work together to make this world a good one for future generations.
That’s always a worth while message to send out.
Now, since I wound up wandering a little, I’d like to go back to your favorite books and authors. Do you have any that really stand out for you?
- Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull tie in first place. Rick Riordan’s books are fascinating to me because he uses Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Norse mythology for the basis of his stories. These mythologies have always held my interest and I find his weaving of the modern world still having these gods in it as great reading. Brandon Mull intertwines the most charming worlds with our own and they have a great spellbinding effect on its readers.
Have you encountered any new authors who you feel should receive a little more recognition?
- II’m always on the lookout. Michael Piotrowsky and Paul Wright are new authors that I’ve read recently. I can’t wait for the second book to come out.
Are you willing to share who’s currently on the top of the reading stack?
- I plan to read Brandon Mull’s next book in the Five Kingdom Series “Death Weavers”. I’ve recently finished reading the book “Sentinel of the Minotaur” by Michael Piotrowsky and Paul Wright which I liked.
- I’ve also added your book “Out of the Darkness” to the stack.
Ah, so there’s not a long wait for your newest find. I usually have trouble managing that, especially when I’m still working on a big project.
Are you at a point where you can share anything about your own work, or news about up and coming projects you’ll be starting?
- The Seven of I series is going to be my current project for a few more years. I’m planning on having seven books in it.
- I am in the process of writing the second book to my Seven of I series, “Thrice Blessed”. Recently, I was hired to work at a school as a receptionist so I will be having the same hours and vacation schedule as my children. It is difficult trying to write and have a full time job while still being a wife and mother so hopefully my book(s) will be successful so I can write full time.
- I will be putting teasers of my current book on my website sevenofI.com when it is ready and also on my author facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ValerieRyanAuthor
::Chuckles:: Well do I understand the joys of trying to juggle three full-time jobs at once. Would you consider writing to be your career, even if you do have to still have something else to help pay the bills?
- I certainly hope so!
Since you’re just starting out on your journey, I’m sure there are many challenges and lessons you’ve had to face down. Are there any you can share?
- I learned many things from writing my book. Too many to list here. I think the most surprising fact I learned is that the angels known as Cherubs are not winged children. Ah, but perhaps my nerdiness is showing. Your readers may be wishing to know something about being published or successful at writing. I think persistence is what I learned the most. Being ADHD it is all too easy for me to start writing and when it gets difficult or too challenging to simply give up. I learned that I have to leave my comfort zone and move along and finish each chapter. Persistence in the key.
- I am trying to stay as close to fact when it comes to angels and demons. This has become quite difficult as through the years there have been many stories and writings on both. I’ve had to narrow down which particular ones I would follow. This research took several years. It is also extremely difficult because I do not want to offend anyone as religion plays a heavy part in my stories. I chose to follow the Book of Enoch for the hierarchy of the angels, the teachings of Pope Gregory I for the seven deadly sins and the seven virtues and am deeply inspired by the Divine Comedy by Dante for visions of hell.
Of all that you’ve encountered so far, what would you consider the greatest challenge you’ve overcome?
- [Doing] the research.
From the comment above, I kind of guessed. Would you change anything about your work if you could start over with everything you know now?
- I wish I could change the fact that I did not have money to have it properly edited.
Ouch. Editing costs do have a way of coming up to wreak havoc with most budgets.
Circling back to how you came up with your title. Now I’m curious, especially with the research you’ve put in?
- My husband, Mike, was in a band when I first met him and he came up with the name ‘Seven of I’ for a band name. He says he got that idea because he felt as if he was being split in multiple different ways trying to make everyone in the band happy. I always liked the spiritual and biblical connection that I felt with that title and was thinking of it when I outlined my series. I asked him if I could use it and he said yes. As for the title of my first book, “The Keeper of the Words”, it was a way to describe the main character’s role in the series. It was originally titled “The Angel’s Prophecy” but I felt that was too generic somehow.
Wow. What an interesting connection. Did you have the same kind of connection with your cover, or have to work with someone to get it made?
- [I worked with] Dave King at Black Rose Writing Publishing [to design my cover].
And, then, the big question that seems to crop up in author every author interview: Do you have any advice for others who are just starting out their writer’s journey?
- Do not give up. Do not think that your story is stupid. Do not listen to the naysayers in your life. You can do this! Just keep working. (I like to change the song Dori sings in “Finding Nemo”. Instead of “just keep swimming”, I like to sing “just keep writing”. It may be a bit juvenile, but, hey, I have kids so Disney movies rule my life right now.)
Nothing wrong with a little Disney. I’ve got one I tend to hum to myself when I’m working on putting a dent in the “to do” list. It’s the old camp song “99 Bottles of Beer”, though, like you I wind up changing the words. Mine’s “99 Open Tabs To Close Down”. Sometimes filking a song you like makes things feel much easier. Especially when it’s a big project.
One last question before I wrap up. Do you have any final words you’d like to direct to your readers?
- Thank you for reading my book!
Valerie, thank you so much for stopping by today. I won’t say good bye, as I think you’re scheduled to come back in a few days with one of your characters, so it’s only farewell.
If you’ve enjoyed the interview, and wish me to host one for you, please stop by my Offered Services page and fill out the simple submission form. I’ll get back to you soonest to discuss details.