Interview with Ryan Gladney

What's the story behind your latest book?
The first kernel of an idea for Nine Lives of Adam Blake came from that pretty universal human fantasy: How would you live your life differently if you could do it all over again? I remember daydreaming along that line of thought one day and just sort of getting lost in the idea and the implications. How would such a phenomenon really manifest itself? How would I explain it? What would be my assumptions and priorities if I happened to wake up tomorrow and I was a child again? What would I do with myself on a mundane, day-to-day basis? And, what sort of mechanism could have possibly caused this bizarre occurrence? I thought it would be fun to write a story about a guy experiencing this and discovering the answers for himself.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Publishing a novel has been at the very top of my bucket list since before I knew what a bucket list was. I've always wanted to do this. I love writing, but I think I was a bit put-off by the publication process: the hunt for an agent; the hunt for a publisher; the inevitable rejection letters. About two years ago my wife forwarded me an Amanda Hocking interview where she talked about her experience self-publishing. I remember reading her story and just feeling so energized. I could do this! Everything she said really resonated with me. I liked the autonomy, the responsibility, the DIY nature of self-publishing, the elimination of traditional gatekeepers, and the somewhat Darwinian forces that affect ebook success. It was like that cliche of the light-bulb flashing over my head. I knew self-publishing was the way to go. I never second guessed it.
When did you first start writing?
I think my first creative writing endeavor was modifying the endings of my Dr. Suess books as a kid. I remember assuming that the blank flyleaves at the end of books were meant as invitations for readers to add their thoughts, so I'd grab crayons and write these addendums to books like Cat in the Hat and The Butter Battle Book. My mom helped. Some of them were pretty good.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The act itself. Maybe that's selfish, but it's true. Of course it's rewarding to hear from readers, get good reviews, or go back and read something of mine and feel a sense of pride, but the best part is to wake up every morning and grab a cup of coffee and sit at my desk with a work I'm excited to write. I love the process. I love that I'm able to indulge myself in that every day.
What are you working on next?
I'm in the very early stages of my next novel. I'm really excited about it. It's wildly different than Nine Lives of Adam Blake: much larger in scope; much heavier in science-fiction. It's kind of a futuristic, technocratic dystopian thriller mixed with a Beverly Lewis-style Amish coming-of-age story, if that makes any sense.
How do you spend your time when you're not writing?
I have a full-time job, so that takes up most of it. I also have a nine-month-old son, so he and my wife take the rest. Still, I manage to squeeze in some reading, some biking, some lazy days lounging at the lake, and occasional nights out to check out some music or meet friends for a drink.
What is your writing process?
I spend about a month brainstorming my idea: just stream of consciousness jottings in a notebook about characters, scenes, bits of dialogue, whatever. No rules, no concern for story, theme, narrative consistency or anything. Once I've exhausted myself of the raw materials of the novel, I grab another notebook and rewrite my jottings, but this time in some sort of linear order so as to create a rough outline of the book. Next I write my first draft, which is just a rapid-fire stream of consciousness telling of the story, using my outline as a guide. Still no rules, no worrying about grammar or logic or the quality of the writing at all. Just vomit the whole thing out on the page. Then I rewrite, over and over and over again, slowly sculpting that original draft into something that resembles literature. I rewrote Nine Lives of Adam Blake about a dozen times, over the course of a year and a half.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a writer?
1. Write daily.
2. Live fully.
3. Read when not occupied with the above.
That's pretty much all there is.
Published 2014-06-23.
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