Thursday, June 16, 2011
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Carrie Ryan
Carrie: I’ve been really really pleased by the response so far! As a reader I know how high expectations can be for the last book in a series so I was keeping my fingers crossed that my vision for the end matched fans of the series. It’s also been fascinating to watch readers shifting toward ebooks -- I’ve been blown away!
Scott: Have you always been a zombie fan and what sparked your desire to write a series about the zombie apocalypse?
Carrie: For most of my life I refused to watch any horror movies (I was scarred when a babysitter convinced me to watch Poltergeist when I was four by telling me how similar I was to the main character). Then in law school my now-husband, JP, somehow convinced me to go to the remake of Dawn of the Dead for one of our earlier dates and I was terrified but instantly hooked. He’s really the one responsible for feeding my love of zombies.
It never occurred to me that I’d end up writing about zombies but I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of survival and what we choose to live for. In 2006 I was trying to figure out what to write about when JP suggested I “write what you love” and I joked that would be the zombie apocalypse. He smiled and two days later I began to write The Forest of Hands and Teeth.
Scott: A lot of new writers often ask about the amount of pages or words that a published author produces each day. How much time would you spend writing on a typical day, (if a typical day exists for a writer that is)?
Carrie: On a typical drafting day I try to write around 2,000 words which is often a natural scene length for me. Sometimes I’ll press for more and accept less, but on average it’s 2,000. Sometimes those words can take an hour or two and sometimes it’s a process that involves the entire day!
Scott: Have you been approached by any studios about making your series into a movie? They really have the making of a great film or tele-series.
Carrie: Yes! It’s been quite exciting although Hollywood is a whole new world that I haven’t quite figured out yet. We sold the option for The Forest of Hands and Teeth and they’ve written a screenplay and found a director. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
Scott: What sparked your interest in writing and did you start off by writing short stories or go straight to working on a novel? What markets did you send your short fiction to?
Carrie: I wrote my first short story for an eleventh grade English class on Southern Literature and my teacher (and family) were really encouraging so I kept on writing. I never tried to publish any of the stories I wrote through college and it wasn’t until I graduated that I attempted my first novel. I’ve never quite figured out why I waited so long before starting my first novel; I think I just felt like I was too young before then.
Scott: How do you approach your writing? Do you tend to develop a story in your mind and then proceed to conduct some research or is more of an organic method where you write the story first and research any technical aspects later?
Carrie: I think it’s sort of a chicken/egg situation for me. Sometimes I come up with a story idea and set off to research it and other times I’ll come up with a whole new direction from researching something totally random. All through school I thought research was something inherently boring but that’s totally changed now -- I love researching. There are so many fascinating details and stories out there and there’s just this awesome thrill to discovering a tidbit that pulls various pieces of a story together in a way you’d have never thought of.
Scott: As a writer it is interesting to hear what other writers read in their spare time. It is often surprising to hear the genres and variety of books other authors read. Can you tell us what are you reading at the moment and what you five favorite books are?
Carrie: Oh, I can never answer the favorite books question because I love so many for such different reasons! As for what I’m reading right now… I usually only have one book going at a time but this year I made a resolution to read more books and to read more widely so I’m currently reading: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, The 39 Clues series, The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and a few craft and research books (along with a few friends’ manuscripts I’m critiquing). I just finished and loved Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter and The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab. There are so so many books out there on the YA shelves these days -- I love it!
Scott: Now that the Forest of Hands and Teeth series seems wrapped up have you started another novel and what will it be about?
Carrie: I have -- a stand alone set in a new world that I’m very excited about! Unfortunately there’s not much information I can share about it because I’m still in the revision phase and things can still change a lot (I tend to revise really heavily). I’m hoping I can share more soon!
Scott: There seems to be a lot more options available to authors to get published now compared to say a decade ago. What advice would you offer to unpublished writers in approaching publishers for the first time?
Carrie: I think there are two parts to being a published author -- the artistic writing side and the business side. As for the artistic side I think you want to always be trying to grow your craft and make everything you’re writing better than what you wrote before. For me one of the biggest steps I took in my career was really learning how to revise. With my first novel (a historical western romance I wrote right out of college) I thought it was sufficient to read it aloud and check for typos. With The Forest of Hands and Teeth I ripped the draft apart several times, really digging into make substantive changes before I ever submitted it. I don’t think it’s a surprise that the former is shoved in a closet somewhere and the latter was my first published book.
But I also think there’s the business side and if you’re not someone interested in that part of things then it’s definitely worthwhile to find an agent who can handle it for you (even if you do love the business I also recommend an agent). There are definitely a lot of publishing options today and I think it’s important for an author to know what they want out of publishing and make sure the option they choose can set them on that path. It’s really easy to just think of publishing as an end point when really it’s (hopefully) the beginning of a long career; therefore, I think it’s important to settle in for the marathon rather than stressing out over the sprint.
Scott: If you were stranded on a desert island, what five authors would you like to have as companions and why?
Carrie: Does my husband count -- he’s a fantastic short story author, I’d also probably choose Ally Carter and Holly Black because they’d figure out how to con our way off the island one way or another. With my final two choices I’d probably pick Max Brooks because if he can figure out how to survive zombies he could survive anything and then Tom Colicchio because it would be really handle to have a chef around!
Scott: Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to your next book.