Today we have a guest blogger with us, author Ryan Rapier. I hope you enjoy getting to know more about him and his debut novel The Reluctant Blogger from Cedar Fort Inc. You can find my review online at Goodreads.
Red Vines or Twizzlers? I know this is probably sacrilegious to some, but I actually despise both. If I have to eat candy, I would prefer a Heath bar to anything, but given the choice on something sugary, I will have to go with a Dr. Pepper every time.
What is your favorite punctuation? Despite many editors telling me it isn’t a real punctuation, I still love the exclamated question (my made up term for it.) An example: What?!?
Do you work on a laptop or a desktop? Desktop. Laptop keys are too close together.
Please give us a peek into your writing life. How much time each week do you spend writing? Anywhere from 5 to 10 hours. Is your desk messy or clean? I prefer charmingly cluttered. Do you have a schedule or are you sporadic? I try to keep to a schedule so that I don’t end up costing myself time with my family. What helps you stay motivated? Tough question. I guess it mainly comes down to not wanting to be a quitter. With this first book that I wrote, I wanted to be able to tell my kids that even though something is tough, if you stick with it, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. I wanted to finish not only for myself, but for them.
What is one book that you feel changed your life as a reader? The Lord of the Rings. I had a third grade teacher who convinced me to read them even though they might have been a little bit above my full comprehension. I read them and I loved them. I learned then that the thicker the book, generally the richer the story.
What are three words that describe how you feel about writing? Rewarding, Challenging and Insanity-Producing. (Can I count that last one as one word?)
Where did the idea for The Reluctant Blogger come from? I actually did a full blog post on this, but to boil it down: the original story was going to be centered on four friends, all LDS men who are single for different reasons, that get together regularly to support each other and keep each other going. They even called their group the Square Pegs because they felt so isolated from normal everyday LDS culture. (The Square Pegs was my original title for the book.) However, once I started writing, I realized I needed one main character and so I went with Todd. As far as the idea for his story? I’m not entirely sure. I came up with it over seven years ago. But mainly, I think it evolved from my dealings with different friends and acquaintances who have experienced some of the things I write about in the book.
Most LDS fiction has a female central character. Your book is different in that you have a male as your main character. What were your thoughts on this? To be honest, I haven’t read a great deal of LDS fiction other than books by Dean Hughes and Gerald Lund. So I didn’t realize that the majority of them had female central characters, although that does make sense. I believe a majority of authors will be most effective if they start from a place they are comfortable with. And that extends to gender. If I were to try and write a book with a female central character, I don’t believe it would be believable because I don’t sound like a woman in my head. I could try, but I think over the long haul of an entire novel, my testosterone would give me away. In short, I think at least for me, it is best to write what you know.
Here is your chance to pitch: Why should the readers of this blog go out and buy your book? Well for one, because just as you mentioned, it’s different. I personally have never seen an LDS book like it—from the interactions between the main character and his psychiatrist to frank discussions on topics that sometimes make the LDS faithful (of which I am one) a little uncomfortable. And it is all mixed in with some attempts at humor. It would be presumptuous of me to say this book has it all, but for the LDS audience…I think it has quite a bit.
Will you continue to write for an LDS audience or try for a wider reach? My brother said this book was my way of dealing with a lot of issues in my life. He’s probably right. But now that I have it out of my system, I am ready to explore other stories that aren’t LDS-centric.
Tell us something interesting about yourself? My three great obsessions in life are Golf, Disneyland and Batman (as envisioned by Christopher Nolan)
What benefits have you noticed being part of a writing group? I had written the entire book before I joined a writer’s group. However, I did join one at the same time I was starting the editing process. I’m so glad I did. Both of the other members of my writing group are female and gave me invaluable input on my female love interest. Basically, they both found her unlikable in her original form. Thanks to their input, I was able to make changes that I believe produced a much better final character.
Now that you’ve published your first novel, what advice do you have for aspiring writers? Tell a great original story. Don’t listen to everyone who says “You have to write in this genre” or “You need to change your book to fit this niche.” Tell the story you want to tell and let the chips fall where they may. I know this is probably an unpopular sentiment, but the great fantasy books of our generation have already been written. Don’t be afraid to go tell a story that hasn’t.
Are you working on something new right now? I am. And it’s about as Un-Reluctant Bloggerish as I know how to get. But it’s what fascinates me at the moment so…there you go.
The Reluctant Blogger will be available where books and eBooks are sold on August 13, 2013. Pre-order links for Amazon.
Genre: LDS Fiction
Description: Todd knows he is in a bad place. That’s why he went to a therapist in the first place, and that alone took a lot of doing. So when Dr. Schenk threatens to stop their sessions unless Todd puts in more effort, he grasps at the last available straw: a personal blog that will force Todd to confront his demons.
Ever since he lost his wife, Todd has not been the same. He’s been forced to Single Adult activities at church, and everyone seems to expect him to just forget Marci and get married again—especially when he meets Emily, who makes him smile and starts to bring him out of his depression. But dating again is hard when Todd has three kids of his own, not to mention an overbearing father and friends with their own problems.
This beautifully woven and emotional tale is both heartbreaking and humorous. Championing friendship, love, and family, Ryan Rapier deals adeptly with the everyday struggles we face as well as the strongest ties that keep us together. You’re sure to fall in love with this magnificent tale of redemption, forgiveness, and new beginnings.