I am excited to introduce my guest for today, YA author R. K. Ryals. She has just recently released The Acropolis, which is a spin-off from her paranormal series that includes Redemption and Ransom. Hello, and welcome, R. K.
I do want to talk about your writing, but after reading your blog, I must confess that there are several areas of your life that I found to be interesting. First let me say that as soon as I read your About Me page on your blog, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. My poor husband was not raised in the south, so he just doesn’t get the “take your shoes off at the door” admonition. Do you have any thoughts that you can share which might shed some light on why northerners sometimes struggle with that concept?
LOL! I love this question! I know, personally, that growing up in the South meant mud, creeks, four-wheelers, fishing, being barefoot, and climbing as many trees as we could. This being said, I think Southern women either learned to tell everyone to keep the mud on the shoes and at the door or run the risk of having the filthiest living conditions in America. But I also have a lot of Northern friends who do the same thing. I think, when it comes to the South, the traditions that differ the most is the food we eat, how fast we talk, how we drop the last letter in most of our words, and our hospitality. I lived in North Carolina for a while in Jacksonville, which is mostly military personnel. Because of this, many of them were from the North. The weirdest thing I ever got asked to do when living there was to spell Mississippi at a party because Mississippians can supposedly spell it extremely fast without messing up. They also loved my accent, though I honestly feel like I don't have one. I love being from the South. I even love the humidity, and nothing beats the humid summer nights filled with chirping crickets. Except for the whole pesky mosquito thing;)
Well, I love southern accents, but y’all can keep your humidity and mosquitoes to yourselves. You share on your blog that you love to cook. Please give us a sampling of your favorite meal to prepare. I’m talking appetizer, main course, and dessert, of course. And if there isn’t something on the menu that’s deep-fried, I want to know, why not?
My husband's favorite meat is pork chops so I do this a lot. And it is always fried. Basically, I take a pork chop and dip it in milk before placing it in a batter of flour, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder before putting it in grease. A hit every time. Fried squash is also a supper favorite here. (It's supper, not dinner in the South). For this, I take a flour, pepper, and salt dry mix and add milk till a consistency enough to stick to the squash, then dip a sliced squash in and fry. Throw together some butter beans (made with butter and maple bacon), and mashed potatoes and that is a great meal. As for an appetizer, snake bites (which are jalapeno slices dipped in corn meal and fried) and fried dill pickle slices are a must. For dessert, my favorite is peanut butter cake. Not fried, but absolutely delicious! I don't fry the mashed potatoes or butter beans, but left over mashed potatoes are fried the next night to make potato patties. The best stuff ever! Yes, we tend to overdo the cholesterol in the South. lol.
Hey, my parents were both from Tennessee, so I’ve eaten my share of grease. And I agree, potato pancakes can’t be beaten with a stick. Also, I’d much prefer fried green tomatoes over squash. Yum!
You also share that you love playing with your three daughters. Considering their ages, if you could take them into any book for a visit, where would that be, and why?
Take them into a book world? Hmmmm, my oldest daughter is nine, and she loves to read. She has just started getting into the Chronicles of Narnia, and I think I would definitely take her to visit that world. She reminds me so much of Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia, and I see her becoming a fixture in the world of Narnia, and a great friend of the creatures there.
As for my four-year-old, Rae has a tremendous sweet tooth. She starts every day asking for ice cream. lol. I don't let her have it, of course, except as an occasional dessert, but she is always begging for candy and chocolate. There's no doubt, I'd love to take her into Charlie and the Chocolate factory. I'm afraid of what she'd do in there, but she would have a blast!
My one-year-old is an adventurous little thing. She will be two this summer, and she is really into animals. She loves when I read the Curious George books to her, and she is FASCINATED with monkeys. I'd definitely take her into those books. She would be so smitten with George, I'd have to let the man with yellow hat adopt her.
Interesting. I’d probably go with your nine-year-old, since those were my favorite books way back in the fourth grade. Continuing with that theme, if you could leave your children in the care of a trusted individual for an extended time, what book would you travel into, and why? Also, would you go as yourself, or as one of your creations, or as some other other-worldly creature?
I'd have to pick two books actually. One would be Pride and Prejudice. And I'd definitely go as Elizabeth Bennet. Seriously, all I want to do is kiss Mr. Darcy and then return to my own world, but what a moment that would be. Shhhhh, don't tell my husband.
But I would also want to travel into a book called the Barbed Coil. I read it forever and ever ago, and it is the book that got me into reading Fantasy/Paranormal. Honestly, I can't remember the author and if I read it now, I may not even like the book anymore, but I'd love to travel into it anyway. I think I'd like to go into that one as myself. It would be interesting to see how I would fare in a fantastical world, but I would want some kind of awesome ability. Not sure what, but I'd definitely want a magical ability.
Well, now we also know you have great taste in men! As for The Barbed Coil, I’d have to say you are much braver than I am. I don’t think I could survive a paranormal fantasy world.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, R.K., from the time of conception until the final edits are complete?
It actually doesn't take me long. Once the idea is in my head, I have to get it out. Redemption took me three months to write, two months for editing as my editor (the wonderful Melanie Bruce in North Carolina) and I went back and forth with revisions. Ransom took a month to write and a month to edit. The Acropolis took me about a month to write, and even though it has been revised, my editor and I are always still finding mistakes I go in to fix even after editing is done. We are perfectionists. lol. Generally, it takes me anywhere from a month to three months to write a book, but it takes about an extra month to a couple of weeks for editing.
I notice that you chose to self-publish. Did you try the conventional route first? I know from my own writing experience that finding an agent who is the perfect match for a particular manuscript can seem overwhelming at times. Do you think you will continue with the self-publishing route, or do you have other plans for future volumes?
I did try the conventional route to begin with, and while I received acceptances for queries, I never received one for the manuscript. I actually never intended to self-publish. I had never even heard of self-publishing, but Melanie Bruce and my best friend, Audrey Welch, both mentioned it to me and both encouraged me to do it. I just wasn't sure about it. It seemed the traditional route was the most accepted and the most promoted, but self-publishing ended up giving me an outlet to publish while still attempting the traditional. I am still attempting traditional publication, but its importance isn't what it used to be. I enjoy the freedom I've found in self-publication. Would I turn my nose up at traditional if given the opportunity, no, but I'm glad I was encouraged to self-publish as well. I have met the most remarkable people.
I think writers are all remarkable people! They are extremely supportive of one another, and most of them I’ve met have been endlessly helpful and willing to invest time and effort into assisting others in their field.
I’ve read The Acropolis, and I must say you have created some very unique characters. Where do you find inspiration for them?
From everywhere. I actually don't have specific people or events I draw from. Dreams help, but I also draw from personal experience and family. With Emma, for example, I thought of my grandmother. She is a hypochondriac who was always ill. If anyone coughed in front of her, she would be sick the next day. I drew on that. Emma is NOT a hypochondriac, but she is sick, and she doesn't know why, and doctors are baffled. She is also afraid of everything, and there doesn't seem to be much reason for that, either. But she is also brave. A strange mix, but it really works to create what Emma is.
I already had Conor created. He had a back story, and I think, with Conor, I just produced a character who is a hero but who is real. He has a past. As much as some YA authors want to shy from this, it's real. I actually drew from someone I know in my life who is the best gentleman you could ever meet, but he spent his teenage years dating a lot. I'll leave the rest implied. But, he is also the best friend any person could have.
I want real characters with real issues who live in a world that isn't normal. So, I guess the easiest way to answer that is to say I draw my inspiration from my surroundings, from watching people, and from day dreaming about things I wish would happen.
So are your plans to continue with this series, or do you have other ideas floating around that don’t encompass the paranormal genre?
I definitely intend to continue the Acropolis Series, hence the large and interesting ensemble cast. I'm not sure how long the Acropolis Series will go, but I am in love with many of my characters. Weirdly, I have a real affection for Deidra, Bruno, and Lyre especially. And I definitely have plans for Will. I do have ideas that don't encompass the paranormal that I want to write, and I also want to delve into writing adult paranormal at some point as well. I also have an idea for a fantasy series I'd love to write.
I am not sure who my favorite is in your book, but Conor sort of tugs at me. If you could spend a quiet afternoon, let’s say a sultry Mississippi day in mid-July, with any author of your choosing, who would it be, and what would you talk about? And would you be drinking sweet tea, lemonade, or something a little more potent?
Sweet tea definitely with extra sugar! As for who I'd spend it with, I'd have to say Fyodor Dostoyevsky who wrote Crime and Punishment. Is this a weird choice for someone who reads mostly paranormal books, yes. lol. I had to read this classic in an advanced English class my senior year of high school, and it blew my mind. I still believe Raskolnikov had split personality disorder, and I did a whole paper on this where I argued it in high school. I'm not sure my teacher was convinced, and I'd love to ask Dostoyevsky if he wrote the book with a dual personality in mind. Now the author might be slightly freaked out by the Southern U.S. and I might, quite honestly, be freaked out by him, but it would be fun!
Extra sugar in your sweet tea? How do you sit still long enough to write a sentence? My final question is, why YA? What is it about that age that makes you want to write to them in particular?
I'm honestly not sure what led me to YA. When I started writing my first series, I actually intended it to be adult but sometimes your characters choose for you. Adults experience adventure, and they feel things, but I think it's when we are young that we "feel" the most even if it's only because the young tend to be dramatic. They love too hard and hurt too much. I like that. I like that Young Adults love just because it feels good. I honestly would probably consider my books more New Adult because I do use language, such as the F-word, in my books, but I also think we are lying to ourselves if we believe that teenagers are not proficient cussers. lol. I know I was whenever I wasn't around my mother (otherwise, I would have gotten my butt whooped), but teens cuss. It's a reality. I do market for 16 + because of language, though.
Well, I personally enjoy YA and MG books, mostly because the pacing is so fast and they are hard to put down. But I have my favorite adult authors, too.
Thanks so much, R.K., for coming by and letting us get to know a little more about you. I know there are others on your blog tour that will ask more book specific questions, but I wanted to find out about other aspects of your life, too.
You can find R. K. Ryals at these locations:
Twitter - @RKRyals
Twitter - @RKRyals
To purchase The Acropolis on Amazon go HERE