Tag Archives: Young Adult

Author Interview: Kevin Riley

Author Kevin Riley is a writer with too many hobbies who resides in Sidney, Ohio with his wife. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Kevin RileyHello! I am Kevin Riley, a 40-year-old writer and freelance designer from Ohio where I live with my wife. I have three adult kids and recently welcomed grandbabies #3 and #4. When I’m not writing or designing I’m usually woodworking and/or building something, from guitars to furniture, I love to keep busy. I also operate the Keyboard Monkeys blog (https://keyboardmonkeys.blog/ ).

When and why did you begin writing?

I first started writing when I accepted a new position an hour’s drive from my house. I had a lot of time to fill during those two hours of commuting. I used the time to start thinking about a main character and soon other characters started joining him. After a while, they just all started interacting in my head, so eventually, I had to tell their story.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I secretly considered myself a writer after I finished my first novel (The Dark Genesis of Daniel James) but I still didn’t feel right calling myself a writer to others until I’d finished by 3rd book (The Consciousness Puzzle). But even then, my career as a designer really started to get busy and I considered myself a designer first and a writer second. Last year I left the company I’d worked for since I was 19 and started freelance designing and writing. I still spend a bit more time designing than writing but my passion has definitely shifted to where I feel I am equally a writer and designer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My current work-in-progress is actually my favorite (isn’t it always?). The title is “My Life As Death” and the premise is basically:

On the eve of his senior year, almost-eighteen-year-old Nathaniel (Nate to his friends) gets into a drunken accident, totaling his car and ending his life, or so he thought. In the darkness of death, a face appears and offers him a deal; agree to become a Grim Reaper (yes, there’s more than one Grim Reaper), send a select number of well-deserving souls to the afterlife and he will get to finish out the life he was meant to live. Fail to reap all of them and Nate will forever be a servant of death.

Now Nate’s not a homicidal maniac; to the contrary, he actually doesn’t like the idea of having to kill anyone, but he’s guaranteed to only have to reap the truly evil, the murderers, rapists and child molesters. How could anyone have a problem with getting rid of those people? Right? Upon touching the guilty party, Nate will even see their evil deeds and know the punishment is deserved. Then he just has to decide how they’ll die. But not everything is as simple as it seems, especially when everyone has secrets.

What inspired you to write this book?

The title My Life As Death actually came to me first while mowing one day, immediately followed by the idea and an image of a teenage grim reaper. I loved the question of how a teenager would handle being responsible for dealing with death. I mean, high school is tough enough without being an angel of death. How would he handle the added responsibility? What would happen with his friends if they find out?

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style has gently evolved with experience. Dark Genesis and My Life as Death are young adult books and 23 Hours and The Consciousness Puzzle are more Adult Action/Adventure so my style probably changes a little between them, but I think the best way to describe my writing style is “fast-paced”. I like to read shorter, action-packed books and I think my writing reflects this preference.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The phrase just popped into my head one day while mowing. I always listen to music while mowing and I’m sure it was triggered by a song but unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you which one.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

This book really seems to hit on many themes such as friendship, responsibilities, redemption as well as others, but I think the overall message is personal strength and accountability. Nate is tasked with a horrible responsibility and doesn’t always make the right decisions, but he keeps going.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

This book, more than any other, draws on a lot of my own teenage experiences and feelings, besides the whole “Angel of Death” part. There are some of the deep friendships like you develop in those years, as well as the teacher/parent/authority-figure conflicts. There’s also the whole idea of figuring out who you are and where you fit in this world, it’s just complicated by the fact that he has a unique obligation to send people on to the after-life.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I grew up going to the library all the time, and probably read every “Hardy Boys” book published before I turned 14 or 15, so I’d have to say Edward Stratemeyer and the collection of writers known as Franklin W. Dixon probably had the most influence on me becoming a writer. I think both JK Rowling and Dean Koontz, especially his earlier stuff, really pushed me to explore deeper possibilities with character development in storytelling because of the complexity and flaws of their characters.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

If I were to choose one writer as a mentor, I think it would have to be Dean Koontz because of his diversity and how prolific he is as a writer.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

As a designer by trade, I have designed all my book covers. While it’s a different application than what I was used to in my day job I loved the unique challenge, though I’m also probably my own worst customer.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

“Just Write”. My first attempt at writing a novel stopped after 15,000 words when I realized that the story wasn’t any good. But the characters were good, and my second attempt with them went much better and became my first novel. If I can do it, anyone can; it just takes time, practice and persistence.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To my readers, I would probably say – I’d love to know what you think of any of my books. I appreciate anyone who takes time to tweet at me, email me, or especially to leave a review, even the less than flattering ones. I don’t mind criticism at all, that’s how we grow as people and as writers, though I welcome positive feedback as well.

The Consciousness Puzzle Book CoverKevin Riley
Sidney, Ohio

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Author Interview: Paul Ramey

Visiting old cemeteries can lead you to discover many interesting facts of the past. Paul Ramey takes his fascination with graveyard history a few steps further which resulted in the research for his YA mystery novel. I’m pleased to have him here at No Wasted Ink.

Paul Ramey - AuthorMy name is Paul Ramey, and I am a writer, graphic artist, musician, and unrepentant cemetery buff. I’m a Kentucky native. I’ve also spent a few years in Providence, RI. In 2006 I moved to sunny Jacksonville, Florida, where my feet have (for the most part) been much, much warmer. Not long afterward I met my beautiful wife, Tina, and two years ago we welcomed our first child, Sofia Alafaire.

I am 45 years old, a lifelong health nut, a huge fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury, and consider Old Rasputin to be the very finest of Imperial Stout beers.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began creating little comic magazines that I’d write, draw and staple together when I was eight years old. The creation of these zines continued and evolved all the way through college, and I credit them for being my first training ground in both writing and art, as well as marketing.

My first formal awareness that I could actually write well came about through a high school humanities teacher, who always called my style “Rameyesque.” I didn’t actually know what that meant, but it stroked my ego enough for me to eventually get a B.A. in journalism. I also had a wonderful, well-known creative writing professor during my college years (Gurney Norman of Divine Right’s Trip fame), who was especially motivating and illuminating as to possible future writing paths.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire revolves around an eccentric teenager and local amateur tour guide named Edgar Wilde. Edgar is seldom NOT seen in Victorian garb (he’s mocked at school for wearing Victorian-era apparel there, including top hat), and needless to say, he doesn’t quite fit in with his peers. In contrast, he connects easily with many of the adults around town, whom he finds closer to being his intellectual equal.

In an effort to make his amateur cemetery tours more enticing, he often researches old files at the town library looking for interesting facts. As the novel begins, Edgar has stumbled onto a strange mystery about a local public figure from hundreds of years ago. This leads quickly to hints of a centuries-old secret; a forgotten history that some in the town would rather stay hidden. The story is chock-full of cemetery clues, rumors of witches, and a legendary lost book of spells, as well as a number of memorable, enjoyable characters.

As a genre, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire fits in well at the older end of the young-adult category, but I believe adults will also find it to be a very entertaining mystery.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have a passion for old cemeteries – the history, the iconography. To me, they’re really beautiful outside museums. So I wanted to write a novel that communicated this fascination, and to educate the reader a bit concerning cemetery history, symbolism and even various materials used to make the markers. Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire goes to great lengths to weave these aspects into the plot.

In an interesting twist, the book was also inspired by my new daughter, Sofia. I’d been working on a number of other creative projects, almost all of which were completely sidelined when the new baby arrived. The music and art both required huge amounts of solid time – 3 or 4 hours at a sitting – which was just impossible. But with writing I found that it was easy to step away often when parental duties required, and then return when I had another 10 or 15 minutes. In fact, the stepping away and returning every so often became an important part of the process, as it gave me a constant fresh perspective.

So the book project quickly became my creative passion, and a book now exists where almost certainly none would have had my daughter never shown up. I may never have even tried to write a novel if I’d continued to focus on all those other shelved projects. So, thank you, Sofia! Understandably, this book is dedicated to her.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

From the beginning I’d considered this novel as the possible first of a series. I was very inspired by the “Harry Potter and the…” format, and wanted to create a similar structure of continuity that people would recognize instantly. The “Lost Grimoire” refers to the core mystery of the book, which is a legendary lost book of spells.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

It is loosely based on a few places I’ve lived, and some people I’ve encountered, but no particular person or place. In fact, the location – St. Edmund Island, Massachusetts – is a place I invented. So don’t go looking for it!

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Steve Berry and Dan Brown have both had a huge impact on me in terms of structuring a mystery and using existing historical facts in thrilling new ways. The art of connecting the dots is a craft I hope I can use to make the Edgar Wilde books especially enjoyable. Stephen King, as well, for his exceptional wordcraft.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I am actually the graphic designer as well as the author. As it happens, I’m a graphic designer by trade, so I have a real advantage in visualizing and creating the promotional elements of my stories. As it happened, I came up with the design for the cover quite early on in the writing process, and it helped greatly in visualizing the path of the story. I often work this way; it helps to have a mock-up of your final product so that you have something relatively solid to aim for. People make fun of me sometimes for creating mockups of my “end product” before doing the actual hard work of the beginning and middle, but that’s how I roll. I need to see ahead to visualize the now. As I worked on Edgar Wilde I’d keep the book mockup on the table next to me, and whenever I was stuck I’d let my eyes stray over the cover for inspiration. It really helped!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My one bit of advice I’ve been saying to everyone lately, is simply to show up for it. You have no idea when the brilliant turn of phrase or plot twist will show up. For six months I met my manuscript every single night, and let my typing fingers listen for whatever might be there. There were many, many nights when nothing good showed up, or stuff that was crap. But in the meantime, the real stuff – the meat of the final draft – was also arriving. It’s like panning for gold. Eventually (hopefully!) you get a whole story, but you have to actually be there to meet it. You have to have faith in your story AND the respect and discipline to give it the attention it deserves. And that’s entirely up to you.

Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire Book CoverPaul Ramey
Jacksonville, Florida

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Writer/performer/producer of the two-CD goth/rock opera album, Veil & Subdue, and writer/illustrator of Zen Salvador, a limited-edition book of zen-styled dog wisdom featuring a number of ink-brush illustrations.

Publisher: Nine Muse Press
Cover Art: Paul Ramey




Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire
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