Sunday, March 18, 2012

Interview with Tom Ryan + giveaway!!

Tom Ryan's debut YA Contemporary, WAY TO GO is getting lots of great advance buzz, and ARCs (advance reviewer copies) have been snapped up quickly, but there's still one left! What does that mean for you? It means that you have a chance to win an autographed ARC of WAY TO GO!! Plus a bookmark! You can find details at the end of this post. But first, Tom was kind enough to answer a few questions!

 Please tell us about yourself.

I'm a proud Canadian, currently living in Victoria, British Columbia. I grew up on the east coast, in a small town on Cape Breton Island, and although I really love the west coast, I'm an easterner at heart and I can't wait to get back! I've been writing full time for almost two years, but prior to that I had all kinds of cool and crazy jobs. I've done everything from giving career exploration workshops to high schoolers, to building and painting props and sets for children's television shows. It's also probably worth pointing out that I have an awesome, unbelievably supportive partner and the coolest, most adorable dog in the world. Life is pretty good.

What inspired you to write this book?

WAY TO GO was heavily influenced by my teenage memories of summertime in a small seaside town. At heart, WTG is a story about friendship, and the people you lean on when you're young and still trying to figure out who you are.

More specifically, WTG is a teen coming-out story that in some ways reflects my own experiences. Growing up as a gay kid in the 90s wasn't always easy, especially in a remote little town where I often felt as if I was the only person in the world who felt the way I did. I was a voracious reader, and I could have really benefited from reading about other kids like me, but LGBT fiction for teens was almost unheard of at that time. When I began to notice, a few years ago, that books for gay teens were being published more frequently and that they were being positively received, it made me really happy and got my wheels spinning. I wanted to be part of it.

It's easy to forget that it wasn't very long ago when there were very few gay role models in the media, and although we've made leaps and bounds in that regard, being a gay teenager, even in relatively progressive parts of the world, can still be a scary and isolating experience. The spate of gay teen suicides in recent years tells us that there's still a whole lot to be done to put a stop to anti-gay bullying. The "It Gets Better" campaign was an incredibly powerful and important response to that awful trend, and I wholeheartedly believe that books in which LGBT teens see themselves reflected can have a similarly positive impact.

Tell us a bit about your main character.

Danny is 17 and trying to come to terms with who he is while navigating the expectations of his friends and family. He's spent his whole life in a really small town, but now the future is looming and he has no idea where he's going to end up. When he gets into some trouble and has to find a summer job to make up for it, he discovers a passion for cooking and becomes friends with Lisa, a girl from NYC with some problems of her own.

Do you have a favorite scene?

I really like the scene where Lisa invites Danny to a party at her aunt's summer house. Danny gets a glimpse of a world that he'd love to inhabit, but knows he'll never be part of - I think most of us have had that kind of experience at one time or another.

Can you tell us about your path to publication?

I moved to BC when my partner, who is in the navy, was posted across country. For several reasons, it was the perfect opportunity to attempt writing full-time. In one of those fortuitous moments that you hear about happening to other people but never expect to happen to you, I met my editor, Sarah Harvey with Orca Book Publishers, at a writing class she was teaching. I'd been working on another project - an adult novel - that I was going to use to query agents, but the contact was too great to ignore, so I re-focused my energies onto another idea that became WTG. I submitted it to Sarah and she liked it and agreed to take it on. Working with Sarah was great - she's written several great YA novels of her own and she's a fantastic editor. During the editing process I woke up every day feeling as if I was getting a free Master's level education. It was a great experience and I've just signed a contract with Orca for my second book.

Are there any writing courses or books that you would recommend?

There are lots of great books about writing and writers. I'd definitely recommend ON WRITING by Stephen King - it's part memoir and part advice manual and well worth the read, even for non-fans. Last year for Christmas, my partner gave me a four volume collection of Paris Review interviews which is just incredible - Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro... dozens of amazing writers going into detail about their writing lives and histories.

What marketing advice do you have for other authors?

Even authors who have massive marketing budgets backing them up (which most of us don't!) should expect to do some work to market their books. How much effort is really up to the author, but I think a web presence is essential. There's no question that the internet is the greatest book marketing tool in history - most importantly, it gives readers a chance to directly connect with writers, which is amazing. I've made lots of great connections and friendships online - via the Apocalypsies, Twitter, Youtube, etc... and the enthusiasm and information that gets shared is priceless. It can be really daunting to tackle online marketing, so it's important to realize going in that it's impossible to be active on all available platforms, so focus instead on the ones that you enjoy and that you'll actually use! Eventually it stops feeling forced and becomes a genuine and enjoyable process. I recently posted a (tongue in cheek!) vlog about book marketing to the Apocalypsies YouTube channel - I'd love to hear what people think!

Tell us about your upcoming second novel.

I'm so excited about it! TAG ALONG (working title - it'll probably change) is in so many ways a total departure from WAY TO GO. It's a four voice story set over the course of one night. I wanted to bring four very different characters together and see what happened. Chapters are narrated by each of the characters, in sequence, which was a really fun challenge to take on. It's scheduled for a fall 2013 release.

TAG ALONG - SYNOPSIS : Andrea, Paul, Candace and Roemi aren’t friends – they barely even know each other – but they do have one thing in common: it’s prom night, and for very different reasons, none of them is at the big event. Over the course of one crazy night, paths are crossed, plans are changed, messages are mixed, and things definitely do not end the way they began.

Interviewer's note: I love this back cover excerpt of WAY TO GO:
Maybe Lisa had appeared out of nowhere for a reason. I was kind of like a frog in a fairy tale who needed a kiss from a princess so he could turn into a prince. Only, instead of a frog, I was a might-be-gay kid who needed straightening out, and instead of a princess, she was a cigarette-smoking, tattooed city girl with a bag full of mix tapes. I figured that was close enough.

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED ARC (advance reviewer copy) of WAY TO GO plus a bookmark, please include an e-mail address in the comments to this post by Friday March 23, 2012 at midnight. (writing out AT and DOT). One person will be randomly selected from all the entries. U.S. and Canadian entrants only please.

BONUS: CLICK here to read the first chapter of WAY TO GO!!!! Also, be sure to check out Tom's webpage and follow him on Twitter


Liana said...

Cool. I really interested in multiple narratives... so I'll have to check this one out

Kristin Lenz said...

I rarely pay attention to vlogs because it feels too time-consuming, but I clicked on Tom's and really enjoyed it. Very funny, and a nice intro. to his personality - which makes me want to check out his book! Well done!

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's awesome that you could write full-time. Thanks for sharing about your book and offering a giveaway.

Ann Finkelstein said...

Thanks for doing this interview. It sounds like an interesting book.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

It's great that you have the opportunity to move around with your partner.

I love Victoria. My husband went to university there.

Colette Ballard said...

Thanks Tracy and Tom for the interview! I love the voice from the back cover excerpt--totally makes me want to read it!

Colette Ballard said...

Thanks Tracy and Tom for the interview! I love the voice from the back cover excerpt--totally makes me want to read it!

Katie McGarry said...

Thank you so much for the interview Tom and Tracy. I can't wait to read the book!

Tiffany Drew said...

I just heard about this book last week from another blogger. I immediately put it on my wish list because it just looks so good. Thank you for the interview and the opportunity to get my hands on this :)


Al said...

Emily Danforth recommended this one! So now, I want to read it! :)

magnet4taken @ gmail. com

Gaby said...

Knock knock!

Who's there?

Little old lady?

Little old lady who?

Wow! I didn't know you could yodel!



geceosan said...

I'd love to be entered in the give-away. Thanks for making great lgbtq fiction for teens, Tom. I'm always on the lookout for it.


Christina said...

Totally looking forward to this now; I didn't know anything about Way to Go before. I'm so stoked about all of the amazing YA LGBT lit coming out these days (like Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom)!

cynicalsapphire at gmail dot com

Tammy Sparks said...

Great interview! I've tried to win Tom Ryan's book before, maybe I'll get lucky this time:) Looking forward to it.


missbrenna said...

Great interview Tom!

Christa @ Hooked on Books said...

Have my calendar marked for this one!

Phil said...

The book sounds great, and I'm so happy that more LGBT YA lit is getting published! philsiegel84 at gmail dot com

YA Reader said...

It's on my list.

Elissa J. Hoole said...

That back cover copy is intriguing! Yay for LGBTQ YA books!

Tina Anthony said...

Thanks for this giveaway!:) my fingers are already crossed!


Pam Harris said...

Sounds great! Fingers crossed. :)

pamharris1981 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Kiersi said...

Whoa, both WTG and the upcoming book sound fascinating. Great back-cover blurb. Hard to do these days...

Hope I win! kiersi(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Lexie said...

I really love this interview. I wish there was more LGBT literature out there today; once it becomes regular in the media, the majority of the world will soon follow. Things will be so much better when people realize that it's not a taboo; that people with a different sexual orientation are the same as any person on this planet. I'm definitely going to be picking this one up.

Lexie said...

Aaaaand, being the intelligent person I am, I forgot my e-mail address. :)

theladyreads said...

This book sounds awesome! And I love the cover!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to win!


Adam Russell Stephens said...

Wow. What an inspiring interview! Especially for me as an aspiring YA writer who also includes a mass amount of LGBT characters. Because I need them and so does literature.


Lisa said...

Thanks for sharing=) I've been wanting to read this! =)

loveforlillie27 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Nice interview, and congrats on your book:):):)

Anonymous said...

Would love to read/review an ARC of your book! synerjay(at)atlanticbb(dot)net

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for offering the advanced copy chance to win. The characters sound interesting and I can't wait to read the book!

Danielle Hammelef

Anonymous said...

Born and raised as a gay man in a strict Christian household, I understand and can relate to hoping a girl might "straighten me out". I couldn't add this book to my TBR pile fast enough.

Cody AKA The Boyish Booklover

Jodie said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read this book, even if I don't win!

jodellafletch AT gmail DOT com

Tracy Bilen said...

Tiffany was our winner!!!! Tom will be sending an ARC out to her pronto! Thanks, everyone for entering and for your comments!!