Ryan Z. Dawson is the author of the self-published The King’s Eagle. His new book, Melidora, which was published by Dire Ninja Media.
How would you describe your story in one sentence?
Melidora is about a girl with amnesia who finds herself in a magical land, through which she travels trying to remember who she is.
What inspired you to write your story/characters/theme?
I had just finished translating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland into my conlang, Imnura, and I started thinking about how many stories there are in which children find secret fantasy worlds that adults have no access to. I thought it would be a fun challenge to try and write a story about a fanasy land that is discovered by an adult instead. This simple idea ended up becoming very personal as my main characters developed. I have fond memories of playing outside with my friends as a child. There was a forest at the end of the street where I grew up, and it seemed to go on forever. It was endless possibility, and I poured a lot of that into Melidora. In telling the story, I drew from some very deep places within myself. Melidora really is a work of love, and writing it was very cathartic.
Which authors have influenced you?
Neil Gaiman, Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and Lovecraft are among my biggest influences. I particularly loved Gaiman’s work on the Sandman series.
Which are your favorite literary genres?
Fantasy is probably my favorite. I also love a good mystery. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories were the first stories I discovered entirely on my own, and they were also my introduction to the vast literary world outside of YA.
What makes a book/story special for you?
Relatable characters, a philosophical tone, challenging ideas, and plenty of room for my imagination to run.
Where do you live? Did your hometown/country/culture influenced your story?
I live in Southern Indiana, but I was born in Louisville, Kentucky. My experiences playing in the woods and fields with my first friends were a big influence on Melidora.
From finishing the first draft to editing, revisions, and finally going to print, how long did it take to finish this book?
Melidora took me about 8 months to write and almost a year to edit.
Did you hire a cover artist/editor/proofreader?
I hired Ryan Valle to do the cover for Melidora. He also did the cover for The King’s Eagle. He is wonderful to work with. Regarding editing, I hired an editor named Michelle Lovi to look over Melidora for me. My new book is being edited my Dara Rochlin.
What have you learned while writing and publishing? Did unexpected things happen?
Most of what I’ve learned has been about the business of selling one’s writing. This said, I still don’t know a lot about that subject. Marketing is a big mystery to me. The main thing I learned is just that I have a whole lot to learn.
What helped you to get inspired and overcome hurdles while writing your book?
I never have problems getting or staying inspired. You can find inspiration anywhere. Taking walks does a lot to help with plotting. There were some editing hitches that I basically just had to wait out. Apart from that, Melidora was a dream to write. It just flowed out of me.
What would you do differently on a next project?
I would submit my book to editors before it goes to print.
Best piece (s) of advice for first time writers?
First: Write all the time. Write 600 words a day. It doesn’t matter if those 600 words are crap; just get the machines working. Writing is a habit – a discipline – and you have to practice.
Second: Read. Read anything you can get your hands on. Throw your pet genres out the window. Books are fuel, so keep yourself stocked up, and don’t be picky. Keep challenging yourself.
Third: Don’t wait for motivation. Write even when you don’t feel motivated.
Fourth: Remember that selling a book is not about the quality of the book. Selling things is all about packaging. The market is extremely superficial, and it cares more about shining wrapping paper than it does about good stories. So write your best story and then put your integrity away and sell your soul for reviews. No one is going to read you if they think you have too much self respect to condescend to them.
Where can readers contact you on the internet? Do you have a blog/website?
I’ve never had a website, but I do have an author page on Facebook under the name “Ryan Z. Dawson.” Readers can also write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to learn about Imnura, check out imnuralanguage.tumblr.com. And I also write and draw two webcomics, the main one being at talkingboxes.net.
What are you planning to write/publish next?
My next book, The Death of Alan Shade, is being edited right now. I am currently working on its sequel, The Rise of Ellie Nex. Both of these are big books with big themes that everyone is going to love – especially but not exclusively fantasy fans. I have also been developing a setting book for a new RPG system called PERK that you should definitely check out at perkrpg.com. The setting that I am writing is in the world of The King’s Eagle, my first novel.