1. What made you decide to become a writer?
I've always been writing. I think everyone writes - tells stories - whether they realize it or not. From the first time I heard stories of Robin Hood and King Arthur, Gandalf and Aslan and Sparrowhawk I loved them. For me, it became and still is a hunt for the next story with the right smack. The Something I'll go on desiring forever. And the thing with Desire is that it's always a search. I wanted more than just reading stories or hearing tales or even watching them... I wanted to 'Go there'. And who hasn't? So, I write them. I do my best to, as Neil Gaiman says, 'Make Good Art.'
When I was little and going through cancer, my mom would have me play a baseball game in my head. She would ask who was on second base. What was the flavor of chewing gum I had as I came up to bat? What did the dust from the pitcher's mound smell like. Now, many years later I still summon up the mental imagery I learned; when I sit down to write I am there, immersed in my stories.
On a more down to earth note, though, what got me writing professionally was my roommate and fellow author, Robert Dean III. I remember coming into our dorm room one day and noticed he was hunched over his computer. Next to him was a stack of medieval history books. He was writing what would later become his historical fiction, Blood for Glory. I figured if he could write a book well, then so could I. And so I did.
2. Why Fantasy?
Honestly, it's because whenever I sit down that's what comes out. Fantasy is Home for me. It's what flows out of my fingers whenever I let my mind wander. It's what I see when I imagine. It's part of the Something. My Desire. Also, I choose Fantasy because the best of that genre has a ring of Truth to them. Something Old and half-forgotten in our modern world of tweets and gas prices and wifi. I know of no other genre, except perhaps poetry (which often crops up in High Fantasy) which moves my spirit and sets my heart soaring. I also chose to write Fantasy because I'm using it as an active mode for asking real questions I have about pan-mythology, our own world today, and how things all might just shake out for everyone.
3. What inspires your character development?
Since I'm a hardcore Pantser, this is a tough question. I feel like my best characters are the ones who arrive miraculously, fully-fleshed, onto the page. I think part of it is like when you make a really good friend - the kind which shares something deep down with you, or have some like passion or similar quirk. I often find I feel the same way with my characters. We're going through similar things on the heart-level. As I write, we both explore what that means. I'm the invisible, ever-present third wheel in my stories, and where they go I go too. We feel our way through the unknown plot together as we go.
4. What are your biggest challenges as a writer?
Hmm... several things, I think. I just moved back to Albuquerque. So carving out space and place for myself again, while searching for a job that can help fund my writing is a challenge right now. I also left behind wonderful writer groups back in Missouri (Looking at you, Hannibal and St Louis Writers Guilds!). I've come to rely on the insight, experience, and camaraderie from all the lovely writers there over the years and so while chatting electronically is still something, nothing beats physical presence. Finally, on a larger note, I'm personally exploring as a creative what it means to work my Art today in America. In a land and place and mood where success and value is too often defined by sales and dollar signs. I don't believe Art is a commodity. Art is Art. Stories must be told - even if they never sell a dime (which is exactly what most of us get from Amazon these days). I don't like how we are increasingly told we only have XYZ options and that's it. I don't like that we are all but held hostage to The Powers That Be, whether traditional or otherwise. While I agree that writers and artisans of all stripes need to really press for quality, we need to much more importantly insist that the Stories that actually Matter are told and heard - and not just another filler earmarked for the current financial quarter. In short, my biggest challenge is to continue Making Good Art.
5. Tell us a little bit about past projects and what we can look forward to in the future.
I currently have three primary fantasy stories published and available at http://ryanpfreeman.com. They are as follows:
Rienspel. A high fantasy coming of age epic about a boy who meets a magic phoenix in the woods one day. Soon, assassins come to try and kill him, forcing him into an adventure towards the legendary sanctuary of the Elves in Firehall.
The Grey Isle Tale. A dark fantasy-suspense novella about the last night of a dying empire where the main characters must survive the night as a terrifying revolution is already happening all around them. Dragons, Undead, Wizards. Good stuff! (Also my best seller).
The Trombonist of Munst. A fantasy short story about a trombonist who one day learns he can play any instrument. Together with friends at the local dive bar, they set out to outwit the schemes of the evil Royal Maestro.
*Note. There are also various other versions of these stories, which include issue-by-issue series, illustrated versions, and coloring books!
Currently, I have several different stories at various stages of publication. I have a non-fiction called Virgin Author: How to Get Your Book Done Right the First Time, which is all about the process of writing, publishing, and promoting everything from your first book to your next book, coming out this August independently. Then there's my next full-length high fantasy, Nameless, which is in the capable hands of my lovely literary agent Patty Carothers of Metamorphosis Literary Agency. That's bouncing around New York publishers right now. Finally, I have another full-length high fantasy, The Last Circle, which I'm almost finished going through final edits.
In the future, I currently have three different stories at various stages of first draft finished. First, there's the long-awaited sequel to Rienspel: That Dark Battle which I hope to have rough-draft finished this Fall. Next, there's a fantasy comedy called The Class of '46 in the works (which I'm particularly enjoying writing whenever I make time for it...). Its premise is, How far would you go to pay off your student loans? (And for most of us, that's pretty painfully close to home). This is what a handful of mage school students have to figure out after they take a nefarious deal offering just that upon delivery of three powerful magical objects. Also Fun Stuff! Lastly, there's an urban fantasy I started writing last Spring called If I Could Go Anywhere... - Which entertains exactly that.
On the non-writing end, I'll be launching a new podcast July 2019 with my older sister called What's Up Albuquerque where we feature local small businesses, artisans, and local creatives. I'm also slated to be a guest speaker at Archon Scifi-Fantasy Convention in Collinsville this Fall, as well as at Evil Expo in New Jersey Winter 2020. In addition, I'm also continuing to help writers of all stripes with creative consulting, marketing, publishing - you name it. If you need help with your story, let's talk!
All in all, what I'm really up to is making good art as best I can, while settling into my new home in Albuquerque. Chat with me and the rest of the #writingcommunity on Twitter at @Ryanpfreeman
Until then, ciao and keep on writing!
Ryan was born in Portland, Oregon on February 24th, 1988. He's the (upper) middle child out of four (three sisters – how he survived is a secret).
Ryan’s been devouring books ever since he learned to read. To this day, he loves the smell of rain, the rumble of storms, and the scent of pine forests. His favorite stories growing up were old tales with Robin Hood and King Arthur - along with a ginormous rambling list of other myths, legends, and fantasy works.
Since he began publishing his fantasy works in 2016, Ryan has also become an active member of the St Louis Writers Guild, founded the Hannibal Writers Guild, and helped market, edit, and format for other aspiring authors. He is repped by Patty Carothers of Metamorphosis Literary Agency.
Find out more on Ryan and his fantasy works on his author website.