Author Interview: Ryan Troske

The Rising tells the story of Ethan, a teenage boy who — in the wake of a horrific car accident — finds himself endowed with telepathy and telekinesis. What ensues is a series of strange, mysterious events which see Ethan being dragged into the eye of a supernatural war. 

Coffee with Architects of Worlds Afar is happy to announce that Ryan Troske — author of The Rising, book one of the Supernaturals series — is with us to talk about his novel.

Author pic

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a biologist who spends time out on the Bering Sea working with all sorts of fascinating creatures.  Seriously.  I collect, maintain, and distribute data for scientific, management, and regulation compliance purposes in the Gulf of Alaska and the Eastern Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands.  When I’m not tangling with squid and wrestling with sharks, I enjoy watching and playing sports of all kinds, playing guitar, and of course, writing, which I hope to make more than a hobby instead of “that thing I tried one time.”

2. When did you start writing?
I’ve always been the creative type, whether that be through writing, drawing, or music, and have a very active imagination, but I never seriously considered writing a book until a few years ago.  I kind of just randomly decided to give it a shot and went for it.  I came up with a random idea, and it slowly built from there.  So ultimately, I didn’t start writing until a couple years ago.

3. Why did you start writing?
I kind of touched on this above, but I was reading through a series and thought to myself how simple the author made it seem.  That’s not to say the writing wasn’t good or anything, but it was done in such a way that made me feel like I could do it.  Let me explain it another way.  If you don’t know who Bob Ross was, he was an incredible painter known for his show The Joy of Painting.  I’ve spent a lot of time watching reruns with my dad over the years, and it’s just incredible to see the paintings Bob creates in only half an hour.  He makes it look so incredibly easy.  It’s not.  I bought one of his painting sets and tried myself.  Turned out okay, but nothing like Bob’s.  That’s how I felt when reading through this book series, that maybe I could do this.  I flirted with the idea for a couple of days and then decided to give it a shot.   I’m glad I went for it.  It’s been an incredible experience.

4. Do you recall the moment you first conceived the idea for your novel? On a related note, how different is the final product from your original vision?
I was randomly thinking of possible storylines, unsure of how to go about the process since I’d never written a book before.  It didn’t take long for me to come up with a very simple idea: a boy gets into a car accident and ends up developing superpowers.  That was it.  I began to build on this premise and before I knew it, not only did I have a storyline for a full-length novel, but I had material for a 4-book series, with a possible 5th loosely based tie-in.  The final product of book 1 was quite a bit different than the first draft.  For the most part, structure and content remained intact, but I cut out quite a bit of material.  From first draft to final, the word count dropped from 160,000 words to 130,000.  Still long (if you’re like me, you like longer books), but quite a bit shorter than in the beginning.

Cover photo5. Tell us about your book’s title.
I tried to come up with a title that wasn’t immediately obvious, but would make sense following the storyline.  I actually have titles for the rest of the books in the series already, and each not only follows the design mentioned, but they also have hidden meanings that aren’t revealed till later in those books, or in a subsequent book.  I didn’t originally set out to be cryptic in that way, it just sort of happened, but I like the way it’s turned out.

6. Does your story have a moral? What are some of the major themes present in your book?
There’s no real moral necessarily.  Just a fun, action-packed story.  Some of the themes are: coming of age, good vs. evil, knowledge vs. ignorance, loss of innocence, and more.  Simply put, if you like superheroes of any kind, X-men, Percy, Jackson, or other works of similar nature, I think you’ll love this book.

7. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
This is a tough one.  Obviously I like the main character Ethan.  The book is told from his point of view after all.  Plus, there are definitely elements of myself that found their way into Ethan’s character (mainly the humor), which may have been why it was so enjoyable creating and writing him.  There are several other characters that I really enjoy as well (Raven, Blake, Murphy, and Niko to name a few) which seem to be the ones readers rally behind as well.

8. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in The Rising.
Trusting, innocent, sarcastic, naïve, powerful

9. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
No writing session is the same, but I try to structure them as much as possible.  Whenever I sit down to write, my usual goal is 1500 words.  Sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more.  Whatever word count I’ve reached for the day, if I come to a point where I finish off a scene or a chapter, I may call it quits right there and spend some more time brainstorming through the next section or scene before hitting the keyboard again.  When it comes to writing, the less distractions the better, which is generally why I don’t listen to music.  Sometimes a little soothing background noise can help, but, for the most part, I like silence when I work.  I prefer to write late morning or in the afternoon, but if something comes to me during the evening and I have that itch to get it down, I have no problem breaking out the laptop and having at it if time permits.  Generally, I write in my office, or out on the back patio, but I love to hit up the park on a nice day and write as well.

10. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
Everyone is different. When I have an idea for a book, I start with something simple: writing it down.  I outline to a degree, but probably not like most go about it.  I write out the basic plot and build upon that, over time adding more specifics and building scenes.  I make tons of notes on my phone of random ideas that come to me throughout the day, building on scenes I already have, or creating completely new ones, adding character traits, dialogue, or whatever else might come to me.

11. What is your favorite book genre?
Not sure I have one favorite. I enjoy a variety of genres from fantasy/sci-fi, to crime and legal thrillers, to mystery and suspense, to horror and thrillers.

12. What are you currently reading?
I just finished the first book in the Jesse Stone mysteries series. I’d seen a few of the TV movies and wanted to see how the books compared.  Looking forward to starting book 2 here shortly.

13. What is your favorite book?
Tough, tough question. I really enjoyed the Count of Monte Cristo.  The full-length version.  Yes, all 1462 pages of it.  It may be long, but it is packed full of adventure, intrigue, romance, and the elegant machinations of Dante as he exacts his terrible, crafty revenge.  I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to get lost in an incredible story.

 14. Any project in the works?
I am currently working to finish up The Recruit (Supernaturals Book 2), as well as the first books in a couple other series I hope to complete: The Outbreak (Survival Book 1), a dystopian/post-apocalyptic journey/thriller; and The Lost Book of Behlkrumór (The Telkuhryn Chronicles book 1), an epic fantasy adventure that will appeal to lovers of The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and other similar works.

15. How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Well, considering this was my first book, I don’t have much to base this on. From deciding to write a book, to coming up with a storyline and the completion of the first draft was about a year.  It took about another 2 years before it was published, as I was doing lots of edits and rewrites, contacting agents, trying to figure out how the whole publishing process worked, as well as continuing to work on other books in the making.  A long process which I hope to considerably cut down on from this point out now that I’m familiar with how things work.

16. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
You could ask a hundred people this question and get a hundred different answers. For me, I like to be able to insert myself into the story, if only as a spectator.  But if I can lose myself in the pages then the author is doing something right and I’m enjoying the story.  When characters become more than lives on a page, to the point where you feel connected with them in some way; and you feel a part of scenes and action sequences, you’re in for an enjoyable ride.

17. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write.  The old cliché is true: practice makes perfect.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
It depends what it is.  But in most cases, I’d go for the book.  No movie can capture a story quite as well as your own imagination.

2. Dogs or cats?
Without a doubt, dogs.

3. Summer or winter?
Well, there’s baseball in the summer, and hockey and football in the winter, sooo, I love both.

4. Cake or ice-cream?
Mix them!  But if I had to pick just one: ice cream.

5. Ebook or physical book?
I love the convenience of my Kindle. My job requires traveling and I have a limited space to store luggage once I’m on the boat, so a Kindle sure beats lugging around a handful of thick paperbacks.  Especially if I’ll be gone for several months and will need more than a few books anyway.  That being said, however, I’d rather have an actual book to read.  There’s just something about the feel of the pages in your hands that beats any Ereader out there.

6. Nights out or nights in?
Depends what I’m in the mood for.  Or who I’m with.  Love to go out for sporting events, restaurants, movies, or other things, but sometimes a night in playing games, watching a movie, or sitting down with a good book is a great way to spend an evening.

7. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Funny question considering the main character in my book has both of these powers. I’d have to go with telekinesis.  Though it would be cool to read minds, it would also feel like an invasion of privacy.

8. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Past. Could witness some of the most famous events/times in history.

9. Making a phone call or sending a text?
I’m a texting fiend.

10. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
All about that free breakfast, ha.  I do love camping and roughing it, however.

11. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
Money.  Pictures are memories.  They’re priceless.

12. Being Spider-Man for a day or being Batman for a day?
Two words: Bat Mobile.  Besides, Batman is way cooler that Spidey.

13. Reading or writing?
How can you have one without the other? I, for one, can’t.  Yes, they’re related, but they’re also completely different.  To experience or create. . .

14. Bungee jumping or going on the slingshot ride?
Bungee jumping.

15. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Animals.  Who wouldn’t want to be a real life Dr. Dolittle?  Man’s best friend could literally be your best friend.

16. Staying awake for forty-eight hours (continuous) or walking for twenty-four hours (also continuous)?
Up for 48 hours.  Done that before, back in my college days during finals.  Okay, so I didn’t have the best study habits.  Must’ve done something right, though.  Graduated with honors with a 3.56.  Not too shabby.

17. Drinking a glass of expired, curdled milk or eating a bowl of cold, slimy worms? (Note: the worms would be dead, though not cooked.)
They’d probably slide down a bit easier than chunky milk (gross).  Just pretend it’s spaghetti.  Slimy, guts-filled spaghetti.

18. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
I’m a lover of music, and do a little writing of my own (been playing guitar for 14 years now), but there is so much beauty to see in this world: faced of loved ones, nature, and much much more. Nope, there is no way to answer this one.  I refuse.

19. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
I don’t drink it anyway, so pass the chocolate.

20. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
The Walking Dead. One of my favorite shows.  Who hasn’t wondered how they’d fair in a zombie apocalypse?  Those Walkers better look out.

Thank you for joining us, Ryan!
Readers: want to connect with Ryan? You can find him on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. To get a copy of The Rising, click here. Have any questions you’d like to ask Ryan? If so, please direct all inquiries to TroskeTitles@gmail.com.

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