Interview with BIOME'S author Ryan Galloway!
Now and then I interview an author whose work I find amazing. This interview is unique in that it carries a surreal feel and puts that "parental pride" into a completely new category. The author is Ryan Galloway. His debut novel is Biome. Please take a moment to read how my youngest son became an author who has garnered high praise for this book, which released TODAY! JES: Welcome to my blog, Ryan! It’s an honor to promote your debut novel Biome! Please tell us a little about you and about this amazing novel.
RG: Thanks, Jill. The honor is mine!
As you said, Biome is my debut novel. The story centers around Elizabeth, a cadet living on Mars Colony One. She learns that the doctors who run the colony have been erasing the cadets’ memories—a fact that becomes apparent when she wakes with all of the missing memories inside her head. She is then faced with balancing the thoughts, ideas, and secrets of her peers, while trying to stop the doctors from realizing what she knows.
JES: Kirkus gave this book a “recommended read” and said it had a very satisfying ending. Four multi-published authors gave it a “Wow!” endorsement (and I would agree with them.) Were you surprised by the reception it has received thus far?
RG: Surprised and humbled. I think many debut authors (myself included) are just excited at the idea of their work being “out there.” Having so many people get behind Biome right out of the gate is incredibly encouraging. I’m very grateful.
JES: Though this is your debut novel, it is not the first book you’ve written. Please tell us when you were bitten with the writing bug and how many books are hiding on your computer that led to this amazing debut?
RG: That’s true. Biome is actually my sixth novel. According to the time stamp on the very first draft of my first novel, I began writing books when I was twelve. Over the years, I attended several writing conferences to learn about the craft and pitch my work. Biome is the first book I even considered self-publishing. I felt that I might be neglecting my “dues” if I tried to venture outside the system too soon.
JES: What made you decide to publish it yourself rather than go the traditional route?
RG: It was a tough decision. Self-publishing is a staggering amount of work, after all. Yet, things kind of fell into place with Biome. It helped that I knew a fair share of authors and industry professionals. On top of which, working a day job in marketing clued me into what self-publishing would likely entail. It’s a lot like starting your own business—which I ended up doing. My partner and I founded Stranger Fiction LLC to help juggle expenses and legalities.
JES: What caused you to decide on the young adult science fiction genre? Have you written novels in other genres? Do you plan to stay in this genre for future novels and are you working on the sequel to Biome or something else? Please explain.
RG: This is my first attempt at Science Fiction; though if there was (officially) such a category, I’d likely term it Science Fantasy. I like the ability to bend the rules a bit. It allows for some deep metaphorical potential, which I find powerful. Also, it’s a lot of fun. If I had to guess, I’d say my future books would all have fantasy leanings.
Next up is an alternate-history novel about the dawn of industrial magic in Athens, and the only young man in the city who can’t use it. I’m hopeful for a late-summer release in 2017. The sequel to Biome is on my list after that.
JES: This question is going to come up from people who know that you are my son. Since we do not have a blended family – in other words, both your dad and I are “Smiths” and your last name used to be Smith, what prompted you to change your name to Galloway?
RG: Galloway began as a pen name. It means “way of the stranger.” As an artist, it’s always been easy for me to internalize praise and criticism of my work. The name Galloway was a reminder that no matter how the world receives my art, the people closest to me are the ones who truly “know” me. My career, in a certain sense, is a journey as a stranger. Stranger Fiction LLC is an extension of that.
JES: You’ve launched a Kickstarter promotion to raise money to help with the cost of print books for Biome. Please tell my readers where they can find the link to see the book’s trailer.
As an aside, I’ve had several authors and indie artists seek me out to hear about my experience with crowdfunding, and to discuss whether it was right for them. For anyone who is curious, I plan to journal about the topic in-depth on my web page (ryan-galloway.com) within the next few weeks.
JES: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to publish their work? Is indie for everyone and is there some type of vetting process to let a writer know that their work is ready for publication, especially if they aren’t planning to go the traditional agent/publishing house route and have not published before?
RG: Right now, I’d say this is possibly the most important question a writer can ask. To me, the biggest reason to self-publish is to (hopefully) make a higher profit. If you feel confident you can gain visibility and make sales on your own, then it’s probably worth a shot. But it’s important to remember that doing it solo means that you’ll do everything solo. Taxes, printing—possibly even distribution.
As for a vetting process, this is where my previous comment about “paying your dues” comes in. Malcolm Gladwell famously mused that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft. While that may be subjective, the takeaway is that most people don’t get it right on the first try—and if they do, it’ll be tough to repeat the process later. Pitching your work frequently, sharing your work often, and writing consistently are all pieces of laying the groundwork for being “ready” to publish. Once you’re there, getting an honest review from professional sources like Kirkus Reviews is a great way to gauge your work. That goes for both the traditional and indie markets.
JES: Where are some other places readers can find you and connect with on the web?
I journal about self-publishing, novels, writing, and the random personal conviction on my web page at ryan-galloway.com. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram as @ryangallows, and I have Facebook pages for both Biome and myself.
JES: Do you have any last words of advice you would like to give? And what do you hope readers will take away from Biome?
RG: When I was writing Biome, I did my best to be honest. Which is to say, I put my personal experiences, ideals, fears, and beliefs into the story. Though I hope the book reaches a wide audience, I also recognize that honesty can be a tricky thing. Some people will connect with my convictions—others may not.
For me, the ultimate point of art is to reach others. And to not only entertain, but to challenge and inspire. I think the best advice an artist can receive is to simply be who you are. Write your own convictions, and write them honestly. In the end, you’re the only person who can tell a story from your perspective. If you really want to connect with readers on a deep level, you’ll have to go deep with them. It may not be popular with everyone, but it’ll be real. And that’s what matters.
JES: Thank you, Ryan, for joining us today! I can't wait for readers to get hold of your book. I know they will be challenged and satisfied. I daresay, some will come away as I did and say, "Wow!"
Here is some of Biome'scurrent acclaim:
"Superb. Fast-paced young adult sci-fi that combines all the action of a psychological thriller with the angst of coming to age. A fascinating premise deftly executed." --Tosca Lee, bestselling author of Forbidden
"An indelible red-planet backdrop enhances an already rugged, tenacious story. The ending, meanwhile, satisfies on every level." -Kirkus Reviews
"Within the first few chapters I gave up trying to predict where the story would go and simply let it carry me on a wild, extraterrestrial ride." -Anne Elisabeth Stengl, award-winning author of Heartless
"A real page-turner, reminiscent of both The 100 and Doctor Who." -India Edghill, author of Wisdom's Daughter
"The twisting plot and fleshed out characters lead to a satisfying ending." -The BookLife Prize in Fiction "[E]xtremely engaging. I can't wait to read a sequel." -Hannah Alexander, author of The Hallowed Halls series