I had the privilege of meeting this author a year and a half ago. He has some amazing books, I am currently enjoying Rienspel. We are also working on a collaborative project (to be announced at a later date).
ISO: Hi, what is your name?
RPF: After much thought and a little research strolling through bookstore aisles, I decided on ‘Ryan P Freeman’. I noticed how a lot of fantasy authors go the R.P. Freeman route; likewise, there’s also the R Freeman or Just Ryan Freeman… Since I have a background in marketing, I decided to go with something I thought had more of a ring to it. Hence, ‘Ryan P Freeman.’
ISO: What are your go to snacks or drinks as you work?
RPF: If I’m writing in the morning, it’s coffee (if I don’t have to work later at other jobs, I’ll make it an Irish Coffee or maybe even a vanilla chai if I’m feeling fancy). If it’s later in the day, it’s preferably a dark craft beer (I like writing at the Mark Twain Brewery if I can help it!)… I wouldn’t say no to nursing a well made Old Fashioned, either. Regardless, I like something that gets my engine running or mellows me out.
ISO: Tell me a little about yourself.
RPF: Oh man, let’s see… For starters, I’m a cancer survivor with multiple near-death experiences. I’ve lived in both Portland, Oregon and Albuquerque, New Mexico and relish how both cities have rubbed off on me. I love hiking and traveling – anything that inspires my whimsy (I once drove to Canada on a whim).
I’m an unapologetically proud kilt-wearer, I’m a card-carrying Thespian and Arborday member. I like new ideas tempered with classic intuition. Nothing beats a good conversation over drinks.
ISO: When did you start writing?
RPF: I’d like to amend the question to, ‘When did you start story-telling?’ because while writing came later, I’ve always been imagining and telling stories. I believe writing is just another medium for the imagination. I grew up reading Arthurian legends and crumbly volumes of Robin Hood. I still believe in them to this very day.
ISO: Why did you decide to pursue writing?
RPF: I first began seriously writing when I noticed my roommate (and now fellow author) Robert Dean III was always hunched over a computer typing away on things which seemed much more exciting than school papers. I figured if he was writing historical fiction on the first crusade, I could write fantasy. So I did. Rienspel was published six years later.
ISO: Who are some authors you look up to?
RPF: Hmm… well, there’s Neil Gaiman, Ursula LeGuin, George MacDonald, Tolkien, Lewis, Patricia C Wrede, Susan Cooper… I could go on and on — basically, fantasists who write from the heart. Many of those listed wrote books that I still read over and over each year.
ISO: What genres do you write?
RPF: Fantasy. Hands-down. I’ve tried writing in others, but it always ends up being fantasy. While I keep toying with the idea of writing some nonfiction (my blogs don’t count), it’s fantasy where I feel my own freedom of expression. I write because I wonder. I have serious questions about the order of creation, and I feel like we haven’t even begun to push the boundaries yet into what might truly, actually be – and fantasy sans the imagination is the best way to explore.
Iso: Are you traditional, independent, or hybrid published?
RPF: I’m happy to say as of June 2018 I am a hybrid. Rienspel, The Grey Isle Tale, and The Trombonist of Munst are currently my three indie published books. My agent, the lovely and capable Patty Carothers of Metamorphosis Literary Agency pitched my next fantasy, Nameless, to Tor, St Martin, Scholastic, and Del Rey (who all requested full manuscripts). I ought to hear back from all of them by Spring 2019. Fingers crossed!
In the meantime, I continue to write. I think I have four different stories in the works, each a different stage of completion right now.
Iso: Why did you choose that publishing path?
RPF: I went indie in the first place because I was tired of waiting. I also wanted to establish and begin growing my readership, so that once I was able to get an agent, I’d have something to show for it. So far, so good!
Also, I believe like Neil Gaiman said how each of us needs to, ‘Make. Good. Art.’ There’s tons of heartless crap out there. Books that are written for petty things like money are a dime a dozen. Those will pass. I want to strive to write stories that last. I want tales that make you re-wonder what is considered reality. Heart, passion, soul, impatience: that’s me. If you ever want some writing inspiration, check out Ursula LeGuin’s Book Awards acceptance speech – we’re on the same writing wavelength.
Iso: What are your favorite books?
RPF: Phantastes, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter, Dealing with Dragons, The Once and Future King, The Dresden Files, The Illiad… stuff like that (I feel like it’s becoming harder and harder to find Epic stories with the right smack…)
Iso: Which protagonist would you want to swap places with?
RPF: I’m not sure, but Narnian Heaven feels right – even if I had to scrape my way in as a minor character. If you’re down with Lewis, and you’ve read The Last Battle, then you know what I’m putting down here.
Iso: What do you love about writing?
RPF: I love that in writing, every now and again, the story comes alive and tells me Something. I’m writing to explore and ask questions about the nature of things – and as CS Lewis says, ‘the highest does not stand without the lowest’. Often times, it’s the low things that, if traced properly, reveal the miraculous dancing around naked right in front of us every day. I am a firm believer in Tolkien’s Eucatastrophe.
Iso: What is the most difficult thing for you about writing?
RPF: Keeping up a regular writing rhythm. Life has repeatedly been kicking me in the stomach lately, and my regular writing time has suffered accordingly…
Iso: If you could live in or visit any fantasy world, where would you go?
RPF: Definitely either Narnia or Middle Earth (however, arguably, they are both connected with our own world, so… it’s a tricky question to answer at best).
Iso: Where do you get your inspiration?
RPF: It’s either through traveling or getting lost in a good story – or both. As a former New Mexican, one of the things I really appreciate and miss about the state is that you can go camping up in the northern mountains in places where there’s absolutely no one for about a hundred miles. No farmer’s fences. No Highways. No towns. No nothing. Just mountains and forests and streams. Many of my novel’s locations are inspired from places I’ve visited.
Iso: What are your “fandoms”?
RPF: Well, I grew up during the Harry Potter fandom, so that’s definitely one. I also love David Tennant’s Doctor Who. But I think my real my abiding love for George MacDonald. It’s like belonging to a by-and-large secret community. It’s a rare blue moon when you can stumble across another savant. You lock eyes and more often than not both of you whisper, ‘What, you too?!’. Good stuff, indeed.
Iso: What are some lessons you have learned about being an author?
RPF: Find other people you trust and listen to them. Write for yourself first. Don’t be afraid (I mean really) to actually write what you really believe about things. Ask hard questions. Listen to your characters. Allow imagination to feed your soul.
Iso: What projects are you working on?
RPF: Like I previously mentioned, I’m working on more than a couple, all at various levels of completion. In no particular order, they include:
The Phoenix of Redd, Volume II: That Dark Battle – it’s the long-awaited sequel to my flagship novel, The Phoenix of Redd, Volume I: Rienspel. It’s been a challenge to write so far because Rienspel was my first. It’s hard to follow up on something you consider next to sacred. I was a different person than I am now when I first wrote Rienspel, so writing the sequel has been a slow, albeit rewarding, challenge.
Dark Around the Stars: that’s a sci-fi (weird for me…). I’m not sure what will come of this one since it’s so outside my typical scope… it’s a near-future story with what are essentially space vampires and Russian space pirates. *shrugs… I don’t know; I’m just seeing if it ends up going anywhere.
The Last Circle: I actually began writing this one simultaneously with Nameless, so in some ways they are vaguely intertwined. It’s another story in my fantasy world which helps push the arch-story forward. There are wind dragons, deserts full of lotus flowers which make you lose your mind, the North Wind, and otherworldly scrap technology – fun stuff!
Lastly, there’s The Class of ’46. It began as a random joke idea I head going into Camp Nanowrimo last July. The premise is, How far would you go to pay off your student loans? (Pretty damn far, I imagine…) It’s a heist novel abounding in comedy, featuring mages sent off to unwittingly perform what amount to suicide missions. (DIBS. Write your own ideas!!)
Iso: Where can people find your writing?
RPF: Currently, all my published works are available on my author website, http://ryanpfreeman.com, on Amazon, Smashwords, and at both Main Street Books in St Charles, MO, and Quincy Books in Quincy, IL.
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