Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Ryan McGinnis about his writing career, what inspires his stories, and his book; Tears Of The Dragon.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Ryan McGinnis and I’m an Independent Author. I’ve spent a good portion of my life on the underground / punk rock music scene, whether it be running a club or playing in a band. Currently I’ve had two short stories published, both in the horror genre, and one novel, a spy thriller called ‘Tears of the Dragon’. My next book ‘The Osiris Initiative’, which is the sequel to my debut novel, will be released on March 21, 2022.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I’ve always had a vivid imagination. I spent my childhood at the local library, where I read all kinds of science fiction and horror. In those days Ray Bradbury really caught my eye.
Over the years I’ve always been into reading, particularly books of the thriller genre. I honestly first entertained the idea when my wife told me that I should put my imagination to good use and try to write a book.
At the time I thought it would be a titanic undertaking, but I sat down and started writing out outlines for book ideas. Before I knew it, I was hooked.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I wrote the first drafts of what would be the early chapters of Tears of the Dragon about 7 years ago. Back then it was a hobby and I would type a little here and there. A few years ago, I started getting serious but felt I needed to improve my craft. So I started writing blogs and other content for clients, as a way to practice. I think that has paid off immensely as it allowed me to get used to writing and improve my chops. When I felt I was ready, I started writing ‘Tears of the Dragon’ in my spare time.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
‘Tears of the Dragon’ took approximately six to seven years, that’s because for most of that time it was merely a hobby. I actually finished it in 2020, but sat on it for a year due to the pandemic. During that time I studied the business end of being an Independent Author. I also polished the manuscript and worked with some wonderful people on editing it. Finally I released it in September of 2021.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
I started writing the sequel to ‘Tears of the Dragon’ a few weeks after it was released. I started by working up a plot synopsis, as I always do. The manuscript was started in mid October of 2021 and I finished it January 2, 2022. So all in all it was about three months.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Tears Of The Dragon?
When I first started writing plot outlines, I mostly wrote horror, or science fiction. The one outline that was different was ‘Tears of the Dragon’. It originally had a different title, but the concept was the same. It was to be an homage to the Ian Fleming James Bond series.
I wanted to have a mysterious spy that was involved in all these larger than life adventures. Of course, as I started writing it, it took on a life of its own. I started subverting the genre, as well as adding in a lot of my own personal interests which allowed it to grow beyond my original vision.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Tears Of The Dragon?
I think inexperience. I spent a really long time trying to figure out what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to do it. When I first started exploring the idea, I didn’t write that much, except to do occasionally album reviews or concert reviews on a music website.
Once I decided that was a path I wanted to go down, I started offering content writing as one the services of my online marketing gig and that allowed me to sharpen my skills.
After that the biggest challenge was, and still is, making sure I have the time to do everything. I think that’s a struggle that most indie authors deal with. We wear a lot of hats and there is never enough time, or energy to get everything done.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
I don’t know if I could nail down just one person or character. I think my Protagonist, Xavier Greene, is an amalgamation of a long list of action characters. Although the book started as an homage to James Bond, I would say Xavier is the anti-Bond if anything. He is eccentric, mysterious and introspective, but also empathetic toward his fellow human and self aware to a fault.
At some point before the book began he was rescued by a monk. The monk’s teachings of peace and empathy take hold, which leads to him reassessing his life. He struggles quite a bit to reconcile the violence of his surroundings with the peaceful way of life taught by the monk. Since the release of the book, I’ve heard all kinds of comparisons to different action characters, all of which I’m flattered by.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
In this book Xavier encounters a wide variety of antagonist, I would argue the true big bad of the book is never really revealed, although its presence is felt throughout. The ones you do meet, are sympathetic, if not misguided. I wanted to make sure that you felt the humanity in any of the characters that you encounter, even if you didn’t agree with their methods, or their goals. They run the gamut from anti-capitalist terrorists to hardened killers, but deep down they are all human. We could all be a villain if we lost our way. It’s all a matter of perspective.
What is the inciting incident of Tears Of The Dragon?
At the beginning of the book we learn that the Brotherhood of the Dragon, previously a small time group of terrorists, have managed to create a deadly contagion. Our protagonist, Xavier Greene, is sent to intercept them before it’s too late, as well as investigate how they were able to obtain the finances, as well as the means to create it. This sets off a globe spanning race against time as Xavier attempts to stop their operation.
What is the main conflict of Tears Of The Dragon?
I think the main conflict, without giving away too much of the plot, is about doing the right thing, even when you’re ordered to do otherwise. There is a point in the book where Xavier disagrees with an order he receives from his superiors. He is left with the choice of either following those orders, or doing what he feels is right. The choice he ends up making sets the stage for the rest of the story.
Did you plot Tears Of The Dragon in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I’m a planner all the way. I have a folder full of outlines, all waiting on me to flesh them out into books. The only exception is a story that I’m hoping to finish soon and publish later this year. I read a book by author Andrew Mayne where he talked about a writing exercise he does where he writes on his phone. I decided to take it up a notch and I started writing a book on my phone.
I also decided to take it further by choosing the pants method and flying by the seat of my pants instead of planning it out. I started writing and let the story take me where it would.
Finally to make it more interesting for me, I wrote entirely from a first person perspective. I’d never done that before either. I wrote the first ten chapters on my phone and I found it changed the way I approached writing. It became a much more intimate experience. It was also fascinating to tell the story only from the protagonist viewpoint.
Eventually I got serious about it and transferred the files to my computer. I also plan on writing out a very brief outline on where I want the rest of the story to go. Currently I have the first half of the book, and I know what I want for an ending. I just need to figure out how to get there.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Tears Of The Dragon need?
I’m lucky to have a great team that helps me edit. With it being my first book, it was my first experience editing a novel so I can’t say whether it was a lot or just average. Give me a few more books and I’ll get back to you on that one.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
I think the best advice I can give is to write. Period. If you plan on being a writer, you must accept the mentality that you are a writer, so take advantage of any opportunity to write. Whether it’s the school newspaper, a friend’s blog, or in my case, work for clients, you should do everything you can to sharpen your skills. At the same time, you also need to learn the ins and outs of the writing profession. Study everything you can find about being a writer, but never let that get in the way of actually writing. If you put enough words to paper ( or computer ), the rest will fall into place.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Sure. March 21, 2022 I will be releasing ‘The Osiris Initiative’. It’s the sequel to ‘Tears of the Dragon’. It expands on some of the themes from the first book, while also allowing the characters to evolve as they face a new challenge. After that will probably be a crime pulp thriller, hopefully coming out this Summer. Anything beyond that is a little more hazy but there are a couple of outlines that are on the assembly line waiting for their turn.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I can say with one hundred percent certainty that taking the leap to become an indie author has absolutely been worth it. I think my life as an independent musician certainly helped prepare me for certain aspects of the indie author life. I think both share the same do it yourself spirit. I’m proud of my debut novel, as well as both of the short stories I’ve released so far. It’s so fun to hear from readers who have enjoyed the stories. I love to hear their thoughts on them. Speaking of which, if you read any of my books or stories and want to reach out to me via my website, I highly encourage it. I respond to every email I get.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Tears of the Dragon Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tears-Dragon-Xavier-Greene-Book-ebook/dp/B09BNY2XBL
The Osiris Initiative Pre Sale Page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09QC62H8D
A Good Night’s Sleep Free Novella: https://ryan-mcginnis.com/good-nights-sleep-free-ebook/
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