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Interview with Carrie Ryan

Parajunkee's View is awe of welcoming the wonderful Carrie Ryan to the blog in celebration of Paranormal Spring Break. I'm a total fan girl, you should be too...

Carrie RyanParajunkee's View: Why Zombies? These aren't the usual cuddly and sometimes sexy paranormals that are so prevalent in the YA genre.

Carrie Ryan: With The Forest of Hands and Teeth I was interested in exploring how a community survives when everything around them catastrophically changes. I think I've always been fascinated by survival stories -- that even in the worst imaginable circumstances people have found a way to fall in love, to have families and friends and believe in hope. Love is definitely part of that but I wanted my monsters to be monsters, not a love interest.

I like that zombies are a relatively flexible monster as well -- you can use them to explore so many different questions. They can stand in for any generalized fear -- it's easier to discuss the zombie apocalypse rather than something like nuclear war or global climate change.

The Forest of Hands and TeethPJV: What is your goal with these novels, to scare us or make us cry? Both? I think I might have done both, LOL.

CR: LOL! What's funny is that I never really intended to write a scary story -- I just felt like I was being honest to the world. I think my goal is to just tell a good story which, hopefully, keeps the reader turning pages. I'd love a reader to walk away with the story on their mind, to perhaps question the world around them and think about how they live their life. But really, when I sit down to write, all I'm thinking is "What happens next? How can I keep the reader engaged?"

PJV:  Your novels have been described as The Village (movie, M. Night Shyamalan) meets Night of the Living Dead. I found this to be a rather vapid description, but I guess it is the most obvious, if you like that kind of thing. Did you find inspiration in these movies?

CR: Actually, I hated Night of the Living Dead when I first saw it. I thought the characters were frustrating beyond all comprehension and deserved to die. It made me angry! And then I heard George Romero talk about the movie and how his aim had been to show that we as a world couldn't band together to solve some really serious issues like global poverty and hunger. That for the life of us, we can't get our acts together to save our lives just like his characters. This was one of the first times I really realized that an author or director could WANT you to dislike their character or to leave the story being angry. It was a pretty stunning realization for me -- it made me rethink every movie or book I'd ever disliked.

PJV:  What other projects do you have up your sleeve for us in the future? More zombies?

CR: I've just turned in the book that will be coming out Summer 2012 and I'm really really excited about it! There are no zombies -- it's a totally new world and I absolutely loved writing it! There will be some zombie short stories in the future, though: we're releasing Hare Moon, Sister Tabitha's story, online and my contribution to the Enthralled, Scenic Route, anthology is set only a couple of years after the Return.

The Dead-Tossed WavesPJV: Why young adult?

CR: I love young adult books! First of all, they're the books that made me fall in love with reading as a teen. Second, there are so many exciting things happening with YA books -- so many authors pushing envelopes and developing new worlds and compelling voices. Because most YA books are all shelved together, we don't have to worry about falling clearly within one genre or another -- we can write a romantic horror thriller set in space. It's awesome! Plus teens are really passionate readers -- they're fantastic fans. Besides, I think we all -- teens and adults -- face the same issues like figuring out who we are, finding friends, dealing with family, looking for love… it's just that for teens all of this is new which is really exciting.

PJV:  What surprises you the most about being a writer? Something you didn't expect at all.

CR: I love the community -- I feel like the YA community is so supportive with readers and bloggers and writers all supporting one another. Typically everyone says that writing is a solitary endeavor but I've found the community to be very compelling and wonderful. I'm still intimidated by much of it though because I still feel so new to it all.

The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3)PJV:  I actually got to go to one of your signings, at Octavia Books in New Orleans. You were there with Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce. Can we expect more "joint touring" with other young adult authors?

CR: Yay! That was so much fun! I really love being able set up signings with other authors because there's less pressure (i.e. at least if no one shows up I still have friends to hang out with - lol). I was able to sign with the Smart Chicks earlier this year and hopefully we can do something like that again soon. I'm about to leave for The Dark and Hollow Places tour (info here: and I'm super excited about two joint events at the end: April 5 at Book Soup in LA with Melissa Marr, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl and Kelley Armstrong (so can't wait!). And then there's a massive YA author signing at the RT Convention on April 9 in LA.

PJV: What is it like to describe yourself as Carrie Ryan, New York Times bestselling author?

CR: Completely and utterly unreal. Honestly, I rarely even allowed myself to dream it could happen and so to be able to call myself that is really a dream come true.

The Stand: Expanded Edition: For the First Time Complete and Uncut (Signet)PJV: What authors have inspired you in your career? What book do you wish you would have written?

CR: I think every book I've ever read has influenced me in some way or another. I used to devour Christopher Pike's books and then moved on to romance novels when I was in high school. I still remember the first time I read The Stand -- how intricately woven the fall of the world was written and how it all fit together so perfectly. I love how mesmerized I became by that story -- I'd love to have the ability to capture something so epic so elegantly.

PJV: What is your best Spring Break memory?

CR: When I was on the cycling team in college we all loaded up into a few cars and drove 14 hours down to the foothills of South Carolina and camped out. We'd spend the days riding some of the most gorgeous roads in beautiful weather and the evenings hanging out around a camp fire (one night we embarked on the Krispy Kreme challege of who could eat more Hot Now doughnuts in an hour). It was awesome to hang out with friends, taking a break from winter and school.

Carrie Ryan's The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3) just released on March 22nd!


Vicky said...

Excellent interview! Nice to see some really interesting questions....and answers! :D

Jennifer A said...

I just read the Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I was seriously blown away. It's one of my favorite books now! So, so good. I just bought The Dead-Tossed Waves, and I can't wait to read it!

Great interview! I saw it on my google reader and got excited! :)

I'm excited to see what the new book will be all about!


Liana said...

great interview!

Carissa said...

Awesome interview! I love that CR is a huge fan of Christopher Pike! He has always been and will be one of my all time favorite authors.

Looking forward to reading the Dark and Hollow Places!

Check Out This Week's Teaser Tuesday!

Bookish Brunette said...

I'm reading book 2 right now!

Books Ahoy said...

Great interview! I'm def going to check it out!


Chrystal said...

What an amazing interview. Great questions! I absolutely love Carrie Ryan and cannot wait to read Dark and Hollow Places soon. :)

Jessy said...

Carrie Ryan wrote another book!!! I can't wait to hear more details...

Julie said...

Awesome interview! I'm excited to hear about the short stories and her new series! Look forward to that. Thanks for posting the events. There's one in my neck of the woods this week! Woohoo!

FurryReaders said...

Good Q & A. I have to say it must be the ultimate thrill as a writer, to be able to hear or see yourself as New York Times bestselling author Carrie Ryan. And in such a relatively short amount of time.

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