"It's impossible to discourage the real writers; they don't give a damn what you say." Sinclair Lewis
Sunday, March 23, 2014
A Chat With Charm O'Ryan
In high school. I wrote numerous articles for our school newspaper and became co-editor my junior and senior years. I started seriously writing (novel length) when my youngest son went to kindergarten. He was the baby of my four children and I figured I could finally squeeze a few quiet ‘me’ moments into a day with no children around to ask a zillion questions and demand numerous mommy tasks. In a nutshell? This boils down to twenty years ago.
Why do you write?
I have always loved to read, write, and create things. Again, back in the good-old-days of high school, I discovered the passionate world of romance novels through an aunt who loved them and would pass them my way when she was finished. Knights in shining armor, pirates, highwaymen … oh, these dark, mysterious, and always handsome heroes claimed my heart and set my imagination soaring into unbelievable heights. From that moment on, I set a goal to, one day, write my very own romance novel.
What have you written?
I’ve written a variety of different things throughout my life: five romance novels (I am currently working on a sixth); poems, several articles, and a children’s story. I even attempted a screenplay of my first novel, but gave that up after the first scene. With a screenplay, the rule is that if a camera can’t see it and a microphone can’t pick it up, a writer can’t put it in. I love showing my characters’ thoughts and inner feelings. To not be able to do so drove me absolutely nuts!
Which of the novels you’ve written are your favorite and why?
This is a tough question, as I’ve liked them all for different reasons. My first novel, With My Last Breath, was probably the most exciting for the simple reason that it was my first. I wrote it in six months, unaware there were ‘rules’ to writing romance.
My second novel, The Resurrection of Lord Drayton’s Heart, was another dark, yet lighthearted, paranormal historical. And I knew the rules this time … a milestone to be sure! (smile) I had more fun bringing a pushy ghost wife back from the grave to help her handsome husband get over her heath by insisting he find another to love; with her help, of course.
My third novel, a contemporary, The Author and The Cover Model, is the novel I probably had the most fun writing. It’s a parody on the romance genre that enters the world I love … the world of writing romance. I put a lot of my own frustrations, hopes, dreams, and fantasies into this story where the romance reader learns the ins and outs of the genre they love as much as I do.
And the last completed manuscript, my fifth, is Lillian of the Valley. This novel ended up being a contemporary murder mystery, something I can assure you, I did not set out to write! It, too, has a lot of lighthearted moments, and was really quite enjoyable to write. It involves a preacher’s daughter and the new owner of a legal house of ill repute set in Nevada, 2014.
I am currently working on my sixth novel, but will keep the title and the premise to myself, as its story is still unfolding.
Who are your favorite authors?
This, too, is a tough question. There are so many wonderful writers out there. Needless to say, Linda Sandifer, Karen Finnigan, and Sherry Roseberry (Blue Sage members) are in the top ten of favorite published romance authors! Some of my old time favorites throughout my life are: Kathleen Woodiwiss, the ‘old’ Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey, and Rosemary Rogers. I also liked Karen Robards, Julie Garwood … man, but the list is endless!
Other than romance, what is your favorite genre to read?
Believe it or not, it is non-fiction. I truly believe ignorance is mankind’s greatest fault. When I talk about things, whether it is politics, religion, medical, whatever, I want to know what I’m talking about. I never believe everything I read, or hear, without researching it first. My favorite non-fiction book of all time is the bible. I try to read it every night before I go to bed, knowing full well any talent I possess is a gift from my precious trio above. Even though I write sensual ‘steamy’ romance, each of my books have an inspirational thread running through them. To some, this combination may sound odd. But to me, it’s beautiful and makes perfect sense.
What is your obligation to your readers?
To touch their hearts with both laughter and tears, and to take them on a memorable journey that they’ve never been on before.
What is your obligation to yourself as a writer?
To be the best storyteller I can be and, to realize I am not the greatest writer in the world, but I’m also not the worst. I tend to be hard on myself as a writer, and I need to lighten up and enjoy the works I create without being so darn critical of them.
Who is your favorite hero?
As far as men who’ve walked this earth, Jesus is my all-time hero. My husband, grandfathers, my stepfather, my real father, my brother, my ‘kissing’ cousin, President Bush, President Reagan, Benjamin Netanyahu, Charleton Heston, King David, and Mel Gibson can be added to that too. As far as fictitious heroes? Why, all of mine, of course! (smile)
Who is your favorite heroine?
My beautiful mama, my grandmothers, my aunt, my cousins, my friends, my daughters and, my precious granddaughters. Again, all of mine win out in the fictitious heroine category.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Never give up! Perseverance is the key to finishing a novel, realizing your dreams, and living your life as a writer to the fullest of its potential. Believe me when I say us old-time writers need to live by this advice, too, as it is easy to get discouraged during any phase of the novel-writing career.
What was your easiest book to write?
The Author and The Cover Model. The words and scenes flowed like a steady stream from my fingertips to the keyboard.
Which was the hardest?
Hands down, Lillian of the Valley. I wrote my hero and heroine into such a conflict, it took me years to figure out how to get them out!
What is the hardest part of the creative process for you?
Finding the time to write. Even though my children are grown now, with four grandchildren nearby and parents aging and in need of more attention, life just seems to get busier and busier.
Do you write by an outline?
Absolutely not. During all my school years, I absolutely hated writing outlines!
If not, what is your method?
I think up the title, and the title creates my story. After I have the title, I then have an inkling of what I want to have happen in the story … some people call this a plot. (smile) I choose my main characters next and, with the plot in mind, I develop their inner and outer conflict. After that, my characters write the story themselves.
Do you have set hours in the day to write?
When the kids were little, I’d write the moment they left the house until an hour before they came home, at which time I’d bust through the house and clean up. I did this about four days a week, adding some in the wee hours of the morning if need be. Now, I find myself less organized and struggle to find that precious time. My heart wants to write every day; my reality refuses.
Writing is tough. What makes you keep coming back?
Honestly, I don’t really know the answer to this question. I tend to believe it all goes back to an initial desire to ‘create’. Add in my love to write. But there are times, I think I must just be plain insane to return to such a time-consuming, momentous task that can be downright brutal when it comes to trying to publish the final product with the big publishing houses. Reviews are often right there in the brutality department too. Yet, though I’ve been greatly tempted to quit, even taken several years off, I simply can’t seem to do so.
Tell us a little about your venture into the self-publishing market.
In 2004, when it wasn’t as popular as it is today, I self-published my novel, The Author and The Cover Model, doing so as a favor to a friend in my writers’ group, who wanted to become the liaison between an author and a self-publishing company, and wanted to practice on me first. So, I thought what the hell? Surprisingly, it was a blast! I learned a lot, especially patience. I thoroughly enjoyed having complete control over my entire novel, including the cover. And now I hear it’s becoming more affordable to do so.
Would you do so again?
I’ve actually self-published The Table available now on Amazon. I was a fun and rewarding experience too. And having the encouragement of my Blue Sage Writers of Idaho helped tremendously. Whether new or seasoned writers, we all need that once in a while, and it is appreciated more than anyone could ever know.
--Charm O'Ryan is currently co-chairman of the Blue Sage Writers of Idaho.