“Patrick Ryan grew up in Columbus, Ohio and started writing after graduating from college with a Bachelors Degree in Communications and Marketing. After marrying Molly and living vicariously through the sports and activities of their children ~ Colleen, Michael and Patrick ~ while balancing work in the financial services industry, Patrick recently reignited his writing passion in earnest cranking out Blood Verse in a little over a year while working on two novels and a second short story collection at present. An avid sports and music fan, Patrick enjoys Football, Basketball, Baseball, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and hard rock. In addition to writing, Patrick is a voracious reader, taking in an eclectic swath of fiction and non-fiction across many genres, with horror being a favorite. A practitioner of martial arts for over 25 years, he holds a second degree black belt and is a huge fan of Bruce Lee” (downwarden.com/blackbedsheetstore/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=81_139).
GL: How many of your short stories are included in “Blood Verse?” And, which ones were the most difficult to write. And, why?
PR: Blood Verse contains fourteen short stories varying in length from 3 – 45 pages and thirteen short verse poems averaging a couple of pages each. While each of the stories are designed to be thrillers that disturb and hook the reader with an element of horror and suspense, there were several story ideas that were challenging to navigate from idea to completion.
For example, “Pain and the Boxer” tugged at my emotions on a couple of fronts as the story premise was a personal favorite of my father’s prior to his death. It remained incomplete for several years and, after he died, I wrote it with a passion and dedication unequaled in anything else I have composed to date. “Pain and the Boxer” is also somewhat autobiographical as I have been involved in athletics and martial arts most of my life and have had my share of annoying injuries. On one such occasion after smacking my elbow badly with Nunchucks flying around with them at a maniacal speed, I was so exasperated with the injury I fantasized what it would be like to conjure up pain as a physical entity to battle with and the crazy story idea of “Pain and the Boxer” was born.
One of the most controversial stories in Blood Verse is “Road Rage Bigot.” It was difficult to write because I wanted to take on prejudice and bigotry head on in the context of a horror story. My desire was to create an utterly obnoxious character that basically hated and resented everything that was not a straight W.A.S.P., while at the same time weaving in empathy for the character. Not an easy task! It was challenging adopting viewpoints of racial, gender and social bigotry to an extreme without alienating or offending my audience. Imagine Archie Bunker on steroids, but much more repugnant as a protagonist in a story. Not a terrific way to build audience support for the character! Suffice it to say when my Bigot goes to Hell and locks horns with Lucifer he has a chance at redemption, and I’d like to think the audience is rooting for him at that point!
I deliberately took a few risks with a couple of stories by challenging popular norms and trends. In “Veteran of the Craft” I sought to trace the origin of vampirism ~ (not sure if any other writer has tried to tackle that? A challenge in and of itself!) ~ back to its beginning with the oldest, most powerful and vicious Vampire on earth who takes contemporary romantic Vampire lore as a personal affront, and sets out to make a point that punctuates the horror associated with Vampirism. I wrote this knowing many readers are enamored with current slants on the subject, which is fine, and they may not like my nasty, nefarious Vampire in lieu of what they are accustomed to! I think it was a risk worth taking based on feedback thus far!
In “Spelling Bee” I took another risk and made a statement on the country’s infatuation with Reality TV. Blending this infatuation with a futuristic extension of the economic woes we all see every evening on the Nightly News, I used a standard American Academic Hallmark and twisted it into a reality show harkening back to the days of Gladiatorial Rome with the mob zeal for a bloody reality spectacle. So far, my readers love it!
GL: Speaking of readers, do you have more than one target audience?
PR: At the risk of being overly idealistic, I think a well written story with empathetic characters that a reader can relate to, and a fast paced plot that makes the reader want to keep flipping the pages to see what happens next, can transcend genre. Obviously, the main theme of the Blood Verse collection focuses on the horror/suspense/thriller genre, but there are elements of irony, subtle satire, a dose of humor occasionally, and certainly settings with ordinary people in normal everyday situations placed in extraordinary circumstances that I hope a mass audience will enjoy!
GL: Has your book had much media coverage yet?
PR: My publisher, Nicholas Grabowsky, at Black Bed Sheet Books (Go Black Bed Sheet Books!!! Yeah!) does a terrific job getting authors on the popular Radio Blog Show ~ Francy & Friends that boasts an audience of 300,000 listeners. I’ve appeared three times on the show and had the opportunity to promote Blood Verse. Additionally, the book has been promoted on the Black Bed Sheet Books affiliate, Black Hamster TV ~ a web television show featuring Black Bed Sheet Book authors and other matters pertaining to the horror genre. I also have several pending reviews that I hope to receive by the end of the first quarter 2014. I am certainly open to other avenues of media coverage. Any takers? LOL!
GL: LOL! And, I had the good fortune of meeting Nicholas in person at World Horror Con. in New Orleans last year. Are you attending any conventions in 2014? If so, then which ones?
PR: I would love to attend some of the book and media conventions in 2014 if I can overcome the challenge of balancing day job demands and commitments with my alter ego writing passion schedule. I will be working with Nick Grabowsky on tailoring the best forums for appearances and promotions.
GL: Hopefully I’ll see you at one soon. Switching gears, how have you created narrative tension in your stories? Please give examples.
PR: Narrative tension is a key ingredient to spin a successful yarn, especially in a short story where you need to get from point A to point B in a condensed fashion, as opposed to a novel. It is common in horror sometimes to substitute sheer gore and shock for the reader in lieu of real tension. However, use of gore just for the sake of gore is vacuous. I do feel that in order to craft a good horror story you must be very descriptive about things that readers find disturbing or scary, and there is a time and place to be graphic. I honestly tried to use both gore and narrative tension in Blood Verse, and I would like to think that narrative tension has been successfully employed in all of the stories! Horror has a special place in creating narrative tension because the subject matter itself is intrinsically fraught with tension! I do believe, however, that the more the tension is prolonged, the better you will hook your reader.
In Road Kill for example, my character is placed in a horrible situation where he crashes his car on a desolate highway, is thrown into the brush with fractured legs in a barren southwestern topography too far from the road. He is immobile and contending with injuries when he passes out. The baying of the first vulture wakes him up from unconsciousness an hour later. The reader knows something horrible is going to happen, but I make them wait as the character ponders his options as the menacing threat grows with the arrival or more vultures laying in wait like a vigil. By the time the cataclysmic battle ensues, the reader is more than hooked!
In Elevator the reader knows early on the setting is an outpatient psychiatric clinic. As four patients with incompatible phobias get trapped on an elevator, their thoughts looking back and forth at each other build tension as a foreshadowing of something terrible that is about to happen. By the time those thoughts turn to words and ultimately actions, the reader should be squirming. When the situation explodes, the reader will be appalled at the action. Just when you think it over, the reader is thrown a curve ball with an unexpected ending that will reveal a deeper evil than previously described.
In the Milkman Cometh, I introduce an eminent scientist who is ruined by jealous and self-serving colleagues, and reduced to a homeless vagabond. The audience feels huge empathy for the man as the tension mounts with all the terrible things that have happened to him before I pull the rug out from under the reader!
GL: Where can readers go to connect with you and your work? (social networking sites, etc.)
PR: I can be found at the Black Bed Sheet Book Store below and on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and several foreign booksellers. Additionally, I maintain presence on several social media sites:
GL, thank you for working with me on this! I am thrilled and honored!
GL: My pleasure! Great answers.