XOXOAD is pleased to welcome bestselling author Ryan Winfield today! Ryan is the New York Times bestselling author of Jane’s Melody, as well as the “Park Service Trilogy” and “South of Bixby Bridge.” (And while this is not included in his official bio, we can confirm that he is as hot as your favorite indie bad boy! Er, Ryan, we mean this in the most professional and un-objectifying way, we promise.) So without further ado, read on to find out more about Ryan and Jane’s Melody!
Since your writing career began, what has surprised you the most about your novels? Your readers?
I’ve been surprised by how real the characters and their journeys feel to me after I’ve written them. Almost as if I had the honor of reporting someone else’s story rather than creating it. I take credit only for doing the work—where the stories come from is a mystery and a gift. Readers have surprised me with their willingness to suspend disbelief and read those stories as if they were true. I’ve also been surprised by their generosity with me.
Jane’s Melody is the third different genre in which you’ve published (South of Bixby Bridge, literary fiction; The Park Service, young adult dystopian; and Jane’s Melody, romance). Do you have a favorite go-to genre to read yourself?
I have favorite authors I love to read, but not genres. Genre comes up a lot, but to me it seems more a tool for cataloging a work once it’s completed rather than something that should drive the creation of the work. When a story comes to me, I try to tell it as honestly as I can. I’ve never really given genre any thought.
Because of the diverse genres in which you have written, you’ve gained a large audience of readers in a wide range of ages. What have you thought of this?
I think it’s great. I know it might not be the best business model, but I love the diversity of the audience my different books have enjoyed. A few of my books have touched on themes of addiction or alcoholism, and possibly the biggest reward for me has been interacting with readers who have been moved by those stories, either to understand themselves or a those they love bet
Your last book, Jane’s Melody was your first romance novel. Where did your inspiration and story come from for this story?
I wish I knew. I think I was taking a bath when Jane came to me. I had the opening image of her sitting in her car watching the rain fall on her daughter’s grave. I started writing about her right away. Caleb’s character had been with me for a long time in the form of a notebook filled with songs I had been writing over the years, but I had no idea it would be him who would show up to change Jane’s life.
Music plays a big role in Jane’s Melody, not to mention, the double meaning in the title itself. Did you listen to music while writing the book? If so, was it the same tunes we “heard” in the story?
I never listen to music while writing. Stories come to me largely in images, and the words themselves make the music. I’d hate to have someone else’s melody slip into or influence my prose. I wrote Caleb’s songs in the book. The few that are mentioned when Caleb plays covers just happened to be songs that I love.
Did you learn anything about your characters while writing Jane’s Melody?
Yes. Almost everything the reader learns. Writing is a very exploratory process for me and I’m often surprised by my characters and the choices they make.
Can you relate to any of the main characters from Jane’s Melody, through personality, preferences or struggles?
I relate in some way to every character I write. The protagonist, in this case Jane, takes on most of my own struggles dealing with family dysfunction, grief, and finding the courage to start over, although in different ways, but each character has some kernel of my own experience working in them.
Is there a message in this story that you want people to know?
I never set out to teach anyone anything when I write. I do, however, set out to learn things for myself. Sometimes all I end up with are more questions, but I’m always better for having written it anyway. I’ve received many messages from readers who take away wonderful life lessons from Jane’s journey to freedom, and some of those mirror my own. But I think ever reader has to have their own experience with the story.
Is there anything about you that your readers would be surprised to learn (quirks, rituals, habits)?
I love sea salt baths. At least once a week I run a bath, light candles, and set my sound machine to ocean waves before sinking into the water to dream. I get some of my best ideas there.
Your writing style is so colorful and descriptive, do these lines come naturally to you at the first writing or do you go back and edit them?
The best lines come naturally in the first draft, although I have no idea where they come from or how they get across my pen. Editing is more about reducing and cutting away what is unnecessary, which can be difficult because sometimes my favorite lines have to go.
Hooked yet? If you want even more, click here for an excerpt of Jane’s Melody!