I virtually sat down with Ryan Collings to talk about his YA fantasy, Jack Ranis and the Book of the Labi.
1) Tell us about your book.
Jack Ranis and the Book of the Labi is a fantasy novel, aimed at teen and young adult readers. The book follows Jack Ranis, an orphan who is confused about his life. He discovers that where he comes from is far from ordinary. After a near death accident, he meets a man connected to his past, who sends him to a world beyond anything he had ever imagined.
With the help from friends he meets along the way, he travels to destroy an ancient relic that threatens to destroy everything that he has come to know and love.
2) Where did you get the inspiration for your book?
I have always loved fantasy. Whether it is books or movies it has always been the genre that I have been the most drawn to. A couple of years ago, I had just finished reading a book. I sat there a moment reflecting back on it. It occurred to me that I could write a novel just as good, if not better. The next day, I was at a coffee shop with my computer.
3) Missing parents, either from death or just casual neglect, are surprisingly common in YA fantasy and paranormal work. Now, on some level this is obviously about allowing greater agency to characters. Do you think this sort of thing is necessary to get readers engaged with a proactive adolescent protagonist, or is there something else going on here?
I really don’t think that it is necessary for the development of the character. I really think that most writers, the lack of parents is less complex. It’s less character to develop for the writer, and more importantly in YA fiction it’s less content for the reader. In my book however, Jack’s lack of parents is the base of the story. The discovery of his parents’ history is what sets him up for his adventure.
4) You've received some praise for the forthright and confident nature of your hero. Did you always have this kind of personality in mind for your character, or did it arise during the writing process?
I would say it was a little of both. It the beginning of the story, I don’t think anyone would consider Jack confident. If anything, I would call him timid. It’s not until he is forced into situations where he must make hard choices that his bold confidence arises. During the writing process of this story, Jack became much more of a hero than I had originally planned. His development in the story is one of my favorite parts of this book.
5) "Cross-over" is all the rage in YA these days. It makes sense from a business perspective. Getting both adolescents and adults to buy a book amplifies the audience, but from a writing perspective it can be hard to craft a book that resonates with multiple demographics. Do you see your book as a cross-over book and why?
I do. Cross-over YA books are my favorite. More people are ready fantasy now than ever, and if you are a fantasy reader, you know that many books and series can be very complex. For the casual reader some of these books can be daunting. With Cross-over fiction, the reading is usually much easier. There are less character and fewer sub-plots. A person can read many of these books in a weekend, or if they can’t get back to a book for a few weeks or even months, it is much easier to continue were you left off.
6) Other than the protagonist, do you have a favorite character in the book?
Pheloni, one of Jack’s friends. I think most people have a friend, or at least know someone like her. She is very sarcastic and out spoken, yet would do anything in the world to help her friends. She is very confident in herself and her abilities.
7) Do you have any sequels planned?
I am currently working on the second book in this series. It is action packed from page one. All the great characters from the first book will be back as well as a few new ones. I am hoping for its release early next year.
Thanks for stopping by, Ryan.
You can see more from Ryan at his website: http://www.ryancollings.com/.
You can find his book (in physical or ebook form) at Amazon and Smashwords (ebook only).