Ryan Lieske is an award-winning director and screenwriter, whose debut novel, "Fiction," will be published by Burning Willow Press in January of 2018. He is currently working on a novella, and several short stories. He lives in Grand Rapids, MI, with his girlfriend, three cats, and maybe a ghost or two.
Ryan has been writing fiction, essays, and screenplays since he was 15-years-old. His influences include Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, Kathe Koja, Elzabeth Massie, Z.Z. Packer, Toni Morrison, Brian Hodge, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles L. Grant, John Skipp, Melanie Tem, Shirley Jackson, Ursuala K. LeGuin, Robert R. McCammon, Whitley Strieber, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, T. M. Wright, among others.
OK, enough self promo, on w/the interview!
1. Are you “An Author” -or- “A Writer”? What’s the difference
Hmm...IS there a difference? How about this: I am the author of the things I have written.
2. What is your biggest failure
Not taking care of my depression when it was first diagnosed, earlier in my life, thinking was too proud and strong to let it control me—and then, of course, wasting all those years as it slowly whittled away at me.
3. What is the worst lie you ever told?
All of them.
4. Do you Google yourself?
I have, yes. There's still an old Angelfire page out there that's quite amusing (not to mention pretentious as hell).
5. How would your friends describe you? And what about your worst enemy?
That I'm a good friend/enemy.
6. What is your creative Kryptonite?
Honestly, I don't have one. My mind never stops (which isn't always a good thing, but I've learned to roll with it.) Now, my productivity Kryptonite is definitely my damn day job.
Don't get me wrong, I love where I work and what I do there, but I my dream is get to a point where I can write full time.
7. What popular movie/book/music which others adore, do you secretly despise
I fucking hate Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining. It's a soulless piece of work.
8. What is the worst criticism you ever received? How did it make you feel?
An ex-girlfriend once told me I was “ineffective.” I was at a very low point in my life, and that comment just gutted me. Because, at that point in time, she was right. I can't really say it was the catalyst that got my life back on track, but it certainly pointed me in the direction that led me to the catalyst.
9. What is secret you’ve never told anyone?
I want it to stay a secret.
10. How long/how many rejections did you get before someone gave you your shot
If you're talking about my first book, I had one publisher reject it before Burning Willow signed me. I originally pitched the novel to a couple of other publishers at the 2015 World Horror Convention, where one of my films was showing. Both publishers were interested in it, and that gave me the boost in confidence I needed to finish it. At the time, I hadn't written prose in over ten years, so I wasn't sure if I could even do it.
One of those publishers folded before I finished the book, and the other...all I can say is that the person I pitched it to turned out to be a bit of a scumbag (I'm being polite here), and so I wasn't able to get the manuscript to anyone else at the imprint. I decided then to seek other publishers. I feel very lucky and humbled that Burning Willow not only liked it, but were willing to take a chance on it. They were at the very top of my list, and I didn't think in a million years they would be interested. I pinch myself every day.
11. What was the last movie/book which made you cry?
Moulin Rouge. The 2001 version. Gets me every time. As far as books go, it's been a long time since one made me cry. But I recently read On the Beach and I came pretty damn close. Easily the most depressing and heartbreaking book I've read in a long, long time.
12. Can you describe a single, personal moment in your life which made you, you?
When my father took me to see Star Wars in 1977. I was about five. It was years before I could properly articulate it, but I remember leaving the theater thinking how much fun it would be to be a part of all that–to imagine things, and tell stories about them. And that feeling has never gone away.
13. On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your writer’s ego?
Idea-wise, I would say 9. Storytelling-wise, 7. Writing-wise? Maybe 7. I still have a lot to learn, and I don't ever want to feel like a 10. Ego is great to get the ball rolling, but too much ego, I feel, could too easily lead to complacency. And I say fuck that noise. Complacency is tantamount to creative death.
14. How often do you wish you wrote/created something someone else already has?
Every time I read something by Stephen King, Clive Barker, Elizabeth Massie, Kathe Koja, Brian Hodge, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison, Shirley Jackson, Charles L. Grant, Z.Z. Packer, Suzanne Rivecca...I'm a very jealous reader.
15. Have you ever been in a fight/punched in the face? How did/would you react?
No. My reaction, I guess, would depend entirely on who threw the punch.
16. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I don't find it all that difficult. There are obviously some things I would never be able to understand, and I would never purport to do so. I find that incredibly disrespectful. I simply treat every one of my characters, regardless of their gender, as a real human being. I talk to people. I listen to people. And then I try my best.
17. Who/what was your favorite, and least favorite, character to write? Why?
I love Caitlin Frost, in my forthcoming novel, Fiction. She's a composite of several women I've known personally, with a healthy dose of myself thrown into the mix. I love everything about her, even the things I hate. If that make sense. I also love Mark, the lead character from my feature film, Remotion. On an emotional and spiritual level, he is definitely an autobiographical creation. Almost uncomfortably so. I find it very cathartic to autopsy myself through my characters. I'm also an emotional masochist, so, kids, don't try this at home. But if you do, hey, generic meds are fairly cheap.
18. What genre of writing have you never written, but want to try?
Screenplay-wise, I would love to write a western and a musical. Fiction-wise, I haven't felt the urge to really write anything other than what I already do. Screenwriting is where I tend to be a bit more interested in dipping my toes into untested waters.
19. You roll out of bed one morning and rift in time/space opens sucking you in. You are in an alternate world where a Mad Max Apocalypse has already happened. You see four truck’s racing towards you with desert mutants hanging off. You can have one weapon of your choice, three books and one luxury item ...what do you do?
I'm good with a pistol, copies of Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies, and Steppenwolf, and an iPod, I guess. I don't actually own one, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere without music. I suppose I'd need batteries, too. Do they make iPods with solar cells now?
20. What would you like fans and potential fans to know about you as a person?
That I put every inch of my heart, soul, and head into everything I write. To the best of my abilities, I will always try to deliver absolute honesty through my work. I can't promise sunshine and smiles, but I can promise it'll be interesting.
Thanks for the interview Ryan!! For more on Ryan, please check out his information!
Ryan is the writer and director of "Clean Break," "Down to Sleep," "Abed" (based on the short story by Bram Stoker Award-winning author, Elizabeth Massies, and produced by the late Fangoria scribe and novelist, Philip Nutman), and "Remotion: Prologue." He has also directed music videos, and is currently in production on the feature film, "Remotion." He owns Familiar Productions, which will be branching into book publishing in 2017.
His screenwriting credits also include "Aeon: The Last Vampyre on Earth," "The Devils in the Darkness," and "The Anti-American" for director Daniel E. Falicki; and "The Pony With the Broken Wing" for producer Jamie Thompson.