Interview with Ryan Woods, author and poet

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Welcome back guys, and Happy New Year to you all. We are going to take a peek at a few authors this year, and have a look behind the scenes.
Our first guest is Ryan Woods, author and poet, so let’s welcome him;.

Harvey Jones – Hi, Ryan. Happy New Year to you.
Ryan Woods – Thank you ladies. Thanks for having me (if you’ll pardon the expression), and Happy New Year to you and your readers. I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope that the New Year holds wonderful things in store for all.
HJ – Can you tell us a little about yourself, Ryan.
Ryan Woods– Certainly. I’m a Lancashire lad, born and bred. I’m married (coming up to 17 years), with two children, two dogs and a small tropical fish collection. I love to read, write (obviously) and cook; and I also enjoy indulging the kid that still lives inside of me, by playing with my son on the PS4. It’s also a great way to relax and unwind, without running the risk of a hangover that alcohol can bring. I have a lifelong love of horror, both in its literary and cinematic forms, though I shy away from gratuitous violence and gore. I prefer character driven horror. I am an unashamed animal lover, particularly dogs, and often feel like my dogs understand me more than my wife, though I probably shouldn’t admit to that, just in case my wife is reading this. LOL
HJ – Now I have read a few of your poems, and have been mesmerised by your words. Who inspired you, and what is your favourite poem?
RW – First of all, thank you for the wonderful compliment, that is very kind of you. Currently, I draw a lot of inspiration from the spoken word poetry of Shane Koyczan, who in my opinion is a pure genius when it comes to expressing emotions in both written and spoken form. I also enjoy the poetry of the likes of Robert Frost, Charles Bukowski and Edgar Allan Poe, to name but three. My interest in poetry however began around 20 years ago, fittingly enough, as a result of a horror book that I was reading at the time. The book was The House That Jack Built by the British horror author, Graham Masterton. In one scene, a man is in a bar chatting to a woman, and he asks her if she likes Mallarmé, to which she responds, “Is that a drink?” As it turns out, the man was referring to the 19th Century French poet Stéphane Mallarmé. I began to research his poetry, and that is where my appreciation of poetry began, with Mallarmé’s poem Hérodiade remaining to this day, one of my favourite pieces of poetry, along with Frost’s The Road Not Taken.
HJ – You also have a dark side to your writing, where did that stem from?
RW – When I was a kid, growing up, every Saturday night there used to be a Universal Studios Double Bill of old black and white horror movies on, starring the likes of Lon Chaney Jnr, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, so I kind of grew up watching them. After that, came the Hammer Studios horror movies, which introduced me to Christopher Lee as Dracula. My love of horror stemmed from these times, and naturally overflowed into literary horror, at which point the likes of Stephen King, James Herbert, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz became my inspiration, and an appreciation of literary darkness was awoken.
I often draw inspiration for my writing (particularly my poetry), from my emotions, the things that I’ve experienced and how I might be feeling at the time, which probably indicates that life hasn’t always been a bowl of cherries. Having lost both my parents, my Mum most recently in 2014 to bowel cancer, survived a car crash that should probably have killed both myself and my wife, and watched my wife almost bleed to death as a result of a placental abruption, I’m no stranger to the darker side of life and the all too constant presence of the Grim Reaper.
HJ – I believe that you have a children’s book out which involves Zombies. Can you tell us about it?
RW – Now you’re talking. LOL. I could wax lyrical about my beloved Cinnamon Paige until the cows come home. My novel is entitled The Journal of Cinnamon Paige, Un-Death by Chocolate and centres mainly around the struggle for survival of the titular character, her family and friends during a small-scale Zombie outbreak. I usually bill it as a cautionary tale of Chocolate, Voodoo and ultimately Zombies. Rather than being an all-out horror fest, it is a more character driven story. I personally am not a fan of the current trend for extreme horror, so “Un-Death by Chocolate” is a blend of character driven horror, studded with nuggets of humour. As the title suggests, it is the journal of Cinnamon Paige, and her account of the events leading up to, and during, the aforementioned Zombie outbreak. Though it is horror, it has been written to appeal to a wider audience, from teens to YA and adults.
Though the novel is not currently available, I am in the process of trying to find a publisher for it, either mainstream or independent. Failing that, I will self-publish it. Either way, expect to see The Journal of Cinnamon Paige, Un-Death by Chocolate coming your way in 2017.
It is my intention for the Cinnamon Paige character to appear in a series of novels, perhaps taking over the mantle of Buffy as the next generation of slayer of foul beings. The sequel is tentatively titled, “The Journal of Cinnamon Paige, and the Death Metal Messiahs”, as each subsequent novel will be a subsequent journal, recounting Cinnamon’s further misadventures.
HJ – I have watched your Facebook with interest and see that you cook. What are your favourite things to cook?
RW – Ah, my first stalker. LOL. Just pulling your leg. You are correct. I love to cook. I find it very therapeutic and relaxing. My love of cooking developed from way back, at high school; in what we called at the time, Home Economics, but I believe is now called Food Technology. I love to cook, in general, but my particular passion is baking and desserts; with my pièce de résistance being my Tiramisu. In the past, I have been asked, and made, my Tiramisu for people who were hosting dinner parties. I create my own little bit of decadence by adding grated chocolate between each layer of sponge and mascarpone. I also make my own fudge.

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HJ – Would you share your links for your book for our readers.
RW – Perhaps soon, I’ll be able to share the link to my book, once I secure a publisher for it, or upon me self-publishing it; but until then people can get a taste of The Journal of Cinnamon Paige, Un-Death by Chocolate by checking out the Facebook page where they can read brief excerpts from various chapters of the novel, and perhaps in the meantime I will post the first couple of chapters in their entirety to give your readers a better insight into my Cinnamon Paige character.
Some of my published work can be found in various publications, including my Bigfoot short story in Devolution Z horror magazine, available at
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devolution-Bigfoot-Special-Horror-Magazine/dp/1519787286
http://www.amazon.com/Devolution-Bigfoot-Special-Horror-Magazine/dp/1519787286
My published poetry can be found in the following anthologies at
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonlight-Dreamers-Yellow-Haze-Contemporary/dp/1530456762
http://www.amazon.com/Moonlight-Dreamers-Yellow-Haze-Contemporary/dp/1530456762
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Apple-Fruits-Old-Oak-Contemporary/dp/1539428974
http://www.amazon.com/Apple-Fruits-Old-Oak-Contemporary/dp/1539428974
Further poems of mine will be appearing in the upcoming anthology, Dandelion In A Vase Of Roses, which is expected to be available on Amazon in January.
Furthermore, I have a planned collection of my dark poetry for some time in the new Year, which I envision being called “Vices and Verses”, and a planned collection of short stories, which has a working title of “Burnt Offerings”.
HJ – Who are your favourite poets, and why?
RW – Going back to poets that I previously mentioned, I would have to say Stéphane Mallarmé, on the strength of his poem Hérodiade, an excerpt of which I’d like to share with your readers if I may :-

Oh mirror!
cold water frozen by ennui in your frame,
how many times and through what hours,
distressed by dreams and searching my memories,
like leaves under your ice in the deep hole,
have I appeared in you like a shadow far away,
but, horror! in the dusk, in your austere pool
I have known the nakedness of my scattered dreams!

Probably my favourite poet, currently, is Shane Koyczan; whose emotionally charged, spoken word poetry is simply breath-taking. Videos of his can be found on YouTube, and I urge everyone to check them out. He writes the kind of poetry that I aspire to.
HJ – Finally, Ryan, thank you for chatting to us. Please share your Twitter and Facebook links etc. with us; and we at Harvey Jones wish you a successful New Year.
RW – The pleasure and the privilege are all mine. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share a little of myself and my work with your readers. I wish you the best of everything for the New Year and beyond, and thank your readers for taking a little time out of their schedules to take a peek into my life and my mind. My very best to you, one and all.
http://www.facebook.com/ryanwoodsauthor
http://www.facebook.com/thejournalofcinnamonpaige
http://www.facebook.com/poetryfromthewoods
http://www.twitter.com/ryanwoodsauthor
Ryan has graciously written a poem for us – many thanks Ryan

Searching for my Harley Quinn.

You are mistaken if you think
that I am here to paint the world
in shades of pastel pink.
Nor am I here to decorate it with
ribbons, or pretty bows.
I’m afraid that’s not the way it goes.
Life can be a bitch…
It can be an itch
that you can’t scratch,
a stick of dynamite
and a match,
with which to light the fuse…
Do not confuse my former silence
as a sign that I am weak.
Do not speak,
unless you have something good to say,
was my ethos.
A rolling stone gathers no moss,
but just in case you thought
that my sticking around
was an indication
of my commitment
to this relationship,
you are wrong.
It merely goes to show
that I no longer
had the will to move on…
Gone,
is the fighter;
but the pen is mightier
than the sword,
so now my words
are my weapons;
high velocity,
designed to convey
my animosity;
each one wearing an F.M.J.
with your name on it.
So, put on your flack-jacket,
and run for cover…
I wanted to be a lover,
not a fighter.
Our future was once brighter…
The grass will be greener
on the other side,
because living with you
has become a landslide
that threatens to bury me alive…
If I am to survive,
then I must adapt,
before I snap
and find myself descending
towards the bitter ending
that lurks in the shadows
like a phantom.
Writing is the lantern
that lights my path.
It allows me to rebuild
in the aftermath
of the earthquake…
You left a path of destruction,
and with the abduction of my heart
you set in motion
the wheels that would run me over.
What started out as fun,
turned into a hit and run,
that left me emotionally paralysed…
I should have realised
that you didn’t play fair,
but you didn’t care
about the consequences.
So, now I build fences,
to keep you out,
and to keep me in.
The grin
that you see on my face,
does not originate
from a happy place…
It is the mask that I wear
like The Joker
to hide from the world
the true emotions that lie within…
But I know that one day, I will find
my Harley Quinn.

Copyright © Ryan Woods 30/12/2016

 

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