Hi, I’m Ryan Dalton – writer of books, games, and screenplays.
My sci-fi Time Shift Trilogy debuted last year with The Year of Lightning. Book Two, The Black Tempest, was just released in April 2017. I’m currently hard at work on Book Three and it is scheduled for release in April 2018. The series centers on Malcolm and Valentine Gilbert, teenage twins who discover that a threat to their town is hidden inside a house with no doors. This pulls them into a world of time travel, rogue storms, shadow monsters, and a secret ancient kingdom.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve loved books since I could hold them in my hand. When I was about ten years old, it dawned on me that all the books I see on bookstore shelves were written by actual people. I’d had daydreams about writing books before then, but that’s when it became real to me. So ever since that day, this is what I wanted to do.
Tell us about your book, and the story behind writing it
The story originated with an image that popped into my head one day. I pictured an old, abandoned house with no doors, then imagined looking up at the window and seeing someone staring down at me. It was a super creepy image and it raised a ton of questions in my head. Who would be inside the house? How would they get in there? What are they doing in there? Questions led to answers which led to more questions, and before long I was outlining the ideas that ended up becoming The Year of Lightning.
What’s the biggest challenge about being a writer?
Sometimes focusing on the real world can be difficult. Artists typically don’t enjoy mundane stuff when it’s so much more fun to be creating worlds and characters and seeing what they’ll do. So a big challenge for authors is learning to balance the art with the business. I’m still learning how to do it, and it’ll probably continue to be a learning experience.
Do you have a specific writing space?
I rotate between several locations, but my most important criteria is that I don’t write at home. Partly because it’s too familiar and partly because I enjoy the energy of working in more public spaces. So, like most writers these days, I tend to frequent coffee shops. I typically wear noise-canceling headphones so I’m not distracted by nearby conversations.
What’s your number one piece of writing advice?
“Voice” is critical. A writer’s unique voice is their fingerprint. It sets them apart from other writers, and ultimately is one of the main things that fans will keep coming back for. But developing your own voice takes time and there are no shortcuts. Read a lot, write a lot, read and write different things in styles you never expected, figure out what you love most and make it a part of your creative style. In time, that fingerprint will develop. So don’t rush. Take the time to mature into a writer with something unique to offer.
What books do you currently have on your bedside table?
Six Wakes, Mur Lafferty
The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson
Party, Tom Leveen
Who have been your biggest writing influences and why?
The earliest books I remember loving were A Wrinkle in Time and The Hardy Boys Mysteries. Which explains why my debut series is a time travel mystery, haha! These days I try to read in every genre because I learn something new from each of them. I also take lessons from comic book writers and filmmakers, which may be why my writing style has been described as “cinematic.” A few influences:
The Count of Monte Cristo for its strong characterization and its ability to build to emotional and impactful moments.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for its creative cleverness.
Watchmen for its utterly brilliant story construction.
Firefly for Joss Whedon’s mastery of group dynamics and fun, addictive dialogue.
How do you market your writing?
I try to maintain a fun presence on social media. More than anything, though, I prefer doing live events and appearances. Bookstores, libraries, comic conventions, etc. It’s so much fun to meet fellow book geeks in person. Being able to talk with them and sign books is so much fun. Hopefully, it makes a good memory for them, as well, and they’ll want to keep finding me at events and reading my books.
Lastly, something fun. What’s something our readers might not know about you?
I’m also designing a sci-fi tabletop game called Velocity Star. It will feature a fully realized game universe and quick, action-style gameplay. The design is in process, play testing will happen this fall, and I plan to crowdfund it via Kickstarter in early 2018.
By Ryan Dalton
When 15-year-old twins Malcolm and Valentine Gilbert moved to a new town, they never imagined that the old house across the street could bring them so much trouble. Inside the old house, a secret machine with the power to pierce time has reawakened.
Meanwhile, lightning storms are breaking out all over town. They’re getting worse every week, and seem to enjoy striking kids who just want to pass science class and mind their own business. When Malcolm and Valentine discover a connection between the house and the storms, their situation goes from mysterious to crazy-stupid dangerous. Someone is controlling the great machine, and their purpose is nearly complete.
In a race against time, the twins must uncover the chilling plan, the mastermind behind it, and the force that’s driving the deadly storms. They’ll hunt a powerful enemy that threatens their town’s existence, and the only clues are written in the sky.