Today I am pleased to be interviewing Ryan Spier, an emerging author specialising in e-books.
Welcome Ryan, glad you could make it here today.
Can you tell us more about ‘Postcards from Berlin’?
I can, but where to start? Its basically about a 15 year old boy who grew up in Nazi Germany. I’ve set it around the time of Hitler’s suicide and the fall of the Third Reich. Some of the Tuomas’ views (he’s the main character) reflect my own POV and how I think I might have reacted if I’d been in a similar situation.
I’ve tried to make it action packed as well as believable with some strong characters, both good, bad, mislead and tragic. Tuomas is captured by Russians after his unit is wiped out. Luckily for him he’s kept a diary of events and how he feels about what has happened. British Intelligence realise he has potential to be a Nazi hunter and recruit him to identify Nazi’s both hiding in Berlin and later South America. The British Intelligence officers helped liberate Auschwitz and send two survivors back to Berlin, their home before they were condemned. They join Tuomas and the Intelligence officers in their quest.
What inspired you to write this book? The journal idea has echoes of Anne Frank.
Mentioning echoes of Anne Frank is an enormous compliment. I read her diary a few years ago and constantly think what she would have done if she had survived. The idea of Tuomas writing a journal was born from me reading The Diary of Anne Frank.
I’ve always been fascinated with World War Two, especially hearing accounts of Holocaust survivors and how they survived the camps, triumphed and lived their lives after enduring such pain and loss. I first discovered the Holocaust in a history project when I was 9 or 10 and I guess the faces of the people in the striped pyjamas has haunted me a bit ever since. Anyone who has survived something horrendous deserves admiration. I guess my inspiration comes from my own feelings about what happened from 1930 until 1945. The war, for Jews began long before 1939.
The final, small incident that finally inspired me to write Postcards From Berlin was watching a documentary about a war bunker that still exists in Berlin. Explorers found small helmets that would have been worn by the Hitler youth. So, I guess Anne Frank’s diary, my long fascination with World War 2 and personal feelings all contributed to the book.
What research did you do for this book?
A small amount of technical research and a lifetimes research reading bio’s and survivor accounts and books on The Final Solution. Reading the book and watching the film Schindler’s List. Building up a picture of how people felt, what they endured I hope made the story believable, up to a point. Watching documentaries and hearing eye witness accounts. My research for this book probably goes back to when I was 9 or 10.
Your book ends on an interesting note. Do you intend to write a sequel or companion book going into the future?
I’ve a few very vague ideas for a sequel. At the moment I’m writing a horror story and planning a sequel for another book I finished a few months ago. I found Postcards From Berlin difficult to write because some of it is upsetting, because its based on fact. So it takes me longer to write than all of the make believe horror I write. But, I do hope to write a sequel set twenty or so years after the war and have some of the characters living the best lives they can, whilst dealing with their memories and whatever may befall them in the future.
How long did it take to write your book? Did anything change much during editing?
I completely changed the opening because I thought the original one was weak and the publisher recommended it needed to be stronger. I had to add in some technical detail about weapons and locations. This is down to films and books being very high tech these days. So the reader and viewer expects accuracy. Also because it based on fact I had to get everything right for my own satisfaction.
Postcards took 8 weeks to write and about a month to edit and correct. Then I left it and wrote a horror story, edited that and did one final edit on Postcards before I sent it to a publisher. I tend to edit everything twice, leave it for a while then come back and do one final edit.
What changed was punctuation, the opening scene and a few details. The overall storyline didn’t change at all. Just a bit of polishing.
You said once that you just sit down and write whatever comes into your head, is that really true or do you make a plan for your stories?
That statement is actually and factually completely true. When I first started writing I would write a list of what to include in a chapter. But that soon stopped. Once I began to write I found I was adding so much more that the chapter guide thing was a complete waste of time. I like to write 2000 words a day. The most I’ve done is 4800. 2000 is nice because you can read through what you’ve done while its still fresh make sure it’s come out the way you wanted it.
I’ve written a lot of short stories, 2000-8000 word ones in one or two attempts and that was from an idea that just popped into my head after I read, listened to or heard something.
So basically there is no plan. Just write what is behind your eyes and hope its not all waffle.
Can you tell us more about your other books and where all of them are available to buy?
Postcards From Berlin is available from ma2books.co.uk. Ma2books also released my first novel, Angel of Retribution. Angel is a story of a man who wakes up in a morgue and realises he is dead. He has no real memory of his old life, only vague hints of what he once was. His instinct guides him as his memory gradually comes back. As time goes on his memory returns and he comes to realise he is an angel brought back from the dead to right the wrongs done to him and others. Only the truly righteous are brought back. The main character, Richard Webb is guided by an older angel as he avenges what happened to him and his family. There’s also a back story of what happened to the older angel and how both men meet up. I wrote this story after listening to 2 songs and watching a news report on people smuggling and the sex slave trade. The songs were The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg by Iron Maiden and Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen. The title was originally going to be Retribution by I changed it to Angel of Retribution once I finished the book.
I’ve written 2 other novels-Death Has No Mercy and Born of Blood, neither of which have been published because I’m still editing them.
Death is an extremely violent, but not gory horror story about a terrorist who unleashes an extremely dangerous, highly contagious virus in the London underground and it spreads though blood and saliva. It s influenced by films like Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later. The bulk of the story has a group of survivors trying to fight their way through the infected zone to a safe zone. The infected zone is London and their aren’t many survivors.
Born of Blood is set in the trenches of World War One and has a main character, a bit similar to Tuomas in Postcards and how he feels about his 3 years in the trenches and what has happened to him. I’ve tried to keep the war as a realistic portrayal, until the vampires arrive. The soldiers kill all the vampires, except one who the main character falls in love with. So its sort of a war love story where both the main characters save each other from their inevitable fate.
I’m currently writing my fifth novel which is about an assassin who is captured, escapes a high security prison, but get shot and dies. She is sent to hell for her crimes. While she is in hell 3 of the most deadliest souls escape and the devil tells her he will give her new life if she can catch them, but she must escape from hell first.