Today I welcome author J. Edward Ritchie to my blog. His novel, Fall From Grace, was released last month.
Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I worked the daily grind for many years, balancing writing with various full-time jobs. Eventually, some success in screenwriting (along with the loving support of my wife) allowed me to focus solely on my writing––a gift that I appreciate every day. If you have a significant other helping to support your dreams, try to alleviate the shared burden of chores. Wash those dishes and do the damn laundry!
I begin my typical routine with some coffee and gaming to get the creativity flowing. Depending on where I am in the writing process, I may either start a new chapter or polish one from the previous day. I like to go through each chapter twice before moving on to ensure that all my thoughts made it on the page. I’ll also shift gears and focus on social media or my website to build my author brand. Connecting with the online writing community should be part of every author’s day, whether you’re working on your debut novel or are an established superstar.
Due to the sedentary nature of writing, and my own predisposition for avoiding the outdoors, I’ve become accustomed to walking my dog before lunch. It’s good to step outside of your writing cave, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air. A change of scenery can do wonders, especially if you’re struggling with writer’s block.
When my wife comes home from work, my writing day is done (unless I’m facing deadlines). Family will always be the most important part of my life.
What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
My favorite part of being a writer is that I’m self-employed, but freedom also brings its own challenges. You have to set boundaries and goals while staying motivated. No one will hold your hand, especially if you’re self-publishing, but finding success through your own willpower and gumption is that much more rewarding.
The worst part of being a writer is putting so much time and energy into something that could never see the light of day. Thankfully, self-publishing has changed all of that and put the power back in the hands of the writer. If you have the courage and dedication, a rejection letter should never be the end of your creative journey.
What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)
Hands down the worst advice, or rather criticism, came many years ago from a sitcom TV writer that I really admired. He read an early draft of Fall From Grace and had the stones to say that it wasn’t even a story, that it was more like a video game. Forget the ignorance of that statement concerning stories and video games, what successful person goes out of his way to cut down a young writer? Shameful.
The most influential advice of my career came from my friend and mentor, Drew Yanno. In college, I was on track to be a lawyer until I took Drew’s screenwriting classes. He said to me, “If money wasn’t an option, what would you rather do? Practice law or write movies?” It was just the push I needed to follow my dreams. To this day, Drew continues to inspire and teach me as I’ve transitioned into novels.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I’m jealous of writers who can sit down at their computer and start typing with only a basic nugget of an idea. For the genres I choose to write, especially fantasy, I have to outline. I figure out the rules of the world, locations, themes, character arcs, and the basic story spine. From there, I write a detailed scene-by-scene outline, complete with spots of dialogue, that essentially acts like a first draft. When I actually begin the manuscript, everything goes much that much smoother.
Please tell us about your current release.
Fall From Grace is a fantasy epic rife with action. Told from the perspectives of angelic brothers Michael and Satanail, the story details the war in Heaven that annihilated a civilization. The first war in Creation. What pushes a people who have only ever known love and peace to wage war on one another? How do they respond to violence, death, and a plethora of other foreign sins?
Despite what may seem to be a religious story, I actually drew from numerous religions and mythologies to craft a tale with a universal message of faith and brotherhood. Not just religious faith, but faith in family, in community, and in oneself. My main challenge and goal with the story was to take these divine characters and connect their hardships to the human condition.
Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?
Even with my excessive outlining, I’m always aware of potential new directions for the story and characters. Writing a novel is a very fluid process of constant change. Authors should allow themselves to be surprised. Some of the best moments in Fall From Grace came from listening to my intuition as the story evolved. Nothing is ever set in stone.
If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?
This answer has spoilers! You’ve been warned.
Fall From Grace is the first book in a planned trilogy, and I’ve begun plotting Book 2. After the fall of Satan and his demons, Heaven is in a period of reconstruction. The Seraphim have stepped out of the spotlight as a new society is built from the ground up with new leaders. The Host tries to understand the purpose of their new powers and connection to each other via the halos. What does it mean to be a guardian angel? How much, or how little, should they be interacting with humanity?
Of course, Satan cannot stay chained up forever. He inevitably escapes and reclaims his leadership over Demonkind, constructing a twisted kingdom in Hell outside of the Creator’s control. Michael and Gabriel have to enter Hell to stop Satan from stealing the very souls of humanity that they’ve vowed to protect. The concept of the human soul will be the core focus and theme of Book 2.
Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?
I write at my desk, surrounded by things that inspire me. A statue of Michael defeating Satan, a globe, and a Lego X-Men jet sit atop my desk underneath my framed college degree. Maybe it’s clichéd, but I’m proud of my time at Boston College. Bookshelves are within sight, loaded with classic literature, contemporary novels, and tons of comics. My dog’s bed is also nearby since he acts as my daily muse. Funny how the snores of a Golden Retriever can free your mind…
I am very much an introvert and prefer to write in relative solitude. I never understood how some people could write in public. I can’t deal with distractions. No TV or video games within reach. The Internet is bad enough!
What book are you reading right now?
I always try to be reading at least one novel and comic at a time. I just finished Marvel’s Original Sin event and its massive companion hardcover. That was a solid 1300+ pages of superhero murder mystery goodness. I am also working through the six volumes of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood to brush up on my short story skills.
If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?
It’s the obvious answer, but I’d love to pick Tolkien’s brain. I don’t even want to talk to him about writing; I just want to hear him ramble on about his life experiences. He was so intelligent and educated, far more than myself, and I imagine it would be similar to spending an evening with Gandalf. Sitting by a fireplace with some brandy, shooting the shit with Tolkien…that’s what I’m talking about.
Coming from screenwriting, I have to say Steven S. DeKnight as well. His work on Buffy and Angel is legendary, and Spartacus is probably the sole piece of entertainment tailored exactly to my tastes. I think we’d hit it off and geek out over pop culture.
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
I have to admit, my handwriting is abysmal and my cursive is unintelligible. I am terrified of signing books because my scrawl looks like a child’s doodle. It’s really terrible. I’m part of the newer generations that rarely have to handwrite, so I really let my skills go. Is that a fact…or a secret shame? I’ve said too much!
Heaven: a paradise of all that is pure in Creation. Led by brothers Michael and Satanail, the Angelic Host is a testament to cosmic harmony and love. When an unprecedented revelation threatens to uproot their peace, a schism splits the Host’s loyalties. Every angel has to make a choice: faith or freedom. Good or evil.
Salvation or damnation.
War consumes Heaven in the first and most destructive loss of life that Creation will ever know. As brother turns on brother, the fate of both Heaven and Earth rests in the hands of the Creator’s chosen son, Michael. How far will he go, what will he sacrifice in the name of their Father, to protect his family?
About the Author
Edward Ritchie is a novelist/screenwriter specializing in world creation and action epics. A fan of all things genre from films to comics to video games, his work explores the intricate, primal balance between good and evil. He is dedicated to writing stories that embody the fantastical and uncompromising entertainment that has inspired his career.
To learn more about J. Edward, visit his website.
Want to check out the first 9 chapters of Fall From Grace? They are free on Wattpad.
You can purchase Fall From Grace from Amazon.