As promised, here's the awesome interview and ARC giveaway that we talked about on Friday. Everyone, please welcome Chris Rylander to the blog!
Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.
Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.
(I reviewed the book over on my blog, if you want some more details.)
1. So tell us, how long did it take you to land an agent and publisher with this book?
Thank you! My full publication story actually takes me close to fourteen or fifteen hours to tell properly, plus usually I need to build a large fire and bring in mimes and elephants and stuff to assist me, so since I don’t want to waste a decade of your time, I'll condense. It took me about a year to get an agent and then another six months or so before I had a signed book contract. So roughly between 18 and 24 months total from when I started writing to when I had a book under contract with a publisher. That’s not long compared to many writers, however, I really feel like I packed ten years worth of stuff into those two short years.
2. Authors find inspiration from so many places. Where did the idea for a godfather-like middle school kid come from?
It came from a number of different places. Part of it was that I just thought it might be kind of cool and fun to put a kid-friendly spin on organized crime, and that it had a lot of potential for action and humor, two things I never could get enough of as a kid. Also, I just thought the structure of those two worlds (organized crime and school) mirrored each other so well, at least the movie/TV version of organized crime, anyway.
3. We know this is your debut novel as far as being published goes, but is it the first book you ever wrote?
No, it’s not, and this is part of the reason I say I packed a lot into that year and a half. I wrote two other books before I finished THE FOURTH STALL, one was a humorous novel for adults about a kidnapped teacher named Abe Lincoln, and the other was a spin-off of that idea aimed more for a YA audience. Also, I once wrote a searing 713-page exposé on the seedy corruption and greed that underlies the bubble gum manufacturing industry, but it never took off for some reason.
4. Your website is hysterical, and frankly, leaves me with a bit of web envy at its sheer coolness. On it, we get to see a few of your sketches. Does this mean we can expect a Chris Ryalnder picture book ones of these days?
Oh, thanks, I really appreciate that! I’m pretty proud that I get to say my website was “hand-crafted.” As for a picture book, I have been playing with the idea of writing one, but it’s definitely a different world than writing novels. I have a ton of respect for picture book writers, because it’s really a difficult thing to do well, there’s a certain art to writing a great picture book. Anyway, I don’t think I’m a good enough artist to illustrate my own picture book; basically all I can draw are sharks eating stick people and stick men who are on fire. And I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get away with writing a picture book in which somebody dies violently on every page. But if there’s a publisher out there reading this who wants to publish such a book and explore this idea further with me, then please do contact my agent!
5. What's something you wished you would have known about the publishing industry before you got started writing?
I don’t want to sound like a know-it-all here, but honestly not much has surprised me. Because when I decide to do something I get kind of obsessive over researching whatever it is I’m working on. Like, creepily obsessive. For that reason, before I had an agent, I used to spend hours and hours a day reading publishing blogs and articles, and therefore when it finally happened for me, I already knew what to expect.
6. What's been your coolest publishing experience so far?
It used to be attending SCBWI conferences and getting to meet a lot of cool people there. There are things that happen there that couldn’t happen anywhere else. But recently I received my first email from a random kid I don’t know who said he loved my book. That moment has been by far the best one – and I know it always will be. Because that’s why I do this. That’s the purpose behind writing books.
7. BONUS QUESTION: You're stranded on a desert Oasis and you can't bring your wife, your pets, your published book, or your unicorn collection. What one other thing would you want to have with you?
A pack of fake mustaches. Definitely.
To learn more about Chris, check out his insanely funny website (his blog is there too) and follow him on twitter. You can purchase your copy of The Fourth Stall at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. OR…
To win an ARC of the book (courtesy of HarperTeen and YALitChat.org) before you can buy it:
1) Follow Chris on twitter (yeah, we're giving you the link again in case you missed it the first time);
2) Leave a comment here with the twitter name you’re following under AND your email address (so we can contact the winner)
Good luck and happy reading!! P.S., if you want to meet Chris in person, he will be at the Nebraska State Reading Conference in Kearny, Nebraska on February 24-26th.