Today, I am very privileged to share a recent interview with author Ryan Schneider, who’s new book Eye Candy was recently reviewed on I Be Readin! Ryan, lives in Palm Springs, CA with his wife Taliya, and I am very excited to share the interview below with all of you.
Ryan, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed. Please tell me a bit about yourself.
I grew up in northern California. I got my degree in English Literature and then moved to Hollywood to study screenwriting and independent producing at UCLA. I then shifted direction and got into aviation for several years before the calling to write was too great to resist. I’m married to the most amazing woman in the world, Taliya, who is a singer & songwriter. Taliya has written and produced three studio albums, the most recent of which was released in early 2013 and is an acoustic album. Taliya was awarded a Guinness World Record in 2005 for singing her original song “Flower Child” in 15 languages. Very cool.
UCLA campus where Ryan studied Screenwriting
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? What inspired you to take up the craft?
Yes and no. Writing is something I’ve always done. All throughout my school years, writing came naturally to me and was something I enjoyed. My first real foray into creative writing was during my junior year of high school when my English teacher Tim Williams had us do a lot of creative writing. I had an absolute blast.
I was pre-med all through high school though, including when I began college. But after doing well in and enjoying writing and English literature and American literature, I decided writing was my calling. I switched majors to English Lit. It was about that time I began my first real work as an author. My first project was a novel titled Malina. It’s about a supernatural serial killer who relentlessly pursues our heroine Malina. It was inspired by the movie “The Hitcher” starring Rutger Hauer and C. Thomas Howell.
As far as taking up the craft, writing is something I’ve always done. But it was in 2004 that I decided to pursue writing full time. I worked a lot of different jobs to pay the bills in the meantime. It was in 2009 that I discovered self-publishing and decided that was the way I wanted to go. I’ve been going full steam ahead ever since.
And it’s a choice that’s served you well, Eye Candy is a wonderfully written science fiction piece. Were you a sci-fi lover as a child? What were some of your favorites growing up, (books, TV shows, movies)?
I grew up in the 70s, which was the age of “Star Wars”. So yes science fiction was everywhere. Plus, “Star Wars” raised the bar on production value, which made the story all the more believable. I recall watching movies like “Alien” and “The Thing”. I’ve always been a fan of scary movies, too. And Sci-Fi horror is always fun.
Other movies which come to mind are “Flash Gordon”, “Alien Nation”, “Bladerunner”, “Robocop”, “Ghostbusters”, “The Terminator”, “Back to the Future”… and on and on!
Television shows such as “The Black Hole” and “The Six Million Dollar Man” were also big influences, as well as the original “Star Trek”, the various “Star Trek” movies, and spin-offs like “Star Trek – The Next Generation.” I spent many Friday nights gobbling pizza in front of the television and seeing what mischief Captain Picard and crew could get into.
My mom read books to us when we were little. It was this storytelling that fostered the love of books in me. I’d read The Chronicles of Narnia three times by age ten. My elementary school’s library had a slew of Hardy Boys books and Alfred Hitchcock books, which I really enjoyed.
Movies and books such as The Shining and The Stand by Stephen King were some of Ryan’s favorites in the 80’s
When I was a teenager in the 1980’s, Stephen King was really coming into his own. A lot of his books were being made into movies. Carrie, Christine, Firestarter, The Stand, It, Thinner, Cujo, The Shining… I devoured these movies and then sought out the books that inspired them. When I was 16 I read The Stand for the first time and was blown away. It’s a hefty book and it took me a few months to read it. But there was something about the epic nature of the story that I really liked. Stephen King has said that he likes to read and write books which he can get comfortably lost in, sort of akin to “reading by the pound”. I think it was this influence on me as a writer which has led to my books being the lengths they are. Eye Candy is 130,000 words. Fairly long as most commercially-published books go. In fact, unless you’rewriting Fantasy, most publishers (and thus agents) won’t even look at a book that’s a word over 100,000 words. And even then you’re better off being in the 80k range.
What was your inspiration for Eye Candy, and what is the message you hope readers will take away from this book?
It’s difficult to fully explain my inspiration for the story because it involves a major spoiler. But something happens about midway through the story. It was this element that intrigued me. There were several novels calling to me to be written, but this idea won out. I wanted to see how I would arrive at that crucial moment in the story, as well as what happened afterwards.
While researching Eye Candy, Ryan read authors such as Isaac Asimov
When I decided this was the book I wanted to write, I began doing research. I read a lot of Isaac Asimov. Reading Eye Candy will make this abundantly clear. I built upon his work with the Laws of Robotics and then added my own twist. I also was inspired by the work of Philip K. Dick, namely Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and the film “Bladerunner” derived from it.
I hope readers finish reading Eye Candy and feel that they’ve just been on a wonderful ride, and that they loved every second of it. I tried to imbue the story with lifelike characters, an interesting plot, and a fun conclusion, with plenty of action along the way as well as some romance (it is a love story at heart). I also found myself writing some rather philosophical scenes I found intriguing. I hope these elements give the book real heart and depth and substance, so that it’s more than a beach read you forget about a week later.
Ultimately I hope Eye Candy is the type of book people finish reading and want to share with their friends or family, and they say “You have to read this!” because they’re excited to talk about it with someone, and they want to read it again. I suspect it will be a different experience the second time around.
Of the characters in your book, is there one that you felt you could most relate to? If so how are you similar? How are you different?
I would have to say the main character Danny. He’s the prominent point-of-view character and he lives in Los Angeles and is a pilot. A lot of these elements come from my own personal experience. But he and I are also quite different. Reading the book will certainly illustrate why.
Eye Candy has quite a cast of characters. It became a true ensemble piece. I came to love all the characters and wanted to let them strut their stuff as much as possible. There are also some Easter eggs in the book, and I hope readers will decipher who and what they are and will delight in their discovery, the way I delighted in their creation. This book was truly a blast to write. It was also a bit odd because I discovered the book while I wrote it. It was almost as if I was reading a book as I was writing it. I typically write from an outline, and this was true with Eye Candy, but there were holes in the outline at certain places, and I often wasn’t sure where the story was going. So it turned out to be quite a ride for me as well.
Eye Candy is set in a future where the human race has developed robotics to a point where robots are now asking for rights, the right to dress as they like, the right to love who they love, basically the right to choose, have other minority races and groups influenced your writing of this struggle?
The struggle the robots endure was inspired by an extrapolation of present-day technology. Moore’s Law basically states that the power of computer processors doubles every 18-24 months. It has held true for about 50 years. Additionally, many scientists in the fields of artificial intelligence research and computer science feel that a “singularity” will occur sometime between 2050 and 2080. This is the “moment” when computers will surpass human beings in intelligence. Eye Candy takes place in 2047, so I was close, given that I wrote it before I had actually read about this window of opportunity for the “singularity”.
Basically, the story is my projection of what life will be like in 35 years. If we consider how far technology has come in the past 35 years, it’s easy to see where we’re going. While doing research for Eye Candy, I watched a lot of videos on YouTube showing robotics. The field is advancing rapidly. Sadly, it is often warfighting that pays for these advances through federal agencies like DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). There are some scary videos on YouTube showing robots and what they can do. Thirty-five years is a long time from now in terms of where this technology can go and how much it will develop and evolve.
Books like Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse and Amp‘ed were also very informative during my research. Robopocalypse portrays a war between machines and humans, kind of a different take on the back story of “The Terminator” films. (Spielberg is working on the film adaptation of Robopocalypse, by the way!) Daniel Wilson is literally a roboticist with a degree from MIT. So I think a lot of futurists agree that this is the future we’re moving toward. I don’t believe it’ll result in warfare, but I do think there will be a lot of people who are fearful of robots and will view them as evil or immoral or unnatural. This will naturally lead to some repression. But what happens when robots don’t want to be repressed or subjugated? Furthermore, what types of relationships will people have with robots? Will they fall in love with robots? Will they take them as lovers? Or will they go the other direction and delight in torturing and destroying robots? Are robots alive? It was these issues I found worthy of exploring in Eye Candy.
Your characters raise the question of the existence of God, what are your thoughts on the existence of a higher power, being or God?
Ah, the ultimate question. I think each of us has to answer that for ourselves, but I do feel there is some higher power at work. I’ve had some crazy experiences in my life, experiences I couldn’t explain rationally through a natural means. What is left is a supernatural explanation.
Your book raises the question of how we are doing as a civilization, with our current state of affairs on this planet, are you optimistic when you look towards the future?
I think the affairs of earth look like a graph of the stock market. It’s up and down, but it’s trending ever upward. I think there will always be challenges on our planet, natural disasters, man-made disasters, war and political strife, economic woes. But I do think we’re moving mostly in the proper direction.
Would you like to live in a future similar to the one described in your book?
Absolutely.There’s a scene in the book in which Danny and Candy are having dinner and are discussing what Los Angeles will look like in 14,000 years, and that it’ll probably be buried under a glacier. The inspiration for this scene was my own desire to see what the future holds. As part of my research I watched “Bicentennial Man” with Robin Williams and Stephen Spielberg’s ode to Stanley Kubrick “A.I.” It’s wonderful to see how society evolves, how technology changes, and what possibilities exist.
Bicentennial Man, was also part of the research.
California, for example, has some of the strictest air quality standards in the world. This makes sense considering how utterly bad the air was in the 1970’s. Most cars manufactured today are Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles. I read an article six or seven years ago about a lab in San Diego whose job it was to test the emissions of these new vehicles. The equipment they were using showed no readings. So they basically had to invent new, more sensitive testing and diagnostic equipment. The real-world result was that the air coming out of tail pipes of these ULEV vehicles was cleaner than the air going into the engines. With the advent and growing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles, it seems rather obvious that there will come a time when air quality will be what it was prior to the start of the Industrial Revolution. I state in Eye Candy that people travel from all over the world to visit Los Angeles for its pristine air, which is a mix of natural sea breeze and sweet pine forest. I hope this does indeed come to pass. Having lived in Los Angeles, most days I could see from South Bay/Hermosa Beach all the way to downtown, and even to the Hollywood sign. So Eye Candy takes that concept and expands upon it.
Plus, won’t it be great to see what technology becomes available to us all in the next 35 years? We’re all walking around with mobile Internet-access devices in our pockets. 3D televisions are affordable for in-home use. Google Glass is coming. What’s going to be the hot new thing 5 years from now?10 years from now?20 years from now? I don’t know for certain, but I’m excited to see it.
Ryan, what projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on two projects.
The first is Book 6 of The Go-Kids series. It is the final book in the series. There will also be an omnibus edition which offers all 6 books in one volume. I’m working with my cover designer on the cover art and am excited to see what he comes up with. This is the same artist who did the cover for Eye Candy. His name is Scott but his professional moniker is Rahzzah. Check him out on DeviantArt.com.
The second project is the thriller I mentioned earlier, Malina. It’s been languishing on my hard drives for years and years, which is dumb. I’ve always liked the story, so I’m dusting it off and giving it a quick polish before I put it out. It’ll be published under my “petal darker” pen name. It’s important for indie writers to diversify, to have a lot of books across many genres. But it can be confusing for readers because they discover a science fiction writer they like and the next thing they know the writer is publishing a thriller, which may or may not be what the reader is looking for. So publishing under a pen name helps readers identify the book and what they can expect.
I’m hoping to have all three of these books available this month.
Ryan, where can readers purchase your book?
At the moment, Eye Candy is available exclusively at Amazon.com in ebook/Kindle format. For anyone who doesn’t have a Kindle, Amazon offers free reading apps which allow you to read Kindle books on other devices such as PC, iPhone, Blackberry, etc. The paperback edition of Eye Candy will be available later this month.
Because Eye Candy is a new release, the book is in need of reviews. So anyone who would like to receive a complimentary ebook copy in exchange for posting a brief review on Amazon should get in touch with me via my Contact page and we’ll arrange to get a copy to you.
Ryan thank you for taking time away from your writing schedule to chat with me. If any of you have not read Eye Candy as of yet, I would definitely recommend picking it up on Amazon.com, or take Ryan up on his very generous offer and contact him via his website. Ryan thanks again for taking time to share with us today.
Thank you, Scott, for giving me the opportunity to share my book with everyone. Like I said, I had fun writing it and I hope people have just as much fun reading it.
To learn even more about Ryan Schneider please visit his website
and don’t forget to check out a review of Eye Candy here on I Be Readin!
Get It Now On Amazon.com! Click The Link Below!