Debut Author Interview – Ryan Dalton

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Today we’re happy to host  an interview with Ryan Dalton about his debut YA release The Year of Lightning. 

WWAT: Most of our readers are aspiring authors. Please tell us a little about how you became interested in writing.

Dalton: I’ve been a book geek pretty much since I could read. Once I picked up a book, I basically never put it down. That love stuck with me early and has always been there. Then, between about eight and ten years old, I started to realize that the books I loved were written by actual everyday people, and it wasn’t long before I decided I was going to be one of them. From that point on, I always said that I would publish books someday.

WWAT: One of the hardest parts of editing is getting that first chapter just right. In The Year of Lightning, you did an excellent job of introducing your two main characters first and then adding the suspense that’s needed to keep us hooked. Did you make many changes from your initial draft to get this first chapter?

Dalton: I’m glad you liked it! My original first chapter was very different from the finished novel. It was a completely different scene with different characters, and my plan was to introduce the twins in chapter two. That original first chapter worked for about half of my beta readers, but the other half didn’t respond to it at all, so I knew it needed to change. Then I got some advice from a fellow writer that helped me realize what needed to change, and the first chapter became what you see. It works much better than what I had originally planned.

WWAT: You create a unique small town setting in the first few chapters, seen through the eyes of your MCs at their new home and school. Is the town based on anything from your own life?

Dalton: I spent my early years in a small town, so that kind of setting felt natural to write. The town in the story is fictional, but I did include a few common small-town elements. Each one has its own little identity and culture, so it was fun to build one from the ground up and see it become a character of its own.

WWAT: The title you chose for your book definitely reflects your story. Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about your inspiration for the supernatural aspects of your story?

Dalton: I like creepy books, but I’m not generally a fan of ghost or horror stories. Those do tend to intersect, so the selection of creepy books that I wanted to read was pretty small. That’s part of why I chose to write The Year of Lightning. It was a chance to create a story where the scary stuff is based on technology instead of something otherworldly. And

I’m a sucker for storms, so it was fun making them central to the story.

WWAT: Can you share with us if any of your characters reflect real people in your life? What’s your process for character development?

Dalton: I tend not to base characters on real people. It would be hard to envision someone I know and still treat that character with the objectivity that I need. I also want each character to feel like a real, unique person inside the story, and using someone I know would disrupt the internal reality for me. As I’m designing the world, the characters tend to take shape along with it, so that by the time I’m ready to write I have a pretty good idea of who everyone is. At that point it’s still in broad strokes, though. The characters really start to breathe and take on a life of their own when I write their dialogue.

WWAT: How many books did you write before this one? What are you currently working on?

Dalton: When I decided to take writing seriously as a profession, I knew novels were my ultimate goal. At the time, though, I wasn’t ready. So I wrote tons of other things–everything from humor columns to advertising copy–in order to build up my craft and find my voice. Once I felt ready, I went through my ever-growing list of story ideas, looking for the one that leapt out at me. I kept coming back to this one idea about a strange house with no doors, rogue lightning storms, and a man cloaked in shadows, and I couldn’t stop asking questions about it. I knew then that it was the one. The Year of Lightning is the first of a trilogy, so I’m currently editing book two–called The Black Tempest–and outlining book three.

WWAT: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about The Year of Lightning

Dalton: The book is a unique mix of many things that I love–mystery, action, humor, quirky characters, lightning storms, and a villain that I wrote in the same spirit as some of my all-time favorite villains, such as Moriarty, Magneto, and the Operative.

WWAT: Thank you for sharing with us, Ryan Dalton, and best of sales to you with your debut novel!

Book Trailer:


Barnes and Noble:



Twitter: @iRyanDalton

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