START POINT: 2002
EXPECTED DATE OF COMPLETION: “Definitely one day”
STORY: Perhaps the first thing I notice about my interview with Ryan is that he chooses to leave his video off, so I can only hear his voice. I imagine he looks the same as ever, though–as unshaven as his wife will allow, with closely cropped salt and pepper hair, in some sort of t-shirt. I don’t press him to show his video, since I’m only recording the interview from the audio anyway; it’s jfdkl and I know he’s recently gotten off of work.
More than anything, Ryan and his book Divine showed me that sometimes your proximity to a project can actually be a set-back to its completion. I asked him if there was anything essentially different about this book compared to the others he had written.
“I think there’s more of myself, like I relate to main character in that one whereas I don’t so much in the other ones. I really consider that particular book to be a part of myself because it’s, in essence, kind of a dramatization of me and my friends growing. It’s the things we had to deal with, both our real selves and our characters, and I want it to be… perfect.”
Later he added, “several people very close to me have read this work and they all love it; they’ve been begging me to try to get it published, begging me to write the next one, and they think it’s just great the way it is and I just don’t see it that way.”
The novel veers also away from his other works because he had a deliberate–and difficult–character type in mind when he started writing about Raleigh: “I wanted to create a character that was always in the grey zone. He’ll save the person and in the next scene he’ll kill the person and in his mind he’s got a very good reason for doing it, and I try to play it out in such a way that the reader can see that. I didn’t want him to be a good guy, I didn’t want him to be the bad guy, I wanted him to be real, which also makes him very different because my other books are very cut and dry. They’re very black and white, and there really is no defined hero or villain in [Raleigh’s] series.”
Still, he sounds comfortable with the extended timeline of Divine. Although the closeness of this project to himself has significantly contributed to the amount of time Ryan’s taken to not quite complete the novel, he is confident that eventually it will be a complete novel. “I feel like I’m never going to be—something’s always gonna feel like it’s just missing until I finish that story… Anytime soon, I doubt it, but I will definitely one day, yes. I couldn’t hazard a guess if I wanted to.”