James Ryan Daley is a writer, editor, and digital designer. A graduate of the MFA in fiction program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, James spends most of his time teaching college writing courses, building websites, and editing anthologies of short stories and speeches. He lives in Newport, RI with his wife and two daughters.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Jesus Jackson. When did you start writing and what got you into young adult mysteries?
I’ve enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember, but I really started to take it seriously in college. Specifically, I decided that I would pursue a career as a writer when I locked my keys in my car while working as a pizza delivery boy, and realized that I should probably choose a profession that gave me plenty of time to daydream. As far as the genre is concerned, I’ve always been a big mystery fan, but the Young Adult part sort of happened by accident — I had an idea for a mystery about a high school kid, and so that’s what I wrote. It wasn’t until after I started looking for a publisher that I realized I had written a Young Adult novel.
What was your inspiration for Jesus Jackson?
Jesus Jackson was really inspired by own experiences as a teenager who was obsessed with all the “Big Questions” that we can never really answer: Why are we here? What does it all mean? What happens when we die? Is there a god, and what do we do if there isn’t? I wanted to write a novel that dealt with these questions in a unique way, and making the novel a mystery just seemed like the obvious choice — after all, each of these unanswerable questions is a mystery of its own.
Who is your target audience?
I think my target audience would have to be teenagers (and all those people that like to read about teenagers) who are curious about the same types of philosophical questions that I am. People who like to think about the mysteries of life, and don’t just accept whatever answers they were given by their parents — those are the readers that I believe will get the most out of Jesus Jackson.
First and foremost, I hope they get a good few hours of being lost in a story. That’s always my top priority as a writer (and a reader) and Jesus Jackson is no exception. Beyond that, I hope that they see a bit of themselves in the protagonist’s struggle to make sense of his brother’s death, and maybe feel comforted by the conclusions he reaches at the end of the book.
What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?
Well, I try not to give her the option to refuse. Whenever possible, I wake up early, and just start writing as quickly as possible, so by the time my muse knows what’s happening, I’m halfway through a new chapter. When that doesn’t work, though, there’s always exercise and alcohol (depending and what time of day it is).
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
I certainly do. A good amount of the work I do when I’m not writing is web design, so I take a lot of pride in my personal website. Readers can check it out at www.jamesryandaley.com.
Where is your book available?
Jesus Jackson is available pretty much anywhere that books are sold. Of course, readers can purchase it on all the major online retailers, but I’d encourage them to support their local bookstore by searching for it on IndieBound.org.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
Just one thing: Go to YouTube and check out my book trailer (and other fun videos). I spent like a billion hours making the thing, and I’m really quite proud of it. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD3nMqCzjxo[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00LA5XAKQ]