Playlist follows two people with a tragic past that help each other heal and find a way forward. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
Romeo and Juliet were the biggest inspiration for this novel. I really love tragic stories, and I wanted there to be some beauty in it. I wanted this novel to matter.
Your characters are wonderfully emotive and relatable. Were you able to use anything from your own life to inform their character development?
I always will add an Easter egg or two of my own life into a novel. But honestly, I create this characters from so where in my brain, and I follow them around. I find out things they do as the reader does too.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Love, lost, self-worth, and how to work on overcoming tragedy. I think we all can easily get consumed into the darkness. I wanted to make sure people could
Come out of it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a book coming out called Camp Afterlife. It’s another coming of age LGBT novel. It will be out October.
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Zachary Ryan’s book, Playlist, is both heartwarming and sad. It follows the life of Sarabeth Bryant as she navigates college after the death of her father. Apart from her grief, Sarahbeth struggles with nightmares about an assault she is not sure happened. Yet amid all this chaos, she nurtures supportive friendships and even manages to meet someone she thinks could be the one.
Like all protagonists, Sarabeth endures great adversity, and at some point, we even think she won’t make it. But somehow, though scarred, she pulls through, even in the face of shocking plot twists. To call her story tragic is an understatement – it is truly gut-wrenching.
And since it is told from her perspective, it is hard not to get entangled in all the emotions of the book. In this regard, the author does a good job of making it personal and relatable, even if the dialogue sometimes isn’t. Some of the characters exude a coherence and clarity that you don’t expect from someone who has just experienced major trauma.
This is a potent and emotional contemporary coming of age romance novel with an ending that is not at all predictable. The author goes to great lengths to develop and deliver poignant and stirring themes. He particularly puts a lot of emphasis on grief, identity, self-worth, and healing. As such, the characters in this book are fully fleshed out individuals who battle with their demons and try their best to choose themselves.
This is quite refreshing considering that most authors usually follow a unidimensional approach to their character development, refusing to acknowledge that both light and darkness can exist in the same person. Using this multidimensional approach allows the author to create real, complex characters that anyone can relate to. It also makes the story more beautiful and validating. Interestingly, the author pairs this depth with a light writing style that makes the story easy to read. A lot happens in just 200 pages yet you don’t feel overloaded with information. Playlist is a passionate ballad of the heartache we all feel.
Pages: 207 | ASIN: B093YGMH97
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, coming of age, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, love story, nook, novel, Playlist, read, reader, reading, romance, story, urban fantasy, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Cutthroat Cheerleader follows a bully who dies and is given the chance to look back at how her life affected the people around her. How long did you have the idea for this novel and what made you decide to start writing?
I had the idea kind of come forward while I was writing High School Queens. I have really loved this campy caddy novels, but I really wanted to add murder to it. With covid happening, I’ve had a bunch of time to write. I just really didn’t want to write a depressing novel while our world is a huge dumpster fire right now.
What were some ideas that informed Madison’s revelations throughout the story?
I think her seeing everyone’s life behind closed doors. What I always add to my novels is the theme, don’t judge a book by its cover. I feel like we all have our own struggles, and we don’t really know what someone’s going through unless we look behind all the closed doors. She realized everyone had tragedy, and I hurt a lot of people along the way. She made Mark be two different guys, and she made Chad be the stereotypical jock. These two were unhappy because they were playing the same game book as Madison to survive high school.
What scene from the book was the most challenging for you to write?
I think for me it was the plot twist when you realized one of the characters wasn’t crazy, and it had to be when the murderer was revealed. I think both I wanted to live up to the hype that I created in the novel.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a book called Playlist. I have wanted to write this novel for honestly over ten years. It’s a love story between two characters and my love for my music. It should be out in the summer. I’m just having too much fun with Cutthroat that I’m not ready to publish just yet another novel.
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Tags: author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, coming of age, contemporary fiction, Cutthroat Cheerleader, ebook, fantasy, fiction, gay fiction, goodreads, high school, kindle, kobo, lgbt, literature, new adult, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, story, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Madison paid the ultimate price for her attitude, her controlling behavior, and her desire to rule the school. As a cheerleader and bully extraordinaire, she has taken her last breath–but only one person in her life knows the truth. And it isn’t Madison. Watching over everyone she has left behind, Madison faces some hard facts about the life she led, the friends she let down, and the persona she regrets having carried all these years. Things are not what they seem in her high school and, whether she is ready for it or not, it just might be Madison’s responsibility to put a stop to the killings that only she can see coming.
Cutthroat Cheerleader, by Zachary Ryan, is a young adult thriller featuring Madison Taylor as the victim of murder and the narrator of her own story. Ryan has created a unique take on the omniscient point-of-view and given his main character free reign to come and go in the lives of those she left behind. Serving as a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge-type character, Madison quickly learns exactly what she meant to the people she believed were her friends and sees, in no uncertain terms, exactly how much pain she created as she ruled the school with an iron fist.
One of the most unique aspects of Madison’s story is the process whereby she learns as much about herself as she does those she watches from afar. Her spirit, though still rough and tumble, is broken at the thought of leaving her family and friends hurting and in need. Hers is a long road of discovering everything she left unsaid prior to her death.
Ryan includes some truly breathtaking lines at the close of almost every chapter. He seriously knows how to deliver a punch that incenses readers and keeps them coming back for more. Leaving readers with that “just one more chapter” feeling time and time again, Ryan has created a book most readers will find easy to read cover-to-cover.
While I enjoyed this book, Ryan’s work is filled with vulgarity. It’s not for the faint of heart and may offend some readers who prefer much less explicit language especially when it comes to the interactions of young adults.
Cutthroat Cheerleader has a unique storyline and point-of-view that makes this one of the more captivating books I have read this year.
Pages: 352 | ASIN: B08LR1TQ3P
Tags: author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, coming of age, Cutthroat Cheerleader, ebook, fantasy, fiction, gay fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, lgbt, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, teen fiction, urban fantasy, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Silent Screams follows four friends in the aftermath of a school shooting that unravels secrets and relationships. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this compelling story?
It came from a song called Prom Queen by Katie Turner. She has a line about a audience that was never meant for me. It was where the idea for Zachary came to be. It was also my 50th novel that I wrote. I wanted to add elements from each of the first 49 in there.
We really get to dive deep into each unique character in the story. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Honestly, it was Cass. I just had such love for her. I wanted so much for her to be strong and be able to move past all the hurt she had to deal with. I just honestly don’t know how she handled that situation. You find out your boyfriend is cheating on you, and you can’t hate her because she lost her life from one of your best friend’s actions. Then on top of that Jarele was a good guy. He helped Cass through so much. It was hard for Cass to hate Jarele. I just was impressed by her strength and where she ended up.
In this story we get to explore how families and relationships are all different and complex. What were some themes you wanted to capture within them?
Honestly, that everyone goes through some hardships in their life. I also wanted to go through this idea that no one is a full villain or victim. With Gabe each person viewed Gabe in such a different way, and I really wanted to portray that. My theme for all my novels is make sure to not judge someone because you don’t know what’s behind someone’s closed doors.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available
I’m working on a campy book. It’s a lot like my High Schools Queen trilogy. It’s called Cutthroat Cheerleader. It’s sassy, campy, and a murder mystery too. It will be out actually in October.
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Tags: author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, contemporary fiction, drama, ebook, family, fantasy, fiction, friends, ghost story, goodreads, high school, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, relationship, romance, story, teen fiction, womens fiction, writer, writing, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Silent Screams by Zachary Ryan follows the lives of four high school friends forced to grow up due to a school shooting. Lane struggles with whether or not to come out to his friends while mourning the loss of his lover. Cass struggles to find someone to save her from her home life. Zachary deals with losing what she thinks makes her special. Ben finds his life of luxury torn away and struggles to figure out who he is without it. Being friends with the shooter, these four students battle with their own demons while attempting to cope with the guilt and responsibility they feel for their friend’s actions.
The raw emotion and authenticity of the characters is something that is outstanding in this book. I applaud Zachary Ryan for creating such imperfect characters that are so relatable. Each character deals with something different and grieves in a unique way. Each character, even background ones, go through so much character development and really grow up and learn how to trust and depend on each other. We get to see through each character’s eyes through point of view changes that happen each chapter. It’s refreshing in a way because you get to see into the heart of each of the four main characters and see their innermost secrets and insecurities. Silent Screams is a story about friendship, love, insecurities, trust, and the dangers of keeping secrets in for too long.
I enjoyed this book, but there were some times I had to reread a line because of a typo. There was also one background character who’s name was inconsistent, being Violet in some places and Valerie in others. However, this book is still thoroughly enjoyable.
Silent Screams was a roller-coaster of emotions from beginning to end. I am not ashamed to admit I cried a couple of times. This is the sort of book you pick up and can’t set down until you finished it. I’m not sure that I would class this as a feel good story but it ultimately leaves you feeling satisfied and rejuvenated.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B08BK4DPN5
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, coming of age, crime fiction, drama, ebook, fantasy, fiction, friends, goodreads, kindle, kobo, lgbt, literature, love, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, romance, Silent Screams, story, suspense, teen, teen fiction, writer, writing, ya fantasy, young adult, Zachary Ryan
Thirst Trap follows four friends as they deal with sexuality, tragedy, substance abuse and wild friendships. What made you write a story about these topics? Anything pulled from your life experiences?
Honestly, the story came from some of my closest friends. I wrote a novel several years ago that was based on me coming out, and I wanted to write a novel as a follow up to it. It’s kind of like my autobiography but in my own way. I pulled from my brothers suicide, my friends abusive ex, my friends boyfriend suicide, and my friends marriage. Also, a lot of the back and forth with the witty comments are actual comments my friends have made to each other.
What kind of research did you do for this novel to ensure you captured the essence of the stories theme?
I did 4 years of research just watching my friends. I wanted to make sure that I did justice in that no matter what happens friends have each other’s backs. I think my theme in all of my books is to be open and honest or it will bite you in the butt down the road.
What character did you enjoy writing for? Was there one that was more challenging to write for?
I think in such a messed up way Ivan was my favorite to write. I loved him going from an abusive relationship to standing up for himself. The challenge with all of these characters was I didn’t want them to be too close to my actual friends. I made sure to change their appearance to make sure I could write right freely without worrying I’d they would get offended.
What is the next novel you have planned? Any involving the characters in the Thirst Trap?
I actually have another serious novel coming out in June called Silence Screams. Its my favorite novel that I’ve written. It’s my 50th novel, and it’s elements of all my books I’ve written. It’s about the aftermath of a school shooting. I’m also working on finishing the spin off trilogy to High School Queens. Sadly, Thirst Trap is a stand alone and those characters are done.
Tragedy comes in all forms, and you never know how you’ll deal with it. Four friends have all dealt with their fair share of struggles. Dillion, is an aspiring writer with writers block because of his brothers sudden death, Jesse the emotional stunted drink thanks to his boyfriend’s suicide, Ivan the abused victim just looking for a place to call home, and Leo the stubborn romantic trying to get his friends to open up, while keeping his issues close to his chest.
With these four friends, they avoid all their elephants in the room like a death card agreement between Dillion and Jesse, Ivan completely hoping his abusive lover with change or even Leo focusing on his friends problems instead of his own. Can these four friends learn to embrace and accept their own tragedy or will they be stuck in the past?
Thirst Trap is a humorous coming of age novel dealing with sexuality, tragedy, substance abuse, and the most beautiful.
One Queen Of An Ending brings The High School Queens Trilogy to a thrilling end. Did you feel like you wrapped up everything you wanted to in this final book?
I think I did wrap up a lot of the story lines and gave people the proper ending they needed. It’s why I always love a good trilogy. I think it’s enough space to wrap everything up.
As always, there is consistently compelling storytelling in this book. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
I just wanted to give most of these characters a proper send off. I wanted them to be able to get some resolution even if some of their stories ended in tragedy. I think my main focus was having Danielle realize this world wasn’t meant for her, and she could walk away. I wanted Calvin to be on his own without having love. Jasmine needed to get her backbone and run off with Carter. I also wanted the bitch wars to be closed for now.
Did the characters end up where you had planned or did they change and the story evolve to places you had not imagined when you first started?
I think slowly through the second book I knew I was going to kill Emily. I think other than that, they all were how I wanted them to be. I wanted Susan to be who she was, and it was delicious watching her get her revenge since she’s been on the sidelines too long. I was thrilled Danielle and Calvin’s friendship survived it all.
Do you plan on continuing the characters stories in a different series or starting a whole new series now?
Yes!!!! Bethany has her spinoff series when she goes off to college. It’s called the Forever My Sisters trilogy. I’m currently working on the last book in the trilogy. High School Queens is child play to this new trilogy.
It’s time to say goodbye to our Johnson Prep favorites before they all head off to college.
After the gossip-worthy events of graduation and the shocking death of one of their classmates, it seems The Queen of Queens wants to give Danielle, Bethany, Calvin, Tucker, and Aman one last hurrah.
Will everything have a happy ending, or will one of our favorites end up 6 feet under? How will the war end with the salacious arrival of returning students, Andrew and Jasmine? They all had one lesson left to learn: Just because high school is over, doesn’t mean the high school drama ends. They’re all about to take their curtain call, but will it end as a comedy or a tragedy?