An interview with Ryan Fortier

 Jacob, we'll love you always


Who are your influences? 
My biggest writing influences are Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  I love how their stories focus on complex characters, and their plots usually progress in realistic ways you wouldn’t expect.  For example, in Dean Koontz’s “Velocity”, the main character finally meets and talks with the antagonist, a psychopathic man who has been giving him ultimatums on who lives or dies throughout the novel.  Then, suddenly, the main character pulls out a gun he brought and shoots the antagonist.  It was such a shocking and realistic moment; why wouldn’t you bring a gun along when meeting someone like that?  Those are the types of realistic decisions I really admire.
As far as other influences, I will always love everyone involved in creating the Avatar: The Last Airbender & Jimmy Neutron television shows.  Those have been my biggest personal inspirations and really motivate me to create something. 

When did you begin writing?
I’d been told since second grade that I was a good writer, but I never actually wanted to pursue it until 9th grade.  During that time I was obsessed with The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (I have a blog post [] that goes in detail on why this was.).  When I ran out of episodes, I started reading the show’s fanfiction.  When I ran out of fanfics, I started writing my own.  As I kept on creating these Jimmy Neutron stories, I realized how  incredible it felt to finally write.  I was getting out all the pent-up emotions I’d carried for years and felt like I’d finally found something I was good at.  I started on my first original novel during my senior year of high school, and moved into screenwriting two years ago (during my first year of veterinary school.)

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
I’ll start with POV.  I’ve written stories from both first and third-person.  I usually do third-person because it gives you the ability to show and discuss things that the protagonist can’t see.  I think that first-person works best when you’re focusing on a single character and their journey more than anything else; obviously that fits the description of “Paranoia.”  

Characters just sort of “come to me,” I guess.  I usually get broad ideas of the characters I want.  I realize things like, “There should be a comic relief character here, maybe he’s a jock.”  Then I try to make the characters more complex by giving them different traits; it helps if they seem to conflict with the character’s core personality.  For example, in the pilot I’m working on we have a very typically feminine teenager, but she’s also incredibly into engineering.  In real life people often have traits that conflict with stereotpyes and clichés, so I try to do the same with my fictional characters.  Their names are usually fairly difficult to come up with, I just keep tossing different ones out there until one feels right.
As far as stories?  It helps to start with a general 1 - 2 sentence idea and then just try to flesh things out from there.  I go in more detail on how I came up with Paranoia with this blog post if you’re interested: .

Do you work from an outline? 
I do work from an outline.  For most of my stories, I’m usually able to come up with a general chapter-by-chapter guide, with a couple paragraphs describing what I want to happen in each chapter.  Usually I end up with some blank spots in the middle; figuring out the beginning and end of a story is always easier than the middle.  I also try to write something about all the major characters: their history, key relationships, and motivations.  I think it’s important to be willing to change your outline and deviate from it, though.

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel. 
I guess this is cheating the question a little, but my favorite part from Paranoia is two back-to-back scenes.  They take place in chapter nine, right after Jacob has realized that Richard Mince was not the man who murdered his family.  Much of Paranoia was spent detailing how broken Jacob was, but nowhere is he more destroyed than in these moments.  Not only are his parents dead, but he feels his entire journey and search for peace has been a disaster.  He’s at his lowest point on the ride home, and it contains what is probably my favorite short section of the book, when four sentences blast through his mind:  You had work to do.  We loved you always.  Nothing but dreams.  You’re all alone. 

Jacob is just gone at this point, but of course he rapidly snaps back to action.  He convinces himself to play Russian roulette with 5 bullets to prove that fate is on his side.  You can tell by this point that he’s just completely lost it and is fully ready to die.  Then he pulls the triggers, cries out in shock that he’s still alive, and smiles for the first time in Part 2’s present day story.  He’s reborn again, but as someone who’s willing to do whatever it takes to prove that he’s right.  He’s not really Jacob after these scenes; he’s morphed into a crueler antagonist at this point.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy? 
Basically, my philosophy is to create things that touch others by writing realistically and being true to the characters that you’ve created.  The worst thing you can do is fail your characters; have them do or say things that don’t fit who they are.  Let your characters guide your writing and you should be able to work your way around any writing issue you face. 

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres? 
My debut Novel Paranoia was a literary leaning psychological thriller, but I’ve written in lots of other genres.  My old Jimmy Neutron fanfics included action/adventures, spiritual reflective pieces, romantic comedies, and tragedies.  The novel that I’m working on now is a young adult story.  It’s a novelization of the script I made for my original TV pilot; which is an action-adventure show with a lot of comedy and heart.  I guess you can definitely say I’m not bound by any one genre; I love trying to write completely new things.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
Um, nothing super crazy has happened to me while writing.  I’ve never had a shark burst into the room and had to fight it off while typing or anything.  But probably the best time I had writing was when I worked with Jimmy Neutron directors Mike Gasaway & Keith Alcorn to try to revive the show with a couple writing friends.  We spent over a year writing four scripts, creating a season plan, and just learning a ton about the screenwriting industry.  Even though Nickelodeon ultimately passed on our project, it was a great learning experience and one of the most fun things I’d ever done.

Do you listen to music as you write?
I absolutely do.  In fact, I find it really hard to write without music.  I actually have another blog post that goes over the music I listen to most while writing (  I usually listen to bittersweet songs; some of my favorites are “How to Save a Life” by The Fray & “Let Your Heart Hold Fast” by Fort Atlantic.  I’ve also started to listen more to instrumental versions of songs while writing; I find melodies are less intrusive on my thoughts than hearing lyrics.  While listening to music helps me a ton in all my writing, I think it’s especially important for when I write action scenes.  There’s something about hearing The Halo theme that just kicks my action writing into high gear.

Ryan Fortier  ~  Goodreads author

Purchase this novel exclusively at

Read my review of Paranoia

No comments:

Post a Comment