Hertfordshire-based author T.J Ryan has been writing in many forms for several years, ranging from books to screenplays, to plays and film reviews. He graduated with a First Class in screenwriting in 2018, before going on to study at the National Film and Television School in 2022.
As well as writing scripts, Ted has worked behind the scenes in another position – as director. His directorial debut short film Womanhood premiered at the Watford film festival and was nominated for Best Ensemble Cast at the Prodigy Film Festival in 2019. One of his scripts was also a semi-finalist at the 2020 SWN Screenplay competition.
Between the Lines is his debut novel and part one in a planned series.
Meet TJ Ryan
Questions On Writing
What has been the hardest part of your writing experience?
Approaching this project as an indie author was one of the hardest parts. You have to oversee everything as a self-published author and that brings its own set of challenges. I initially planned to go for traditional publishing, but many submissions required the main pairing to have a happily-ever-after or happy-for-now ending. Anyone who’s read Between the Lines would know that wouldn’t have worked for Jonathan or Tess. Both characters need to work on themselves, and with their relationship being so new and intense, a happy ending would have felt disingenuous for their arcs. So, with that in mind, I knew I wanted to write about their character growth over two more books and give them this arc that felt natural to write.
What did you learn about yourself as a person when writing it?
I would say writing Between the Lines has been a great learning experience. Coming from a scriptwriting background, I can never explicitly delve into a character’s psyche. I usually know, but I have to give the cast and crew hints through dialogue and actions – whilst also leaving room for them to bring their own interpretations. Here, I was able to explore why Tessa and Jonathan are so guarded in life and love gradually with complete creative control, which had some interesting twists along the way.
How much planning do you do prior to writing, or do you let it flow freely?
I always work from a rough outline for every story I write. I always need to know the beginning and the ending, which definitely helps to plan the basic structure. While I stick to a page outline, I discover more about the characters as the story and characters develop on the page. It’s a bit like working with actors. Once you get to know your characters, it’s easier to improvise and let a plot thread deviate a bit from the original outline.
Do you make yourself write everyday/regularly, or do you wait for inspiration to strike?
I try to write every day. Whether it’s just a little bit, I always treat writing as work.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success would be writing as a profession with representation. That’s the ultimate goal.
How did you celebrate the publication of the book?
I called my best friend, who had been my first beta reader and the one who encouraged me to finish the book during the pandemic. After telling my family I had finished the book too, I had a pretty uneventful and ordinary evening at home.
What is your favourite part of your book?
Oh! It was definitely Mia’s big scene towards the end of the book. About halfway through the writing process, I had a lightbulb moment where I realised that Jonathan’s agent/maternal figure/friend had a massive secret. This secret in particular reveals a much more vulnerable side to the feisty and confident agent and we’ll definitely see the fallout from that reveal over the next book. This also inspired the prequel I have in mind for Mia – more to come on that soon!
Questions on Books and about You
Firstly, the most important question: what books are currently ‘on your bedside table’?
The book on my bedside is Bones and All by Camille DeAnglis. Very atmospheric and dark, but also an interesting take on such a dark and sinister subject matter. DeAnglis pens a character whom many would rightly deem a monster with what she does throughout the book, but portrays it in a way that makes the audience empathise with the heroine’s guilt and internal conflict.
What children’s book would you suggest every adult read?
I would definitely recommend the Harry Potter books. As well as them being well-written fantasies, the universal themes of love, loyalty, friendship and overcoming trauma can be revisited and fully appreciated as an adult reader.
What does your writing space look like?
I have a corner of my living room dedicated to my writing space. It’s pretty much a table for my laptop, but my degrees are on that wall – so it gives a level of professionalism when I’m writing, which helps.
How many books do you think you own?
I would guess in the hundreds. I would say my book collection makes it look like I live in a small library.
Who is your literary icon?
My literary icon is definitely J.K Rowling. Her books ignited my love of reading and inspired me to become a writer in the first place. I could add many authors and screenwriters to that list, but the Harry Potter series was where it all started.
If you could own one rare/first edition of a book, which one would it be?
I would say Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.
Is there an author who you always read?
Paula Hawkins, Sarah A. Denzil, and V.C. Andrews.
And finally, what teasers can you give us for the next book?
In Unscripted, both Tessa and Jonathan will attempt to move on after the events of Between the Lines. This book will delve deeper into Tessa’s struggles with her mental health and the repercussions of that. As Tessa faces past demons, we will see a more mature side of Jonathan as he is determined to be there for her. As they confront uncertain futures, only time will tell whether that will end with them together.
Thank you Ted for your interesting and detailed answers 😊
TJ Ryan Books