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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Monday, October 25, 2021

WINDERS by Ryan O’Nan

 This week I’m  celebrating the publication of WINDERS by Ryan O’Nan, in audio from Recorded Books and and in print and ebook from JAB Books.

Ryan’s a screenwriter and actor who’s written for or performed on many of your favorite TV shows.  He’s currently doing both on ABC’s Big Sky, after several seasons with USA’s Queen of the South and a couple in the writer’s room for Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga.  He was just seen on the big screen in the recently release Copshot, and other TV credits include Skins, Marvel’s Legion, Ray Donovan, and many more.

The thing that impresses me most is Ryan’s willingness to put in the hard yards on succeeding as a prose writer.  If you’re writing for television, you’re used to having your work rewritten. A script with your name on it will have had many hands changing your words along the way, and if you’re a staff writer you’re one of the people doing that on everyone else’s scripts. But these are also jobs that come with long enough hours and a good enough paycheck that there’s something very different about doing revisions speculatively for a literary agent. I may or many not end up representing your book in the end, and I may or may not end up selling it.  

But there was none of that working with Ryan.  Ryan’s a reader, a big fan of authors like Brandon Sanderson.  For all Ryan’s success in Hollywood, he was driven to make his prose fiction work at the same level of success as his screenwriting and acting.  I had to pinch myself a few times because if I was Ryan I don’t know if I’d be as patient with the process as Ryan himself was. 

WINDERS is a great coming of age story about two people on the cusp of adulthood.

One, Charlie, has a great power.  He doesn’t know what his power is, he doesn’t know what the consequences are of using it, and he doesn’t know how it’s already screwed up his life.  He’s about to use this power in so big a way that people are going to notice.

Juniper’s one of those people.  She’s grown up in a society where everyone can “wind” like Charlie can, where everyone can relive just a wee bit of their past, make the bad things go away. She’s one of the good ones, but she’s so in her own world that she isn’t entirely aware of what it means to be one of the bad ones.  Because you can take it for granted.

Yeah, Charlie and Juniper are going to hook up.

Like much of the best fiction, you’ll find aspects of it that remind you of other things. The gift with unknown consequence, as an example, is something explored in E.C. Myers’ FAIR COIN. The conflict between the special people Juniper hangs with and the rest of us, there’s a taste of DIVERGENT.  But there’s something special about Ryan O’Nan and WINDERS.  Ryan has the story-teller’s gift.  He’s writing about characters that emerged from his life in ways that he explains in a couple of the launch week blog tour stops, which I’ll be linking to and sharing.  And Ryan’s story is so good because it isn’t just about Charlie and Juniper. The secondary characters in WINDERS never get short shrift in Ryan’s prose. Some of them are capable of doing cruel things, but they never seem cruel to the person doing them. There’s this narrow line between the things people do that are 100% right but end up becoming 100% cruel in their after-effects, and the things that are clearly cruel going in save that there’s there’s this inexorable logic to them for the person doing.  Charlie and Juniper are two of the people who have choices to make, who can learn - or not! - to do right by the innately good.

I haven’t spoken as much on social media about Ryan as I have about other of my new clients. Maybe because he’s this famous actor dude that people come up to and go “are you King George” when we’re brunching at Sarabeth’s!  But yeah, I’m damn proud of WINDERS, and honored to have worked with Ryan on getting this one out into the world.