Interview with Owen O’Ryan, Author of Virgil Bonaventure in the Land of the Iron Lions

22 Jun 2023

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Virgil Bonaventure in the Land of the Iron Lions: Escape to the Wilderness!?

The main character inspired the story. He’s all I had, apart from the fantasy setting. I knew the events of chapter one, and Virgil Bonaventure carried me along. As I picture him, he’s got elements of at least two characters from the USA network from years ago. He’s got the looks of Neil from “White Collar” and the leap-first, look-later impetuosity of Shawn Spencer in “Psych”. His favorite play at the card tables is the bluff, and that carries over into the rest of his life. His first reflex is often to hide the truth, not out of malice or a desire for manipulation so much, but as a defense mechanism.

After Virgil, an amazing young woman named Lilly appeared, and I had two goals with her immediately. She couldn’t exist as a typical love interest, and she had to prove that it’s possible to be strong without being physically dominating. Then the task was to plunge them both into outrageous trouble, and watch them cope.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Virgil Bonaventure in the Land of the Iron Lions: Escape to the Wilderness!, what would they be?

Virgil’s theme is “I Know You Know” by the Friendly Indians.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Horror is my first fiction love, but Robert E. Howard and Jules Verne got me through High School. I’m not really a dark dude now, though, so writing action-adventure fantasy sprinkled with attempts at humor is my lane.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

The Three Musketeers. I’d also like to get into some classic Agatha Christie and Louis L’Amour.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

There’s a small chapter that is dominated by a three-way conversation between Virgil, Lilly, and another woman. There’s tension, as a shift in plans is occurring, and Lilly is not fully aware of what the other two are talking about. That allows for some comic relief.

After the rough draft, I challenged myself to rewrite it so that no tags were needed to tell who was speaking, or to convey the speaker’s emotion. If I’ve done my job defining the characters and their goals in the moment (I reasoned) it should be perfectly clear without resorting to repeated “she said” and “he answered angrily” sort of statements. I feel a little guilty about how much that scene delights me.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I have one that is embarrassing, but my defense is that it was imposed on me. It wasn’t initially something I could control. My 50-something wife is a colossal BTS fan and has her playlist running continuously in our office. So, this book was written with the entire BTS portfolio playing on a loop.

At first, it was something to tune out and work through. Now, it’s hard to write without it. Don’t tell anybody.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

A famous coach said, “90 percent of success is a stubborn refusal to give up.”

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

Heroism lives in the little decisions.


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