[Author Interviews #1] To Hear The Ocean Sigh Author: Bryant Alexander Loney

AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

Last August 25, 2015, I had a fun chat with Bryant A. Loney. He will always have a very special place in my heart because he’s the first author I have ever interviewed. He’s open minded and he gave such award winning answers.

Read on for a glimpse of what went down as we talked about him, his writing process and his book, To Hear The Ocean Sigh.


QUESTIONS ABOUT HIM

To start, I would first like to thank you, Bryant, for letting me interview you for my blog! You’re the first author I’ll be interviewing and I’m honored to have you today.

It’s my pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity!

Random question! What’s your favorite book?

Oh, what a question. It changes from time to time, but I do like Stephen King’s Christine a lot. It’s a flawed book, sure, but it tells a real nice story. I even own a first edition.

I haven’t heard of Christine yet, but I love Stephen King! Will be sure to look it up! Next question is what book/occurence inspired you to start reading/writing?

Perhaps coincidentally, the 2008 Stephen King collection of short stories titled Just After Sunset. That book made me want to create fiction on a smaller scale, and I guess my writing grew from there!

Oh! With that said, is it safe for me to assume that Stephen King’s one of your favorite authors?

Yes, Stephen King is fantastic in my eyes. I love the way he portrays the average American town and people in an allegorical fashion, similar to Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone TV series in the ’60s. I’m a sucker for American writers, though I’m open to fiction from all authors, of course.

Great! Any other authors that caught your attention? Also, I, too am a big fan of American authors! I don’t know, there’s something about how you guys build worlds and depict your stories that compels me to read.

Nick Miller’s novel Isn’t It Pretty To Think So? is a favorite of mine, but outside the Fifty States, I also love The Stranger by Albert Camus and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Super talented guys. I’ll also read anything by Bryan Lee O’Malley. (He’s Canadian!) The Paris Review is mighty fine, as well.

I think the reason I like American stories, or fiction set in the United States, is because there’s a lot of stuff to poke fun of about us as a culture. We’re a strange group, Americans, but we’re also diverse, and that can add a lot to the writing and characters. There’s so much to talk about our social issues, it’s crazy. But that’s what interests me, you know? So I try to incorporate that into my work.

What genre do you want to explore and write about next?

I’d like to combine bits of traditional horror into the Young Adult genre. Not paranormal or supernatural; we’ve seen enough of that to get us through the 2010s, I believe. So often I find adults belittling the fears of us teens, whereas we, in turn, do the same to little siblings worried about the monster under the bed. I’m looking to mix both into my next novel, if that makes sense. Fear will play a major part—on a physical and psychological level.

Do you have any pre or post-writing rituals?

I like to write in a quiet environment, which can be difficult when you’re still in high school, as was the case with To Hear The Ocean Sigh, my first novel. I do prefer outlines, though I tend to leave them pretty vague to see where the story and characters take me as I write. I think it’s important to be as open as possible while writing the first draft. After that, it’s whatever works, but at least there’s some comfort knowing nothing is ever set in stone. That paragraph can go here, that character can come back again for this, etc. As for the time between drafts, I like to take a six-month break from whatever I’m working on so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. It’s not for everyone, but that’s what seems to work for me.

I also try my best not to talk about any new stories in case I jinx it. These lips are sealed!

A joke among my friends is that I write about “people doing people-things,” since that’s all I’ll usually ever say.

QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS BOOK

From what inspiration or occurence did your book, To Hear The Ocean Sigh, started?

The inspiration came to me after my mother, sister, aunt, uncle, and I went Myrtle Beach in South Carolina for a day of fun in the sun. Except it rained. A lot. My uncle didn’t get out of the car, but the rest of us did, and surprisingly, we had a blast in that storm—and no lightning, thankfully. The waves were gray, the sky was white… I loved it, and my aunt did, too. This made me realize how different perspectives can be when it comes to shared experiences. No one wants to spend an afternoon on the beach when it’s raining, right? Maybe, but I bet some people do, and I wanted to write about them.

What made you want to write about an unpopular guy for a protagonist?

Mostly because I feel that’s something a lot of teens want in high school, to some degree. It’s that feeling of recognition, you know? At least, that’s what I wanted—probably still do, in fact. But I decided early on that the main character would have to see why popularity isn’t always a good thing; it can be worrisome for those who have it as much as it is to those without. That said, it’s also important to get both sides of every story, and that’s where Saphnie came in: the popular girl to his unpopular guy. She teaches us to see beyond the glimmer of immediate interests and to focus on more important matters such as friends, family, and our own personal well-being. I just hope I was able to get that message across.

How long did it take you to write this book? Were you always enthusiastic about it? Did you encounter hardships along the way?

The first draft took three weeks to write, but it was half the current length, and it wasn’t too good, now that I think about it. Once I figured out character motivations, it became much easier. That said, I was always excited and enthusiastic about coming home from school to my secret project. It was a lot of fun to edit and revise, which seems opposite to what some might expect from writers, but hey, that’s how I roll. Hardships? People who weren’t as enthusiastic. People who read it and called it a piece of shit. That can get you down, and it sure did for me. I suppose, though, it made me want to work on it more, as well, to create the best novel I could at the time. And I’m extremely happy with the end result. It’s not perfect, but neither is reality, and I wanted to write realistic YA fiction. So call it whatever you like; as long as readers connect with the characters and learn something about themselves along the way, I did my job. I’m not any of those authors I mentioned before. I’m Bryant Loney, and that’s all anyone can really ask of me.

Were you happy with what your book turned out to be? Or are there some scenes or parts that you want to change?

When it came to describing characters, I usually stuck to hair color and maybe height, but that was it. I’m Costa Rican, so representation is important to me, and it certainly wasn’t my intention for the cast of characters to be seen as all-white, though I can understand how some might get that impression. Oklahoma—despite what the media might show—isn’t all just a bunch of white people, and I should’ve made that more clear. It’s problematic. Like, I imagine Megan as a young, black woman, but all that’s ever said is that she’s a girl with dark hair. That’s no good. I know it’s shouted all the time, but it is for a reason: representation matters, especially for teenagers. I’m definitely working on that for the next one.

Story-wise, I’m proud of the finished product. It’s a learning experience, of course, and I’m more than happy to keep working on my skills.

Jay’s question for the author of Rudderless at Sea came up towards the near end of the book. Did you have a hard time trying to choose what question will Jay have to ask? Or did you know it all along?

I knew once I wrote in there the bit about the question. It’s funny… Jay and Saphnie both sort of used each other as a diary that had the ability to comment back; they bounced opinions and ideas off each other, and I think that really benefited their friendship and enriched their lives. It also helped they were physically removed from each other’s drama—an outsider’s perspective, if you will. That’s what Jay’s question to the author is sort of like: a continuation of his conversation with Saphnie. And the answer? That’s for the reader to decide. It doesn’t matter what the author thinks. It doesn’t matter what I think, either. So yes, I knew the question, but the answer is still up to you.

What made you want to write about life’s major issues like depression, peer-pressure, etc.? Do you have first hand experience with people with these kinds of tendencies?

Good question. I think that stems from other YA books I’ve read where various forms of mental illness are either glossed over or romanticized. I guess I wanted to do my part to correct that aspect of such a real-life issue. I did consult with some people, yes, as well as my own extensive research. The signs are there. If readers spot them, more power to ’em. If not, I hope they will be able to in the future and perhaps help someone out in the process. Peer pressure I was more familiar with—it comes with being a teenager.

Nowadays, young adult readers, myself included, are fond of reading books with themes like suicide and depression. In your opinion, what do you think is it with these kinds of books that gets these readers interested?

In my opinion, today’s youth is desensitized to death. It’s unsettling, if you think about it. So much violence in our movies, books, newscasts… In my novel, death is everywhere. The main character’s dog is said to have passed away. The mom says these allergies will be the death of her. One of the characters in the videogame in the story dies in the game’s finale. There are more examples, but those are the ones that come to mind. As a curious species, we’re fascinated with death, but only when it happens to other people. When it’s someone we know, the tables turn. We get angry. We blame things, we blame people, we blame God, and we blame ourselves. So I think we turn to, say, books to get the answers to why people die and if any part of life truly matters in the end. I used this novel to explore my own thoughts on the subject. I’m still searching for my answers, sure, but I think I have a better understanding of it now, and for that, I’m grateful.

ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS

“You’re never too young. I wrote the first draft of To Hear The Ocean Sigh when I was fourteen, and it was published three years later. If rejection is what you’re afraid of, don’t be; it’s a part of the process, but it’s worth it. If you have a story to tell that’s powerful enough to bring out 80,000 of your own words, don’t give up. I can’t promise you’ll get to where you want to be, but I can say your writing will only get better as you proceed. Oh, and walk the beach in the rain sometime. You’d be surprised as to what might happen next.”


Bryant is the first author I have ever interviewed, as I have already mentioned above. He answered my questions beautifully and he kept on complimenting me, my questions, and how I “make it easy” for him. Thank you for such kind words, Bryant! I’m looking forward to reading more books from you!

That concludes my interview with the author of To Hear The Ocean Sigh. If you feel like giving your feedback, tips for improvement (since this is my first ever author interview post), I would love it if you leave some comments down below! 🙂

About The Author

Bryant A. Loney is an 18-year-old growing up in the U.S. Heartland. He wrote a coming-of-age novel called To Hear The Ocean Sigh, available via Amazon,Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Google Play, Kobo, and more.

Twitter || Goodreads || Website 

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[Book Review #42] To Hear The Ocean Sigh by Bryant A. Loney

BOOK REVIEWSPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00003]

Jay Murchison believes he is a nobody at his high school in Oklahoma. Coming from a conservative family of affordable luxury, Jay has an overwhelming desire to become something great. After a mysterious girl named Saphnie in North Carolina mistakenly texts him, an unlikely relationship develops that affects Jay’s self-perception and influences the rest of his sophomore year. This correspondence leads him to a group of thrill-seekers who provide a grand departure from the quiet life Jay is familiar with and eye-opening experiences to witness first-hand the truth behind the loose morals his fellow classmates have come to know.

In a story filled with injustice, hope, hatred, love, grief, and understanding, readers will ask themselves what it truly means to hear the ocean sigh and learn of the dire consequences that come with its responsibilities.

Book Specifications:

Author: Bryant A. Loney

Format: eBook. Sourced from publisher.

Part of a Series: No. Standalone.

Release Date: April 21, 2015

Publisher: Verona Booksellers

No. of Pages: 276 pages

Price: None. Sourced from publisher.

Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age

Book Review:

Thank you, Wes Florentine of Verona Booksellers, for sending me an eBook copy of this book! It did not, in any way, sway my opinions about it.

The Cover: The cover features a very “Percy Jackson” approved type of color scheme. It’s extremely blue. The background is blue, the fonts are blue… But in the background, you could see the ocean, which was a big symbolism for the book. The cover’s okay for a debut novel. (3 out of 5 stars)

The Story: I never expected myself to read a coming of age story for the next couple of months. For the rest of 2015, I wanted to focus on romantic contemporaries, and fantasy novels since they are my favorite genres. But when Wes Florentine of Verona Booksellers came to me, asking me to review this book, I, being a start-up blogger, immediately said yes, and no, I do not regret my decision.

The story focused on life’s many issues: Depression, peer pressure, the advantages of being popular, and the giddy or heartbreaking feeling of making or losing friends and significant others. I loved reading from an unpopular guy’s perspective. We usually read about teen angst among women, especially in the Young Adult genre, but we never try to read or comprehend what males usually go through when they experience being alone, without a friend. It widened my literary horizons, now that I have read Jay Murchison’s story.

The characters were all very diverse. They were well blended, and each of them complemented the others. The full roster of characters were brilliantly written in terms of character developments and each and every one of them helped in making the story a whole lot more interesting.

The writing style was great. Fast-paced and simple, this [writing style] has the makings of a wonderful book. You guys know how much I love fast-paced reads, right? (Although, because of school works, it took me a week to finish this.) There is something about it that will compel you to keep on turning the pages, not knowing that you will be finished in a matter of minutes.

One thing that I didn’t like about this book, though, is that there were scenes that had too much details. Especially towards the ending. Don’t get me wrong, details are important especially in literature, but when you describe something with too many words, insignificance tend to take it’s toll and readers might get disinterested in a matter of minutes. Good thing the writing style was fast-paced and that didn’t occur in my reading of this book. (4 out of 5 stars)

The Ending: *This part is filled with spoilers. I suggest you skip this part if you don’t want to cry later on.*  I did not see that one coming. Rarely do I find plot twists like this one’s where a person is popular and yet, suicidal. I mean, I know it’s realistic, but I have read anything about it, thus, my passivity. But wow. The character death in this work of art was nowhere near predictable because the character development weren’t as evident as it is supposed to be, but it ended up being a nice twist to this book’s ending.

To me, the next few days after Saphnie’s death were very dragging. I know it was hard to move on from it, especially for Jay, but prolonging the agony doesn’t seem like a good way to move on. I get that they had to spend days on vacation where Jay and Saphnie were supposed to meet, but if you’re trying to forget about it, why would you say yes to visiting the place where your friend died? Hmm.

But everything seems great to me as the story came to a close. Everything was as it should be, even if I wasn’t able to predict it. And, I find Jay’s question to Mr. Metres extremely witty and also unpredictable. (4.5 out of 5 stars)


The Verdict: Again, To Hear The Ocean Sigh is filled with life’s greatest complications. It is with this book that I learned more about the many pros and cons of being unpopular, and the immense greatness of having friends for when you need someone to talk to about life in general. A great read for a debut novel! (3.83/4 out of 5 stars)

Quotable Quotes:

“A fresh start yields a greater potential at glory.”

“I’d always thought of Heaven as being a castle in the air, like I was taught. I had never before imagined it being an individualized experience–something personal.”

“Growing up isn’t about the person you’re going to marry or what job you’re going to get.”

“Jealousy is a monster born from hypnotizing flames.”

“When it comes to love, people want what they can’t have.”

“Perspective is the key to everything.”

“Strict parents create sneaky kids.”

“There is no afterlife for wilted flowers like me.”

“Sleep is the only thing I stay awake for.”

“To hear the ocean sigh is to sense the calm before the storm, and Saphnie was describing herself that day. She was tired of slamming against the same rocks over and over again. She kept having to meet the same expectations. She felt caged.”

About The Author

Bryant A. Loney is an 18-year-old growing up in the U.S. Heartland. He wrote a coming-of-age novel called To Hear The Ocean Sigh, available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Google Play, Kobo, and more.

Twitter || Goodreads || Website 

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