Ryan Z. Dawson is the author of The Kind’s Eagle, Melidora, Death Magick, and The Gardens Arcane as well as the upcoming Sparrowmancer. He is also a cartoonist, musician, and conlanger. Born in Louisville, KY, he now lives in Indiana. He is on the autism spectrum.
Graveworld is a two-volume adult fantasy epic about a necromancer searching the land of the dead for a vengeful human soul. Volume one is called Death Magick, and volume two is called The Gardens Arcane.
I am autistic. I write about outsider characters who are isolated and who feel their good traits aren’t valuable to others. In their stories, their strengths finally become valuable and they discover themselves. One important aspect of these stories is that the outsider characters don’t become “normal” and start acting like everyone else. They don’t become acceptable. Instead, they either learn that they are already acceptable or they learn that acceptance is not distinct enough an idea to continue to angst over. I include a lot of existential philosophy in my stories.
I am also a child abuse survivor. Many of my main characters deal with the depression, confusion, disturbing dreams, and desire to retreat from the hostile world that I experience as a person with PTSD. Nevertheless, my stories aren’t cathartic. Because of my neurodevelopmental condition, I can’t experience catharsis. Instead, my stories are pictures of people and the world as I see them. I want to present these pictures to readers so that they can see through my eyes. I don’t know if this will increase understanding of autism or PTSD, but I hope it will.
While I do want to present a picture of the world as I see it, the main reason I write is because it’s a fascinating intellectual challenge. I guess that means I write for myself. I don’t know how much I can educate people. It would be nice to give people something to be interested in and curious about. I do want to encourage interest in things like philosophy and literature.
I get to create something, I get to solve a puzzle (how to make the story work), and I get to exorcise an idea. I have lots of ideas that i think about all the time. Sometimes it is stressful having them there. I can find myself obsessing about them. If I can get a story in black and white and shape it and make it alive, then it isn’t moaning in my head anymore. That’s a good thing.
I’d like to make a living writing. That’s been my goal since I first published in 2012. Before that, I wanted to make a living as a musician. I play a few instruments and I’ve recorded extensively. My writing is very lyrical because lyrics are where I got my start. I have four albums on Spotiffy, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Youtube, but music never happened for me. Narrative fiction was the next logical option because I’m a natural storyteller (though I am uncomfortable saying that). I’ve always been more fictional than non-fictional. The world is confusing and nonsensical to me, so I live in my head. I can manage things there, and I can imagine things being better. So I want to be a full time writer, but I also want to create as much as I can. I still write music, I write and draw webcomics, and I do worldbuilding for TTRPGs, too. In a way, writing has already taken me where I want to go: to a place where I can make things. It would, however, be agreeable to make some money at that.
Thank you Ryan for being the guest this week!