Lindy Ryan: Stories Are All Around Us
Lindy Ryan is a talented author, editor, and much more. She has accomplished so many interesting things across her different fields of work, including being the co-founder of Radiant Advisors, a business intelligence research and advisory firm, where as Research Director then Chief Operations Officer, she led the company’s research and data enablement practice for clients that included 21st Century Fox Films, Warner Bros., and Disney. In 2017, Lindy founded Black Spot Books, an award-winning independent small press, specializing in horror and dark fantasy, where she maintains her role as President after the company was acquired in 2019 by Vesuvian Media Group. I'm truly honored to chat with her today and take a dive into her work, ideas, and what she's seen evolving in the publishing world.
Congratulations on Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga. I adored your essay, “Summoning Baba Yaga,” on HorrorTree, and encourage readers to check that out. It was so interesting to read how Baba Yaga came into your life.
What has it been like to see the anthology come together? What are your hopes for readers when they delve into these feral and fabulous tales?
Into the Forest isn’t the first anthology I’ve had the honor of curating, although it’s certainly my most ambitious to date. It might sound a little self-deprecating to say, but I promise it’s not fake modesty: this project has amazed me every step of the way—from initial concepting, to submissions, to editing, to the incredible response we’ve seen from readers and reviewers around the world. Apparently, I wildly underestimated Baba Yaga’s influence, and honestly, I’m so glad I did! Seeing readers respond to Baba Yaga’s wildness, her ambiguity, her heart, and even her wickedness is incredibly powerful. I love knowing that these stories are empowering readers to embrace those parts of themselves, and that they are finding solidarity and sisterhood in a world where women’s voices are systemically muted. I hope they continue to do so.
I love that sense of empowerment you mentioned. It's a thrill to see that come across in so many of the stories in the anthology. You have such a rich background of experience in the publishing world, from serving on the Board of Directors for the Independent Book Publishers Association to currently being involved with the Horror Writers Association Publishers Council, and of course, all your amazing work with Black Spot Books. What strides or improvements have you seen in publishing over the years? What are your hopes for the future of horror publishing, or what areas would you like to see further improved?
I’ve worked with everything from Big 4 houses to tiny micropresses over the span of my career, and I have to say: horror publishing has arrived! The past several years have seen an incredible democratization of independent publishing, from self-published authors to niche indie publishing houses, to traditional small presses focused exclusively on horror, and it is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Even Big Imprints are expanding their horror catalogs! There is so much passion in this community—from storytellers to editors to publishers to librarians to booksellers and, of course, readers—and we are beginning to see the fruits of all that love and labor. Horror is finally coming into its own as an inclusive, vibrant mainstay literary genre (not to diminish the very rich history of horror, but just walk into any bookstore and compare the horror shelves of today to yesteryear and you’ll see what I mean—or, better yet, visit one of many indie bookstores that are exclusively horror bookstores). There’s a long way to go, of course, to make sure our community continues to become more inclusive, diverse, and representative across the board, but I have to believe we are well on our way.
That's all encouraging to hear! I truly hope such vibrancy continues to welcome more readers and writers into the horror world. Other than writing, editing, and publishing (which is already a lot!), you also have experience working in academia, research, data science, film, and I suspect more. Do these different fields inspire story ideas for you? Do you find any of the areas bleeding into each other, or do you prefer to keep them more separate?
I like to think that creativity is in the blood, and as such it has a habit of flowing into every part of our lives (whether we like it or not). I started my career in data science and academia because I loved figuring out meaning in data and teaching others how to do the same—which, I think, is just another form of storytelling, considering that as “the world’s oldest profession,” storytelling is an innate part of the human experience; it’s how we’ve passed lessons and knowledge down throughout history, even before we had written language. As a visual analyst, there’s tremendous foundation for “seeing” stories as well—which intrinsically crosses over into film territory. Stories are all around us, inside of us, and it’s probably impossible for them not to bleed into each other at least every now and again. I tried to keep my academic and creative lives separate for a long time, but I think that’s behind me now, since I have a few irons in the fire that absolutely need both to thrive, and I’m so “detail-oriented” (read: frustratingly pedantic) that I have to research everything for my writing/editing anyway. I just embrace it at this point.
I love that answer. It's always interesting to me to read how others incorporate the different elements of their daily lives into the lifeblood of storytelling. I’ve had the absolute joy of having my work included in Under Her Skin and Into the Forest, and it’s honestly amazing to see the work you do on the business and promotional sides. I think both of those areas can be complex or difficult to navigate as a writer at times. Do you have any advice for writers who want to understand more about the business and marketing angles in the publishing world?
Yes, and it’s constantly changing, too! I think one of the most important things with any marketing is to know your audience, and to engage with them. I know that sounds rather obvious, but in practice it can be much harder to master, and there is certainly a crop of hungry trolls out there eager to ruin your day online. I also know that many writers (myself included) are introverted people who might prefer to live inside our stories instead of going out into public. So, I’m not saying one must live and breathe on social media or spend all their time in reader groups—an air of mystery never hurt anyone, and we all must maintain our mental health—but, like it or not, I also think we live in a very exposed time. Be present, be authentic, and be willing to be part of the community. I love interacting with readers and I love interacting with other writers even more (you’re all brilliant). I also suggest that all writers—regardless of publishing path—engage with relevant professional writing and publishing organizations (i.e., HWA, IBPA, etc.). These are a tremendous resource to support business and marketing discussions and angles, places of community and support, and a “live” environment to keep abreast of changes.
You’ve written and worked on projects across different genres, from sweet romance to all the gooey bits of horror. I love combining those two, but I’m curious if it’s challenging to shift mindsets when going from a romance project to a horror one? Do you have any techniques or methods to get you in the zone?
This is a question I get a lot and it always makes me laugh, because I am definitely a horror girl through and through (there was recently an anthology call that I really wanted to submit to that wanted horror stories inspired by favorite childhood films, and I couldn’t think of any childhood favorites that weren’t already horror—oops), but there are moments when I will unashamedly curl up in front of the Hallmark Channel, and I’ve had amazing experiences working on films like Aloha With Love and the upcoming fall seasonal, Craft Me a Romance. I always joke that life is balance, but really I think the sweet stuff is something of a palette cleanser for me. I constantly watch British Bake Off and other such shows, partly to satisfy my literal (well, sort of literal) sweet tooth, and partly to pull myself out of whatever dark cave I’ve wandered into to come up for air before I take another dive (and partly for Noel Fielding, obviously). Really, whether it’s romance or horror, both genres hinge on hope, and I think we all need that in our lives.
I’m so excited for your forthcoming novel, Bless Your Heart. The description in the marketplace deal report sounded incredible. Can you tell us anything else about the novel or how the ideas came to be?
Also, what other projects are you working on or do you have coming up that you can tell us about?
Bless Your Heart is such a special project, and I’m so excited to be working with St. Martin’s/Minotaur to bring it to readers! Set in fall 1999, Bless Your Heart is a monster thriller/horror mystery that follows a family of four generations of women who run a funeral parlor in Southeast Texas. It’s fiction, but it’s also wildly autobiographical—the dedication page is a long list of memorials for people in my life who inspired the characters and unfortunately aren’t here to read the book, from my grandmothers to one of my best friends from high school who took his life after coming out in a rabidly transphobic conservative culture. This book is dedicated as much to my love of horror and to horror readers everywhere as it is to those who’ve lost, who’ve been marginalized, and who’ve suffered just by virtue of being who they are.
In addition to working on a possible sequel to Bless Your Heart, I have a couple other novel projects in the works (and one novella that is giving me fits), and I’m currently ramping up two incredible new anthology projects that are super-secret right now, and that I can’t wait to talk more about soon!
Thank you so much for your time, Lindy! I really appreciate all of your insights and answers here. I encourage readers to check out Lindy’s incredible work, and keep an eye out for her upcoming projects!
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