Hey, everybody!! *waves enthusiastically* Some of you may know me. Others may not. I’m Chelle Olson, and I want to thank Jennifer for letting me take over the #CMCon20 Reading Challenge for the day to interview a very special lady: my bestie, Carrie Ann Ryan.

Carrie Ann Ryan (top) and Chelle Olson

Carrie Ann and I are not only best friends, I’m also her editor. And her conference wife. LOL. There aren’t many cons that we do separately, so chances are, if you see her, you might see me. Don’t forget to say hello! Speaking of conferences, I met Jennifer years ago at the very first Coastal Magic Convention before it was even Coastal Magic. Back then, it was the Olde City, New Blood con in St. Augustine, and I was one of Jennifer’s first—extremely happy and willing—featured blogger minions. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to help in the last few years, but that’s because the woman of the hour keeps me very busy…

For those of you who may not know, Carrie Ann Ryan is an incredibly prolific author. She has penned over seventy books in eight years (yes, you read that right, it’s not a typo—trust me, I’m an editor! *winks*) in several sub-genres of romance. She’s a several-times-over New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, and her Montgomery InkRedwood PackTalon Pack, Whiskey and Lies, and Gallagher Brothers series have sold well over 3.0 million books worldwide, not to mention the other series that she has either wrapped up or currently has in the works. She started writing while in graduate school for her advanced degree in chemistry and hasn’t stopped since. When she’s not writing about bearded, tattooed men, strong women finding themselves and those they love, or alpha wolves that need to find their mates, she’s reading as much as she can, walking miles a day while dodging killer groundhogs and attack geese and eagles, wrangling her adorable—and meddlesome—clowder of cats, and catching up on TV shows that make her smile.

Now, if that weren’t enough, she recently dove into a new pond: Young Adult Fantasy Romance. And I am thrilled to be here to talk about that today.

Carrie’s debut young adult novel, FROM BREATH AND RUIN, Elements of Five series book #1, was just released on March 19th and is already getting rave reviews. What is the series about you ask? Well, I’m glad you did!

One thousand years ago, there was one realm of magic. The Maison Realm. It held five kingdoms with five kings or queens, who worked together to keep the Maison people safe and ensure the balance of magic. Over the last five hundred years following the Fall, the great war that began the fracture, many of the kingdoms’ inhabitants intermated, and the magics soon became tied to one another in pairs. Except for the Spirit Wielders. The two remaining kingdoms are now converging, and the veil between the two is fading. Only the human realm lies between the two, and no one there knows there is a war surrounding them.

Over time, certain children of the Fall began to leave their respective kingdoms to venture into the human realm in search of the prophesied Spirit Priestess who is said to wield the Elements of Five and bring the two fractured kingdoms together. For the realms are dying without their sister magics. And soon, there will be no more power left to rule the kingdoms, for there will be no more kingdoms left to rule.

FROM BREATH AND RUIN, follows Lyric, a woman who must make a choice in the midst of the chaos that has become her life.

Lyric has no idea that there’s a realm outside the human one she lives in. When fate and circumstances are pulled from her hands after an accident, she finds out that nothing is as it seems.

War is raging around her, and when Lyric realizes that they are searching for her, she must rely on those she once trusted as she trains: a boy who isn’t who she thought, and a new realm of warriors who have come to protect her.

For the darkness is coming, and the Queen of Obscurité wants to ensure that the King of Lumière can’t get his hands on Lyric. And the only way to ensure that is if Lyric herself is no more…no matter the cost to prophecy.

Sounds good, right? It is! Trust me (I happen to know). 😉 But now that I’ve told you a little bit about the book, let’s learn some more about Carrie Ann, FROM BREATH AND RUIN, and the Elements of Five series…

Chelle: Hey, chica. Don’t you feel powerful right now!? I’m not sure what Jennifer was thinking when she let us have free rein. *evil maniacal laughter*

Carrie Ann: Honestly, I’m a little worried about what you might have come up with! Haha. You sounded far too much like Ursula from The Little Mermaid when you told me what you were planning!

Chelle: Okay, the masses know the basics, and I gushed a little above, but give us two things that they may not know about you—although I probably know. However, if you don’t share the few I’m thinking of, I promise not to. Pinky swear. 😉

Carrie Ann: Um…I never know how to answer these questions! Haha. Let’s see…I STILL try to read a book a day, but I’ve slowed to only five a week since I’ve added audio books to my library. (I’m blaming you for this BTW.)

I’m also addicted to GBBO (Great British Bake Off) and have watched the show around 10 times LOL. My late husband and I even did a #rombakeoff where we tried out some of the bakes with romance authors and readers and had a blast. So much baking!

Chelle: I’m sure the readers would love to know how FROM BREATH AND RUIN and the Elements of Five series came to be. Tell us about your long-time dream of writing a YA and where that came from; up to, including, and through our four-hour phone conversation where everything got its first breath of life—pun intended. 

Carrie Ann: I’ve wanted to write YA romance for about ten years. It was the first genre I’d read and LOVED it. I was a total Twi-hard (#TeamJasper) and wanted to see if I could write it. But by the time I thought I could actually be an author, the first character that came to time and WANTED to be written was a wolf who went on a blind date and found his mate (An Alpha’s Path.) I ended up writing around 30 Paranormal romances and then another 40 or so contemporary romances before I wrote my first YA Fantasy romance! It’s so good to be able to do something I’ve always had in the back of my mind.

As for Lyric and The Elements of Five…

For over a year now, I knew I’ve wanted to write her story. I think you and I were talking about this world a few years ago in passing, but I kept pushing it away going “no, that would be crazy. I don’t have time.”

But I learned the hard way that time passes far too quickly and if I didn’t take the chance, I’d lose out on so much.

I was on the phone with you in my car after I finished grocery shopping and I was just sitting there going “I have this idea” and you were all “DO IIIITTT”.

But we were thinking I’d write it in a couple of years…you know, when I’m not writing 10 books a year already.

Then I called you back with “What if this girl has to control the elements?”

And you asked another question.

And I answered.

And you asked another question.

And I answered.

And I came up with the Maison realm. A realm that is set on top of our own but is fractured and needs someone to save it. I wanted her to be like me at 18. Pretty normal, unsure about her next phase in life. Dealing with an ex-girlfriend and thinking about the cute boy across the street. (Lyric is SO me except for the whole magic powers thing which I think is a ripoff since I TOTALLY want magic LOL).

You and I talked for four hours or so coming up with this realm where I kept saying “But this is for later. Way later.”

And then I wrote the first chapter.

And then the next.

And somehow here we are! Haha

Chelle: These stories really spoke to me, and I have absolutely loved the characters’ journey so far. What have you taken away from finishing book #1 and writing book #2? Like all of your books, I’m sure you put some of yourself into the characters, but what’s really stood out to you while bringing these to life? The characters, the world, the action and adventure, the romance, the surprises?

Carrie Ann: I have LOVED building this world. The different territories, kingdoms, rules, Wielding, powers, and characters just keep building as the pages went on and I found myself digging deeper. As you know, I finished writing book two and am taking a break before I start the third book, but SO much happens in these four hundred pages or so in each book!

I’ve loved being able to break away from some of the rules I’d put on myself for my Pack books and the rules you have in the real world of contemporary and just keep imagining. Writing these books soothed my soul so I could have even MORE fun with my other books.

I truly think all of the books I’ve written over the past year that I’ve been building the Elements of Five world are my best books because I was doing them at the same time and could be FREE.

Chelle: Every author’s process is different, and I happen to know that yours is very interesting. Can you share with the readers a little bit about a day in the life of Carrie Ann Ryan, particularly while writing FROM BREATH AND RUIN? I know you have some fun stories.

Carrie Ann: LOL You know most of them, but we can’t tell everyone! Ha! So I’ve been dictating, as you know, because writing 70+ books in 8 years is not good on your body. I’ve been dictating for the past seven months or so and tend to pace in my kitchen or on walks while I do so.

Meaning my arms are free to move around as I talk. And they tend to do that often! So all of the moves Lyric performs while Wielding her elements? I TOTALLY do them in my kitchen with the windows open…looking like a lunatic!

I also have to cut out the parts where I yell at my cats for jumping on things they shouldn’t. My little polydactyl tuxedo kitten, Sundae, is at the age where she’s a menace and NEEDS to be with me while I work. Meaning I have to cut things like “No, Sundae! Off Sundae! What did I just say, Sundae!” out of my books!

Chelle: If you were transported to the Maison realm and became part of the Elements of Five world, where do you think you’d end up and why?

Carrie Ann: Knowing me? I’d end up being a lost hermit in the Spirit Realm, hiding from the rest of the world so I could read haha. But honestly, I think I’d love to live in the border between the Fire and Earth territories! Imagine the Red Rocks and Garden of the Gods in Colorado. THAT is the border lands between the two!

Chelle: FROM FLAME AND ASH, book #2, is set to release on November 19th, and the growth of the characters and the evolution of the world already has amazed me. I cannot wait for everybody to meet the characters in FROM BREATH AND RUIN and see them grow and change and fight as the series progresses. Was there something that surprised you while writing book #2? I know you can’t give us specifics, but writing is such an organic process, there has to be a story you can share in generalities.

Carrie Ann: I’m keeping all of my secrets! But there are new characters who will change EVERYTHING in FROM FLAME AND ASH. Totally surprised me even though I plotted it. And FROM BREATH AND RUIN did the exact same thing!

Chelle: Okay, if you could spend the day with a character or two from FROM BREATH AND RUIN, who would it be, and what would you want to do and why?

Carrie Ann: *dreamy sighs* Probably Rosamond. She’s so weird and airy and sweet and could tell me my future LOL.

Chelle: If any of the characters from Elements of Five could be cast in a cult fandom TV series, what do you think they’d star in and why? Or would they become some hybrid show spin-off?

Carrie Ann: Ack. This is a hard question! So Braelynn is totally a voice for the ponies on My Little Pony. She’s legit Shutterfly haha. The others would probably end up on Supernatural, annoying Sam while hanging out with Dean and making sure Cas FINALLY ends up with Dean. They’re matchmakers at heart haha. (Also, I’m laughing at the idea of Rhodes and Easton trying to solve mysteries while Dean eats pie and Sam is all THIS IS NOT HOW IT IS DONE and Lyric just steps in and figures it out for them. LOL)

Chelle: They say that your favorite children’s books say a lot about you. Mine was THE VELVETEEN RABBIT, though I have no idea what that says about me. Haha. What was your favorite childhood book, and what would you tell a young Lyric to read and why?

Carrie Ann: So childhood books? There was one book about a girl and a pony that came with a necklace that I read over and over again. I loved that book…and went straight to Baby Sitter’s Club haha. Lyric should probably read The Giving Tree though I hate that book, but the reason I hate it is why Lyric needs to read it. 

Chelle: Okay, I know how much music plays a part in your inspiration and in your writing. If you could put together a quick five-song playlist for FROM BREATH AND RUIN what would the songs be?

Carrie Ann: Hmmmm

To Build a Home (ft Patrick Wilson) by The Cinematic Orchestra

Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson

Broken Halos by Chris Stapleton

Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken by P!nk

Torn by Natalie Imbruglia

Chelle: Well, I could seriously talk to you all day about this and everything else, but I’ll just have to settle for calling you later since I was given a ten-question limit. I know that people are absolutely going to love FROM BREATH AND RUIN and the Elements of Five series! I want to thank Jennifer for letting me hijack some space to talk to you today. And thank you for letting me play interviewer, even though you talk to me literally every day. What do you want to leave our readers with today?

Carrie Ann:  Thank you so much! And I’m tired now haha. I’ll call you soon. And dear readers, THANK YOU for going with me on so many journeys and I truly hope you take a chance on me and From Breath and Ruin. This book is EVERYTHING to me. And I cannot wait to show you this world.

Be sure to keep up with Carrie Ann online on her website, Facebook, in her reader’s group, on Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads, or connect with her in other ways.

And look for FROM BREATH AND RUIN, Elements of Five book #1 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Audible, and other retailers of your format choice.

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