You have 'OP 13' tattooed on your hands, what's the story behind this?
In 2011, I was rendered disabled with severe hand and arm injuries. The worst of which was my mangled right hand. My first novel Outlaw Principles is the accomplishment that lets the world know I can't be kept down. "OP" of course stands for "Outlaw Principles" and the "13" is my way of saying "One can turn darkness into light". I chose to have it tattooed onto my right hand as a way of reclaiming the most injured part of my body, much in the same way a flag was planted on the moon. It is the marking of a major milestone in my life.
What was your inspiration for writing Outlaw Principles?
I wrote Outlaw Principles to inspire the world with an epic comeback story. I came back from the dead and then suicidal depression. It was in my darkest and almost final hour that I realized that there are millions around the world in similar situations. I wanted to show them that anyone can do anything so long as they never give up.
Was this your way of overcoming your trauma?
In a way, yes, it very much was a way of over coming my trauma. I'm not one to accept defeat and I am very much about "go big or go home". Achieving my goal of becoming a published author and inspiring others wasn't just something I wanted to do, it was something I felt I had to do.
So, you decided to write fiction instead of a memoir. Why?
I wrote fiction because I wanted my readers to have a story they could get lost in. Perhaps in time I will write a memoir, but I first need to establish myself as an author with ongoing success.
Your main character is an outlaw biker. How did you create this character?
I did a great deal of research, for accuracy, in terms of behaviour and then I used my imagination to make someone as real life as could be. I'm very encouraged by the fact that so many of my readers actually believed it wasn't fictional until learning otherwise. My goal is to always maintain the integrity of authenticity.
Do you relate to this character, or is there any other character that resembles yourself?
I relate to him in the sense that we are both men who posses great conviction. I'm not an outlaw biker and he isn't a writer, so we can't relate to each other exactly. He is very pro or con organization where as I'm pro or con individual. Where he judges based upon affiliation, I judge based upon the character of an individual.
So, we talked about the tattoo. Please tell us a little bit more about your promotional process.
My promotional process is two-fold. I believe in promoting both the writer and their book and in doing so you double the list of prospective buyers. Some may purchase an author's book because they enjoy the plot. Others will purchase the book because they can relate to the person who wrote it.
During this process, you also became a Motivational Speaker and a Mental Health Spokesperson. Tell us about how that all came together.
I feel it is my duty and responsibility to pass on my good fortune. The message that, "a dark today doesn't mean that tomorrow, can't be bright" needed to be heard. I went about telling my story all over the media and as a result, I received tens of thousands of responses. This inspired me to take on those additional roles to extend my usefulness as a source of hope and inspiration. I want the world to know that success and happiness await when you refuse to give up... All you need is a "never give up" attitude.
What sort of assistance did you receive from FriesenPress in order to promote your book this way?
FriesenPress taught me how to connect with the media in a way that would render the desired results. Those sorts of tools are of enormous value and success is greatly limited without them.
What advice would you give to a first time author?
Never give up and always believe in yourself regardless of current results. The road to success with any goal isn't an easy one, but it can be done. I'd also like to add that thinking outside the box never hurts. Just because certain methods for writing or marketing haven't been used before, doesn't mean you shouldn't utilize them.
Please let our readers know how they can connect with you and the book?
I've always encouraged my readers to reach out to me on all of my social media links. I'm very much an extrovert and love engaging with all who wish to interact with me. They aren't just my readers, they are my employers and I never forget that. Visit my website: ryanwickham.konline.ca
Interviewed by: Lauren Obee & Rasanga Weerasinghe