Guest Post: I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan
I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan released earlier this month and today we are sharing a guest post from the author! I asked Tom about his motivation behind writing mysteries and thrillers and I just love his response to both how he solved the mystery in I Hope You’re Listening as well as his everyday life!
I Hope You're Listeningby Tom Ryan
Published by: AW Teen
on October 6, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller, GLBTQIA+
In her small town, seventeen year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago, she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.
At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way.When another little girl goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers, with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much is she willing to reveal about herself in order to uncover the truth? Dee’s about to find out what’s really at stake in unraveling the mystery of the little girls who vanished.
Dee, the protagonist of my new book, I HOPE YOU’RE LISTENING, lives in the shadow of an unsolved mystery. Ten years ago, when she was still just a kid, her best friend Sibby was kidnapped while the two of them were playing in the woods at the end of their street. Dee was the only witness to the abduction, and has always been haunted by the fact that she wasn’t able to help the authorities locate Sibby. To cope with the guilt, she starts a true crime podcast devoted to reuniting people with their missing loved ones.
When another girl goes missing in their old neighborhood, the new case draws Dee back into the question of what happened to Sibby. With the help of some old and new friends, and the sleuthing skills of her podcast fans, Dee is given a second chance to search for answers and hopefully get to the bottom of the mystery that’s defined her life.
I love mysteries and thrillers, and always have. When I was a kid, I inhaled every Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew title I could get my hands on. As I got older, I graduated to Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith and Stephen King, and I still love sinking into a great mystery more than any other kind of book. So I guess it was only natural that I found my way into writing them myself.
When I began writing I HOPE YOU’RE LISTENING, I had no idea what happened to Sibby. It was only during the process of following Dee’s investigation that things began to come into focus. It was an interesting and sometimes nerve-wracking experience, but not knowing the truth really helped me put myself in my MC’s shoes. Together, Dee and I had to figure out what had really happened to Sibby all those years ago, and honestly that process is what makes writing this kind of book so rewarding.
Because here’s the thing: I’ve spent my whole life looking for mysteries. The rural Nova Scotia countryside where I grew up was dotted with abandoned farms, and my brothers and I would explore them inside and out, searching for skeletons or duffle bags full of cash. In a rambling old apartment I shared with friends in my twenties, we discovered a false panel at the back of our pantry, and I convinced my roommates to help me pull stuff off shelves so we could carefully pry it away. Even today, I still find myself pulling dusty books off shelves in secondhand bookstores, skimming through them in the hopes that a mysterious letter or map will fall out and plunge me into an adventure.
But ultimately, these experiences have all led to mundane outcomes; the attics of the abandoned houses contained nothing more than bits of broken furniture and piles of rotted, moth-eaten clothing, the false panel was concealing a mass of ancient rattling pipes, and the most exciting thing I’ve ever found in a secondhand book is a black & white photograph of a dog in a wagon.
So I’m left with the mysteries I make up, and that’s okay. Because it’s a good thing that I’ve never had to deal with the mystery of a missing friend, or – as in my previous mystery KEEP THIS TO YOURSELF – the aftermath of a serial killer’s rampage. But writing about these scenarios gives me an entirely different kind of satisfaction – I get to experience the thrills and discoveries of a proper investigation from the comfort of my own laptop. I might never have the chance to solve a mystery in the real world, but every time I sit down at my desk and begin to write a new book, a fresh puzzle unfolds in front of me – and that might be even more satisfying.