Hello, everyone, and welcome to another installment of “Meet the Editors.” This week we feature Ryan Arciero, the Poetry Editor and Assistant Nonfiction Editor for the Jet Fuel Review. Ryan Arciero is a passionate reader, writer, and lover of all things fantasy. Ryan is an English Literature major at Lewis University with a dream of becoming a college professor someday. He is the author of two novels in the Babel series, and has been published in Lewis University’s Windows magazine and Sigma Tau Delta journals.
Who are you and what is your role in Jet Fuel Review?
Hi, my name is Ryan Arciero, and I am a Poetry Editor and Assistant Nonfiction Editor for the Jet Fuel Review.
What book might we find on your nightstand right now?
You will find many books on my nightstand, but the one I am most currently (re)reading is Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. As the sequel to The Hunger Games, which I thoroughly enjoyed, Catching Fire will soon be made into a movie adaptation that I am looking forward to viewing, and perusing through a book helps me appreciate any nuances the film might offer. What’s more, Katniss Everdeen is such a cool female protagonist in both the pages and on the silver screen that I cannot help but be enthralled reading (or seeing) more of her, so I hope to get the sequel finished before the big premiere night!
If you had the chance to co-write with one author, who would you choose? Why?
There are many, but I would have to say that I would love to write even a single a paragraph with J.R.R. Tolkien. As the author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, my favorite book series of all time, I would like nothing more than to hear his perspective on writing, his inspiration in creating characters, and the brilliance of his mind to develop such a fantastical yet realistic world like Middle-earth. When reading Tolkien’s work, I truly get lost in the pages. As an author myself and one who hopes to improve his writing, I feel that there is much Tolkien could teach me. I would also think it would be incredible to hear about any ideas he was thinking about writing prior to his passing, and work with him to help bring those fledgling ideas to life.
Describe your perfect reading atmosphere.
My perfect reading atmosphere is where I did almost all of my reading as a child — in my bed right at home. One of my favorite times in the day was when everyone else in the house was asleep and I could turn on the big light attached to my bed stand, prop open a good book, and start reading. I’d have to say that the atmosphere itself would probably be quiet, cool, and dark (with enough light for reading on the pages, of course), and imagining nothing else but me and the book in hand. The warm covers that acted as a nice resting place for the book didn’t hurt, either. The only problem with my ideal reading atmosphere as I got older was the realization that I could literally spend all night reading, and when the sun’s light began peeking through the window panes, I knew it was time for a very tired and late (or is it early?) start to the day.
What might your personal library look like?
I actually have a small personal library at home, and as you might think, it includes a wide array of science fiction and fantasy novels, which were my favorite books as a young boy. In my “library,” you will find everything from C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. However, I had a few other books that had a special place in my home and in my heart as well. I had a copy of every Shel Silverstein poem you could imagine, and no matter how many times I read them, it felt like every time I turned to a new page the poem was something different. Since I’ve gotten older, my library has expanded a bit to cover some Shakespeare and more modern texts as well, from Angels and Demons to The Great Gatsby, so I’m glad I can be a bit more diverse in my love of literature.
If you could “re-make” a poorly written movie that was based on a book, what movie would it be?
Without doubt, I would have to say Eragon by Christopher Paolini. While I loved the first novel in his series about a young boy who meets a dragon and must save the world, I was literally appalled at the film. Poor casting choices (not necessarily in the actors or actresses themselves, as I felt Ed Speleers and Jeremy Irons were solid), but for the particular roles that were chosen, they were simply terrible. Arya the elf is described as raven-haired in the book, but given red hair. Saphira the dragon magically grows up while flying, and her relationship with Eragon is never nurtured or explored like in the book. Perhaps worst of all is King Galbatorix, who honestly demonstrates the acting interest of a stone wall in the film. Plot points were changed unnecessarily, and while the visuals and special effects were strong, so many opportunities were lost that the potential for a sequel was all but burned in dragon fire. I wish that fire could burn away my memory of this adaptation.
What piece of literature can you read over and over again?
Oh, without a doubt, I would say The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. As perhaps my favorite piece of literature of all time, the moment I begin reading the line, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” I fall in love with Bilbo’s story with the dwarves and Gandalf the wizard once again. I feel that Bilbo’s coming-of-age tale and inner findings of courage and friendship transcend time, and make the text a literary masterpiece that can be enjoyed at all ages. I am particularly excited about the second part of the movie trilogy coming out this winter, and look forward to the adaptation! Bilbo has been my friend on many of my imagination’s own adventures, and I am sure he will remain a hardy companion in the years to come.
Give us a quote from your favorite (or any) book/movie.
Well, as the writer of The Skyscraper of Babel and Babel’s Bastion, two YA science fiction books that I crafted in high school and published in college, I would have to choose one of my favorite quotes from my series. It was said by my main character, Aidan Shields, to two of his young friends who had lost hope in the face of great loss.
“A promise is something you make with your heart, not your mouth. It has cracks running along it now, but … we’re going to mend it again.”
If you were invited to have coffee with any fictional character, who would you most like to meet? Why?
I am utterly torn between Gandalf the Grey from Lord of the Rings and Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. I feel that Gandalf would have such wisdom to tell me, so it would be difficult to turn that down. But I have always found Jay Gatsby from Fitzgerald’s iconic American novel to be such an inspiring figure who never gave up on hope and love, and I would like to see how that reflects within him in person.
Share your top five favorite pieces of writing (anything included).
I would have to say, in no particular order:
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
There you have it! I hope you enjoyed getting to know Ryan! We should have another one of these posts for you soon. In the meantime, you can check out our previous question-and-answer sessions right here.
– Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan