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December 15, 2023

With three books under her belt—and one, Forgetting Me, receiving an Editor’s Pick—Tirado-Ryen has proven she’s an author readers can trust to deliver an “enthralling,” “sweet,” and “well-told” story. With two more books releasing next year, we spoke with Tirado-Ryen about the thematic connection between her books and why she thinks authors should narrate their own audiobooks.

Your books tend to feature coming-of-age stories. Why does this type of story interest you?

Coming-of-age novels have a timeless appeal. They explore the journey from innocence to experience and speak to the universal desire to triumph over adversity. I strive to write novels with relatable characters that have the power to inspire, encourage empathy, and foster hope. Raised in a Puerto Rican family, I also try to touch on the minority experience. Ultimately, I love an underdog with grit. They’re the characters I root for the most!

Has your writing process changed over the course of three books?

I wrote my first book on a Compaq Presario when I was 11 years old. In college, I wrote on a PalmPilot with a detachable keyboard. Now I work on an iPad that fits in my purse. The technology has changed, but what hasn’t is finding consistent, quiet writing time—often a Herculean task while raising three rambunctious boys. From the NICU to jujitsu, I carve out the space to work. Writing anything worthwhile takes time—and you have to find it yourself. Still, I never lack for inspiration. After two traumatic childbirths—my second son was a micro-preemie born at 27 weeks, and I barely survived delivering my third—I channeled my pain into prose. I’ve since heard from many readers touched by my experience.

If the main characters of your books met, how would they react to one another?

I think college-bound Connie Baltimore, down-on-her-luck Kim Kincaid, and amnesia-stricken Anne Strafford would all commiserate about their fraught family dynamics! All three are romantics at heart who struggle to navigate their interpersonal relationships. I imagine them sharing hearty laughter and a few tears over chilled espresso martinis—and, of course, lots of chocolate.

Why did you decide to make audiobooks for your novels, and what was the process like?

I’ve loved audiobooks since finding Michael Crichton’s Timeline on cassette tape. My favorites are those read by their authors, who inherently connect with the nuances of their characters. Narrating my own audiobooks gives me creative control over my novels’ interpretations, as well as adds an authentic touch to the storytelling.

As for the process, it’s not for the faint of heart. I took courses on narration and sound editing, set up a recording studio in my home office, and worked only when my children attended school. My sons say they cannot imagine anyone else reading my words. That’s been an unexpected gift: my children will not always have me, but they will always have my voice.

What can readers expect from you next?

I have two books releasing next year. All Hands Together follows three best friends during their final year of college. These self-proclaimed three musketeers have weathered everything: family drama, cheating boyfriends, and awful professors. An unexpected crisis threatens to shatter their alliance.

Next comes The Traitor’s Prophecy, the first book in an epic fantasy series set on a medieval continent. A powerful mage, a tyrannical king, and a sorcerer’s apprentice collide in a breathtaking race to thwart a world-ending prophecy. I wrote the first chapters of the latter juggernaut when I was 15 but shelved the project during college and graduate school. During the pandemic, my oldest son asked me to write a book with dragons, wizards, knights, and kings. I pulled out those dusty pages and set to work on a story that’s lived in my heart for more than 20 years. It’s a genre switch, but I’m excited! I’ve applied my experience writing romantic, coming-of-age novels to an intricate fantasy world rife with fantastical creatures and high-stakes escapades. My sons are thrilled. Truly, I cannot imagine a better audience.