Book Spotlight and Author Interview: Tractor

  • How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing in one form or another all my life. Whether it was Star Wars movies as a kid or radio commercials in college, I’ve always done creative writing.

  • What is your favorite genre to write?

I’m a big sucker for coming of age stories. Especially loose down to earth ones like John Hughes would write. Elements of romance and comedy – I suppose that’s just what I relate to. I also love sketch comedy so I do a lot of skit writing as well.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

I also write screenplays which has given me quite the opportunity to explore. I’ve done sci-fi, comedy, horror, western… you name it. I don’t think I’ve done an outright drama though which I feel would be tough. One day perhaps! It seems challenging and would require a lot of emotion to write.

  • Please tell us about your book.

My book is a coming of age story following a teenager growing up in a 1960’s Oklahoma town. He wants to buy a truck so he gets a spur the moment job driving a tractor for an old farmer across the southern USA. Along that journey he finds confidence, love, conflict, and adventure!! Very stylish – celebrating thoughts and feelings and looks of the era!

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

I think the old farmer Hank, who really only makes a small appearance was best because he just had to be that charismatic and interesting. A lot of what I knew went into him – people I’d met or a general stereotype of old Farmers that seemingly are proven to be true. He says anything that comes to his mind with is fun to write. The least favorite might have to be the main character John – because in many ways he is me. Same thoughts, feelings, worries, struggles. I had to dig deep to put that on the page. So I hope people resonate with or accept him otherwise that’s gonna say a lot about me.


  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

I think sitting down and just writing takes a lot of time and energy but going back and combing through mistakes and trimming the fat really take a lot of will power and a skillful eye. Then of course there is the whole challenge of getting a publisher! There’s so much luck and time that goes into a project like this, that’s for sure!

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

Write whenever I can. If I have free time, then I write! And I try to get pages done each day. I prefer the morning and early afternoon. I absolutely hate writing at night. I’ll never do it past 8 otherwise my mind races and I can never sleep. I am the opposite of all the stereotypes!

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

I officially started in August of 2015 and wrapped up in January of 2016. Then I edited and sent the thing out until May, looking for a publisher. Then it went through the final stages all summer and came out in September. So all in all one year which is not that bad at all. I had thought about the idea for probably a full year previously though.

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

Get others to do it! I seriously gloss over all the mistakes, it’s terrible. Fresh eyes make all the difference. But I like reading over material just written, then read it with everything else written, then leave it for a few days and repeat the process. After it’s all said and done, all your time is spent fleshing things out and finding little through lines, correcting mistakes. Very time consuming.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

Oh no, there will only be one. I don’t think I’m much of a series person – I don’t read very many to begin with. It was always a one off story that might get a little ruined if it were continued. Plus I got so many fresh ideas I want to move on and tackle them.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write as much as you can in different forms and genres. There are plays and books and short stories and articles and screenplays and radio copy. Don’t pigeon hole yourself – get as much experience as you can, finding out what you like, and developing skills in multiple areas. That way you become a well rounded writer with options!

  • Why should everyone read your book?

It’s fresh and fun – a coming of age story uniquely for country kids. If you grew up in a small town, I think I captured that world and the feelings you have in high school pretty well. I always captured an era I love and think others will enjoy spending time in. I’ve heard from readers they never guessed what was coming in each chapter so I feel that’s a well earned compliment. It’s unique and hopefully thought provoking.

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

Oh boy… JD Salinger because he is just so legendary and certainly captured coming of age like no one else. F. Scott Fitzgerald because the Great Gatsby is a work of art. And Larry McMurtry because his books and world very much inspired Tractor.

  • What inspired you to write your book?

Growing up in a small town and having a fascination with the 1950’s. I felt this was a story that had to be set there and explore the era. I just love describing and reading about that time period. The book was an excuse to explore it further. Movies like Hud and the Last Picture Show inspired the look and feel. My own thoughts inspired the themes.

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

Many things! I’m currently working on a sketch comedy TV pilot and a sci-fi script for a production company. Lots of things are happening film and TV wise. I’m four chapters into my second novel which hopefully I’ll have a handle on next year. Until then, check out Tractor and my nonfiction film history book 101 Most Influential Coming of Age Movies.

About the Book

tractor-finalSet in Oklahoma in 1961, a small town teen named John gets a spur of the moment job driving an old tractor across Arkansas to Oklahoma for a crotchety old farmer. John is about to enter his senior year of high school and has doubts about his future and the kind of man he wants to be. Unbeknownst to him, this trip will be just what he needs to figure all that out. 

We follow John as he picks up the tractor in Arkansas, then makes his way across hot, crowded Southern highways, on which he experiences breakdowns, fights, mishaps, and even love. It is no easy task to complete this job, but the pitfalls and chance meetings along the way might just take him where he’s destined to go. 

John’s belief in God beats down on him like the hot sun, while the fantasies of a mysterious girl he meets along the way flash through his mind. John is lost both literally and figuratively, but the people he meets along the winding roads give him more direction than he ever thought possible. John just wanted to earn some money to buy his first truck. Instead, he discovered the meaning of life.

For young adult readers who have an affinity for farm life—and grand adventures. 

About the Author

ryan-uytdewilligen-photoRyan Uytdewilligen was born in Lethbridge Alberta and raised on a farm just north of the city. It was there that his family and surroundings would give him countless stories and inspiration for novels and screenplays. He grew up participating in 4-H as any good country kid should and graduated from Kate Andrews High School with aspirations to write and perform.

He studied Broadcast Journalism at Lethbridge College which led to several years as a reporter, freelance writer and blogger, On Air Traffic News Anchor, Media relations for the Vancouver International Film Festival, and a copywriter for various radio stations. He made the move to Vancouver in 2014 to pursue creative writing, studying film and television at Vancouver Film School.

Ryan sold his first screenplay in 2015 to Look to the Sky Productions. The script is currently in development and led the company to hire Ryan to write two separate scripts for development. In 2016, Ryan published two books – the first a nonfiction film history called 101 Most Influential Coming of Age Movies through Algora publishing. His second book and first fiction work was released in mid September, a young adult novel called Tractor through Sartoris Literary.

Ryan continues to write screenplays, novels, and nonfiction works. He has written and produced two short films, Tea Time (2014) and Even the Devil Swiped Right (2015), written sketch comedy for the Vancouver stage and television show Unfiltered, and has given creative writing lectures at Oklahoma State University, Vancouver Film School, and other media outlets. He hopes to have his second fiction novel released next year and get one of his features into production.

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