A cold morning in November as I enter the transporter and set the controls to pick up this week’s featured author. When I ask her where shall we go to conduct the interview leans in close and whispers, “It’s a secret.” Then she hip check me out of the way. Before I can regain my balance and see what location she’s input, we’re there…somewhere.
I’ve explored the locale with meticulous precision and the best I can determine is it’s an island. Which would make sense because we’re surrounded by warm blue water. I barely see land on the horizon, so the lake is quite large. Other than that…I haven’t a clue.
That’s okay. Let her have her secret island. A boat is tied up at the dock. Up the beach is an A-frame house with a balcony and cold drinks waiting. Wonderful.
Come Ruth, just a hint as to where we are? What? Oh, sure, let’s start the interview.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I certainly would say I am not the most fascinating person in our village. I spend most of my time at the computer conjuring up characters so I have my own private entourage. My work is more interesting than I am.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I think it is my being a writer. Also the hard life I have lived but that hard life is the experience that allows me to get inside my characters’ heads and hearts.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as a movie producer?
I have been making up stories in my head since I was a child. I grew up on a farm in the 50s and reading material wasn’t always handy so I made up my own stories. When I was forty, I decided to write them down. I came to that decision after I read some poorly written books. I figured I could do better than that. At the age of forty-two, I went to college to study journalism. It has taken me a long time to get here but Fires of Revenge is my third book published. It is published on Amazon as is Lost Memories which is also available on Smashwords. No Plans for Love has been unpublished for the time being but I may bring it back.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
My favorites authors are no longer alive. I grew up on books by Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. Also pulp magazines, Ranch Romances. My grandfather had homesteaded in Wyoming. He had a complete set of Zane Grey and subscribed to Ranch Romances. I also love mysteries but enjoy reading almost any genres.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?
My books are always great company. Sometimes I would rather read than talk to people or watch television. My eyes are as good as they once were but I still read until they won’t focus anymore. When I was a kid I found a treasure trove when I went to junior high and had access to the library. I would borrow a book, read it that night and bring it back the next day.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
Sometimes my ideas come from nothing more than a word and a lot of “what ifing.” From there I build the plot and characters in my head. When I have it imagined, I give it a title and write a few paragraphs. I go back to it now and then while I working on a current book I want to finish next, just to keep the plot fresh in my mind. Once I get a chapter or two written the characters take over. When I run up against something I don’t know I look it up on the internet or in that old-fashioned thing called a reference book. Another asset is my memory. I do forget the little details but they can always recreated when I am writing. If a plot doesn’t materialize or I realize that my idea wasn’t as good as I originally thought, I simply hit the delete button. I have enough ideas to last me the rest of my life. I don’t know how long that will be. I am 70 years old and in fair health. But only God knows how long I’ll be here. One thing I can say, I shall be writing as long as I can sit up and talk.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Just write. Any excess can be removed in the editing process. The first draft is called a rough draft for a reason. Some important things your book should have is a plot that flows smoothly from one scene to the next. When you are changing scenes be sure to use a transition. Also you need to mind the grammar, spelling and punctuation. And please, for the sake of your readers, be sure your dialogue is properly attributed to the character speaking. As a reader I hate to have to go back and figure out who is speaking so I can make sense of the story.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
My T-shirt reads, “Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” I have several “guides” to live by. One is from the Bible. Don’t ask for chapter and verse because I never remember them. I’ll paraphrase it as best I can: As much as it is up to you, live peaceably with all people. Then there is “Live and let live.” “A soft answer turns away wrath,” and “Once you have passed through the refining fire, you will come out as pure gold,” also from the Bible. I save mad for special occasions. Anger takes too much energy. Try to improve yourself each day.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
As I already stated, I’ll quit when I can no longer use the computer. I’ll quit when they pry my mouse from my cold, dead fingers. Currently I am working on a western/romance, A Cowboy’s Love. I am also putting together an anthology of my poetry, Poetry from A to Z. Then there are all those other ideas and books written in notebooks over thepast thirty years.
I have a web site at newhopeinlove.wordpress.com. though I haven’t written much on it lately. I have spent a lot of time over the past few months going to medical appointments. I actually don’t have any appointments in September so I might actually get some writing done.
Excerpt from Fires of Revenge:
In the kitchen, one look out the window told him his truck was on fire. “That gas tank is full. It’ll blow sky high.” He ripped the fire extinguisher from its mount by the door to the basement and aimed it at the fire that spread across the kitchen floor. The arsonist had broken a pane from one of the French doors and poured gasoline onto the ceramic tiles.
Sam used the fire extinguisher to put out the fire and to break the glass and framework to one of the doors. “Get out of here,” he ordered. “Don’t stop until you are safely away. I’m right behind you.”
They were crossing the flagstone patio when the truck blew, sending a fireball fifty feet in the air. While the house blocked some of the blast it was not enough protection. The force of the explosion came through the kitchen and lifted both Sam and Amy from their feet. They landed in a bed of leaves as a hail of flaming debris fell around them.
Sam stumbled to his feet and lifted Amy to hers just as gunfire came from the corner of the yard near the alley. “The son-of-a-bitch was waiting for us! Go!”