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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Author Interview: Ruthanne Reid

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 87th in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the once piano-playing, now eyebrow-arching, Ruthanne Reid, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Ruthanne:  Rituals? Naw; I lack any salt-tossing or tea-leaf-reading behaviors, though I should say I have definite “preferences.” I prefer coffee-shops, or airports, or churches, or just about anywhere with people moving around and doing things and talking a lot (which I heard recently makes me a “kinetic creative,” but that’s neither here nor there). I love having coffee at my side when I write. I love sitting down after I’ve completed some kind of physical task, like doing the dishes or vacuuming the whole house or exercising. It’s just easier to focus after I’ve gotten The Big Task (whatever THAT is) out of the way.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Ruthanne:  I confess it: I LOVE urban fantasy. That seamless integration of modern-world with ancient-magic tickles my fancy something fierce, and that genre usually presents fairly colorful characters. In no particular order, I love Patrick Rothfuss and Neil Gaiman and Sarah Rees Brennan and Ilona Andrews and Faith Hunter and Max Brooks.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Ruthanne:  One vast world, one enormous story, covering centuries and taking place from various characters’ viewpoints. It probably won’t be obvious for some time, but when the books I have planned are all finished, they’ll reveal a tapestry of stories interwoven into one grand epic.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why? 
Ruthanne:  I do… and it’s frustrating because nobody has met him yet. Alex is an incredible hero, a brave and burdened young man with die-hard determination and a soft heart – a trait that costs him dearly. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so for now, I’ll say this: everybody has burdens. Whether or not we carry a monkey on our back isn’t what makes us great. It’s HOW we carry it that really matters.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Ruthanne:  I have to carve it out of other activities. Here’s the thing: free time does not fall out of the sky, at least not in my life. Taking the time to create is a choice, and like every choice, there will be a price. Sometimes that means sacrificing entertainment time. Sometimes it means working late into the night, or getting up early in the morning.

The crucial thing to know is that the act of creation is WORTH IT. Fully, completely, totally worth it. It fulfills you as a human being, satisfies some deep, inner desire to mirror our original Creator, and helps to convince you that yes, you CAN do whatever you put your mind to do – even if it takes years to accomplish.

Amusingly, my husband can tell when I haven’t been writing. Evidently, when I can’t carve out that writing-time, I get positively twitchy.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Ruthanne:  Now, why would I tell you that? Actually, truthfully, there is something, and it is this: editing is a PITA [Paul: Pain in the…].

My lesson came the hard way. In my situation, I could not afford a professional editor (I still can’t), and so I had to rely on my eyes and the eyes of friends and family to find typos.

We found 90% of them – but that’s all. You’ll never be able to catch 100% on your own, and consistently, the only negative thing my readers have to say is that the remaining errors trip them up. To be fair, I’ve seen typos in NYT best-selling books, so I know I’m in good company. It still drives me a little crazy.

My plan is to have a “real” editor go over this manuscript before the second edition comes out. Of course, this is like telling you there are cracks in my building’s foundation. Darn you for asking that question! ;)

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Ruthanne:  Simple: I consistently received personalized rejections from agents saying they loved the story, but couldn’t publish it because it was too “unique,” too outside the accepted formula for publication. The last rejection said outright that the book was great, but he (the agent) could not sell it, because publishers were afraid to take risks on anything different. I finally decided to just do it myself.

I haven’t regretted that for even one moment.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Ruthanne:  I try to plot, I really do. The writing never follows the plot, though, and what usually ends up happening is I write and write and delete and delete and obsess over my story until I dream about the thing, and the dream shows me the next scene to write. So is that subconscious plotting? I have no idea. I’m just grateful it happens.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Ruthanne:  I edit like MAD. I don’t think anyone is ever truly finished editing. J There simply comes a point when you have to stop, or you’ll never create anything else. (Yes, even if you are still rife with typos.)

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Yes. And then I end up not using it specifically. It becomes part of the flavor of the story, of the characters’ backgrounds and understanding, rather than specific details in the book.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Ruthanne:  You don't go in the water. You don't touch it. If you do, it will get you, drag you down, and you're gone.

In the only world Harry has ever known, black water covers everything. Huddled in crowded island cities, human beings survive only because of the Sundered Ones: strange aliens with mind-bending powers, but very little will of their own. Everybody knows enslaving the Sundered is the only way to survive. Everybody knows claiming them also kills them, and slowly but surely, they're going extinct.

Harry has heard about the Hope of Humanity all his life - a legendary fix for this broken, drowning world - but when he claims a powerful, frighteningly intelligent Sundered named Aakesh, everything he knows about the Hope and The Sundered is shattered. Unless the Hope can truly change the world, a choice of genocides waits before him: either humanity will survive, or humanity's broken, Sundered slaves. There is no longer room for both.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Ruthanne:  A dream, believe it or not. I saw the whole story from beginning to end, and then it was just a matter of writing it out.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?

Ruthanne:  Mostly, I read. About a thousand years ago, I had literal hours of classical piano music memorized. (I’d be lucky if I could plink out chopsticks now, but anyway.) I read a lot, did I mention? I also cook a mean pancake. Oh, and I read. A lot. As for party-tricks, I am limited to the silly skill of being able to arch my eyebrows independently of one another. As across-the-table entertainment goes, it works.

Paul:  That was excellent, Ruthanne. I wish you every success for the future.

About Ruthanne Reid: Ruthanne has lived on both US coasts, owns dust-covered degrees in music and religion, and has a thing for popcorn.

Her first novel was all about characters from her favorite books, so no one will ever see it. (The dot-matrix printer made it into an impressive pile of paper, though.) Ruthanne’s love of Middle Earth, Narnia, and deep space birthed a strange world populated by elves, vampires, and aliens, and she donated many reams of paper (graciously provided by her parents) to this universe.

Then came years of pursuing a “responsible” career, and very little writing, which led to madness and a determination never to do that again.

Ruthanne lives in Seattle, and shares writing space with a husband, housemate, and a two cats, respectively. She can often be found at Grumpy D’s coffeehouse, or Mars Hill Church. The Sundered is her first novel.

Ruthanne's Blog: Ruthanne Reid
Ruthanne on Twitter: @ruthannereid
Ruthanne on Facebook: Ruthanne Reid
Ruthanne's latest book: The Sundered (Amazon)

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