Thursday, July 12, 2012

Interview with debut novelist Ruthanne Reid

Today's guest is debut novelist Ruthanne Reid. She's doing a virtual book tour for her novel The Sundered.

Ruthanne will be awarding a $5 Amazon gift card to one random commenter at every stop and a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour. So, please leave an e-mail address with your comment if you'd like to be entered in the drawings. You can also follow Ruthanne's tour and comment at other stops to increase your odds of winning.

Ruthanne Reid was raised in the woods, but fortunately her isolation was offset by regular visits to New York City. She pursued music for years before realizing she wanted to tell stories rather than sing them.

Ruthanne has lived on both US coasts (she prefers the West one), is distantly related to royalty, and has sung in a thousand-year-old cathedral. Her favorite authors tend to be dramatic (J. R. R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss), but she doesn't see this as a bad thing.

Writing in and around Seattle, she owns dust-covered degrees in music and religion, and is generally considered dangerous around household electronics. She belongs to a husband, a housemate, and a cat, respectively.

Welcome, Ruthanne. Please tell us about your current release.
Harry Iskinder knows the rules. Don't touch the water, or it will pull you under. Conserve food, because there’s no arable land. Use Sundered slaves gently, or they die too quickly to be worthwhile.

With extinction on the horizon and a world lost to deadly flood, Harry searches for a cure: the Hope of Humanity, the mysterious artifact that gave humans control over the Sundered centuries ago. According to legend, the Hope can fix the planet.

But the Hope holds more secrets than Harry knows. Powerful Sundered Ones willingly bow to him just to get near it. Ambitious enemies pursue him, sure that the Hope is a weapon. Friends turn their backs, afraid Harry will choose wrong.

And Harry has a choice to make. The time for sharing the Earth is done. Either the Sundered survive and humanity ends, or humanity lives for a while, but the Sundered are wiped out.

He never wanted this choice. He still has to make it. In his broken, flooded world, Hope comes with a price.

Parnum puts his hand on my shoulder. "We'll be at Shangri-la in a couple of weeks. By that time, we'll have a plan."

A couple of weeks of this? Of having to think about things because there's nothing else to do? Screw that idea, doctor. "Yeah."

Parnum pats my shoulder and stands, heading off to talk to the captain, who smiles when he sees him coming. Everybody likes Parnum.

I look at Aakesh.

His hair moves a little in the breeze. "It will be done."

He knows what I want. We're speeding up. "Thank you."

Demos walks by, slowly. His arm's in a cast — he must've broken it somehow last night. I don't know if he overheard us or not.

I don't know if it matters.

I can't do this alone.

I try to picture paddling alone in the north of the world, no one to share with, no one to hear. Alone.

It's a nightmare.

Aakesh looks at me side-long, his irises no longer glowing, and it's my turn to know his unspoken request: freedom.

I can't, Aakesh. I can't.

I don't even know when I decided he can hear my thoughts. I just know he can. Why not? It's no crazier than anything else that's happened.

I can't, Aakesh.

He nods and turns his face away.

I guess that conversation's over.

What inspired you to write this book?
Believe it or not, a dream. I often dream vividly, but usually in chunks, with glimpses of stories and characters disconnected to anything solid. This one night, however, the whole of The Sundered came to me in one fell swoop.

I woke up too excited to keep quiet about it, which was good – talking about it ensured the details didn't fade. That evening, I settled down to write, and 8,000 words poured out of me.

I'm a few-hundred-words-a-day kind of girl, so this was surprising.

Knowing exactly where the story was going had plusses and drawbacks. The initial draft grew more quickly than anything I've ever created, including one memorable 15,000-word day, but the editing process… yikes! At least I can say that having to figure out what didn't work by ripping it to pieces and sewing it back together has made me a better writer.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm working on an epic fantasy simply titled Notte, which follows the 15,000-year history of the man who was the world's first biological weapon. It's tons of fun, though a lot of work. I'm trying to keep the historical details real while playing heavily with cryptoarcheological factoids. Notte's world is our world with spice: complex, fascinating, and filled with nifty, as-yet-unexplained mysteries.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
For nearly six years now, and I have my husband to thank.

I've always created stories (evidently, the boys down the street were afraid to come play with me because I'd force them to act out my latest ideas), but I didn't write anything down until I was eight. At that age, I took my mother's typewriter, switched it to the red-ink ribbon (it was prettier, in my opinion), and wrote a story about a My Little Pony princess who survived a massacre by the evil Snake Kingdom. She was so precious they just had to keep her, and thus she was raised by snakes.

She was a My Little Snake-Pony. She was fairly bad-ass, and knew magic. It was ridiculous, but very fun, and also demonstrated the tendencies that show up in all my stories: no one is safe, and very big things are happening.

I wrote stories and fanfic from that point on, all the way through college. I wanted desperately to be a writer, but I didn't feel like I had "permission." That lasted until happily, joyfully, miraculously, I got married. My husband encouraged me to write, broke down the false guilt that stood between me and creating, and listened to me tell him story ideas no matter what time of day or night it was.

He's the one who encouraged and supported me until I let go of my fears and embraced my identity as a story-teller. My life changed drastically ever since.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like?  If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write full-time now, but this is fairly new. I've worked as a choir director, a music coordinator for a church, and a web designer. I still do web design for favorite clients or friends, but as of a few months ago, my husband and I made the decision that I should do this full-time. It's both incredibly freeing and incredibly difficult, mostly due to pressure I put on myself.

As for what my day is like, it's divided. I'm not a great housekeeper, but I am a good cook, and feeding my household is a real joy. My awesome husband works from home, so between writing, there is a lot of cuddling.

All that to say: I'm not very organized. That's okay. Makes life more interesting.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I genuinely write best when I'm out of the house. Why? Because then I have no excuse to wander off and involve myself in things like housework. Not unlike my kitty, I am easily distracted.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
That entirely depends on which period of childhood, although all my ideas had the same theme: adventure, courage, and heroism. The funny thing is, I never wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write stories, and I did constantly (my best piano performances were the ones to which I'd written epic sagas), but I wrote all the time, anyway, and read constantly. Even in college when I practiced eight hours a day, working toward my piano performance degree, I always had at least one book with me in the practice room.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Don't ever give up.

I mean that. Whatever your dream is, whether you're happy where you are in life or not, don't give up. You never know when life will surprise you, or you'll have unplanned opportunities. Don't be afraid, and don't give up.

There is no such thing as failure unless you simply quit.

Thanks for stopping by and talking about your writing, Ruthanne. Readers, remember you have at least 2 chances to win by commenting below and at other blogs along Ruthanne's tour.


Mary Preston said...

Music and writing - you are creative. I wish you every success with your debut novel. It sounds amazing to me.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Ruthanne today.

Rita Wray said...

Loved the excerpt, thank you.

Lisa Haselton said...

Happy to have Ruthanne join my blog today. I'm always learning something new with each interview. I love it! :)

Unknown said...

Lisa: Thanks so much for hosting me today! It's a delight to be here.

Marybelle: Thanks a ton! I hope so, too. :) I'm terrible with more practical skills like math, so I think all the creativity balances it out. ;)

Ingeborg: Thanks! I'm really glad you liked it!

Kit said...

I love this book so far. Already halfway through!

Anonymous said...

It must be exciting to have the words flow so easily sometimes. Congratulations on the release!


Catherine Lee said...

How sweet that both you and your hubby work from home. I think I would enjoy that. You lucky lady!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Becky: Now I'm dying to know just where you are in the story. :)

Vitajex: It was a really fun thing - -and fortunate! I'm not generally a thousand-words-a-day person. :)

Catherine: I really love it. I find myself really hoping he never ends up having to go to the office regularly again!

Marni said...

Ruthanne, Churchill got it right: never, never, never give up! And kudos to your supportive hubby for recognizing your talent and your desire~

Unknown said...

The winners have been posted, fyi! Go here to see the results:

(Marni, you won the five-dollar gift card! I need you to contact me!)