Monday, August 12, 2019

Interview with novelist Ruby Lang

Romance author Ruby Lang joins me today and we’re chatting about her new contemporary romance, Playing House.

During her virtual book tour, Ruby will be awarding a digital copy of Playing House to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Ruby Lang is the author of the acclaimed Practice Perfect series. She is pint-sized, prim, and bespectacled. Her alter ego, Mindy Hung, wrote about romance novels (among other things) for The Toast. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Walrus, Bitch, and other fine venues. She enjoys running (slowly), reading (quickly), and ice cream (at any speed). She lives in New York with a small child and a medium-sized husband.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Playing House is about two city planner acquaintances, Fay and Oliver, who accidentally run into each other during a historic homes tour and feign being in a relationship in order to thwart the tour Romeo. They end up having so much fun that they continue to look at apartments and houses (and to pretend they’re a couple) over the course of several weekends. It’s the first book in my Uptown series about life, love, and real estate.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by the seeing gentrification of Harlem, and also by my planner friends. I liked the idea of setting the story in a place with a rich history, but that is entering a period of change. The characters also have a history, and they’re in the midst of re-evaluating their lives and relationships.

Excerpt from Playing House:
Oliver sagged in relief—and a little disappointment. When the crowd passed beneath them through the front hall, he turned to Fay and she turned to him and they said, simultaneously, “Are you okay?”

A pause.

Fay started again. “He was so persistent. Sorry to involve you.”

Then, as if realizing they were still standing close, Fay slipped her arm out from his and they stepped away from each other.

“Don’t apologize. It’s messed up that you felt like you needed a cover.”

Fay shook her head as if to clear it. “That was tense, wasn’t it? He started pestering me one house back on the tour. I said I wasn’t interested, and he didn’t listen. When we got to this house, I told him I had a boyfriend and then I started trying to edge back downstairs to find the greeter when you arrived. But really it was nothing. It was fine.”

Oliver was quiet for a bit, trying to process what she’d said. She was slightly embarrassed judging from her abrupt manner—not that she had anything to be ashamed of at all. But the other thing that stood out was that she’d made up a fake boyfriend instead of referring to her husband. Which meant… He glanced at her hand. No ring. Maybe she wasn’t married anymore. So not the point here. But why did he suddenly feel so—not happy, not relieved, but…alert? Interested.

He hadn’t felt interested in anything for a long time.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m finishing up edits for House Rules, which is about a long-divorced pair who end up as roommates in a spacious Harlem apartment. It’s the third book in my Uptown series and it comes out in February 2020.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing my first novel during summer vacation I was 15 or 16. It was a retelling of a fairy tale and I wrote a draft and was terribly proud of myself, only to discover that Newbery-winning YA-fantasy writer Robin McKinley had published a book based on the same story and had done it better. Oddly enough, that spurred me to write more. After all, if the source material was fascinating to Robin McKinley, maybe I was onto something.

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 write full-time at the moment (although I take freelance editing work during the year depending on deadlines). I usually sit down at my desk with a cup of tea after my kid and husband go out the door in the morning. If I’m feeling stuck, I pack up and go to the library, or to a cafĂ©. If I’m working from home, I intersperse writing with laundry. If I’m at the library, I usually get in a good chunk of words, then give myself permission to wander between the shelves.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’ll get up in the middle of the night and (try to) quietly scribble down an idea in the dark, usually without my glasses on. (Because what’s the use of glasses in the dark?) My husband has grown accustomed to having me sit bolt upright and diving for a pen and paper. And I’ve gotten used to setting out a pad opened to a blank page in order to capture my night-brain wanderings.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a botanist, a clothing designer, an English professor, and a writer. All of these interests and ambitions will probably end up in a book someday.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks so much for reading and for having me on the blog to talk about my writing and Playing House!

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Thanks for stopping by today. Happy writing!

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