Today, we're talking with Roxanne Rustand with her recent Love Inspired Suspense release, Vendetta.
That's a tough question! I think an author's life experiences--her personality, moral compass, faith, education, family and friends--contribute to her (or his!) unique voice as a writer. That said, there will be a range of character types in each book. I'm not sure how much of me appears in my main characters. But, I want my protagonists to be strong, independent people willing to overcome emotional as well as external barriers to reach a point of happiness at the end of the book.
During each one of my books--even before starting to write for an inspirational publisher--I prayed that I could write an uplifting story, with a positive message about the importance of family and commitment. Now, I can also include a story arc on how some characters deal with faith issues while facing challenges in their lives. I love having the opportunity to deepen the characters in this way.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Hmmm...that's a tough one! While in college, I changed majors a number of times, supporting myself throughout those years. At one point, I was awarded a public health service grant that paid my tuition, living expenses and books. It was a dream come true, but after the first year, I had a chance to drop everything and travel the USA to work for a well-known horse trainer. He needed a second demonstration rider for the programs he'd scheduled at venues across the country. I prayed and dithered, then finally chose adventure over responsibility, to the dismay of my family. But what an amazing experience that was....memories I've treasured ever since. The funny thing was that the government cut the funding for that public health service grant the very next semester. If I'd been afraid to follow my heart, I would have missed out on a great adventure, and would have lost the grant, anyway. I later went back to school, though, and finished a master's degree in nutrition.
Sounds like quite an adventure. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
My mom has reams of childish poems and short stories, and a particularly memorable "family newsletter", which I named after a brand of canned dog food. I didn't actually start writing fiction until my kids were in grade school, though. I'd read only nonfiction for years, and then a friend introduced me to a wonderful author. I was so entranced, that I began voraciously reading everything she'd ever written, moved on to other authors...and then started wishing I could write something, myself. I wrote feature articles for a horse magazine for a while, and then started fumbling through my first fiction manuscript.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I will read cereal boxes if there's nothing else. I have books stashed in my car, in every room of the house...and treasure ever spare moment when I can read. Fiction, non-fiction--my tastes are eclectic.
Your reading habits sound just like mine. What other books have you written, whether published or not?
My first manuscript is in a box in my closet. I've written nineteen published books, and am working on my twentieth. The first fifteen were family relationship type stories with a strong thread of mystery or suspense, and a touch of humor. Most involved the complexities of relationships that contemporary women face. Since then, I've moved into inspirational romantic suspense, which I love. I also contributed to a multi-author murder mystery written for public radio, called Orchestrated Murder. In that one, I got to kick off the novel with a demented orchestra conductor, which was great fun!
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I work twenty hours a week as a dietitian for a psychiatric facility, write several books a year, have my family, church, and a menagerie of animals. I can't imagine an hour without something to do, and I am grateful to have a busy life.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Without the right name, a character just won’t come to life. The tricky part is that I try very hard to avoid using the names of our relatives, neighbors, friends, or people I work with--and also try to avoid repeating names between books. With every book, it's getting harder!
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
No question about it--being a mom. Each of my children has grown into a hard-working, delightful individual who has made ongoing education a priority, and each of them is succeeding in life. They fill me with joy beyond measure!
I know what you mean. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I spent most of my early grade school years pretending I was a horse, during recess...because all I wanted to do was ride. I'm not sure being a horse would be a very easy life, however!
What is your favorite food?
Cantonese....seafood....crème brulee....perfect dark, sweet cherries. Or, anything that our daughter makes!
I have a sign on my kitchen wall that says, "My favorite meal is going out to eat or whatever my husband cooks." Sometimes that's wishful thinking. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Steady productivity early in a contract is probably my biggest challenge. If the deadline is far away, it's hard for me to buckle down and make steady progress.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Several things. FINISH your manuscript. Keep at it, make yourself work through the difficult middle and get to The End. Far too many people manage a few chapters, then throw in the towel and start something else. You will learn so much from the process of actually finishing a manuscript! Also, read every bit of dialogue aloud. In fact, make yourself read every chapter aloud. You will catch awkward phrasing, unrealistic dialogue, and a host of other flaws. It's a wonderful exercise for improving your prose!
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Vendetta is the second book in the Snow Canyon Ranch trilogy, set in the Wyoming Rockies. I loved writing these books, which involve three estranged sisters and their domineering, widowed mother Claire, who single-handedly operated the family ranch for many years. Each of the daughters is returning to Wyoming, wanting to help out now that Claire is failing. Each faces unexpected dangers. In Vendetta, veterinarian Leigh McAllister comes home to establish a new vet clinic, but finds that someone will go to any lengths to make sure she fails.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Roxanne. Your advice is very good.
Readers, want a copy of the book? Leave a comment. Someone will win. It might as well be you.
Roxanne has offered TWO free books!