Today, I'm talking to Ramona Richards, who has a new Love Inspired Suspense release.
My heroines are always braver and feistier than I am in real life, and they definitely have better adventures! They do reflect my unending curiosity about the world, however.
I enjoy researching different professions and hobbies. I had never sat behind a potter’s wheel until I came up with the idea for THE FACE OF DECEIT, but I loved it. So there are some similarities in what my hero, Mason, experiences the first time he’s at the wheel and what I felt.
Characters occasionally will enjoy something I do. In THE FACE OF DECEIT, for instance, one of the clues is found in a Dorothy Dunnett book. I adore Dunnett. But if all the women were me, readers would get bored in a hurry. So would I. I love discovering my characters the same way I hope readers do.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I kinda cultivate “quirky” as a lifestyle choice, so picking my quirkiest moment is a bit like choosing a favorite book. I used to be a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, for instance, and I thought nothing of wandering the streets of Nashville in full medieval regalia. I took scuba diving lessons, even though at the time I was terrified of deep water, and I learned to fence, just because it seemed like a nifty thing to know.
Close to the top of the “quirky” list is the time my college roommate wanted us to go rappelling with this boy she had been swooning over. Problem was . . . I had broken my ankle while snow camping and my leg had been in a plaster cast for four weeks. But my roommate REALLY wanted us to go rappelling with this guy. So we cut off the cast with a knife and a pair of old scissors, wrapped my foot in an ace bandage and off we went. Somewhere, I still have the pictures.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
My mother tells me I started making up adventure stories at about three. There’s a picture on my website of me at that age, hanging out with my grandfather and his friends. I must have picked up storytelling from them. I tried to write my first book at seven. I kept my friends entertained with romances when I was 14 or so. My first article was published at 18.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Anything and everything! I read a lot of romantic suspense, but I also love historical romances – and history. I used to read a lot of science fiction, and I read some mainstream lit as well. I have had a “writerly crush” on Harlan Ellison since I was a kid, but I also have one on Dorothy Dunnett and Lawrence Block. A good strong voice, solid beauty in the words, descriptions that make you wince or sigh, can be admired in any genre.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
There are three books in the Jackson’s Retreat series: A MURDER AMONG FRIENDS, THE FACE OF DECEIT, and THE TAKING OF CARLY BRADFORD, which will come out in May 2009. I’ve also written a suspense thriller about a cold case detective who specializes in cases that haunt small towns, and I’m also hoping to sell my next three RS books – about three sisters living in Nashville – to Steeple Hill.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Friends, especially other writers. Writers have a different mindset than most other folks, so it helps to share our goals and ideas. And friends are my safety net. I vent to them; they to me about the frustrations of our lives and the fact that there is ALWAYS something else to do.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes they tell me what their names are. When they don’t . . . I keep programs from plays and concerts I attend. I also rely on area phone books or ethnic groups prominent in a setting.
For instance, the three Jackson’s Retreat books are set in New Hampshire, which has a large Greek population. I have a friend who runs a Greek restaurant in Portsmouth with her husband, and I asked her for some options for my next book.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Probably hanging on to my sanity while being the single mom of a daughter with severe disabilities. She’s 21 now, and I have two great caregivers who I don’t think I could do without – but I raised her alone for five years while recovering from my divorce.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Ah, never really thought about this one. I love animals of all sorts. Probably an otter or a whale. Or a dolphin.
What is your favorite food?
Strawberries. And anything with them on it or in it (think ice cream….).
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I let life distract me from what I knew was God’s path for me. After my marriage and the birth of my daughter, I went in every direction you could think of, even walking away from my faith for several years. I stopped writing and became quite depressed. When I finally turned back to God, a lot of things happened in rapid order to get me back on track. I went back to writing and haven’t looked back.
Now when I get blocked, I remember to pray, listen, and hang out with other writers. Before too long, I’m back at the computer, typing my fingers off.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Keep in mind that writing is a way of life, a craft, and a business. To succeed, you need to master all three:
1. Never give up. Harlan Ellison once said, “Any writer who CAN be discouraged, SHOULD be.” If your heart is bursting with stories, don’t let rejections make you quit. Rejections are part of the business. Learn from them and keep going.
2. Never stop learning your craft. I teach writing courses, but I am always interested in learning more. For instance, nothing will teach you more about how to build a plot than a good screenwriting class. And listen to the masters. Read Terry Brooks’ and Stephen King’s books on writing. Go to conferences. Hang out on Randy Ingermanson’s site and subscribe to his newsletter. C. J. Cherryh’s advice—“Only write what you want your readers to see. Don’t tell them the street has no cars on it because they have to put the cars there, then take them away. Tell them the street is empty.” That did more to clean up my writing than any other advice.
3. Never stop marketing yourself and your work. Christine Bolley changed my tactics and my level of achievement by simply emphasizing that successful writers spend at least 40 percent of their time marketing themselves. When I started following that advice, I sold my first book within the year.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
In THE FACE OF DECEIT, Karen O’Neill has suppressed all memories of her parents’ murders, which she witnessed when she was seven. Now she’s a potter whose “face vases” are getting a lot of attention in the art world, mostly due to art crime investigator and historian Mason DuBroc. When someone starts killing collectors and destroying vases, Mason become convinced that the face on the vases belongs to the killer.
When the killer turns the attacks on Karen, she and Mason face the fact that her mind is slowly revealing details that not only involve long-held and destructive family secrets but the identity of the killer. What did Karen’s parents do to provoke their murders? Do the answers lie somewhere besides in Karen’s blocked memories. If not . . . can she remember the killer in time?
How can readers find you on the Internet?
www.ramonarichards.com. I have a new site, and I love visitors. :-)
Ramona, thank you for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of this book and the first book in this series. What a wonderful offer for Ramona to make.
And check out Ramona's website.