Ruth is a prolific writer with an impressive line up of books two of which I’ve had the pleasure of reading in recent weeks.
Above are just some of her works, which you can find here.
Today she’s joined me to answer some questions about her writing, enjoy.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to write?
Get started. Now you are over the most difficult hurdle. Unfortunately, you have to get started every day. Force yourself to write one sentence, no matter how sloppy. Then you will find yourself editing that sentence, and adding something to it, and you’re on your way.
How do you approach your stories; do you plan everything out before starting, or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a person?
I have most of the story line in my head before I begin to write. I don’t use an outline, but I write myself notes as new ideas pop into my head. Sometimes my characters take on a life of their own and turn the story in another direction. That’s when writing is the most fun.
Of all your characters, do you have a favorite?
I do have a favorite. Tiny Lambert in Weeping Willow. She ran away with the story and with my heart.
How long did it take you to write your most recent book(s)?
The time actually spent writing was about six months. Planning it in my head and researching took a few years.
What motivated you to write your novel?
I have always loved to write. My motivation to start each new book is a competition with myself. I can do better. This next one will be better.
Name three favorite authors and why they impress you.
Harper Lee, because she wrote exactly the right book at the right time, and helped to change the world. Lee Smith, because she writes as I wish to write. She is my role model. James Baldacci, because he is versatile. He is successful in more than one genre.
Would you rather set your story in a place and time you are familiar with, or would you rather research a totally different setting?
I am more comfortable setting my story in a time and place I am familiar with, but I am experimenting with other settings.
Do you have any little writing rituals or quirks? E.g. an object you have to have on your desk, a particular drink or snack.
A little wine doesn’t hurt. It takes away my writing inhibitions. Stephen King tells the story that he got plastered one night and blacked out. The next morning he found he had written an entire novel.
How do you own experiences influence what you write?
My books are filled with my own experiences in disguise. It is strangely cathartic.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I follow the advice of Anne Lamott, who urges writers not to be afraid to write a sh–ty first draft. With that in mind I force myself to write one sentence, no matter how sh–ty it is. Then I edit the sentence. That usually leads to writing another sentence, and another, until I am back in my groove. If not, I quit for the day.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? (i.e. first draft, editing, etc…)
It is a very satisfying feeling to finish up a story. That last page is special.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one book, what would it be? (Ominbuses, complete works, and how to books are forbidden!)
A book with all blank pages – that is assuming I have something to write with.
I was a coal miner’s daughter in the Appalachian mountains. We lived up in a holler, which was so deep the sun didn’t hit the bottom ’til eleven a.m. Don’t know what a holler is? Same thing as a canyon. Anyway, most of my books for middle grades and young adults were set in that time and place, and were published by big name publishers. Though the pay was good, I began to feel that I was writing the same book over and over again, so I started branching out, so to speak, and experimented with writing about different times and places with an older reading audience in mind. And here I am self-publishing and loving the control I have over everything. By the way I live in Hershey, PA now, but I still can’t seem to get up before eleven.