Ramona Richards, an award-winning writer, editor, and speaker, is the fiction editor for Abingdon Press. She’s the author of nine books and frequent contributor to devotional collections. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves her adopted hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.
Ramona joins us today to talk about life as a writer. She is offering one free copy of her new book to a fortunate winner. Please leave your name and email address in a comment below, along with an encouraging word for Ramona. We must have at least ten comments to make a contest. Continental US only, please.
Ramona, welcome! Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a country kid from Alabama. We lived in a woodland and farm area outside Hartselle, and my grandfather had a farm outside Ashville. My uncle had a dairy farm. We moved to Nashville, Tennessee, when I was ten, and I’ve loved the city ever since.
As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author?
I can’t remember NOT wanting to be an author.
When did you first begin writing?
When I was seven, I tried to write a biography of Daniel Boone. My brother (who is five years older) introduced me to the word “plagiarism,” and suggested I create my own books. I immediately started writing mysteries based on series like Robin Kane and Nancy Drew. My first one was seven pages long and had ten chapters.
I remember first writing at the age of eight. I guess it’s in our blood! Why do you feel compelled to write?
I don’t have a choice. If I don’t write, I get cranky and nasty. It’s gotten so that my friends will look at me during a malevolent pout and say, “You haven’t written lately, have you?”
I think we were separated at birth! I get so cranky too if I haven’t had my writing time. Tell us about the journey to getting published.
Some of my story is on my website. My journey to publication took a lot of detours. I sold my first piece (a biographical sketch), when I was 18, but I didn’t sell anything again until I was 27 (two short stories). Then I worked as an editor, and sold a few things through my job, but not many. I finally sold my first book in 1998, and I’ve sold 9 since.
I think your story shows the importance of perseverance to us all! Where do you get ideas for your books?
Walking down the street. Riding on the highway. Plots lurk around every corner. I developed a kidnapping plot from a lost sandal for The Taking of Carly Bradford.
What are your favorite themes to write about?
I’m not really into themes. I just want to tell a great story. The themes evolve naturally out of the storytelling. I’m sometimes surprised by how they develop.
That’s how I start out too and themes develop as I go along. Tell us three things about you that would surprise readers.
1. I almost drowned when I was seven, which left me with a fear of deep water. I had to overcome that fear in order to learn to scuba dive.
2. My favorite heroines when I was growing up were Amelia Earhart, Cornelia Ford, and Beryl Markham. Oh, and Wonder Woman.
3. I made a bucket list when I was 20, together with my college roommate. Top three things on the list were 1) Climb K-2; 2) Write and publish a novel; 3) Hike the Appalachian Trail. So far I’ve done one of those things!
You have had trials, inspiration, and hopes along this journey. I am sure these things have helped to build your faith. Does your faith affect your writing? How?
One of my favorite quotations is from C.S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” As a believer, I see the world from a Christian perspective. It’s hard for me to write from any other point of view.
That’s beautiful! Do you have a favorite scripture? If so, why is it your favorite?
Psalm 98. I love it because it speaks of making lots of noise in praise for all the victories and blessings God has brought to our lives.
Let’s all make a joyful noise! When you decide the setting of a book, do you research it online or do you travel there? If you travel, tell us something special about one of your research trips.
Both, if I can. My first three books were set in New Hampshire, and I traveled there and stayed with a friend of mine, Nancy Zottos, who now runs a Greek restaurant in Portsmouth with her husband Dean. We explored a lot of the small towns in the area, and trekked about in the woods so I could get a more personal feel. Nancy gave me a lot of tips and answered hundreds of questions. I also do a lot of research, both online and in the library. While in NH, I bought a lot of books from the “local author” section of the bookstores.
Memory of Murder is about repressed memory and how even what you can’t remember can change your life. A botched kidnapping leave both Lindsey Presley and Deputy Jeff Gage injured—and with the lingering question: “Why does someone want Lindsey dead?” When evidence from the kidnapping leads nowhere, they dig deeper . . . into memories from her childhood Lindsey would prefer never to remember. Memories of an unsolved murder—a cold case they must solve if they want to keep Lindsey alive.
What inspired you to write this particular book?
Memory of Murder came from the fact that I have a LOT of unreliable memories (things I believed happened that never did) and a chunk of missing time from early childhood. What if one of my missing memories were about an unsolved murder from my hometown…?
Oh, I like that you have taken something that could have been negative and turned it into an opportunity to share your faith! What are you working on right now?
The working title is Chasing Home. It’s about a woman who has spent her life avoiding acquiring possessions because of the damage hoarding had caused to her family. Then she inherits her aunt’s house. Her aunt was not only a hoarder, but her home is filled with family antiques and history.
Sounds like a really cool book! I thank you for stopping by today. Where can readers find you or your books?
Don’t forget to leave an encouraging comment for Ramona and your email address below for a chance to win Memory of Murder.