Ruthanne is giving away a $5 Amazon GC to one random commenter at every stop and a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour, so comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops)! The more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!
Ruthanne was nice enough to let me pry into her business. Sit back and learn about this interesting and incredibly talented author.
Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?
I've never actually been a big sci-fi lover, at least not when it comes to hard science-fiction. For me, some supernatural element had to be present, or else the story felt cold and impersonal. Cutting my teeth on movies like Star Wars and authors like Stephen King made for a wild combination. Throw in a little classic Dr. Who (Tom Baker all the way) and a healthy dose of Dracula movies, and you have a sense of what drives me.
I love stories that combine reality and mystery, paranormal and everyday life. My first novel-length story was actually a fanfiction (not that I knew the term – this was long before we had internet access) involving J. R. R. Tolkien's Luthien Tinuviel, time travel, reincarnation, SAT scores, and gods of death with telephones. Also, I drew characters on the backs of the pages.
No one will ever see this manuscript.
What research (or world-building) is required?
Oh, my word. A metric ton.
The thing about inventing your own world is you're INVENTING your own WORLD. Economy, religion, politics, education, social pressures, cultural "norms" and acceptable behaviors are all up for grabs. Here's the thing: nothing we write is completely original, because then it would be incomprehensible. We write from a variety of influences, and that means when someone reads our stories, they can relate.
World-building is a dangerous balance between the familiar (including what your readers will assume, based on what they've already read) and the unfamiliar (making it yours, special, unique). The characters have to be interacting in a society the reader can understand – even if the reader will not like it, disapprove of it, or hate it (which, if they do, was hopefully your goal to begin with).
As an example, in The Sundered, part of that balance involved studying how people handled slavery throughout history. Yes, slavery is not acceptable to us now, but in Harry's world, slavery leading to the death of those slaves is completely normal – and this has happened in the real world. Harry's reasoning had to make sense, and so I studied the past. It frightens me just what human beings are capable of.
Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.
To let go of bitterness.
Harry Iskinder has reason to be bitter. His job stinks, his family isn't much of one, and his so-called friends aren't worth much – but he's a lot less bitter than he was in the first incarnation of this story. I was working through a lot of my own issues at the time, and that came out in poor Harry. It took a couple of deep, soul-searching edits before I realized that he didn't appear vulnerable at all, and that made him unlikeable.
Harry's redeeming qualities – his tender heart, his twisted optimism, his blind but intense faith in his fellow travelers – weren't clear. It was impossible to sympathize with him.
Helping Harry's thoughts move in a direction to reveal those things while staying true to his dark situation helped me with my own. I have to say, it was an interesting journey.
Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?
No superstitions. Writing quirks? Well, there's this: if there are other responsibilities waiting to be done, I have trouble concentrating. I'm far from a good housekeeper, but I tend to put pressure on myself, with plenty of false guilt.
Happily, my husband is helping me to stop doing that. He says it makes me grouchy toward myself. I say he's right, and grouchy-toward-self doesn't help anyone.
Plotter or pantser?
Panster, with plotting along the seams. My ideas come out of the wild blue yonder, and usually, they're big enough that I don't have to plot anything out. In fact, when I try the good-old-outline method, the story promptly deviates from my plans and delves into unknown territory. While I can (and often must) plot on the scene-level, for overarching stories, pantsing definitely works best for me.
Look to your right – what’s sitting there?
An empty water bottle, my cell phone, and my plushy white bathrobe. It is soft and warm and awesome.
Anything new coming up from you? What?
Well, a book launch, obviously. A family reunion. Also, my sixth anniversary. You know what? These next two months will be FABULOUS.
Do you have a question for our readers?
I do, indeed! Who's your favorite Harry Potter character and why?
Don’t touch the water, or it will pull you under. Conserve food, because there’s no arable land. Use Sundered slaves gently, or they die too quickly to be worthwhile.
With extinction on the horizon and a world lost to deadly flood, Harry searches for a cure: the Hope of Humanity, the mysterious artifact that gave humans control over the Sundered centuries ago. According to legend, the Hope can fix the planet.
But the Hope holds more secrets than Harry knows. Powerful Sundered Ones willingly bow to him just to get near it. Ambitious enemies pursue him, sure that the Hope is a weapon. Friends turn their backs, afraid Harry will choose wrong.
And Harry has a choice to make. The time for sharing the Earth is done. Either the Sundered survive and humanity ends, or humanity lives for a while, but the Sundered are wiped out.
He never wanted this choice. He still has to make it. In his broken, flooded world, Hope comes with a price.
"Do not assume we are as your tiered system would have you believe," he murmurs. "We are broken, not stupid. You can fracture and heal. We cannot. We are the Sundered."
That freaks me out, the way he says that, and I don't even know what he's saying. Like a child, I press his buttons to make him stop. "So I guess we're just superior, huh?"
That look says I just sat on his last nerve.
I keep pushing. "We heal. You don't. Your words. I'm just being logical here."
"You heal because you are less," he hisses. "Your little breaks and scrapes are nothing more than bruises and paper cuts! You are not superior. You are less. You are unaided, individual, and only have the power to heal from that which is pathetic!"
We both go still.
Aakesh's gaze burns into mine, his hair stirring in a non-existent breeze. I don't know what he means, and I don't move. Not yet. We're balanced on a knife's edge, and whatever's below us is something very bad.
"He is nice," says Gorish suddenly. "Nice, not mean. He doesn't know, doesn't understand." He presses even harder against my belly.
We stare at him instead. The knife's-edge moment passes, and I'm so tired I'm only relieved.
Ruthanne writes in and around Seattle, owns dust-covered degrees in music and religion, and is generally considered dangerous around household electronics. Her favorite authors tend to be dramatic (J. R. R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss), but she doesn’t see this as a bad thing. She belongs to a husband, a housemate, and a cat, respectively.
The Sundered is her first novel.