|Author Amber West|
The Ruth Valley Missing
Although I wasn't expecting to open any Christmas presents today, in the pit of my stomach I hoped I hadn't entirely been left off Santa's list. Well, surprise, surprise. I got up today to open a very unexpected gift, and just overjoyed to share it.
I met Amber West, author of The Ruth Valley Missing, on She Writes and was instantly piqued by the synopsis of her new book; an offbeat mystery that read both humorous and intriguing. And just to fill you in, this was about a month ago when I was earnestly looking for a book to suit my mood, to help meet my reading challenge.
Welp, I haven't started reading The Ruth Valley Missing, and consequently didn't quite meet my reading challenge, but I am thrilled to Santaville that Amber accepted my request to be interviewed.
Amber writes for 'A Day Without Sushi' blog, and is an aspiring photographer and Rant Columnist for Sloane magazine. She also is a mommy and wife, and a delightfully humorous writer who I am most appreciative for giving me such a timely gift, too amazing not to share on Christmas Day.
Interviewed by OEBooks/RYCJ December 2012
OEB: Is The Ruth Valley Missing your debut book? And if so, or if not, do you plan to write another novel? (I want to ask you about that title, but afraid your answer will provide too much of a spoiler;-)
AW: Yes, this is my debut novel, so as you can imagine, this has all been pretty exciting. I do have plans to write several other novels - I have two that I've already begun, and I'm also working on a sequel to The Ruth Valley Missing. I wrote it as a standalone, but the readers have been asking for more of the main character. So, I'm going to try and give the readers what they want.
The title, without getting "spoiler-y", has to do with the small town most of the story is set in - Ruth Valley.
OEB: How long did you work on your novel? And what did you find was easiest, and then most difficult about writing it?
AW: The novel started out as my first attempt at doing NaNoWriMo (2011). I wrote about 35,000 words then tossed it to the side for about 9 months. I decided I didn't like forcing myself to write a set number of words a day - it squelched the creative process - but I did have fun playing with a story idea I had no intention of ever sharing with anyone.
After sharing the story with two writer friends and receiving positive feedback, I picked the story up again and decided I should at least finish it. If for nothing else, to find out how the story ends. (I'm a pantser - so I don't always know where my story will end up until I write it.)
So that was three weeks of writing during NaNoWriMo, then another month to finish it when I picked it back up again. Editing, proofing, and going over a crit partner's suggestions took another month or two.
I'm not sure what I found most difficult. I've always loved writing, so I don't really ever think of it as difficult. Even the editing process wasn't torturous. I guess proofing would be the hardest part - there is a reason why you should hire someone for the final proofing. At that point, the story is so in your head, your brain fills in the blanks with ease, so if there is a missing or misspelled word, it is super easy to miss it.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the whole process.
OEB: Loved that answer! Which then might make this a hard question to answer, but if you had to choose, which do you find more enjoyable, and why? – Reading? Reviewing? (TV or books) ...Or, Writing?
AW: Super easy question: Writing. I really enjoy everything about it. It's cathartic. And in a way, I get to read as I write, since I don't always know where my story is going to go.
OEB: As I mentioned in my request to interview you, I selected your book because the synopsis had a light-fun feel to it. So without giving anything away, since I haven't started reading it yet, let me know if I should expect mostly humor, or chic-lit drama, or maybe if I should get ready to shiver beneath my covers? Just give me 'a hint' about what I should expect.
AW: I wrote The Ruth Valley Missing with bits of the things I want to see in a story. It is a mystery, so there are some creepy elements, but there is a nice dose of humor in the dialogue, and even a bit of romance.
OEB: Which audience will most likely enjoy your book? Young adult, or mature readers? Or maybe anyone who is a mystery fan? Or…?
AW: I'm thrilled to see that so far, the appeal seems to be rather broad. Guys and gals, young and mature, the story seems to have elements that grab a variety of readers.
OEB: Are there any topics that you feel are off-limits to write about?
AW: For me personally, I don't write anything in my books that would make me want to hide the book from my mom, or refrain from lending it to a teenager.
OEB: And I just have to know how you felt once your book was in print. Were you more relieved, or maybe nervous about how your book might be received by the public?
AW: A little bit of both. I was glad to be done with the process of getting it published. Writing is my favorite part, so I wanted to be able to get back to writing again, not just editing and proofing. And it was really exciting to finally be able to say "I'm an author", since I've wanted to be one since I was a little girl.
As far as the nerves go, I definitely had that queasy feeling anytime a new review went up, or someone contacted me after reading the book. I didn't write this story trying to be a New York Times Best Seller or anything, but I still wanted people to enjoy what they were reading.
So far, the responses have been great, but I keep waiting for that bad review.
OEB: Which speaking of the public, how do you feel about public opinion on books, TV shows, and movies?
AW: If by that you mean, how do I feel about what the public gravitates towards when it comes to entertainment, I find that my tastes are not so mainstream. It seems that more and more entertainment is about shock value and humiliation, rather than a solid story or compelling characters.
OEB: You got me again. Loved that answer! I also want to know what motivates you? And who inspires you?
AW: Hmm...I'm never very good at this question. When it comes to my writing, it's very simply my love of it that motivates me.
I come from a family of five kids. My parents and siblings are all very funny and bright people, so I'd say they inspire me. I'm just trying to keep up with the rest of them. :)
OEB: And last but not least, do you have any public book-signings or promotions coming up? Also, let us know where best to purchase your book, and the networks where readers can connect to learn more about you and your work.
AW: I haven't mapped out my marketing plans for 2013 quite yet. I'm sure there will be some online promotions, and I am doing some private signings at local book clubs (if any of your readers are in Florida and would like to hold a signing for their book club, they should feel free to contact me). Mainly, I'll be focused on writing the follow up to The Ruth Valley Missing, in between the day job and chasing the three year old.
I love chatting with readers, so everyone should feel free to visit with me on my blog, A DayWithout Sushi, chat with me on Twitter, look at all the pretty projects I'll never do on Pinterest and LoveIt, or find me on Goodreads.
My book is currently exclusive with Amazon, where readers can purchase it in paperback or for their eReader.
OEB: Thanks Amber! I really appreciate your time. Hope your holiday is warm and festive. Merry Christmas!
AW: Thanks, Rhonda! Hope you and yours are well!