What was the inspiration to writing Zion’s Road and The Journey of Ruthie Belle?
My initial inspiration for Zion’s Road had come when I was a young girl. I kept my head in the clouds – literally – with a vast imagination for the unknown and unseen. Back then, however, I had no clue if those images were meant for something more. All I remembered that living above the clouds and conquering the bad guys was a cool thing!
Then one day I thought of my deceased aunt, Denise, who had passed away in 2003 after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. I couldn’t shake her beautiful face from my mind – no matter how I tried to occupy my time. Her lingering memory was so intense, that I went to my computer and began to write the first draft to Zion’s Road. Now you have to remember, I had no writing experience to organize neither the storyline nor how to develop characters; I just wrote it until the final word.
As for The Journey of Ruthie Belle, it’s the prequel to Zion’s Road. This storyline had taken place one hundred years before Harold’s journey. So the inspiration for this manuscript is based from the original characters from the novelette – Zion’s Road.
Both stories are considered as Fantasy because of the fictional world in the storyline. So why this genre, why not write the real world for the present time? Why not create an unknown world?
Remember, I’m fascinated with the “unknown and unseen”; it’s been embedded in my psyche since I understood what imaginations were.
Of all of the character to create, what drove you to form a Klansman as well as writing him in first person?
First of all, there’s nothing I can stand is a goody-two-shoes character. I don’t mind writing them, but their storyline will shift from their “goody-ways” to serious flaws. And in Harold Smith’s case, he’s the perfect “imperfect” character to tell the story. Who would think a former Klansman being the hero? It’s a crazy notion, but a crazy notion that I love to write.
How long did you take you to write the novelette?
Three fun-filled days! In the day, I was free to write at work and at night I finished the rest at home.
If you knew then what you know now about novelettes, novellas, and novels, would you write the book different?
Nope! I have no regrets.
Let’s move on to The Journey of Ruthie Belle (TJRB), what’s the premise of this story?
The story goes back to 1914 when Ruthie was caught in an inescapable marriage of abuse. Somehow she found an ingenious way to break from her bondage but later to discover that things aren’t all ways what it seem. Ruthie’s life was filled with struggles after a living a long life.
Tell us more about Ruthie and how did you develop this character.
Depending who the character is, either a lead or sub-character, I put a little “me” in both. In Ruthie’s case, I used a little of my grandmother’s southern swag as her dialogue, my great-grandmother’s personality – just a bit, and the strength I wish I had at one of the tumultuous points of my life. This character shows obstacles are more than a challenge, but a great teacher.
Without giving in too many details, this story seems darker and more intense compared to your novelette on social issues; such as, domestic violence and child abuse. Have you experience either the two? And if so, how did you find a way out?
I’d never suffered physical abuse, but I had the unfortunate circumstances of mental and emotional abuse by a particular person. I won’t say who this person is or give any names; but I will say, I came out stronger and wiser from it.
What was your writing process to this story, and how long did it take for you to write it?
Initially, I wrote the first three chapters after I finished the first draft to Zion’s Road ten years ago. I didn’t outline, which I still don’t do today; I just wrote it on a vibe. Later, in 2010, I completed the manuscript in three months.
What did you learn about yourself when writing TJRB?
That when I’m weak, is when I learn.
Were there any frustrations while writing the story?
Not really, just authenticating Ruthie’s accent. That was a challenge.