So, I have to watch it on the roads this morning because (and this will be no surprise to many readers) it snowed again! Blech! This is why it took me so long to get home and be able to hop in the transporter to pick up this week's featured author. Where are off to? Anywhere there isn't snow, which omits most of the continental United States.
Ms. Ransdell manipulates the controls and soon we're sitting by the Rialto Bridge in fabulous Venice. And what goes with Italy, but wine, so I'm sipping on some dry white while my featured guest decides to get a little wild and crazy with Coca Cola. Whoa now! Don't over indulge.
She throws a wadded up napkin at me and points out that it's the time of day to watch all the gondolas and a few vaporetti (steam boat buses). Just fabulous. I could just relax and enjoy the rest of the day...and then I get hit with another napkin and I've forgotten I need to conduct the interview. Better get to it. (Man does she have good aim.)
(Oh, by the way, we're going to discuss her new book and I think if you look reeeealll closely at the cover, you might just see a familiar name. No, I mean besides hers.)
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I do the biggest mix of things! I’ve lived in Mexico, Italy, and Greece. I love speaking foreign languages, and I especially love the challenge of having to go back and forth between Spanish and Italian. I love to travel too—people ask me for help if they want to be talked into going somewhere. Given that, it’s not surprising that I spend a lot of time playing in a mariachi band, but I also play in a community orchestra. Next month we’re performing Brahms Symphony #1.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I love my new role as being an Auntie! My sister’s daughters are six years old and three years old. They are hysterically funny—that’s how kids are. They don’t moderate what they say. Instead they tell it like it is. I only see them every six months or so, so they’ve always grown a lot in between my visits. I’m waiting until the oldest is ten, and then I’ll have an energetic travel companion.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as a nuclear scientist?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I say always, but I mean since about second grade. What, you mean, there are other professions? None seem as important. Put another way, I’m no scientist. Can’t seem to add two and two and get a consistent answer. But where I feel I can make a small contribution in life is via entertainment. Whether by playing music or writing novels, I’ve been able to keep some people entertained. Given that most people have hard jobs and need a way to kick back and enjoy themselves, providing entertainment is an honorable enterprise. It’s also a way to provide a unique contribution. Any other author might be able to write mysteries about a mariachi player, but none would have my same background of playing for twenty-five years in a local group. I must have performed “Las mañanitas” (the traditional Mexican birthday celebration song) a few thousand times!
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
J.R.R. Tolkien, come on over and have dinner with me! I want to know how the hobbits came to him. I want to know when and where he composed the poems, especially the one that starts “The Road goes ever on and on.” I want to know what he was thinking when he was walking around Oxford. Was he talking to Gandalf? And I particularly want to know how could he stand to wait so long to publish the trilogy; it came out some seventeen years after The Hobbit. How could you manage to sit on that material for so long and not just be bursting to have someone read what you had written? (Perhaps his friends saw some of his work at the time.)That man had the patience of a saint. However, he shouldn’t come to my house for dinner—as one boyfriend used to complain, I was the only person he knew who could burn quesadillas. Better to take a picnic and sit along the Oxford Canal.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?
Andy Veracruz gets into trouble because he’s too observant for his own good. If you were stranded on an island, you’d want to practice your powers of observation because let’s face it, you wouldn’t have a whole lot else to do. (By the way, a four-hour layover is not soooo bad. When else do we have concentrated time to read?)
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
I do the Peter Elbow method of writing. I write fast and then wind up with all the wrong words in all the wrong sentences. I have to go back and change everything, but that’s the only way I can get my ideas out of my head and down on paper. When I started MARIACHI MURDER, the characters just came to me, as if they were already there waiting. I simply started writing. Several times I sat back and thought about the plot and the storyline. I drew pictures or made outline notes. I was surprised that every day that I sat down to write, some words came to me. I did, however, make a special point of arranging my day so that I’d have at least an hour to write, and ninety minutes if possible. MARIACHI MURDER had about seven rewrites, some more extensive than others. Most I did myself, but towards the end of the process I asked a couple of good friends who are also good readers to give suggestions, and I wound up tweaking a few more things at that point.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don't know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Stop procrastinating, sit down, and write. You don’t like that? Stop procrastinating, sit down, and make an outline. Still not happy? Sit down, brainstorm by writing a few words on paper, perhaps in a picture of some kind, and see what happens. WHAT? Still not satisfied? Maybe you’re not ready to write yet. In some cases, though, procrastination is actually a kind of preparation. The ideas are rolling around in your head. Once they need more space, they’ll burst out whether you have a pen ready or not.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Be nice to people, be productive, and have fun. Keep in mind that lo bailado no se le quita—what you’ve danced, they can’t take away. I try to get the most out of everything I do. When I’m traveling, I try to see as much as I possibly can. I try not to waste a single opportunity. Perhaps this is why it’s hard for me to go to bed early. I’d rather get just a few more things done.
9. Please tell me you're not going to stop writing? What's next for you?
Island Casualty, the second book in the Andy Veracruz series is in Billie Johnson’s hands. (She’s the owner of Oak Tree Press.) But poor Andy! He’s doomed to keep having ideas that get him into trouble—perhaps he was wearing that T-shirt you saw. I’ve also been working on some travel pieces, but I think it’s much more fun to write fiction. You can design the world the way you want it to be without bothering about reality.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
I’m glad you asked!
Author Site http://www.dr-ransdell.com
Music & Writing Blog http://drransdell.wordpresss.com
Youtube Videos for MARIACHI MURDER http://goo.gl/2Ks05F