SeriousReading.com Talks with Tammy Ruggles, author of Starsky and Hutch Next Gen.

 

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

The crime drama genre is set in realism. The genre could, but normally doesn’t, focus on the supernatural or paranormal. Which is fine. But a true crime drams focuses on crime–events that could happen to any of us in real life.

I think real life fears, such as murder, assault, stalking, losing a child, a missing child, etc., are more frightening than ghosts, zombies, or vampires–which are okay in my book, and I’ve written about them. This genre allows you to write about behavior, motivation, the human psyche, and psychology in general, which are favorite subjects of mine.

I also like the investigation aspect of this genre, as I’m a former child/adult protection investigator who had my own kind of cases to investigate.

2.  How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

Not hard at all. Writing comes easy for me. Once I get my beginning/middle/end, I write a scene list of what I’d like to see happen, from beginning to end, and then start with  scene  one.

To me, writing books and stories is more like writing movies. There is a difference, I know, because I’ve written scripts too, but I still tell a story basically the same way.

3. Writers are often associated with loner tendencies;is there any truth to that?

Some. I feel very comfortable being alone, but there are times I want to be with family and friends too, and can be a very sociable person–just on my terms. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of the house, but I do take breaks because I love refreshing my batteries. Going out and doing something completely unrelated to writing is good for writers. When you go out and live life, you’ll have something to come back and write about.

4. Do you think writers have a normal life like others?

In a way, yes. In a way, no. Yes in the way that you get up every morning and set about doing your job, which is writing. You may make a list, have your tools, and do your preparations and follow-through, just like an office manager, a salesclerk, or a teacher or nurse would.

But no, in the way that you find yourself working in a fictional world, coming up with scenarios, dialogue, and characters in order to finish your work. This isn’t the normal work non-writers have in the course of their daily work. But if you treat it like an every-day 9-5, I think you will be more productive as a writer, and possibly more creative. I suggest not getting caught up in whether or not the “muse” is cooperating or not. You need to control that muse; don’t let it control you. Your writing depends on you. You shouldn’t depend on a muse.

5. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I always know what I’m going to write about, how it starts, what the characters will do, and how the story will end. The in-between parts can be flexible as I go along, but I do like a framework.

6. What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Promoting it when it’s finished, if you’re going the publishing route.  Sometimes I feel like publishing is like sand on a beach. Your work is one of millions vying for readers.

7. What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

All of it really. But mostly the easiest is coming up with a story that makes sense as a whole. Like I said before, a blueprint. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me.

8. Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

No, but I wanted to purposely wait a few years before writing the sequel to The Incest Diaries, which is about an 8-year-old girl. The sequel was to be about her as an adult, and I wanted to wait a few years, in real time, to write it, perhaps in a much different frame of mind. And it worked. I was very happy with the outcome. It would have been a very different book if I’d written a sequel the next month or even year.

9. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

The story has to make sense. Everything else in the book tells the story. The characters. The setting. The dialogue. The inner dialogue. The exposition. If you don’t have a story, I’m afraid it’s a waste of time. Unless you’re going for the free-association thing, which is a completely different game.

10 Do you attend literary lunches or events?

No, I would like to, but have a bit of travel-anxiety due to being legally blind. I would need a trustworthy travel companion. I’m working on that, however.

11. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing?

I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t bother me a little. But I also would wonder what was wrong with my writing or book, and then I’d try to rationalize it and figure out ways to improve everything. Then I’d just go home and write something else, hopefully better.

This actually happened to a friend of mine. It was devastating for this person, because all of the writer’s hopes and dreams were tied up in this one book. I think that if there were other things going on in my friend’s life besides the book, it wouldn’t have been so disappointing. This writer stopped writing after that.

I felt pretty fortunate and grateful that at least a handful showed up for the one I had. That’s all I could hope for, really.

12. Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?

If you’re going for publication, then put as much work into promotion as you do writing.

13. Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?

Writers are asked this a lot, and they speak with great insight and eloquence about their style. I just don’t know what my style is, and I don’t know how it differs from anyone else. I can tell you what some readers have said, and that would be “raw” or “emotional”. I think that comes from the dialogue, maybe? I do love to write dialogue. I think it’s almost the most important thing about writing.

14. How much of yourself do you put into your books?

I’m sure subconsciously it happens once in a big while, but I try my best to avoid that. Because the story isn’t about me, it’s about the characters, and the sequence of events, and the dialogue. Some writers write themselves into their book, and that’s perfectly fine. I just don’t like that for my writing. Number one, I don’t have that much insight into myself. Number two, I think it would limit me so badly. You know? Forget it.  I just want to tell a story. The characters’ story. Not mine. I want them to act, think, speak, or experience.

15. Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

A time or two. Not because I was like, “Oh my, I just have to write about myself right now.” It was more like, “I know this material, and it will serve the story.”

16. How realistic are your books?

Realistic for the most part, but then there are some situations, characters, and dialogue that go over the top. I try to contain it, but I get carried away. I think it comes from watching a lot of movies and hearing a lot of dialogue. Sometimes I go too intense when I lighter touch would do. I have learned to dial it back, though, thanks to a writing partner I had. I learned to do that from her writing. This sounds like a cop-out, but I’m not writing great literature. It’s entertainment, to me. My writing is more like what you’d see on a night-time soap opera, or a Lifetime movie. Very dramatic.

17. Have any new writers grasped your interest recently?

I don’t do a lot of reading these days except for some nonfiction articles and fanfiction, so that’s why author Lonely Christopher’s book, THERE, is of interest to me. Based on Stephen King’s The Shining, it’s a glorified fanfiction novel, sort of like mine, but probably more literary than mine. I’m curious to read how his transformative work turned out.

18. It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?

My yes. And I think writers have to break their readers’ hearts too.

19. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?

That’s easy. My son. He’s always been my sounding board, and he helped me immensely in working out some of the tricky ideas in my Starsky and Hutch Next Gen novel, since it’s my first novel. And final.

20. Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

I had a wonderful day job that I loved. Social work. And then my visual impairment, RP, forced me to retire, and I became a writer. That career helped me carry over a work ethic, commitment, and a sense of caring in my writing career. And to be honest, some of the subject matter I write about stems from my work as a child/adult protection investigator. I’m not shy when it comes to writing about difficult subject matter, like domestic violence, rape, incest, crime, or victimization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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