We could put the usual dry stats about Ronnie’s education, travels, and accomplishments, her short stories and books, but, hey – you can find that stuff out anywhere.
What you can’t find anywhere is this 10 Question Interview conducted by her daughter Hope on a Sunday afternoon while Ronnie was trapped in the kitchen canning a milder batch salsa for her husband and was unable to escape the inquisition. She had a TRUCKLOAD to tomatoes from down at the cabin garden to get rid of …
Hope: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Ronnie: My biggest pet peeve … is people who sit on their butt, and whine and complain, and don’t get up and do anything about it. If you don’t like – change it!
Hope: Who is your all time writing hero and why?
Ronnie: Stephen King. He started out humble, he worked like a dog, he was rejected a million time, and still he kept on trying. And, he came through it and is scathingly successful and still, he’s humble. And he’s a WONDERFUL writer. His characters are so flawed and lovely and real. The way he tells you the story, like a friend telling another friend. “Okay, so here’s what really happened ….” So I love his writing and I love him as a person. Well – love him? I like him as a person.
Hope: What is your biggest indulgence?
Ronnie: Buying books. eBooks, and paper books, and second-hand books, and audible books, so I can listen to them while I’m doing stuff. That’s pretty well my wallet’s big black hole. (Laughs) Nobody knows how many I’ve got. So shhh …
Hope: What is the one word your best friend would use to describe you?
Hope: What is your life motto or mantra?
Ronnie: A Henry Thoreau quote, “Beware of endeavors that require new clothing.” I love that! I’ve had it as part of my signature for years now. If you need a whole new wardrobe to do something – if you have to change who you are to do that something, don’t do it. You are good enough as you are here today. I’m not saying wear leggings to the office, though, that would be awesome and super comfortable … (Laughter) You know what I mean.
Hope: What was the last book you read?
Ronnie: ‘Lottery’ by Patricia Woods. It was the last one because I just re-read it. Love, love, love that book. I recommend it to anyone who will listen. It's loaded with subtext, my favorite thing!
Hope: What would it say on your grave marker?
Ronnie: There would be no grave marker; there would be no saying. Anything I had to say, I’d sure I would have said it by then. (Laughter)
Hope: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your twenty-year-old self?
Ronnie: First of all, I’d tell myself – It’s Okay! It gets better! Relax, it just gets better. And, YES, you’re good enough and DON’T WAIT FOR PERMISSION. What you want to do with your life, go for it – go for it now. I’m so sorry that I waited ‘til now to do what I wanted. I have wanted to write my entire life. When am I doing it? Mind you, I wrote around work, but I worked full time – we weren’t swimming in money, we had kids, there were reasons, but … seriously, I left it ’til last. I would tell young people, if there’s something you wanna do, if you have a passion, make it happen.
Hope: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Ronnie: Um, both. I sit down and work out a plot – a map, where my characters are going to go and some of things that are going to happen and need to occur. So I write down, for instance, ‘this has to happen by chapter three, because by chapter five, that’s got to happen. Then by chapter ten, now I can reveal ‘X’.’
So when I go to each chapter to actually write the story, I know what needs to happen in the chapter, but nothing else. I put myself into the character’s shoes, look around at what they are seeing, what could happen, take it in, then, oh, and then I see what happens to them. So it’s part plot and mostly pantser. And often, being a pantser, all sorts of cool things happen, then you have to re-plot from there, because the path to the end is new! (laughter) … ‘Ooh, I didn’t think of that.’
In fact, at the end of After the Party, there’s a reveal – there’s this big thing at the end of it where Laura, the heroine is fighting for her life against the baddie, who is trying to kill her, and he’s yelling, and she says something to him and he yells back, “I’m not her father!” And I’m typing away … and yank my hands away from the keys in shock. What!? I did not know that! (Laughter) It was all – like, you have to give them their lead, let your characters live within the story. And I did not know that! I’m thinking – this is interesting! (Laughter)
Hope: What’s your favorite genre?
Ronnie: I don’t have a favorite. I will read everything and anything. As long as it’s a real good story, I’m willing to go along for the ride. I have no preference at all. A good story is all that I need.