Young Princess Nefasti wakes one morning to discover her father the King poisoned and her mother near death. She is the sole heiress to the ancient High Kingdom of Vadio. The king's three brothers immediately begin to plot and quarrel over who will become Regent and control the kingdom until she comes of age, or dies. Their solution is to marry her off. Princes Pilarius and Lubricius both have eligible sons; Prince Mortuus, the youngest brother, decides he would make the better choice.Ron has been writing fiction for over 35 years and told me he was probably inspired by reading a book and thinking Well, I can do that, or I can write better than this.
"That was a long time ago and I've learned that writing well is not easy," he confessed. "My business life was always hectic, and the writing I had to do was certainly less than thrilling. It was therapy to go home after a hard day and immerse myself in one of my favorite genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Adventure etc. I will read almost anything when cornered."
Work eventually interfered with is fiction writing, so he slowed down on it ("plus I had a large collection of rejection letters," he confessed), but he got serious about his writing again about eight years ago.
Since then he's won a short story contest, helped a writers group self-publish an anthology, co-authored a history book, and attended a World Horror Conference in Brighton, England—a vampire anthology he was a part of launched at the conference.
"I started writing out longhand in notebooks, graduated to a manual type-writer, then leaped to a Commodore 64 computer. Have upgraded since," he told me, adding, "It is a lot easier to make changes now!"
Block doesn't seem to be a problem for Ron—if anything he has too many ideas, because almost anything can trigger an idea for a story—many of which seem to decide they are novels.
"Often when I grab an idea and run with it, I don't have the story fully plotted out. I go for morning walks before breakfast and find this excellent for pounding out plot twists and scenes, including dialogue. The only problem with this method is remembering all the details when I get home. I don't feel like mumbling into a tape recorder en route. Another trick I use is-- as I am writing out a tale I may have an idea about something that will come out later in the story. I jot these down in a notes file on the computer. I can call this file up concurrently with the manuscript I am working on. I also start the file off with whatever sketchy notes I have regarding the project before I start. I never do a complete outline though, more often fill in the notes as I go along so I can keep track of characters and their habits etc."
Usually the plot will present itself first, but there have been cases where Ron will develop the characters first.
"For example, I worked on a story about the North Americans discovering Europe first. (An idea from a newspaper headline). Then I had to decide how to make it work, then who would tell the story, point-of-view, etc. On the other hand, I wanted to do a fantasy novella about a detective, an idea I had for a series. In that case, first I designed the detective, then the setting, then the plot, and let the character run the show."
For The Dark Lady, Ron saw a certain actress on TV and thought she looks like she could play a nasty character quite well. The next thought was along the lines of how do nasty characters get their reputation?
"This was before I ever heard of Wicked," he told me. "I decided to start at the beginning, with a young girl, and followed a track more like that of Queen Elizabeth the First, where she is captive to the chaos of a royal court, surrounded by men all seeking power for their own purposes. With that idea, I designed the setting for the background, a High Kingdom that had fallen onto hard times, and placed my heroine at the center of everything. Sort of Reputation vs Actuality, and how these come out, set against a coming of age story. I open, putting the clever heroine in peril by having her parents murdered, and surrounded by three uncles, all wanting the crown. To add to her difficulties, I surround the kingdom with three empires that splintered off from the old High Kingdom, and now want to seize it for themselves. So there is intrigue from inside, and without and gives me the opportunity to have anything from romance to mayhem and magic."
Ron's also working on a fantasy detective series, with The Housetrap being the first installment. He's completed two others in the series and is working on the fourth.
"I am hoping that Housetrap will be a success. This gives me the opportunity to run wild with a character I enjoy, Randolf C. Aloysius (aka Randy) and in almost unlimited settings, given the style. Started off as a hard-boiled detective (who is not human) but as the tales develop I have to fill in more back story and develop some of the minor characters more fully, like his long-suffering girl Friday type, Bertha Wildwater, who has already accompanied him on one case, and is now involved in this one as well. A lighter style of tale, I start out with a slightly warped title, and figure out the plot later, based on the title. First draft is almost completed, and I have already started to make notes and an opening for a sequel to The Dark Lady. I want to get a step ahead on that, again in case there is a demand for a follow-up."
With most of his novels, the story suggests the title. For example Dark Lady describes a young Queen who earns a nasty reputation. Housetrap is because Ron decided to write a series of novellas based on old (or modern) thrillers or mysteries, i.e. Housetrap because of Mousetrap. Once he has the title, he writes the story which has nothing to do with the original book. Another example from the same series is Dial M for Mudder, a take-off on Dial M for Murder, which runs amok on its own.
"Other than that series, I feel the title should reflect the story, and comes to me once the tale has been started. The ghost short story that took first place in a national contest is titled 'Midnight' because the resolution take place then. My North Americans discover Europe epic is called ToltecKhan, after the Toltec Indians (with a Chinese connection) who are the central characters in the story," he told me.
I asked Ron to tell us about his writing space.
"Unfortunately it is messy. I have a large old-fashioned desk that holds a radio/record player, two printers and a laptop. Beside that is a computer deask with a laptop and a backup hard drive. The room is surrounded by book cases, tables, scanner etc. I have a bad habit for sorting files on the floor (to be filed later) but I know where everything is… usually. The large cat has a bad habit of strolling across computers and keyboards when it is nearing his feed time, which seems to happen frequently."
Finally, I asked, "E-book or print? And why?"
"I personally prefer reading paper," he told me. "I've just received a Kobo eReader a few months ago once I learned I was entering the world of eBooks with two of my own. (Hopefully they will eventually come out as trade paperbacks.) I have been accused by some who know me of a being a Luddite. I can handle a book on the e reader, but somehow it is not quite the same. eBooks are a complete new world for me. I can see the advantages-- world-wide distribution made easy, lower cost to the readers and to the publishers, hopefully opening up new markets for new authors. My wife will probably become a fan of eBooks if only they will cut down on my many boxes of books and numerous bookshelves. We moved houses two years ago and there are still boxes of books to unpack."
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