The Author Visits Spotlights Author R. M. Ridley’s Books, Blondes and Bourbon
More on Blondes, Books, and Bourbon
‘Interview’ was actually written for a blog that was promoting the first White Dragon Black novel, Tomorrow Wendell’. They asked for a character interview and that really gave me pause. I tried to wrap my head around what sort of circumstance would find Jonathan Alvey giving an interview and realized there was only one.
‘The Play’s the Thing’ is the second story written in the WDB world. It was a fun tale to write, and I did so quickly, but it opened up a deeper understanding of both Jonathan, and his world, for me. It was also the story that made me realize I would be seeing a lot more of that character in my future.
‘The Cost of Custody’ was written as a submission for Xchyler Publishing’s open call for their next anthology. It was the first time I had submitted anything involving Jonathan, and I was actually quite surprized when it was accepted into ‘Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology’. This was the first time the public was exposed to the character who had taken over all my writing time… clearly it was only the beginning.
‘Sins of the Father’ is the story that started it all. At the time, it was quite a digression from my usual style. I thought it a one off, a cute tale that stretched my writing ability and nothing more. However, once it had been written and edited, I found the writing department of my mind had been cleared of everything but a brooding figure with his feet up on a battered desk.
‘Legerdelivre’ was written long ago, and then about a year after, my Muse showed me a different possible ending to the story. I enjoyed it in my head but never put it into words. When we were editing that story for ‘Blondes, Books, & Bourbon’, I told my editor, McKenna, about the alternate ending and asked if she’d like me to write it up. She suggested I should write it and another, if I could. It wasn’t that the original ending was bad, but the idea of managing to get a better one, was tempting. I went to work on it immediately, and not only wrote out the one I’d carried in my mind for quite some time, but a third ending as well. The version that is in this anthology is actually the best parts of all three ending fused into one. It wasn’t the easiest to pull off smoothly, but I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.
‘Do As I Say, Not As I Did’ holds a special place in my heart because it a story that shows that Jonathan can intentionally be, when he really wants to, a bit of a jerk. That, to me, is simply entertaining. Hmm, maybe this says something about me I should admit in an interview.
As I said, my stories come from my Muse, but sometimes I can say, ‘Hey, can we work with…’ and she’ll give me a story, there are two of those in this anthology. For the first, I wanted a story that was centered on Jonathan and his problems with keeping a secretary. That was it. That was what I asked for. After a day of musing (where do you think the term comes from?) what I got, was the story, ‘What a Nightmare’. The second was ‘The Ties that Bind’ and it came about because I wanted a short story that tied into the next novel ‘Bindings & Spines’. I wanted to create a tale that stood alone but, when read in conjuncture with the novel, enriched the understanding of the what, and why, of Jonathan trying to go ‘clean’ from magic.
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A Chat with Author R. M. Ridley
Please share how you came up with the concept for your short stories? Which of the stories was the easiest to write and which was the most difficult?
All of my writing comes from my Muse, I can’t construct a story myself. From my perspective, I don’t create my tales – I just record them. Now doesn’t that make me sound crazy? But it’s true – the majority of the stories I write, are idea’s that come to me as snippets of conversations, or little scenes that play out in my head as images. My challenge is to turn those into words that capture what I ‘see’.
In many ways, ‘The Ties that Bind’ was the hardest story to write, as I wanted a thread that connected it to the next novel, ’Bindings & Spines’ and yet allowed the story to stand all its own. That made for a challenge that I truly enjoyed.
The easiest one to write was probably, ‘Sins of the Father’. Being the first story written in that world, I had no restrictions, no rules, and no history. I didn’t have to keep anything straight, remember details, or worry about contradicting myself. Of course, when I wrote it, I had no idea that it would spawn so many other short stories, and novels.
Please name some of your other published works?
Tomorrow Wendell – first White Dragon Black novel
Horror Library, Volume Three – ‘Blink the Blood Away’
Tales of the Talisman Magazine, Volume 1 Issue 4 – ‘Pigeon Pete’
Mental Wellness: Real Stories From Survivors – ‘Ceaseless Cycles’
Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions – ‘Charon’s Obol’
What is your preferred writing genre?
I’m a paranormal / urban fantasy author mainly, but I cut my teeth with horror, and that will always have a dark spot in my heart. I’m sure my mind will churn out some further grisly morsels yet.
And preferred reading genre?
When it comes to reading, I’ll take just about any sort of spec-fic, as long as it’s well written. Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, alt-history – give me a well told story, and I’m yours for the duration.
What are your top 3 favorite books?
Ignoring how awful question that is to ask of any book lover, these are three I certainly always come back to, both physically, and in my mind:
‘The Dark is Rising’ by Susan Cooper was my favourite book as a child, and it still ranks in the top three.
‘Snow Crash’ by Neal Stephenson was an amazing journey meshing cyber-punk, ancient myth, and philosophy and thus must have a place here.
‘Someplace to be Flying’ by Charles de Lint, in many ways is one of my favourites of his works. There is a darkness to it that really appealed to me and it stepped away from some of the better known characters and giving a fresh view into an odd world.
Do you have any particular writing habits?
You mean good ones? I try to get my writing done at the beginning of the day. After enough coffee to find words, I sit down and write what my Muse deigns to share with me. That way, no matter what else the day throws at me, I have got the important part completed.
Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your Blondes, Books, and Bourbon?
Yes, definitely. It grows and shrinks every so often, as songs no longer seem pertinent to the world, or I find new meaning in songs that inspire me. I also have subsets for the different moods Jonathan goes through and, of course, one for fight scenes.
Panster or plotter?
Panster – Absolutely Panster! If I even try to plan a chapter ahead, the entire train of thought comes to a painful screeching halt and I’m left, chin in hand, staring at a black page, listening to the sheep Baa.
Advice for writers?
I think there are two things that I would recommend, one is easy and the other sounds hard, but is actually just a change of mindset. First advice is a standard – Just Write. Get it down, and don’t look back until you’ve told the story. The second thing is – Learn to Love Edits. It sounds impossible, but editing is just writing from a different angle. It is the same process, same creativity, same weaving of words but you are doing it from outside the box instead of inside.
What’s up next for you?
Any moment now, my editor, McKenna Gardner, who worked wonders with my first novel, ‘Tomorrow Wendell’ and acts of magic to get, ‘Blondes, Books & Bourbon’ together, is going to show up with a red pen, and a cattle prod. This will be my cue that she intends to help me get the second White Dragon Black novel, ‘Bindings & Spines’, ready for publishing. Everyone should take a minute and thank McKenna for making these works exist, by the way.