by Alicia Street
Today’s post is another entry in my series of RG2E Reader2Author Interviews, where authors mix it up with one of their readers.
Welcome Ruth Harris, my fellow contributor to the WG2E blog, and an all-around superfab lady. She’s worked in just about every area of publishing and is one of the few authors I’ve met who, like me, collaborates with her spouse.
In her own right, Ruth is a New York Times bestselling author whose books (with Random House, Simon & Schuster, and St.Martin’s Press) have sold millions of copies in hardcover and paperback, been translated into 19 languages, published in 25 countries and selected by the Literary Guild and Book-of-the-Month Club.
Her chosen reader is Marilou George, a Mom, Wife and lover of books. Marilou is a member of The Kindle Book Review Team and a book blogger with her own site: Confessions Of A Reader. She is a self-employed consultant designing Web-sites for small local business owners as well as consulting on technical issues.
Alicia to Ruth and Marilou: When did you first become an avid reader? As a child or an adult? What got you started?
Ruth: I’ve read for longer than I remember. Seriously. My Mom told me that at about three, I sat down at the dining room table, book in front of me, dictionary to the side & taught myself how to read. Sounds sort of crazy, but I actually believe it. I can’t remember not knowing how to read; my Dad loved words and had all kinds of dictionaries; my Mom wasn’t a bullsh*tter; and both of them were avid readers. Books, newspapers, magazines were in plentiful supply as I was growing up and my paternal grandfather, a physician, was famous for his library. So books are a constant in my family.
Marilou: I have been an avid reader as far back as I can remember. As a child I loved the library and during the summers the Bookmobile would come to the school every week and I was always the first one in line. I remember the feeling of holding those books in my hands and beginning another adventure that would carry me away. Reading has always been my release and something I couldn’t live without.
Alicia: Ditto on that one, Marilou. Do your children read?
Marilou: I started reading to my son when he was 1 month old and everyone thought I was crazy. Well my son is now graduating from High School and his reading test scores are through the roof! Who was the crazy one?
Alicia to Ruth and Marilou: How often do you read? Where do you read? And is there a time of day that is ‘reading’ time?
Marilou: I read every day, usually in the evening in my comfortable little corner of the couch. I take my book or my Kindle with me anytime I have any appointments to pass the time waiting, there is always a wait!
Ruth: Late afternoon or evening. On my iPad. We live in a house filled with books but dusting them & wondering where I will find space for all the new ones I was constantly buying is no longer an issue. Liberating. I can indulge my book greed to my heart’s content.
Alicia: What genres are your favorites? Any you absolutely would never read?
Marilou: I have always been open to any genre of book, I don’t have a specific one. The only genre that I do not read is Horror, it’s just not my style.
Ruth: I read across genres. You never know when and where you’ll find something you love or something that will trigger a terrific idea.
Alicia to Ruth: Do you have an author you currently read that inspires your writing?
Ruth: All of them inspire me; it can be a word choice, a turn of phrase, a character portrait. They are all inspiring—even if reminding me what NOT to do!
Ruth to Marilou: How did you find my books? Which on did you read first?
Marilou: I first discovered your books when you selected me to read/review Decades. I don’t know what made you select me out of all the reviewers but I feel we are a perfect fit.
Alicia to Marilou: How did that first book affect you?
Marilou: I loved it! I could totally relate to the story and I felt as if I understood the message Ruth was giving. Ruth presents a style of writing that will connect you to each character and allow you to feel the emotions and struggles that they face.
Alicia to Marilou: Which one of Ruth’s characters is most compelling to you? Any that you don’t like?
Marilou: I find all of Ruth’s characters to be compelling. Ruth has a wonderful way of bringing them to life and exposing their inner emotions and vulnerabilities. I find that I have compassion for all of them and can relate to them on a human level.
Alicia to Ruth: Is there a particular character you get the most compliments or complaints about?
Ruth: People tell me they find my characters—they each have positives and negative and I don’t flinch from rounded portraits—very believable and relatable.
Alicia to Marilou: What prompts you as a reader to contact an author?
Marilou: I have such a profound appreciation for all the work that goes into being an author. When I pick up a book to read and it almost physically transports me into the story I feel great satisfaction and appreciation of the work involved to be an author. When I read Ruth’s books they carry me back to places in my own life and I am swept up in the story. This is the very reason that I read, not only to learn but to be held hostage by the story and lose myself in the book. It has been my pleasure to have met Ruth and I very much enjoy our connection.
Alicia to Ruth: Have you ever had a reader’s feedback influence your work?
Ruth: Not that I can recall.
Marilou to Ruth: Did you always want to be a writer?
Ruth: I was always a huge reader but when I was a kid, I wanted to be a professional skater with an ice show. In high school, I wanted to be a lawyer but a summer job in a law office cured that: behold the definition of toxic boredom.
Ruth to Marilou: What do you love to do when you’re not reading?
Marilou: When I am not reading I love to spend time with my family. I also like to crochet and do other crafty things. I love working outside in my yard and since I live in Daytona Beach the beach is a great alternative.
Alicia to Marilou: Is there something you’d like to say to most authors? Something you wish they’d understand better about readers?
Marilou: I feel that readers just want to be swept up in a story and taken away from their daily lives. Books have been a very important part of my life and I am grateful to all authors for their work.
Alicia: Ahhh. The perfect reader. 🙂
Alicia: What kind of heroine or hero do you usually like to read about? One that you will go back to again and again?
Marilou: I appreciate a heroine who has confidence in herself and her abilities and is not afraid to show it. One who is strong, yet still vulnerable in other aspects of her life.
Alicia: What is the reason you continue to read Ruth’s books?
Marilou: Ruth is a masterful storyteller and brings her characters to the forefront while also reflecting on the society and people during the past decades. Her writing is rich with dialogue and the struggles both women and men face in our ever changing society. I am also able to relate to the women as they forge ahead to attain recognition and equality in the workplace for their hard work and abilities.
Marilou to Ruth: Where do you get your inspiration?
Ruth: The giddy answer: Barney’s.
Alicia: The serious answer?
Ruth: Anywhere and everywhere. Friends and their dramas, love lives, careers, kids rank high. Also movies, overheard conversations, TV, newspapers, books, Internet. Really, you truly never know when the next big—or small—idea will strike. Don’t diss the little ones, either, because they are crucial: small ideas are often the ones that help chip away at a difficult plot or character problem. Bottom line: for a writer the world is a gold mine of ideas and inspiration.