Name Rita Monette
Age Rita: Great grandma age.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Rita: I am originally from South Louisiana, but now live in the mountains of Tennessee.
Fiona: A little about your self, i.e., your education Family life etc.
Rita: I am a retired Administrative Assistant. I hold a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. I am married with three grown children, eight grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren. Currently I have a household that consists of one ornery husband six spoiled dogs and two cantankerous cats.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Rita: Besides welcoming two new great grandchildren this year, I released the third book in my Nikki Landry Swamp Legend series through Mirror World Publishing.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Rita: I’d always written poems and essays, but never considered doing anything “seriously” until I retired. I had decided to jot down some things I still wanted to accomplish in my life. One of the things was to write a children’s book, which surprised even me. After taking a few classes at a local college in writing for children, then making a few attempts at picture books, I began writing about my childhood, growing up in the Louisiana bayous. At that point I discovered Nikki Landry, and I knew I wanted to write novels.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Rita: I supposes i finally took myself seriously when my first book was published.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Rita: I wanted to share the lifestyle of the Cajun people of Louisiana, especially in the 1950s, when most of them were living off the land, fishing and trapping, back before the oil industry took over. I also wanted to share some of the stories (legends) my father was fond of telling.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Rita: I don’t know if I have a particular “style,” but I like to write for middle graders. They are the most curious and honest group of readers. They ask intelligent questions and give honest and straightforward feedback.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Rita: The Legend of Ghost Dog Island came from a legend about something living on a swamp island near where I grew up. The name of the island is fictitious, while the unnamed island is real.
Fiona: How much of the book (series) is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
Rita: I consider my books to be historical fiction, offering “true story” information mixed with fiction
There is an underlying message in each one of my novels. I also include authors notes that reveal some true facts in each book.
In The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, I tell something about the Cajun people, how they lived, their plights dealing with their language and lifestyle of constant relocations, following the seasons. The underlying message is about making and maintaining friendships.
My second novel, The Curse at Pirate’s Cove, deals with the notorious pirate, Jean Lafitte, and how he helped win the Battle of New Orleans. The message in this novel is that working for what you want is more profitable than wishing to find a pirate’s buried treasure.
In my third novel, The Secret in Mossy Swamp, I touch upon the “true” legend of a swamp monster, and a notorious Louisiana prison, with the underlying message about the good and bad of keeping secrets.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Rita: I loved the Nancy Drew series growing up. I love to read mysteries. I call my female protagonist, “Nancy Drew of the Bayou.”
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Rita: I feel that, beside my family, my author friends and my publisher are my biggest support network.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Rita: I don’t think about it as a career. I love writing, and will continue to do so as long as I am able. My goal is to get my stories out to as many folks as possible.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Rita: No, I don’t think I’d change anything.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Rita: To me, writing a series is harder than just writing. I had originally began my first book as a stand alone. When I decided to make it a series, I found myself having to go back to book one to remind myself of pertinent information about my characters, both main and secondary. I want my books to be able to stand alone, as well as to follow the characters’ adventures throughout the series, without repeating chunks of background information.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Rita: I only travel once a year to my home town in Louisiana to promote my latest book in the series.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Rita: Wicked Covers designed the first two in the series. Justine Dowsett, from Mirror World Publishing, designed the latest book.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Rita: I guess the hardest part in any mystery book is the pacing, making sure you keep the tension, which keeps your reader turning the page until the satisfying ending.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Rita: I learn something new with each book I write. My characters always teach me something. I also learn as I research for accuracy in some of my historical facts.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
Rita: Well, since my character is perpetually only ten and eleven years old, I would have to decide that if/when the time comes.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Rita: Oh my, my usual advice is never to give up. So many writers give up after a few rejection letters. Read Stephen King’s “On Writing.” You will see that even the most famous writers have their share of rejections before they finally get published. Write, rewrite, learn your craft, then rewrite again.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Rita: Just that I hope you enjoy reading Nikki’s adventures, and I hope you love her as much as I do.
Fiona: What are you currently reading?
Rita: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Rita: I am also an artist. I do animal portraits when I have the time, and I also do face and body art at festivals.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Rita: I’ve pretty much dabbled in everything I wanted to do. I have been an artist, a musician/vocalist in a band, and basically anything creative.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your latest book with us?
Rita: Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of The Secret in Mossy Swamp.
SKREEEEEEE! The sound reminded me of a giant fingernail pulled across a blackboard. Then everything suddenly got extra quiet.
Living in a houseboat and all, I’d gotten pretty used to strange noises coming from the swamps. But this one—the one that could make the other critters shut up—gave me the willies. Papa says folks living along the bayous are apt to believe in legends. And anything weird they can’t explain is on account of some swamp creature, namely the rougarou. But my papa, being smarter than most folks, told me there’s always something logical behind legends. And I always believe my papa…well most of the time.
I rolled over under my quilt and wiggled to get more comfortable. Snooper, who had used my legs for his pillow, growled real low. He didn’t much like his sleep being disturbed. He was awful lazy for a beagle.
While I laid trying to go back to sleep, my skin got a prickly feeling—sorta like when someone is watching you. I opened one eye. The pale moon and the wind through the trees made creepy shadows that moved like long fingers across the tiny window. I could barely see the outline of my little brother, Jesse, on his cot nearby. I closed my eye hoping I’d soon doze back off. But in the dark, a sound like low deep breathing…real close to my bed…filled my head with images of blood red eyes and yellow fangs. The wooden floor creaked.
I remembered the ghostly pirates that had visited me in my dreams a few months ago. But this wasn’t a dream. I was pretty certain I was awake. I pinched my arm to be sure. I opened both eyes just a slit. A shadow moved near the foot of my bed. I tried to swallow, but my mouth felt dry as a bite of an unripe persimmon.
My covers moved ever so slightly. I tugged ’em up to my chin and pressed my eyes shut as hard as I could…and waited.
The bed jiggled.
“S-Snoop?” I whispered. Something cold like my dog’s nose touched my foot…then it grabbed my toes. Not Snooper.
“Eeeeeek!” I screamed and jumped to my feet. I stood on the bed and yelled as loud as I could manage, hoping my parents would hear me from their room.
“Rouwrrrrrr!” Something tackled my legs and pushed me down on the bed. “Yahahaha….”
I swung my arms in the dark, but it was on top of me. It’s wet mouth snarling in my ear. Was it…?
“What’s going on in here?” Papa rushed through the door holding a lantern. The room lit up with the pale glow of kerosene light.
“Hah, I got you good.” Jesse stood up over me.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Rita: My website is http://ritamonette.com
My blog is http://ritamonette.blogspot.com