Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi! I’m Ruth Ramsey and I am in my sixties.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and raised and still live in western Oklahoma about sixty miles east of the Texas panhandle.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Let’s see. I like a variety of things. I do genealogy, draw pencil portraits, and sing. I am currently a member of the Buffalograss Arts Institute’s Wandering Troubadours Chorale group. I also enjoy participating in community theatre. I am a grandmother to 18 (with bonus kiddos) and great grandmother of five.I graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University summa cum laude more years ago than I want to count with a B.A. Ed in English Education, and I am still teaching at a small rural school in southwest Oklahoma, where I teach junior and senior high school English and am the yearbook advisor. In past years I have also taught art. This is my twenty-fourth year there and I will have taught 26 ½ years at the end of this year.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I just finished proofreading my second book, Candle of Dreams, which will be making its debut soon. The cover art for this book is particularly special to me since the photo was taken by my son, whose work was recently selected to be featured in the United States Postal Service’s collection O Beautiful.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have always been a writer, I think. I wrote stories when I was little, and poetry in high school. I have served as an editor and features writer on various newspapers in western Oklahoma and in Casper, Wyoming.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
As I said, I think I have always been one. I thought of myself primarily as a poet, but now, I guess you could say I am a writer of literary young-adult crossover fiction.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Actually, it just came to me and I started writing it. It took me a long time to write because I was busy with grandchildren and helping to raise them. One of my students inspired me to finish. He came back after graduation and asked me if I had finished the book. When I told him I hadn’t he told me, “You ought to. It’s good!” I took his words to heart and finished it.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It is from the quote within the book that expresses the theme: “Grief is a far country that we visit for a while when our loved ones go home. Sometimes our visit is a long one and we have a hard time finding our way back. When we do, we carry the memories, not as a burden, but as a treasure.” The journey back is far. Hence: A Far Journey. For Candle of Dreams, I brainstormed with my friend to come up with a title that conveyed the idea of a love that draws people like moths to a flame and sometimes singes them with its intensity.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My two books are written in first person. I have to become that person to write. Sometimes it’s emotionally wringing. In Candle of Dreams, told from three first-person points of view, I had to become each person.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The events in my book occur in western Oklahoma. A FAR JOURNEY is set partially in the town I was born and grew up in and there are locales that are real. The people however, are fictional—except for the train driver in the park. That is my tribute to my dad, who drove the little steam train. The red dirt and thunderstorms are realities out here. Candle of Dreams is set also in Oklahoma in the land of red dirt, but it occurs in the thirties near an unnamed town off Route 66. It is purely a work of fiction.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No. I am an Oklahoma native.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I do not know who designed my first cover. Melissa Carrigee designed the second cover. The cover art for this book is particularly special to me since the photo was taken by my son, whose work was recently selected to be featured in the United States Postal Service’s collection O Beautiful.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I write literary fiction it seems. The first is that there is no timeline to heal from grief, but that we eventually remember the good things and they comfort us. In Candle of Dreams, the message is that love endures, but dreams may not.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I read whatever takes my fancy, and I don’t have any new authors that are my favorites. I read everything from Bradbury to Mary Stewart to James Michener to Stephanie Meyer’s works (just to see what my teen students were so crazy about). I like writing that is well-crafted and that keeps me interested.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I don’t know if she is an entity or not, but my friend Caroline Giammanco has been my cheerleader and helper.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Actually, teaching is my primary career and my passion. I stumbled late into writing books, having spent many years teaching my students to write. Writing, to me, is the icing on the cake.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Having set Candle of Dreams in 1939, I had to do some research. Just how dusty was it in the area in which I set my book? How did people live? What radio shows were popular then? What was happening in Europe? A Far Journey was easy. I lived in the area during the sixties.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I really have no idea—hopefully someone who fit the physical descriptions of my characters and who could convey their distinct personalities.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Once you’ve finished that manuscript, put it away for two weeks. Then go back and read it critically. Change what needs changing. Polish. Polish. Polish. It is your pearl, after all.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve been beta-reading my friend’s latest WIP and reading essays from my students. I’m not really reading anything else right now, but there are a couple on my shelf I will eventually get to.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really. I was in second grade when I discovered the wonderful world of stories. I read as many of the Little Golden Books that I could get my parents to buy. I did get a junior version of Little Women for Christmas when I was in the fifth grade, and I read it and re-read it until it fell apart. I discovered the library when I was nine and the first books I checked out were Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
What makes me laugh? Baby laughs, witticisms, the funny things that happen in life, my students, my pets. What makes me cry? Missing those who have gone on, meanness in any form, suffering.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Hmmm. Let’s see…Queen Elizabeth I. (I’ve always been fascinated by her life).
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Genealogy, singing, drawing, collecting dust….
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like to watch the ghost hunting stories, and home improvement/house flipping stories like the Property Brothers when I watch, but I’m not much on watching television.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I like most foods and my waistline shows it. I love turquoise and sunshine yellow. I am eclectic in my tastes in music and I don’t have a particular kind that I like, but the sound and melody and beat have to appeal to me. I tend to gravitate towards songs in a minor key (I love Celtic music), but I also like bouncy, bright songs with a catchy melody.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Probably what I do now. Teach, love on my grandkids, do some crafting, and if I were lucky enough, travel.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Ruth Ramsey A Far Journey: A Young Girl’s Coming of Age Story on Facebook. A FAR JOURNEY is available through Amazon, Barnes&Noble and http://a-argusbooks.com/ . Candle of Dreams has not yet been released.