Saturday, April 9, 2011

Interview with Author Raymond Rose

Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing the book Better Together by Raymond Rose. He has graciously agreed to do an interview with us. So, please join me in welcoming Raymond Rose to Socrates’ Book Review Blog. Let the questions begin…

1) What made you write a book about a single father? Was there any real life event that triggered it?

I hadn’t set out to write about being a single father in the beginning. After my first son was born, I knew pretty instantly that I wanted to write about being a father. However, I wasn’t sure in what capacity or genre. So I had this desire but no story or even genre. Then I saw Dorothy Koomson’s novel Marshmallows for Breakfast on a shelf one day in the bookstore that I worked at. I didn’t know what the book was about but giving a kid marshmallows for breakfast sounded like something a guy would do if he was thrust into the role of caregiver but had no clue what to do. I liked the idea. Because, let’s be honest, the whole pregnancy (even if you are reading books) only slightly prepares anyone to be a parent. I liked the idea of a guy being thrust into fatherhood with no preparation whatsoever. Then... to have to do it on his own. That, to me, had to be a big part of the story.

The other part, though, had to be why he was doing it. I wanted Paul to be Max’s father not because he had to, but because he wanted to. That was an important part. What kept striking me over and over again the first few months of my son’s infancy was how much I loved him not just because he was mine but because of who he was.

So add Paul having to do it alone and wanting to do it because he loved the boy it became pretty clear that Max’s mom had to exit the picture and that Max couldn’t be Paul’s son. With those realizations, the story pretty much wrote itself.

2) What research, if any, was involved with writing Better Together?

If you call taking care of my two boys every day research, then the answer is a lot. I wrote Better Together about places and things I knew. The only research part was trying to figure out what Paul’s legal status would be in regards to Max. That went through a few variations.

3) Are there any authors that influence you in your writing?

In the case of Better Together, I was definitely thinking about Marisa de los Santos, Audrey Niffenegger, Richard Russo, and Anne Lammot’s non-fiction. I wanted the story to be as conversational as possible but still have a little literary flare.

4) What genres do you write?

I could probably say what genres I don’t write before I could decide which ones I do. I like mixing genres. While Better Together is pretty-much contemporary fiction, my other novel The Fire Inside mashes sci-fi and mystery together. I don’t really feel the need to stick to certain genres. I just have stories to tell and they can’t be boxed in by genres. Stories, like people, don’t like to be defined.

5) Which genres are your favorite to write and read?

I’m a sucker for a good book, no matter where it gets shelved (physically or digitally). Right now, I’m reading a lot of Young Adult with The Hunger Games series and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan books. Next on my to-be-read list is a Lauren Willing novel (romance/historical fiction), then I plan to read Ellen Meister’s novel The Other Life (contemporary fiction). I don’t read by a genre but whatever screams, “READ ME NEXT!”

6) Do you have a favorite book or author?

Favorite Book: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Favorite Author: Stephen King

7) How long does it take you to write a book?

That can depend on a lot of factors. My Sidekick series books take a while because their plots are pretty intricate and they tend to go through many drafts before the plot is solid. There’s a lot of details, a lot of back story to get straight, and a lot of world building. But something like Better Together can take a few months and be pretty close to the mark with only two or three drafts. It really depends on what kind of story I am trying to tell.

8) What are the challenges of being an author?

For me, finding time to write. Finding the time (basically, manipulating my schedule to free some time up ) and then using that time to write. Promoting my books tends to overwhelm my writing schedule. I need to push that stuff aside and focus on the writing.

9) What do you think of the new ebook technology?

I love it. eBooks can be so many things. They can deliver the books in a traditional way (text) or in an enhanced manner (with links and embedded images and videos). I see authors being able to deliver books in the way that they want to deliver it. An author might see their words mingling with black and white photography and silent film as the best way to tell that particular story (check out The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick and think of what he could do with video, images, sounds, and other such mediums infused into his words). People think that eBooks are going to destroy or cheapen the book but I see it as the next evolution. Such technology offers freedom to authors to express themselves differently than traditional print, it gives a voice to new and unpublished authors, and it brings in new readers. EBooks rock!

10) Can you give us any hints of upcoming books?

Right now, I am working on the sequel to The Fire Inside right now and plan to start working on a prequel (of sorts) to Better Together that tells of how Paul’s best friend Charlie got the bookstore and his first couple of years being open. It will be a pretty funny book.

Thanks for the great questions and the time to talk to you!

A very big thank you to Raymond Rose for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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