Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ramona, Diving in, Head First

Hi, I'm Ramona Richards, and I love being a part of this support group (aka blog) of ladies because we just don’t think like most people (just check out Barbara’s intro down there). Like superheroes, we have secret lives. When we’re around other people, we may look and act normal, but leave us alone with a computer, and our minds turn to twists of fate, dark and stormy nights, and the details of grisly crimes and misdemeanors.

In my “ordinary” life, I’m an editor for a Christian publisher and the mother of Rachel, a 21-year-old with severe disabilities who has brought me the greatest joy – as well as the nastiest worries. But as the author of seven books, including four Love Inspired Suspense novels, I’ve killed best-selling authors and auction agents, kidnapped children, and fired an entire assortment of weapons at my heroes, heroines, and villains.

Such delicious, malicious fun. So how did I get here?

Well . . . back at the VERY beginning, I was named for the preacher’s wife – an auspicious start which I was bound not to live up to. The fun part is that brother’s name is Ray, and when my parents named me, they had no idea Ramona was the feminine form of Raymond. In addition to our names, my brother and I shared the same curiosity about the world, which meant it was almost impossible to get us to look at a camera – too many other intriguing things going on around us. I write under my own name; the Richards arrived 25 years after Ramona (and should actually be Ricciuti, but that’s a story for another time…).

I name my characters in about the same random fashion. Sometimes, the characters tell me what their names are, especially the heroines. (I warned you that we don’t think like most folks . . .) When it comes to villains, however, I try to use a name that doesn’t fit anyone I know – or know about. I would never name a villain Heath, for instance. Not only because of Heath Ledger but because my first boyfriend had that name. When I’m stuck, I turn to the phone book or to the stack of church bulletins and concert and play programs I’ve kept for just that purpose and play mix-and-match with first and last names.

Three Really Interesting Tidbits About Me

1. I love to hike and scuba dive, so my dream vacation is a week on the island of Dominica.

2. I once held a kingdom-level office in the Society for Creative Anachronism (Deputy Reporting Seneschale for the Kingdom of Meridies)

3. While I was still in college, I broke my ankle backpacking, but I hated being in a cast, especially when this really gorgeous guy wanted to go rock climbing. With the help of a friend, I sawed my way out of the cast. Even have the pictures to prove it. Kids, do NOT try this at home . . .

Is it any wonder I like adventurous books? My first “novel” (I was ten and it was teeny) was a mystery; I’ve always loved them but never thought I had a talent for them. I tried my hand at everything else, including science fiction, but nothing took off. Then I revamped an old mystery as an inspirational romantic suspense, and it sold two weeks after I submitted it. Sometimes when God opens a door, He opens it W I D E.

My favorite of the books I’ve written (so far) is definitely The Taking of Carly Bradford, which comes out in May. My heroine, Dee, has been through a horrific trauma, and is just now pulling out of a dark depression. She’s a little unsteady at the beginning, but strong. The story revolves not only around the suspense of the kidnapping and threats to Dee but how the case works to help her heal.

I read a lot of suspense, and the books that bring me joy in the reading include those from Robert Crais, Angela Hunt, Jeff Lindsay, Dee Henderson, and the ladies on this blog. And all the classic authors. And Elizabeth George. And Lawrence Block. And . . . you get the idea.

My favorite non-suspense author is Dorothy Dunnett. Her novels are intense, poetic, beautiful, and every sentence is a delight to read. Where else could read about the surprise attack of an army of helmet-wearing sheep followed shortly by a scene so gripping and real you’ll throw the book against the wall?

My best writing friend is Carol Lynn Stewart, who also writes as Carolina Montague. Even though we are worlds apart with what we write, she’s been an encourager, critique partner, and unbelievably loyal friend for more than a decade.

The funniest thing that's ever happened to me because I'm a writer came from a woman who’s known me for several years. She knew I was a writer and editor but not what kind. When I gave her my first suspense book, she read it almost without stopping. She kept repeating, “It’s a REAL book. It reads like a REAL book! You’re a REAL writer! I had no idea you wrote REAL books!” I was afraid to ask her what she thought I wrote before I gave her the book.

The craziest thing I've done gathering research wasn’t originally for a novel. In 2003, I sold an article to Today’s Christian Woman about women addicted to Internet pornography. I spent a lot of time on porn site message boards, communicating with the people who hung out there. Some were reluctant to talk, but many were forthcoming about why they go to such sites. The article won an award for reporting – and it did provide some ideas for a novel, yet to be developed. I also had a “fun” time cleaning my computer afterward.

A real life murder that fascinates me is the Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short. LA’s greatest cold case has had a lot of theories about what happened, and James Ellroy wrote a masterful novel about it, but it remains unsolved.

Finally, I'm excited about this blog because these ladies are some of the most fabulous people I’ve had the privilege to know. I look forward to learning from them and sharing with them and our readers. Our readers are awesome, and I hope to meet a lot more through this blog.


Phyllis Bourne Williams said...

Hi Ramona! Just popped over to Amazon to pre-order The Taking of Carly Bradford. Hope you'll give us a sneak-peek when you get your cover.

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Good morning, Ramona! My oh my, there certainly was a lot of terrritory we didn't cover on that trip to St.Louis.

Great blog!

PamelaTracy said...

The Taking of Carly Bradford does sound intriging. I'm looking forward to it! Very brave going to the porn sites. Every once in awhile I'll be googling something and wind up at a porn site. I'm alone in my office but I still look behind me LOL

Rae Ann Parker said...

Hi Ramona. What a fun post. I learn something new about you all the time.

Trish Milburn said...

You SAWED your way out of a cast? Ack.

And LOL on cleaning up your computer after all that porn cruising.

Writer and Cat said...

Hey, this is a REAL blog post! It reads like a REAL blog post! Wow!


Jody W.

Linda said...

LOVE love-inspired suspense. Enjoy the interviews about the authors. Makes them more real and personal.


Annie Solomon said...

Cool, blog, Ramona. Was fun learning about you. Would never have guessed you have such a devious mind...

EllenToo said...

I went to your website to read about Rachel. She reminds me of a "child" I knew when I was teaching. We had a special needs unit at the school that took all kinds of children with all kinds of problems. One of my fellow teachers and friends worked in the unit and I got to know a child much like Rachel only younger at the time. She was an absolute delight to be around as I'm sure Rachel is.

Marti said...

Just goes to show you that you don't always know your friends (or your editors) even when you know your editors as friends!

I'm excited that others are discovering what a REAL writer you are. And I'm thankful you have room for real friends, too!

Marti aka Will

Kimberly Haynes Titlebaum said...

Silly girl...there was no saw used on the cast...that would reason and forethought, both rare items in our dormroom. I recall a soupspoon and a nail-file being used and a great deal of care to perserve the "art" on the cast.

But, *sigh* Marcel was soo worth it...

Ramona Richards said...

Thanks, everyone!

Phyllis, YES, will definite post the cover as soon as it's available.

And to Kimberly, hmph, a knife was also involved, and lots of sawing (just no saw...). If you want to see why, click on the photo in this entry:

I really appreciate everyone stopping by!

Corbette said...

I can't believe how much I learned about you on this one post, Ramona! Where have you been hiding all of these stories?

Love your stories behind names! Very cool.