Glowing Author Interview #5
Wow, we have the celebrated Ronie Kendig with us today! Ronie just received special recognition from the International Thriller Writers. Talk about a great–and well-deserved–thrill! I know you will be eager to hear from her, so…
Okay, Ronie, I’ll bet you’re going to say you started your writing career in kindergarten.
Actually, unlike many authors, I did not grow up thinking I’d be a writer. Because of my background, I was terrified to dream, to put myself out there because I was too afraid of being rejected or failing. However, I’ve always been crafting stories, whether with Barbies, school assignments, or using a spiral in high school and writing out a story longhand. As a newlywed, I savored it when my husband got me my first word processor. It was cutting edge, but now, I groan thinking about writing stories on those tiny discs! Finally, sometime around 2000, my husband urged me to try to get published. I received my first rejection in 2002.
I always congratulate writers on that first rejection letter. It’s the badge of a true working writer, isn’t it? So with all that background, how did you come up with the idea for Dead Reckoning?
Dead Reckoning is the story of a young woman battling for independence from her father’s career that shattered their family. Unwittingly, she’s embroiled in a nuclear arms clash that propels her into the path of a covert operative trying to rout the masterminds behind a dead drop in the Arabian Sea. Staying alive means surrendering her heart and becoming what she vowed she’d never be—a spy.
Wow, what an amazing story line!
Honestly, the reason Dead Reckoning came to life was because the story of Shiloh’s parents never found a publishing home. In looking at the arsenal of story ideas I had to work on next, Shiloh’s story appealed to me the most. I loved the idea of a girl, almost completely shattered by her father’s espionage career, finding her footing in life through a career eerily similar to what her father did. Yet it wasn’t a repeating cycle, but the way she found wholeness and healing.
A book launched to acclaim, rising up from a book that didn’t sell. Wow! I love the way success rises up out of disappointment. So tell us, did the plot or characters surprise you with any unexpected twists or turns during the writing?
Sure! Shiloh was never one to be compliant, so writing her became challenging because when I wanted her to withdraw, she got confrontational. When I wanted her to be confrontational, she had a better plan.
Hmmm. Sounds like raising a teenager! What part of the writing process comes easiest to you, Ronie?
Initial story concept and development—as my dear friend Sara Mills calls it, “New story smell”—is my absolute favorite and comes the easiest. It’s the creative adrenaline rush that I adore. Creating the characters, sketching their personalities, those first few chapters are my absolute favorite part of writing.
What is the most difficult?
The part I struggle with is the editing. People toss in my face all the time that this part of the process is what makes the story better/stronger, and that is (mostly) true. Still, I don’t like this phase of the writing process. I do the editing, and I think I do it well, but it’s not my favorite.
That’s good advice for any writer. That no-fun editing is vital. What other advice do you have to offer new writers?
Don’t quit. My awesome agent, Steve Laube, says the only reason writers fails is because they quit. It’s frightening to realize at a conference with 500 people, roughly 80% will not finish the journey.
Amazing! I would think this would be so encouraging to new writers. Is there anything, in your opinion, to which writers pay too much attention?
I think many aspiring writers—not *new* writers, but those who’ve been around the bend for a while—tend to get too caught up in rules-based writing. Do you need to adhere to the rules of fiction? Absolutely! But when you are writing to the rules instead writing to the story, you risk losing the “heart” of the story, not to mention stifling your voice. Know the rules, obey them (most of the time) but be willing to release them (when the time is right). Please note: I’m not saying to abandon the rules. They’re there for a reason. Just don’t let them suffocate your writing.
Well said! Which writer and/or book made the biggest impact on your life?
Unequivocally, John Olson, author of Oxygen, Powers, and Shade (and others!). As a judge, he plucked my entry from a contest (one I didn’t final in, ironically enough) and inquired about who had written that piece. From there, we developed a strong friendship. He’s an amazingly talented and humble man, who yearns to help other writers. I don’t know a writer with as big a heart as him. He quickly became my “big brother” and advocated for me, inspired, encouraged, guided me, and even gave me a kick in the pants when needed. I’ve learned so much from him and hope that some day I can be to someone else what he was to me. His belief in my writing kept me going when I was very ready to give up.
I’ll have to say, Ronie, that I love that attitude in writers. That commitment to reach out and help others struggling up the path toward authorhood. Thank you for being one of them. Do you blog, by the way?
I do, and for a long time I focused on growing in Christ and life as an aspiring author. Then, I felt a big “obligation” to feature Christian fiction on my blog, but I have really decided not do to that much anymore and return to my original focus. I think it’s advantageous for an author to have a means whereby others can peruse your thoughts and goings-on. However, the time it plucks out of my schedule is often a point of conflict for me. With homeschooling and writing, it’s really tough to fit in all the other “social media” aspects of writing.
So true! Now… tell us something about you that would surprise us.
Years ago, I worked for a national Christian bookstore chain as the assistant to the music buyer. This was one of the most awesome jobs I’ve ever had because of part of my responsibilities was concert ticket sales, which meant I worked with producers who brought top Christian artists to the area for in-stores. Before/after in-stores, I got to hang out with artists like Rich Mullins (I miss him—such an extraordinarily talented artist), DC Talk (when they were recording together), Steven Curtis Chapman, etc.
Wow! What a deal! What book is on your nightstand right now?
Robert Liparulo’s Deadlock and CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
Are you at work on another project?
Last week, I did some edits on Nightshade, Book #1 in the Discarded Heroes series (Barbour Publishing), and I just finished the first draft of Digitalis, Book #2. Also, I’m working on proposals to give to my agent by summer’s end, hopefully.
Anything you wish I’d asked but didn’t?
Nope! You’re awesome, Kay!
Thanks! So are you, Ronie. And thank you so much for sharing yourself with us.
You can find info about Ronie Kendig all over the place.
“I hope that some day I can be to someone else what (John Olson) was to me.”