AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Ruby Duvall
Ruby thank you for stopping by to be interviewed…
Tell us a little about Escape With Me. What inspired you to write it?
I think all of us have fantasized about going back in time with our modern values and updated knowledge to both marvel and gawk at what life was like for our ancestors. In Samantha’s case, she has no choice and no warning. When she arrives in 1783 London, she has nothing but her instinct and the vague clues from her locket to help her survive—and to figure out why she was sent back.
As for the hero, many historical romances feature sexy dukes and hunky earls, but I wanted common-born heroes. In my first time-travel historical Stay With Me, the love interest is a simple Scottish crofter and in Escape With Me, Ryder is a first lieutenant with the Royal Navy who must turn to smuggling to save his family from debtor’s prison.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I’ve tried seat-of-the-pantsing as well as plotting. I find a little of both gets great results. Some plotting will help avoid a few rewrites, but some of the best ideas come at the spur of the moment when putting those scene outlines onto the page.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I’m eclectic when it comes to genres, both as a writer and as a reader. I grew up with Kathleen Woodiwiss, Shirlee Busbee, Julie Garwood and, of course, Diana Gabaldon. I then moved onto urban fantasy authors like Kim Harrison, Angela Knight and J.R. Ward. I’ve also gotten into contemporary and BDSM romance and erotica from some amazing authors at my publisher. I love it all!
So that’s why my backlist has a smattering of several genres. I’ve written fantasy, paranormal, futuristic and historicals. My current WIP is an erotic futuristic horror with BDSM. I love trying new genres, building up my writing muscles and challenging myself.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
It’s so hard to choose one! I suppose the one whose antics I most enjoyed bringing to the page was Aili, an elderly woman in Stay With Me who was convinced that the heroine was a fairy. I also loved writing my antagonists in Escape With Me because neither were mustache-curling, madly cackling villains, and they were not only at odds with the hero and heroine but each other!
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
That honor would definitely go to the “antagonist” of my current WIP. He’s just…not quite normal and it’s difficult to convey that when writing from his POV without giving up the whole game. It’s incredibly fun when it works, but has been challenging.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
In several of my stories, the heroines—including Samantha from Escape With Me—are all rather tall, like me! Though not every tall woman necessarily experiences her extra height the same way, I often felt awkward and unfeminine, especially next to shorter men. My tall heroines acknowledge their height in their own ways—self-conscious about it or completely owning it—but being a hair shy of six feet tall ever since high school definitely made me very aware of it! If I had a dollar for every time Captain Obvious pointed it out to me…
Here’s a fun story I share as often as I can, though. When researching smuggling in late eighteenth-century England, I came across a scam that I really, really wanted to work into the novel, but it just didn’t fit. Smuggling vessels—unless colluding with local ports or very ballsy—had to come ashore at night but even then, riding officers from the nearest revenue station would patrol the coast and it wasn’t always easy to avoid them. One man decided to lie on the beach as if he were dead, and when the riding officer stopped to pat him down for identification, he jumped up and beat the poor guy unconscious. While the officer was knocked out, the ship offloaded its contraband. The best part is that if the officer had located his attacker and accused him, the smuggler could claim he was passed out drunk and thought the officer was robbing him.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Telling my internal editor to shut up. When writing a first draft, it’s important to just get your idea down. Then you can go back to fix pacing, tighten sentences and improve characterization. Pitting myself against a timer helps speed me up!
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I paint tabletop RPG miniatures. I played some D&D and Exalted in college but now play Pathfinder and our group uses a wet-erase map for when our characters are in combat—distance and line-of-sight matters! To represent your character, you need a mini. For a while, I used one of the options our game master owns, but then I saw a miniature retailer at a Seattle gamers’ convention a couple years ago and got hooked.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
What TV show are you addicted to?
The reason we got an HBO subscription was True Blood. Yes, we also really enjoy Game of Thrones but we more often than not reach the end of a GoT episode with disturbed expressions on our faces. True Blood has us cheering and begging for more.
Also, I think Alexander Skarsgård is legitimately a vampire—because no one that good-looking is human.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must-have or the creative juice don’t flow?
It’s strange, but I most often just need the room to be a bit darker and definitely quiet. On the rare sunny day in Seattle, I end up shutting the blinds!
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
When writing my historicals, I used movie soundtracks like LotR or Gladiator because lyrics distract me. My current WIP definitely has a dubstep thing going on! Possibly the strangest is how Evanescence, which is often described as gothic rock or gothic metal, inspires the best images in my head for a fantasy series I’ll be starting in about a year.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Certainly it’d require actors who are cool with taking off their clothes. Ryder would definitely have to be played by a younger Brad Pitt—I’ll build a time machine, I dunno! Samantha would be played by True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll, who’s a brilliant actress and 5’10”!
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I actually used to live and work in Japan as an English teacher, so when EC offered me a contract for my first novel, I posted the news to my LiveJournal while all my friends and family at home were asleep. I did tell my American housemates though and we went out for a drink. (Or four!)
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I know I was around twelve or thirteen when I snuck a look at whatever romance novel my mother was reading. She tended toward sweeter romances with a kiss or two. The first one I read for real was While Passion Sleeps by Shirlee Busbee as well as a few books from Julie Garwood.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Right now, it’s J.R. Ward. I got the Kindle version of her latest BDB book the day it released and finished it in practically a day.
If you still have one of those pesky non-writing jobs, what is it?
I don’t, thankfully. Let’s just say my old day-job was in an unpopular industry—oh, and also in retail, so double fun!
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all-time favorite?
I could go on and on about movies—and do I ever! Much of my writing is done with my eyes closed while I describe what I’m seeing in my head as if it’s on a movie screen. I’m not sure if I’m getting picky lately, though or if it’s the film industry because I didn’t like practically any of the past summer’s blockbusters—with one exception.
It’s not going to win any Oscars and certainly not any science awards, but Pacific Rim was fast-paced, exciting, and respectful of the big-monster movies out of Japan that have come before. The characters are thin but not generic (not most of them, at least). Visually, it’s a very rich movie—and not just due to all the action. That said, you want to see giant robots punching big monsters in the face, preferably with shipping containers? You want people to announce their attacks via voice-command like they’re in a Japanese anime, e.g. “Elbow Rocket, Engage”? Then Pacific Rim is going to hit the spot—with its nuclear-powered robot fist!
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
A horror erotica set in Seattle with futuristic and BDSM elements. The heroine is a tech-savvy homebody who’s looking for someone to dominate her, but paranoia prevents her from opening up to a fellow programmer who’s interested in the job and she resorts to paying an escort from a mysterious agency.
I’m also planning another horror erotica novella about a young widow whose husband died at sea as well as a high-fantasy series wherein the heroine seduces the hero trying to return her to his people for justice.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I hadn’t considered co-writing before, but like I said earlier, I’m a pretty big fan of J.R. Ward and how well she writes her wide range of characters. I’d work with her if I could.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
I browse Wikipedia, newspaper articles and even cast-and-crew lists for movies. If I spot a cool first or last name, I add it to a file I can access from my PC or phone. For SFF names, there are amazing name generators to give me inspiration.
Do you prefer the love-at-first-sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
It depends on the story. If the setting and premise fully embrace the concepts of destiny and a “one true mate”, which I know I really enjoy sometimes, then love at first sight is totally legit. When it’s instead something more like lust at first sight, it can also be really sweet when both characters have that dawning realization. I like it both ways!
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
Definitely have gotten such comments, but usually it’s the way their expression changes, like they’re suddenly uncomfortable. (I blame Puritans.)
I’m happy to point out that it’s a billion-dollar industry and the largest market category. That’s a lot of people with “no careers” and a lot of readers buying up “those books”.
Where can readers find you, Ruby?
I’m at all the cool places!
And for the silly side –
What is your favorite type of chocolate?
You can’t go wrong with Godiva. I love their French vanilla truffles!