A couple weeks ago I received an endorser copy of Tina Forkner's debut novel, Ruby Among Us, in the mail. To be honest, I didn't know a lot about the book other than I was intrigued by the title. For the next few days life got in the way and I didn't have time to really get into reading the book except for the first few chapters. Finally! Last weekend I was able to sit down and really start to read. And, I couldn't stop until I came to the last page!
I have done a lot of research in my own family history and can so appreciate the desire of the main heroine's hunger to know her heritage. Trying to learn your heritage when most of the people who could have told you about it have passed away is difficult. How many times have I wished that my grandparents were still alive so I could pick their brains? Hundreds. How much information is lost forever because in my twenties when they were still alive, I wasn't that interested? Only God knows.
Unlike me, Lucy DiCamillo, the character from whose viewpoint the story is told, has wanted to know her family heritage from a very young age. Having lost her mother, Ruby, when Lucy was only eight, she was raised by her grandmother, Kitty. Lucy has only vague memories of her mom and their life together before her mother's death. Kitty has answers to Lucy's many questions, but she is hesitant to share them all. As the past's truths are slowly revealed, Lucy grows as a person and rediscovers a faith in God in the process.
Forkner's writing is deep and pulls the reader into the hearts of these three women, all connected through family heritage, all so similar to each other, while at the same time so different. You will love this book!
Tina agreed to answer some questions that I had after reading this wonderful book, AND . . . she has agreed to provide a signed copy of Ruby Among Us to a single winner whose name is pulled from the comments left on this post. Sorry, only U.S. residents, please.
So without further delay. Let's get on with the interview. Tina, thanks so much for joining us on A Writer's Journey.
- Ruby Among Us is your debut novel. Is this story your first novel you ever penned?
- Trace for us your road to publication. Did it go through many drafts before it caught the attention of an editor? How long did it take you to write the story?
I finished Ruby Among Us before it found an editor, so I took it through several drafts prior to that point. My writing is what some people call organic and the nature of it is to go back and rewrite over and over throughout the entire process.
- The setting is in the
Sonoma Valleyin . Is this an area you are familiar with even though you live in California ? What led you to set the story there? Wyoming
During my mid-twenties I lived in
- How much research was involved in putting this story together?
Honestly not a lot. For the setting, I drew from my own experiences of living and traveling in that area. For cultural relevance, I sought advice from friends who are Hispanic and Mexican-American. They helped me with some naming and just making sure I was accurate in my portrayal of a family that has a mixed heritage.
- Talk a little about the three women in your story. You weave these ladies’ lives together so intricately. Three generations, so much alike and yet so different. How did their characterizations evolve as you wrote the story.
Kitty, the grandmother, evolved by accident. I knew she would be important because I wanted to have that grandmother-granddaughter bond, but I had no idea she would become such a powerful character. She was just the rich, wonderful older woman who came along and directed the whole thing!
Lucy’s character, the granddaughter, also developed as the story unfolded, but because I already knew she was going to be struggling with trying to remember her mother, I shaped her personality around that. Lucy really had to be the kind of person who doesn’t watch television very often or care a great deal about the internet, or pop culture. So Lucy ended up being a very introspective person who doesn’t explore much beyond her own home and expresses her longing for her mother’s memories through artistic endeavors. She is in many ways a recluse surrounded by an artful life.
I also happen to come from a family where there were lots of aunts always around. I think the weaving of their lives and generations wormed its way into the book.
- According to your bio, you serve on your county’s foundation of board of directors. Describe your work and how it helps your writing career or doesn’t help.
You’re a writer too, so you know how easy it is to get overwhelmed with volunteer activities. Sometimes we forget to let people know that we have jobs! Writing is my job and the library just fits so perfectly with that.
At the library, I get the opportunity to work with people who first and foremost love to read books. And sometimes I even get to meet other wonderful writers when they make appearances. It’s inspiring to me and it feels good to give back.
- Describe a typical day for you and how you fit writing into the mix.
It has changed a lot now that I’m published. In addition to writing, I also have to take time for publicity and other things that fall into the “business” of writing. Most mornings I try to get up by 6:00 am. I do a quick email check, spend some time chatting with my husband before work, get kids situated and try to be writing by 9am. I like to write for a few hours, take a break to work out or eat, and then writing a little more. This of course is the perfect day. It rarely actually happens exactly that way.
- Is there a sequel to Ruby Among Us? If not, what are you working on now?
I have a second book coming out from Waterbrook Press in 2009 that is a standalone, but uses the same setting and gives many glimpses of some of the characters from Ruby Among Us.
Thanks so much Tina, for taking the time to answer my questions. You can visit Tina at her website at: www.tinaannforkner.comNow it's your turn! Click on the link to comments below and leave your name and contact information so that I can put your name in the hat to win a signed copy of Ruby Among Us.
U.S. residents only. I will be drawing the name on Tuesday evening, June 17th. You have until 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time that day to get your name in.