Here is the interview with Rita. Enjoy!
1. How did you get started writing?
I’ve been involved in the world of technical writing for 28 years. I’m an avid reader and always had a novel to enjoy at the end of my day. My venture into fiction writing was accidental. When my mother’s health declined, I retired to take care of her – she lived with us. So once again, I turned to novels while I waited for her to settle down at night. I’d just finished a novel by one of my favorite authors. I was disgusted at the shallow plot and the excessive sex and foul words. I tossed the book in the trash and literally muttered, “I could do better in my sleep.” Mother was still awake and I had a brand new laptop on the table. So I thought, “All right, smarty, do it.” I never intended to write a book. I just wanted to see if I could write a story on a serious subject without digressing to the graphic details I found offensive. The result of that challenge was the first ten books in my Eutopian Destiny series.
2. Do you have a favorite story about your writing career so far?
Actually, I have several stories from my readers. One of my favorites about the Eutopian Destiny series, is from a lady who wrote that during their fifty-year marriage she’d never seen her husband read a book. He only read newspapers and magazines. They were on vacation. She fell asleep on the plane with a copy of Eutopian Destiny - Preacher Man on her lap. Her husband picked it up – and didn’t give it back. He surpassed the rest of the family reading all eleven books in the series – and he’s on my mailing list for the twelfth book when I finish it.
A reader of my book about a high school girl in a wheelchair, Roxann, A Lady in a Chair, shared the book with a friend who has a daughter confined to a wheelchair. As a result of my story, that girl’s mother has contacted her daughter’s school for special physical training for those with disabilities. I’m thrilled beyond words to think I may have made a difference in a young girl’s life.
3. How did you feel when you sold your first book to someone who was not a friend or family member?
Happy and anxious to know how they liked it. But I have to admit, my readers have been great supporters. I welcome comments and I always appreciate knowing about grammatical errors/typos they find. It lets me improve my books before I print more.
4. If you would be offered a movie deal, who would play Joe?
I honestly don’t know. I’ve deliberately left a lot of the physical descriptions of my characters to the readers’ imagination. I’d probably poll them for suggestions.
5. Where do you get your inspiration for your plotlines?
The TV was running a human trafficking/sex slavery report the night I challenged myself to write on a serious subject without getting graphic. I hate that crime, but it’s an important issue that needs more attention – and it would certainly challenge the standards I set for myself. So it became the crime I decided to use. I built the other plotlines off this original decision.
6. Where do you get your inspiration for your characters?
The crime I chose set the stage for the characters. It would take undercover federal agents to infiltrate the area and investigate the allegations. Populating the town and other scenarios determined the personalities and characters involved.
7. Why did you decide to self publish your books?
I’m very proud of my writing standards. I researched the conventional publishers on the internet and read their contracts. Their contracts gave them editing rights – which could easily translate into the graphic sex and foul language I had avoided. So I decided to publish the books myself. It was a trial and error adventure, but I eventually set myself up as a publisher and found a wonderful printer (Minuteman Press in Lewisville, Tx) who works with a binding company to produce my books. An added benefit of this arrangement is that my books are published and printed in the USA.
8. How did you name your characters?
I tried to use simple names – Joe, Jack, etc. – that wouldn’t distract the readers. As the story expanded and I added more characters, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of the names I had used.
9. Why did you use the setting you did? What are your ties to New Mexico?
I’ve traveled a lot during my lifetime. I’ve lived in a lot of towns in the southwest, including several in New Mexico. When I decided on the crime for my story, I needed a location for it. Since I was writing fiction, I couldn’t put it in a real town – even though we all know it’s probably there. So I created my own little two-block town. I pulled out a map and found an empty space on the Texas/New Mexico state line. I marked it for the location of Eutopian Springs – a totally fictitious town.
10.Knowing what you do now about self publishing (or small press), would you be open to a mainstream publisher?
I’m very happy self-publishing my work. I’d listen to their offer, but I doubt that a mainstream publisher would agree to the writing standards I’ve established. I don’t want my name associated with any book that compromises those standards.
11. What kind of feedback do you get from your readers?
My readers are very complimentary and supportive. They love the characters and the story. Several of them are on a waiting list for the twelfth book when I finish it. I’ve made some amazing friends through the books.
12.What about ‘writer’s block’? Do you get it or even believe in it?
I’m certain it’s real, but I keep a separate ‘idea’ file on my computer to try to avoid it. Every time I think of another twist or turn I could take with the story, I drop a note in the idea file so I can go back to it later. Even if the idea seems crazy at the time, most of my notes work back into the story at some point.