Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blogiversary Event Day 4: Ronnie Strong

Day 4 of my blogiversary event is my first ever author interview! Yep, that's right I've been blogging almost 12 months and up until now I've NEVER done an author interview. As part of this awesome blogiversary event I invited author Ronnie Strong to be my first ever interview!

Onto the Interview-

Hi Ronnie, Welcome to Relaxed Reads. It’s great to have you here.
Thank you for agreeing to be a part of the Blogiversary celebrations this week, and for contributing to the giveaway.
I’m hoping to introduce my readers to you and to help them get to know the man behind the author. So how about telling us a little bit about you?

Author Ronnie Strong.

Me: How have you found being a male author in this genre?
RS: I was uncertain about my identity as a male writer in a genre dominated by women, both as writers and readers, in the beginning. This felt like a particularly important issue given my writing gravitated towards telling a woman’s story in the first person. I began by leaving my gender ambiguous and unstated. I was hoping readers would appreciate my writing for its content rather than my physical makeup. After a while I realised I was being a little ridiculous and came out as a man. It feels much better to be more open about who I am. It is a fantastic feeling when readers compliment me on the strength and vitality of the women in my stories.  

Me: What are the most difficult parts of writing?
RS: My biggest struggle is finding the time to write and having this coincide with the necessary energy. I live in a busy household with young children and both my partner and I work full time. We have to get the domestics out of the way before we have time for each other and ourselves. I write on this theme a lot. I think it is silly for a writer to complain about writer’s block. If you are a writer, you write. A good friend and successful playwright helped me understand this. He remarked how you do not hear a carpenter complaining of having carpenter’s block. While writing is essentially a creative process, it is a craft first, requiring practice and skills. The creative side is no problem for me. I am constantly flooded with ideas and projects that I want to get down on paper. It is frustrating having to hold onto the idea and the enthusiasm for it while I go off to work to pay the bills. Writing is easier when I am in a routine and able to put enough hours in to it.    

Me: What are the most enjoyable parts of writing?
RS: Writing something good is a joy. When you have the idea and start to put it down on paper the people you are writing about mess with your idea. They soon begin to their own life and agenda. They become real people in your mind who say and do things in certain ways of their own. One major reason they become so real for me is that they embody(?) characteristics of people that I have encountered over the years. To some extent, they are people I know. They start out as a re-imagining of a friend or acquaintance, or a composite of a multitude of people, whom then take on an independent and individual life of their own. My writing starts with my inner world of thought and imagination and becomes something else on the page. For me, writing is a very exciting and wonderful feeling of discovery. 

Me: Do you have a current work in progress? If so, would you like to give us a little teaser?
RS: I am currently writing the sequel to Kate Gets Marks. I am a little bit behind schedule but hope to publish in the next few months.  Here is a 600-word extract, spoiler free I hope, from near the middle of my current draft:
My husband, still dressed like I had left him this morning in only his robe, looked embarrassed. We both hesitated for a second and then melted into one another’s arms for a big loving hug. Thank goodness! It was going to be okay between us. Soon we were sitting at the table with our kids, eating the meal prepared by Mark, as if nothing untoward had happened this morning.This wasn’t only a show of harmony for our kids. I sensed the worst of it was over; although of course, we still had a fair bit to work out. Mark had come to terms with his fears enough for us to resume becoming close again in a new way of being together. Mark Two might not be a part of my life ever again, but our relationship had been changed for good. Mark smiled at me. He knew what I was thinking, at least he seemed to know, and he was letting me know it was okay. I relaxed some more. We loved each other. No one was taking that away from us.When we finally got in bed I was a little bit anxious again despite the good indications. Mark had been charming, helping the kids with their homework and getting them into bed. The kids were a little bit cranky and needed a fair bit of wrangling but Mark managed it by himself without needing help from me. Then it was good night kisses all round. It was another hot night and I was wide-awake, waiting to be certain that the kids were asleep. Our cooling made it okay for sleeping inside but the soft glow and warmth outside gave me an idea.I began to wonder if I might have developed a little bit of a compulsion. My fantasies used to be purely fictional creations of my mind intended only for my entertainment or to pass the time. Now it seemed when I had a fantasy that before too long I would end up acting out some of its key elements. I hoped this wasn’t being disrespectful, but the two Marks had become a little interchangeable for me too as I swapped between imagination and reality. Yesterday I had fantasised about making love with Mark Two in a park. Some of what transpired between my husband and I last night had been a little inspired by those earlier musings. Now I was seriously thinking about making love outdoors, and my husband was going to be the beneficiary again. Well, if Mark Two ever came to his senses then it might work the other way around for him too.We chatted about a few matters happening later in the week for the children, not because we were avoiding anything. We needed to organise the parenting responsibilities so we could move onto our couple issues. Once we cleared up the arrangements for dance classes and so on Mark swept me up into his arms.I liked it. I always had, as long as he didn’t grab my breasts as his first move. The number of times I had to push his groping hands away was beyond count. Not tonight though, he was on best behaviour.He kissed me how I like to be kissed. My neck. Behind my ear. Each eyelid. My forehead. Everywhere his lips brushed and painted my skin sent another part of me fluttering with desire. I parted my legs, for once hoping he would ever so gently cup me there with his hand, his finger lightly pressing at my …
I shall look forward to reading the rest of this when it comes out!

Me: Do you have a preferred place or atmosphere that you like to write in? 
RS: We live in a small house and although we have bungalow out the back where I could write more privately I prefer being closer to my wonderful coffee machine. It has made over 16000 cups of great coffee over the past six years, most of them drunk by me. I have done most of my writing on my notebook sitting on the couch in my living room with music blaring. Lately I tried writing on my bed, but that is bad for my neck and shoulders. Lately I have been writing at the kitchen table. I also write wherever I am, at public pools, holiday resorts and outside kid’s music lessons. It does not really matter where I am, as long as I can get good coffee regularly and focus on my writing, which usually is not too hard for me.

Me: Can you list 5 facts about yourself that we don’t already know?
i)  I drink tea if the only alternative is instant coffee
ii) I have a great therapeutic spa in my backyard, which I sit in as much as possible to treat my sore neck and shoulder.
iii) I like taking photos and would like to learn more about getting the most out of my DSLR.
iv) I spend far too much time on Facebook. Now I and getting hooked into Twitter too.
v)  Hopefully, I am about to undertake another major change in life and go into the bread-baking business via a franchise with my beautiful and amazing wife and wonderful elder daughter.
I love freshly baked bread!

Me: What do you like to do to relax and unwind?
RS: I drink a lot of coffee, which I find reassuring and soothing. I really enjoy yoga and serious gym-junkie exercise. I used to do a lot of running but now I am glad if I can do a few group class exercises at my gym where I am a member. I have struggled with reading for a long while and tend to watch good TV or a movie instead. I think I have a commitment problem with reading lately. I quickly get the feeling I should be writing instead.

Me: Which genres of music do you like listening to? Any favourites?
RS: I am a huge David Bowie fan. Music is fundamental to my life and I have always listened to music whenever I can. Some of my best experiences in recent years have been at concerts by Steely Dan, Leonard Cohen, Ringo Starr and Gary Numan.

Me: What is the earliest memory that you have, that you don’t mind sharing?
RS: My earliest memories are of a different world fifty years ago where young boys were dressed in ties to visit their grandparents on a Sunday. I have vague recollections of being little and looking up at adults while holding their hand. My grandparents were very important to me when I was young. As the eldest child, I spent a lot of time with them while my mother was having more babies. I have very strong fond memories of being in their house. My grandmother gave me my lifelong interest in gardening while my grandfather exercised my mind with gadgets and questions.

Me: If you could meet any person living or dead, who would you like to meet and why?
RS: There are so many people that I admire. I would really like to meet John Lennon because his song Imagine says it all for me.

Me: What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you?
RS: It is funny that nothing jumps out to me in answer to this question. Much of my youth was misspent and many very funny things happened while I was under the influence of different substances, but that feels like a world away now. I nearly ended up in a river after rolling down its steep bank while being amorous and intimate with my wife-to-be. That was thrilling and funny. I have a lot of a different kind of fun bantering with long-term and recent friends.

Me: If you were stranded on a desert island (with food and water), what 3 things would you want with you?
i) My wife (who is not a thing, but I hope she is allowable)
ii) My notebook
iii) Wifi
As its you I'll let you have your wife there, just because I'm that nice ;)

Me: Time for some quick fire questions. :)
Sweet or Savoury?
RS: Sweet

Me: Chocolate or Vanilla?
RS: Vanilla

Me: Favourite Colour?
RS: Red

Me: Favourite Animal?
RS: Dog

Me: Favourite Food?
RS: Rhubarb crumble

Me: That concludes the interview section of this post, now it’s time for the spotlight section. Would you like to list your books and the places people can find them?

Kate Gets Marks
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon CA

The Laundromat
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

Dolphin Heat (free)

To find out more or follow Ronnie Strong visit

Once again Ronnie thank you very much for taking the time to come and chat with me, and for giving us the opportunity to get you know you some more.

Thank you for contributing Kate Gets Marks and The Laundromat to the giveaway(s). Details can be found below on how to enter.
It has been fantastic having you here today, and I look forward to our next encounter. Please don’t be a stranger! :)
RS: Do not worry, I will not be


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