Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fan the Flames & Q&A with author Katie Ruggle

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve had a little too much experience with the cold and isolated setting of Fan the Flames! Until last fall, when I moved to Minnesota to be close to my elderly parents, I lived in an off-grid house in the Colorado Rockies. Despite…ah, unusual neighbors and temperamental generators and winters that stretched from October to June, I loved it there. My schooling, jobs and hobbies have been rather diverse. For a few years, while getting my law-enforcement degree, I worked on a police crime-scene team. That turned me into a bit of a forensics nerd, as you can probably tell from my books. Currently, I’m working nights at a bakery, and I live in a 150-year-old farmhouse with my dogs, cats and chickens.

Q ~ Whats your favourite pass-time?
Just one? I’d probably pick riding horses. Other stuff I consider fun includes reading (of course!), yoga, cross-country skiing, SCUBA diving, and shooting (I’m not a hunter, but I’ve killed a lot of paper targets on the range).

Q ~ What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
Definitely writing the Search and Rescue series! A close second would be figuring out how to survive in my off-grid house in the mountains. By the time I moved to Minnesota, I still had a ton to learn about my alternative energy systems, but I knew enough to keep from freezing to death. I call that a win.

Q ~ What is your biggest pet peeve?
People who write book reviews without remembering that authors are human beings with feelings. This has been a pet peeve of mine even before I started getting my own books reviewed. I’m not saying that every book deserves a five-star rating, but writers put months, if not years, of work into their books. When done well, stories are a glance at the author’s insides, at who he or she really is. It’s incredibly tough putting your work out there for everyone to see. Imagine presenting a project, something you’ve put hours and hours of work into, something over which you’ve slaved, missing sleep and family activities and so many fun times because you want this project to be absolutely perfect. There are thousands of people in the audience, listening as you do your presentation. After you’re done, someone stands up and says, “That was complete and utter trash.” How gutted would you feel?

I attended a writing workshop at the University of Iowa last year, and my instructor was a master at finding positive aspects of every piece of writing. After a first read-through of a few of the short stories, I’d think, “This is really, really bad.” Then we’d discuss it, starting with the positives. Once we started listing aspects we liked about the story, I’d think, “Oh, that is a good thing! I didn’t notice that.” It really changed my thinking. Instead of dismissing something as “bad writing,” I started considering what good parts were already there, and what needed to be done to make it better.

Again, if you really think a book deserves a poor review, then, by all means, give it a poor review. Just remember that you have an author’s heart in your hands. Please treat it with kindness.

Q ~ If you could have lunch with one person, dead, alive, or imaginary, who would it be and why?
Not to be contrary, but I’d have to pick two: my parents. Why? Bcause they’re beyond awesome.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?
I tend to be a bit fickle in my book choices. One day, I’ll be reading a young-adult book, and the next an urban fantasy. If it’s a good story, I’ll read it, regardless of genre. That said, I’m usually up for romantic suspense (of course), YA/NA (my maturity level stalled out a long time ago), urban fantasy, mystery, nonfiction (especially about alternative energy systems or horses), and contemporary romance. My favorite to write is definitely romantic suspense—I love the potential for tension!

Q ~ Do you have a favourite author? Do they influence your writing?
I have so, so many favorites! Right now, I’m loving Karen Lynch, Donna Augustine and Helen Harper. My bookshelves are filled with my “comfort reads,” books that I’ve read and reread many times. It’s an odd assortment, ranging from Deerskin by Robin McKinley to The Road Home by Ellen Emerson White to On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman to Phase by E.C. Newman to Sheltered by Charlotte Stein to Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series to The Self-Sufficient Life by John Seymour. In very different ways, each one has earned its place among my favorites. I can’t see the direct influence of any one author, but all the books I’ve read over the years have molded me into the writer I am now.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
I’ve always thought, “I want to be a writer someday.” A few years ago, it occurred to me that, in order to fulfill that dream, I needed to actually write something (kind of a duh moment for me). So I started writing. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure out that connection.

Q ~ What`s the best thing that`s happened since you began writing? The worst?
The best thing is working with Sourcebooks. Everyone there is behind my books a hundred percent, and it is an incredible feeling to receive that much support. My editor has been especially amazing, managing to act as editor, cheerleader, teacher, counselor and life coach.

Worst…hmm. That’s probably my current schedule. I’m working the 10pm to 6am (or 7am or 8am) shift at a bakery. When I get home, I take the dogs for a run and then settle in to write or edit or do whatever else needs doing in author-land. At 1pm (or 2pm or 3pm), I head to bed. As much as I like baking for the masses, my dream is to write full-time eventually. Until then, I grab sleep when I can get it.

Q ~ What are your biggest influences in life? Who are your biggest supporters?
The answer to both questions is my amazing family: my parents, horde of sisters and little brother.

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?
My main writing ritual is that I need to block out time to write every day. If I get off my schedule (mostly thanks to the incredible amount of mowing I have to do; it makes me miss my Colorado cactus-strewn, un-mow-able acres sometimes), then it’s hard for me to hop back on the writing train.

As far as snacks go, Tropical Skittles are quite nice. And cookies.

Q ~ What are your five favourite verbs to use during a love scene?
I don’t really have favorite words to use during love scenes. In fact, I try to avoid reusing words, although sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it until one of my editors mentions that I’ve used the word “definitely” 187 times during the past three paragraphs, and would I consider changing a few? My answer: Definitely.

Q ~ Why did you choose to write romantic suspense as your primary genre?
It just seemed like a natural fit for me. Romance and suspense blend together really well, since fear and tension heighten emotions. Also, I knew I wanted to write about first responders, and that works great with the mystery angle.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release and what inspired you to write it?
Fan the Flames is the second in the Search and Rescue series, featuring Ian, a firefighter and MC member, and Rory, a gun-shop owner who sells a few less-than-legal firearms from her shop’s back room. For years, Ian harbored an intense but secret love for Rory, a socially awkward hermit who was raised by survivalist parents. When she’s threatened by mysterious intruders, Ian refuses to leave her side. However, when the tables are turned, and Ian’s the one in danger, he’s shocked to find that Rory defends him just as fiercely.

After introducing Ian in Hold Your Breath, I knew he needed his own story. After all, he’s a firefighter who wears leather and rides a motorcycle. To paraphrase Lou, that’s just an unsafe level of hotness. Rory has lots of bits of me in her. I’m a complete firearms nerd (her Colt Python is my dream gun), and I tend to drift toward prepper-hood. After all, what’s the harm in stocking enough toilet paper to last through a zombie apocalypse? It seems only wise.

Q ~ What prompted or inspired you to write these stories? Are any of them rooted in some sort of truth?
My time in an off-grid house in the Colorado Rockies definitely inspired the setting and, to some point, the characters, as well. I love writing about the theme of isolation. There’s something so powerful about making a human connection after years of self-reliance. The headless dead guy is completely from my imagination, though.

Q ~ When you write, do you lay out a solid outline before beginning, or start writing and iron out the kinks later?
I’m a total Pantser, which is strange, because I plan every other detail of my life. I love lists. If I try to outline my stories, though, my writing stalls horribly, and I start banging my head against my desk (or kitchen table, where I do most of my writing).

Q ~ What was the most difficult part of the process while writing?
Just creating enough time for everything while working nights at a bakery. Who needs sleep, anyway, right?

Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?
I don’t really have one. My characters usually just pop into my head, fully developed and named and bossy. I do tend more toward old-fashioned names, though.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
I’m currently (and frantically—it’s due by the end of May!!) working on the first book in my new Rocky Mountain K9 series. There are women on the run, hot cops, brave dogs, lots of explosions—what more could you want?

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Finish the first draft of your book/short story/essay/poem. Get all the words down, even if you’re worried that they might be terrible. Once you have the raw material in front of you, then you can edit it. The hardest part, I think, is getting that first draft done. It’s scary, because it’s perfect in your head, and, if no one can see it, then no one can tell you it sucks. Be brave, and write your story.

About Katie Ruggle:
When she’s not writing, Katie Ruggle rides horses, shoots guns, and travels to warm places where she can SCUBA dive. Graduating from the Police Academy, Katie received her ice-rescue certification and can attest that the reservoirs in the Colorado mountains really are that cold. While she still misses her off-grid, solar- and wind-powered house in the Rocky Mountains, she now lives in Rochester, Minnesota near her family.

Title:  Fan the Flames
Series:  Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue #2
Author: Katie Ruggle
Publication Date:  June 7/16 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Length:  448pgs
Genre: romantic suspense
Shelf:  review
My Rating: ★★★★★
Book Links: GoodreadsAmazon(US)Amazon(CA) - B&N - Kobo - Indigo - Google Play

Back Cover Blurb:

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

As a Motorcycle Club member and firefighter, Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the Club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers...and with the girl he's loved since they were kids, Rory Sorenson. Ian would do anything for Rory. He'd die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath-and he may just have to.

Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms, and for the past few years, she's managed to keep the peace between dangerous factions by remaining strictly neutral. But when she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a Motorcycle Club war-with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.

My Review:

Holy Smokes! What a story. I couldn`t put this one down from cover to cover. The suspense and danger never stopped while the lives of the characters were absolutely unforgettable. Ruggle develops her tale in a manner that allows readers to experience it, not simply to read about it. The narrative was brilliantly crafted, increasing the tension throughout. The realistic feel of the events made it even better.

The sexual tension between the main characters is hot! Hot! Hot! The author built the chemistry and background to a fever pitch before adding the physical relationship. It was perfect. Rory is definitely a unique heroine for this tale. Her life is so atypical. At the same time her sentiments are easy to understand. Readers really get to see how routine oriented Rory is. What can you say about Ian? He’s the perfect hero, without being too perfect. The complex line that he walks adds fuel to the story. My heart broke for him when he finally realized what he lost, but also what he gained from it.

This was the perfect second instalment in a series that I definitely can’t wait to read more from!

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