The following is the re-post of an interview I did last year with Samantha Ridenour of Ridenour Publishing.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
Answer: I am currently writing a series of novelettes under the umbrella title, “The Damaged and Broken Collection.” As of today, I have competed
Tortured and Tormented – creating a school shooter
War Springs Eternal
Is Suicide Painless
I am currently working on The Comfort of Despair.
I am writing this collection for those who are damaged and for those who have broken. I write to give voice to those who suffer and for those to whom the harsh reality is that life is not the bowl of sunshine covered cherries depicted on social media. I write for them because I understand that for every one person who overcomes their demons, there are hundreds, if not thousands, who do not. It is to those that life breaks I dedicate my stories.
2. Can you tell me about the book?
Answer: I wrote Tortured and Tormented because, sadly, school shootings have become the new normal.
War Springs Eternal, for my brothers and sister in arms, I dedicated it –
-To those who were asked to do the unthinkable.-To those who HAD to do the unimaginable. -To those who are broken and still fighting. -To those for whom the fighting became too much.
3. What is your writing process like?
Answer: Honestly, I sit and I write. Nothing more complicated than that.
4. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who?
Answer: My characters develop from my experiences. They can be amalgamations, but none are based on any one individual.
5. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?
Answer: I know exactly what happened to the characters.
6. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Answer: I write, because I need to write. There are some days, actually most, that if I don’t sit and write, even if it is simply a single paragraph, my day is incomplete.
7. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Answer: Insecurity. I belong to a few author groups on social media, and I see a lot of people worried about all sorts of issues, especially over-analyzing what they write and being over-concerned with what others think.
8. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Answer: Since writing is not my profession, I don’t believe I have one, or at least not yet discovered one. I write for me, the storytellers Joe and Scono are different persons than the person I am in real life. I am very comfortable with my author personas.
9. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Answer: I write to entertain and interest one person. If I don’t find my stories interesting, than how could I ever expect the same from others.
10. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Answer: I do both. The stories of the collection, while having a common theme, are not interconnected, but stories I write under the Pen Name Scono Sciuto, exist in an interconnected world.
11. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Answer: None. I usually finish a story, publish it and go on to the next.
12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Answer: I read up on a period I am writing, as in War Springs Eternal I took a lot of time to read up on WWI. I don’t interview people but I do talk to them. I feel interviewing people puts them on-guard, so I just talk. As a Veteran I utilize the VA healthcare system, and spend time talking to the reaming vets from WWII to get the mindset of combat fought in the European and Pacific Theaters, as well as Korean and Vietnam Vets.
How long do I spend? As long as it takes me to feel comfortable that I have the knowledge to tell the story.
13. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Answer: I am still part time.
14. How many hours a day do you write?
Answer: That depends, since I work around 10 hours a day on work days, maybe an hour on those days. On free days, I can write up to 3-4 hours at a stretch if the ideas are flowing. I take Hemingway’s advise, no matter how much time I spend writing I force myself to stop at a point in which I know what is coming next.
15. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
Answer: Depends on the story. In Tortured and Tormented, it was mostly childhood experiences, War Springs Eternal, my years in the military and after. Is Suicide Painless spans a lifetime.
16. What did you edit out of this book?
Answer: I use Hemingway’s Theory of Omission, so I edit out quite a bit, with the intent that the reader fills in the blanks.
17. How do you select the names of your characters?
Answer: Sometimes I use names to fit a character, in my latest work, I wanted the main female character to have an elegant and exotic sounding name, in contrast to the main character whose is kind of mundane. Hers is Sophia Portonova, and his, while never stated, is bland and common. In The Damaged and Broken Collection the main characters have no names, the stories are told from a first person perspective, hoping to allow the reader to assume the mantel of storyteller.
18. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Answer: I am a chiropractor and college adjunct faculty in my “regular” professions. I would rather write full-time, but until I find a way for that to happen, I will remain in practice.
19. What was your hardest scene to write?
Answer: In one of my stories under my Pen Name, I wrote a violent rape and murder scene. That took a while to write, at times I only wrote a sentence or two at a time.
20. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Answer: Depends on my free time. But in general it takes me as long as it takes. I know that sounds flippant, but there are times I can write ten thousand words in a weekend, and other times I write a thousand.
21. Do you believe in writer’s block?
Answer: No. Sometimes, ideas simply aren’t there. I think people become blocked by over-analyzing or trying to force something that isn’t yet apparent.
22. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
Answer: Computer. The ability to copy and paste and ease of editing make it the best choice for me. There have been times when I have moved entire chapters around, which I could not do with any other writing medium.
Additionally, portability and cloud storage allows me to write from wherever I am. If I have a break at work, I can open my current WIP from the cloud and do some work on it. I have even done work from my cellphone when something hits me.
23. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
Answer: When I was twelve. I didn’t actually do anything until much later. I fed into the belief that writing was a fantasy and I needed to have a “real” and grounded profession.
24. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
Answer: Not hard at all. I simply sit and I write.
25. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
Answer: No. I write until I get to the point that I know what is coming next, but not beyond, then I stop.
26. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
Answer: At my initial sitting, I usually write the first and last paragraphs, so I know where the story starts, and where it will end, but in between, I let the story evolve and develop.
27. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors?
Answer: I read every night. My favorite authors are Hemingway and Poe, but I read others. I just finished a collection of stories by Harlan Ellison and I am currently reading Flatland. I also read biographies of authors and other creative people.
28. What is the most important thing about a book, in your opinion?
Answer: Telling a good story.
29. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
Answer: The Tell-Tale Heart by Poe.
30. How much of yourself do you put into your books?
Answer: One hundred percent. The moments I am writing, I become the characters. They are not merely my creations, as the words are appearing on the screen, I am them.
31. Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
Answer: Depends on the story. Overall, The Damaged and Broken Collection is dedicated to people who struggle to get through each moment of every day. I write for them, because I understand that for every one person who overcomes their demons, there are hundreds, if not thousands, who do not.
32. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
Answer: I don’t have anyone. Growing up it was my mother, today, there is no one in my life.
33. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?
Answer: I think it is individual. There have been some who have inspired me to write, suffering veterans for one, and other stories are simply figments of my imagination. So yes, I think muses do exist, but it depends on the writer.
34. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
Answer: Not for me.
35. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?
Answer: I have gone the self-published route since day one. Perhaps, one day I will look, but for now, I prefer the complete control self-publishing gives.
36. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
Answer: I have no view on it. I haven’t done it, probably wouldn’t. But you never know.
37. Is writing book series more challenging?
Answer: I haven’t written a series. I tend to tell a story and move on.
38. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?
Answer: That is the beauty of today’s technology. Whenever something strikes me, I record a memo on my cellphone OneNote app.
39. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts?
Answer: Never. I have a separate folder for completed works, and I keep all drafts in another.
40. Can you tell us about your current projects?
Answer: In 2019 I am expecting to release at least five more stories in The Damaged and Broken Collection —
•“The Comfort of Despair,” a person chooses a safe and unfulfilling life over what he genuinely desires.
• “It Is Never Just A Slap,” a woman trapped in an abusive relationship.
•“Abandonment and Addiction,”a girl from a broken home who becomes addicted to heroin.
•“A Father’s Son,” the breakdown of a father/son relationship at the end of the father’s life.
•“Silver and Bullet,” two best friends, one goes on to a professional career, the other, life in prison because of murder
41. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day?
Answer: My ninth grade English teacher, my high school creative writing teacher and my college English Comp and Lit teacher.
42. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?
Answer: Yes. My mother was a book of the club member and encouraged us to read.
43. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?
Answer: For me, writing is highly personal. I don’t really discuss my ideas with anyone.
44. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
Answer: Yes, recently the final scene in War Springs Eternal was a dream. I woke up and recorded it on my phone’s OneNote app, and the over the next 2 days wrote the initial draft.