*applause, applause ~ cheering crowds*
Amber is here to answer some really important questions on the meaning of life* and whether dogs or cats make better pets.
Note* ~ Amber will not really define what the meaning of life is. The owner of this publication sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience.
Bonus!! One lucky commenter on this post will win a FREE copy of Amber’s book, The Ruth Valley Missing, along with a cd playlist of music that inspired the story!
Share this post via Twitter or Facebook and receive a bonus entry in the drawing! Winner announced on Friday, December 13, 2013!
Click here to read about The Ruth Valley Missing!
Jameson Quinn is sick of trying to find herself in the big city. After a gallery opening ends in a trip to the ER and an argument with her self-involved boyfriend, she decides to take off for the peace and quiet of a small town — Ruth Valley.
The small town has everything Brooklyn lacked: simple people, peaceful surroundings, and a feeling of safety. Jameson even finds the perfect house to rent from the town’s most eligible bachelor, Sheriff Jack. Life is finally headed in a promising direction.
But something isn’t right. A young man is mysteriously injured, then disappears — and Jameson finds he isn’t the only person to suddenly vanish. The suspicious behavior of an abrasive nun and a creepy priest set her off on an investigation of what’s really happening. Will she figure out the secrets of Ruth Valley before she’s the next to go missing?
Take it away, Amber!
Getting to Know You:
1. Share three words that describe you.
Loyal, generous, weird.
2. Share three words you wish described you.
Confident, comfortable, organized.
It’s actually a play, but being that it’s a book on my shelf that I’ve read more than any other, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is at least worthy of a mention. When my husband and I were dating, he gave me the book Myst (yes, like the computer game) and I actually really loved the story.
Having said that, I’m not very good at picking a favorite book. It’s like asking me to choose a favorite food – there’s so many factors involved. What’s my mood? What am I craving?
4. What are you most grateful for today?
Family. I happen to be fortunate enough to be close to my parents and several of my siblings, which means always having people in your life you can rely on.
5. If you could live in any time period, what one would you pick and why?
So, I’m going to totally cheat here and say that I would just travel with the Doctor in his TARDIS. Then I don’t have to choose! I can just travel anywhere I want to go.
The trouble with choosing a time in the past is that, being a woman, there’s so much I could end up giving up. And then I feel like I’d have to specify, “well, I’d live in time period X, but only if I was wealthy and married to a man of status who also happens to be a nice dude who loves me”.
That’s kinda boring. The Doctor it is.
6. Favorite social media hangout?
I flip between Twitter (@amberwest) and Facebook the most. Facebook is where more of my family and friends I’ve had from before social media are, and it lends itself to more lengthy group discussions (like the most recent thread I’ve got going there that has 170+ comments). However, I love interacting with people I’ve met on Twitter. It’s a faster pace there, and clever (at least, the people I interact with are).
About Your Book:
1. Tell us about your book in one sentence.
It’s mystery and silly banter and a touch of romance all rolled into one.
Is it absolutely horrible that I can’t remember the last time a movie or book shocked me with a twist? I tend to figure things out way ahead of time. Having said that, the show Scandal has surprised me in its ability to throw out some shockers in the story.
3. Is there a real Ruth Valley? What inspired you to set the story there?
Ruth Valley is definitely fictional. The town feel is very much meant to be like a small town in North Carolina, but it’s a made up town.
I set it in in NC for a few reasons. As you know, there is a Catholic church in the small town. Small town North Carolina isn’t exactly where you’d find a dominant Catholic population. I wanted to separate this little church community from the larger religious group, so intentionally putting them somewhere out of the way, and realistically out of place accomplished that.
From my experiences in various small towns in North Carolina, I knew I wanted to set the story in a sort of amalgam of various places I had been there – places where the community is tight knit, charming, but also a bit odd for someone used to the city.
4. What actors would you cast to play the lead roles of your book?
Dylan – Ryan Gosling. It’s a small role, but he was the type of guy I pictured when I started writing him. It should be noted that I don’t have the same love for Gosling that created the “Hey Girl” meme. Ha.
Father Mike – Kyle Chandler. This may have something to do with watching a lot of Friday Night Lights when I was working on the book.
Jack – I personally went with Nathan Fillion for this one. If you’ve seen his role in Waitress, think more that than his current Castle role. I’ve had a few readers recommend Blake Shelton. I’m not a country music girl, but I can see the appeal.
Jameson – Ruth Wilson, more for her look than her voice, considering she’s a British actress. She does seem to be good at quirk, though, so if we can just get her some American accent lessons…
Sister Marjorie – Susan Sarandon. I don’t remember how she came to mind for the role, but once I thought of it, I couldn’t see anyone else.
5. What’s next for you? Can we expect another thriller?
It’s funny. I never set out to write a thriller or mystery. I’m a dialogue junkie, so I think in a way I’m probably more of a women’s fic writer at heart. But, this story just sort of developed from my first NaNoWriMo attempt and I found I just had to finish it. While I never thought of writing mysteries or thrillers, I find I like having that extra something as part of a plot. (And I should give a huge shout out to Jen Kirchner and Tiffany White, writers who told me that I had a story worth finishing and publishing – writers encouraging writers are the best!)
I have three different books I’ve been working on, all with a substantial amount of words written, but I think the one I’ll focus on finishing next is a follow up to Ruth Valley Missing. While RVM definitely works as a standalone, I wrote the ending somewhat open, mostly because I like open endings.
The response to the book has been overwhelming – beyond anything I ever expected. (I mean, Stephen Colbert hasn’t called to give me The Colbert Bump or anything, but it’s been good.) Among the many responses I’ve received from readers is the desire for more Jameson, as well as some other characters, so I have been working on a story that gives everyone more of what they want: banter, and Jameson stumbling into mysterious situations she can’t help but stick her nose in.
About Life in General:
1. Dogs or cats? Coffee or Tea? Book or Kindle?
I have both, but I am more of a dog person. If I had a large piece of land and the funds, I’d be adopting dogs left and right. (I’m a total supporter for adopting from shelters – so many dogs need homes! Always check shelters when considering adding a new pet to your family.)
Tea v Coffee? At the moment, tea over coffee, since I’m pregnant. I love a good cup of coffee, but if I had to be tied to one, I think I would still choose tea. There’s greater variety!
Book or Kindle? The traditional girl in me so badly wants to say “book”. But, the mother of an active four year old with one on the way yelps “kindle!” (or more accurately, kindle app on the ipad). The only way I get any reading done nowadays is when the lights are out and the kid is asleep, so the Kindle app is the way to go.
2. Best parenting tip?
Yikes. I so don’t feel qualified. I guess I’d just say, be informed, then follow your instincts and enjoy your kid. There is so much pressure now, I think even more than in my parent’s era, to create the perfect child. So many benchmarks to be met, so much comparing, so much fighting over what you should and shouldn’t do.
I feel like the areas where we’ve made great progress with our kid have been from following our instincts (I read a ton, so those instincts are informed, mind you), and just enjoying being with our kid.
3. What’s worth watching on TV these days?
I watch everything online via Hulu, Netflix, and so on, so I’m sure there are shows I’d leave out strictly due to accessibility. Having said that, among the newest shows, Blacklist is one that’s really pulled me in. I just cannot resist a show with James Spader in it.
Not on your TV, but worth checking out on Hulu, is The Wrong Mans. It’s a British show that follows two guys who get caught up in this whole crime/conspiracy thing. It’s exactly what I love – humor and kind of regular people caught up in a crazy story. And it’s only six episodes, so it’s worth taking the time to check it out.
4. Favorite piece of advice you’ve received?
I think I’ll share some advice that I found particularly encouraging when it comes to pursuing creative things (though it could be applied to a lot of things). The advice came via Wil Wheaton’s blog, from Shane Nickerson:
“If I’ve learned anything in my shaky life as an artist, it’s that you must stop talking and spinning and whining and start making your thing today. Pick up a camera. Pick up an easel. Open your laptop and turn off your Internet connection while you write. Find a starting point. Ignore the voices. Ignore the critics. Reward yourself for having ideas by valuing them enough to believe in them.
Failure does not exist.”
And then this extra bit from Wil Wheaton:
“…Failing at one thing does not mean you fail at all things and that’s the end of it. Failing at something can often be the beginning of succeeding at another thing.”
I think the fear of failing, particularly at something we love can be so crippling, so these bits of wisdom have helped me when I get in that “sad writer” rut.
Amber West is a Northeastern transplant dodging rodent sized bugs and sweltering heat in the jungles of Central Florida. When she isn’t battling the urge to pass out, she’s busy being a wife, mother, geek, photographer, and writer, in no particular order. You can read her ramblings at http://www.withoutsushi.com or find her on Twitter (@amberwest) where she abuses hashtags and makes people laugh. Or at least, makes herself laugh.
Don’t forget to chat with Amber in the comments below and you could take home your own copy of The Ruth Valley Missing and a correlating cd playlist!