Ross Richdale [rossrichdale]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
As a youngster I read children's adventure stories such as Biggles, Famous Five. Later I enjoyed similar stories by popular authors of the time. So called 'classics' bored me.
I began writing language units for children in the classes I taught. (10 to 12 year olds). This lead onto a full length science fiction unit.
Who first read my novels? Middle of the road adults who wanted more than just escapism and enjoyed good characterisation
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I think of a possible scenario while I walk.
Before I sit down to write I check my email, watch morning news on TV and just become immersed in my characters. Usually, I write in the morning.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Current events, perhaps those little items that are not 'big' news. Violence, accidents, drugs, crime etc, in my opinion, are stressed too much so I tend to ignore them. Radical groups such as 'greenies' , sporting and other 'personalities' also bore me. I prefer ordinary people and events and scientific achievements.
Science magazines such as New Scientist. These are particularly good for science fiction ideas.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Good characters that the reader gets to know. If these characters seem real rather than shallow, their development and problems they face keep the reader interested.
A fast paced plot but one that is realistic. (This is even important in science fiction)
Something that is not anticipated by the reader.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Third person so the Point of View can change. This is important for flashbacks or events happening in different paces.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Somebody who reflects real people. Nobody is perfect. I write about ordinary people, not super rich, super fit or famous.
Ordinary characters in unusual situations make an exciting story.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Anybody who enjoys my writing ranging from teenagers to elderly adults. I guess I really write for my own enjoyment. Some people enjoy sports, socialising, working, going on holidays etc. I enjoy thinking and writing.
Does reader feed-back help you?
At times. e.g. One reader complained that my characters tended to be European, which I am, so I made a point of including a different culture in my next novel. (An aborigine girl and village in "Behind the Fire")
Positive feedback gives me a buzz. Negative? Well, everyone has an opinion and if it is different from my own, so be it. If readers don't like my style. I guess they don't come back. However, like in the example above, I do respond to suggestions that helps my writing improve.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
No. I don't like the idea of winners and losers. If there are fifty good novels out of say a hundred entries why aren't they all all declared so? Why does it have to be cut down to one winner and 99 losers?
That's why I don't enjoy sport, it is too much about beating the other guy or the strong overpowering the weak.
These reality TV shows, in my opinion are the worst example of a pyramid with one who succeeds by stepping on all those below. And are they the 'best' person in the end. I doubt it.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
Not really. I write contemporary novels, family sagas, science fiction and fantasy. Lately I have concentrated on science fiction because it sells better.
Every novels adds to my previous endeavours. I'm sure my novel that was written a decade ago is not as good as my latest. In fact, I am at present re-editing my early novels to incorporate my, I guess, more sophisticated ideas.
Also, the world is changing. It is different than a decade ago and will be different in a decade in the future. If we cannot adapt and change we stagnate.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
None. I write when I feel like at. I was a school teacher for 35 years and schedules and goals are happily, now left behind.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
My computer and my cat.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
Yes, I always use a computer.
After a chapter is written, I print it out and correct on paper.
When a novel is finished I read it in order on my computer and a second time out of chapter order so i can concentrate of typo errors, structure etc, as opposed to the plot.
I keep a side note of characters/ scenes etc that i can bring up on the screen when I am writing the main story. My chapters are written in Nisus Writer as it has instant access to spelling and Thesaurus in a side bar, the only word processor I know of that does. Final copies are transferred to Word docx, mainly because it is good for finding typo errors.
What has been your experience with publishers?
Tough... extremely. They don't really want to know me.
What are you working on now?
My latest novel is a contemporary one, set in New Zealand. ( I am a New Zealander). It is entitled Broken Silence. It begins in 1945 and is continued in 2009 by the original character's granddaughter who discovers long lost family secrets.
I am also updating some of my earlier science fiction novels to put online at Fictionwise, one of the world's largest ebook publishers, that I have a contract with.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Keep them as experience. Often parts can be reused in later work. Bringing it out a decade later and finding it is 'perfect' just doesn't happen in real life.
Palmerston North, New Zealand