Guest Authors

Write By the Rails Blog Spot- Interview with Tamela Ritter!



Tamela Ritter, Keep Calm and Answer These Twenty-Five Questions

Do you consider yourself a logophile? If so, have you always been?

Ha, I thought I was, until I just had to look up what that word means. I’ve always loved discovering new words and new ways to express thoughts and feelings, but I don’t know if I’d say I’m a logophile as that implies love of words in and of themselves. I’m more about the relationship of words and how to use just the right ones to conjure an emotion, a tone, an atmosphere.

What is your favorite color? Blue and Green

Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Born and raised in Spokane Washington.

What is your favorite football team?

Well, with the answers to the last two questions as clues, I’ll give you three guesses (and the first two don’t count).

Who is your favorite author? Sherman Alexie, John Steinbeck, and S.E. Hinton

What is your favorite book? Grapes of Wrath

What do you do when you are not writing? Sleep

Do you have a day job as well?

Yes. I spend my days molding the littlest of minds. It’s a great (and exhausting) way to spend your day.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Just the usual drivel that no one pays attention to… but if you want inspiration, this is my favorite quote when I need to be reminded to be awesome: Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. –Franz Kafka

Is being a writer a curse or a gift?

Being a writer is a gift. Having the attention span of a squirrel is the curse. Having lots of other demands on my time is a curse. An adorable-bill-paying curse, but still…

Where do you write? Coffee shops and the like.

Do you prefer silence or some noise while you write?

I need some sort of noise that I can tune out. Silence is too distracting.

What do you typically drink while writing?

Coffee for writing; cocktails to celebrate having written.

What challenges have you had in regards to your writing life?

Being taken seriously and subsequently, taking myself seriously enough to cherish and guard my writing time as essential and important and not just an adorable hobby.

When did you first start and when did you finish your book?

It was started during my first year of NaNoWriMo 10 years ago. I finished it last February when my final proof arrived in the mail before it was released in March. Of course there were years in between when I didn’t give the book a thought and worked on other things. But the characters were always there, talking to me.

If your book is made into a movie, which actors/actresses do you envision playing the parts?

That’s a hard question to answer. I like to imagine these things while I’m writing, but my characters are Native Americans of a certain age. It would be very important that they not be whitewashed and be as close to the tribe depicted as possible. I know we’re just pretending, but I would absolutely LOVE if a movie of my book paved the way for some young, undiscovered Native actors.

What does your protagonist think of you? Would he/she want to hang out with you?

After all they’ve gone through, I imagine they’d prefer a bit of peace and quiet that my life right now doesn’t garner. Plus they might, perhaps, harbor ill-will towards me about said things gone through.

How do you market your book? What avenues work best?

Ugh. This part is SO not my area of expertise. Mostly at this point in the process I’m just trying to make myself and my book available for any opportunity. What has been the most successful avenues so far have been word of mouth due to some great reviews.

What has been the toughest criticism so far?

The toughest criticism hasn’t happened yet, thankfully. My worst fear has always been that I will be perceived as “Not Indian Enough” to tell this story. I didn’t chose to tell a story about American Indians from a tribe that is not mine. But, as I began the story, it became apparent almost immediately that it was going to be an exercise in coming to terms with my own heritage. Unfortunately though, I know more about the tribes I was surrounded with (Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Flathead, Kalispel and Kootenai) than my own–Cherokee. It was also very important for me to have my story take place where it did.

So, I wait for the day when my heritage in relation to my characters is discussed, like I have heard it discussed before in American Indian Literature. I get it, I do. I’ve seen it done badly before and I tried really, really, really hard not to do that. I won’t know if I get it right until then.

What has been the best compliment?

A reviewer compared my characters to Scout Finch and Huckleberry Finn and my heart swelled a million sizes bigger.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Yes. The main male character is based on my brother who died when he was 14. All of the characters are named after members of my family no longer with us. It’s sort of extremely personal without being anything like real life.

How did you come up with the title?

The phoenix metaphor plays throughout the novel, fire and rebirth, so I always wanted to play with that in the title. From These Ashes is actually a direct line of dialogue in the climax of the story that worked perfectly as a title.

Will there be a sequel?

No. I might someday revisit the characters in little vignettes and short stories or something. But I like where I’ve left them in their journey.What question did I leave out that you’d like to answer?

What project are you working on now?

I’m torn between a black comedy about homegrown terrorism, or a middle grades children’s book. It’s a daily toss up to what excites me and motivates me.

Peanut Butter Cups. If you would ask what fuel I needed to write, it would be Peanut Butter Cups.

Please fill in the blank: Keep Calm and___Get Your Write On!_____

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  1. I think I would be positively intrigued to see where Tamela would go with an idea about homeland terrorism. Great interview!
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  2. Pingback: Write By the Rails Blog Tour Recap!

  3. Pingback: Please Collect Your Parcels and Form an Orderly Queue…* | Tamela J. Ritter

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