Joining us today is author R.S. Novelle. Renee is the author of the psychological thriller, Calculated. The novel centers around a young journalist’s journey to find the truth about a murder. A road filled with dark twists and deceit that seems to lead to the doorsteps of the church and several government officials.
Renee has had an interesting journey of her own as she enters the world of fiction with her debut novel. With several magazine articles and screenplays to her name, plus three blogs and a website, it is pretty clear that writing isn’t just a passion, it’s a way of life.
Renee, thank you for joining us- tell us a little about yourself:
I was born into a family of writers. My great uncle was Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize nominated Jesse Stuart. My father, grandmother and many of my extended family have been published in their own right, so I like to think that storytelling is in my blood.
My mother says that even as a toddler I was trying to tell stories before I could formulate words. It wasn’t until I was 9 that I began to write them down. After that, it became an obsession. My writing received a lot of support and attention from my teachers and I won a few writing contests which motivated me to write my first novel at 12 years old…that will never see the light of day, ha! At 15, I was fortunate to be asked to write for a college publication – but I was too busy being a teenager to do it. Seven years later a magazine published my first “official” article and from that point, I never stopped writing. I’ve published over 75 articles and 3 screenplays and now – finally-I’ve released my first novel.
I’ve actually tried many times over the years to stop writing, but it’s a complete obsession. And as you so accurately described it, a way of life. If I don’t have writing as my creative outlet, I stop functioning. And that would get complicated.
WIDW: Before we discuss your novel Calculated, I’m interested in the path that lead you to your first novel. You’ve written several articles that have appeared in various magazines. Was that all just batting practice for fiction or was journalism your first love?
R.S.: Fiction has always been my first love. But, like so many writers, I believed all the people who said that no one can make a living writing novels. Unless you’re that one-in-a-million person like Stephen King, or James Patterson, or JK Rowling, that is. So journalism was my attempt to stay connected with writing while still paying my bills. It worked. But after a while, I found it was actually stifling my creativity, so I began the slow return to fiction.
WIDW: Obviously, I too love to write, but in college I found a pursuit of an English Lit degree somewhat of a passion-killer and I switched to psychology – with the amount of writing you do, why did you choose a degree in communications?
R.S. I originally pursued a degree in Fine Arts with a focus in dance, but that was a whole other lifetime ago… My degree in Communications is actually my second degree, and I’ve just recently finished it. I went back for my degree in Communications more as a personal goal than for a career. I put my all into it and graduated Summa Cum Laude -that experience and the positive feedback I received from my professors gave me the additional confidence I needed to mentally transition to a life of full-time writing.
WIDW: How do you think that degree has helped your writing career?
R.S. I don’t actually believe that any degree can make you a better writer. I believe it can teach you technique, refine your skill, improve your grammar, and give you connections or confidence. But if writing isn’t a natural born talent, there isn’t anything that can give that to you. It did however definitely give me more confidence. There’s something tangible in having a degree, something you can point to or hold in your hand that says, “yes, you’re capable of doing this”. Like a stamp of approval from the academic elite.
WIDW: If you had the opportunity to do it over, what courses would you take in college?
R.S.: I actually enjoyed my first college experience, but if I had to do it over, I would’ve taken more creative writing courses. I treated the one class I did take as my beta group of readers for Calculated, and to be able to get more initial feedback from more storylines would be invaluable.
WIDW: And my favorite question -Some books make writers think, “Darn I wish I had written that.” If you could turn back the clock and write one author’s novel, which would it be?
R.W. Oh, this one’s easy! The first book that comes to mind for me is Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. It’s a masterful blend of genres told through relatable characters – it’s history, and paranormal, and romance, and coming of age, and women empowerment all rolled into one. I loved it, it’s beautiful.
WIDW: In your writing, you do a remarkable job on realistic dialog -are you just gifted or do you use a particular technique when writing conversations?
R.S: Thank you! That’s always nice to hear. I’m not really sure what to attribute it to, but I will say that I speak all of the dialog aloud after I’ve written it. And if it doesn’t flow smoothly when it’s spoken, I edit it until it does. I really think that helps.
WIDW: You’ve had experience working with screenplays, did that have an impact on your fiction writing style?
R.S.: Absolutely! With screenplays, you really have to streamline your plot, because anything outside of 100 or so pages is too long. Also, you don’t use details at all to describe your characters or setting, so you’re just focusing on dialog and basic interactions. This process really isolates some parts of storytelling that fiction writers get hung up on. I think it helped to make me a stronger writer all around. I actually have used this as a technique with some of my projects, writing them first as screenplays, and then going back and filling in the details to make them novels. It’s a fun exercise that I recommend all new writers to try.
WIDW: If you could be world renowned for either a Broadway play, a best-selling novel or a journalistic piece which would you choose and why?
R.S.: Hmmm…. I would write the article that inspired the novel that became the Broadway play! Ha! I’m kidding. But really, that’s like asking a parent to choose which kid s/he likes more. Each one in its own right is such a brilliant work of art, that it would be an honor to be renowned for any of them.
WIDW: Naples Fl is an interesting place. In many ways it is a micro-chasm of America with its culture, art, tourism, very rich, and not so very rich. Have your experiences there had influence on your writing?
R.S.: Ha! “Interesting” is a good word for it, but I often refer to this area as the Twilight zone. Naples and I have never gotten along, but try as I might, I just can’t seem to leave; must have something to do with the beaches…
Truthfully the level of distorted reality here far surpasses that of many wonderful cities I’ve had the privilege of living in. Like most areas, there are tons of scandals, crimes, poverty and bigotry. But unlike many cities, the level of censorship here is very high, as though they don’t want the rest of the world to know what goes on. And a general respect for different cultures and people is very low. I’m very open minded and accepting of all people and ways of life, so it bothers me when I see those of privilege or means dismiss other groups in the community. Tourism rules the town and most people make their living in the service industry. I’ve seen first-hand what the stress can do and the toll it tales on their psyche. Mara, my main character in Driven, would fit in perfectly here. That being said, it’s definitely shaped my writing. It’s forced me to see life, and people, from a different perspective. My eyes have been opened in ways I never could’ve guessed, and I believe that’s proven to be valuable overall. I’ve grown as a person, and as a writer, by having lived here. This series, I believe, was shaped in part by my experiences here. And in fact, I have many books planned for the future that have sprung from my experiences here…
WIDW: You choose not to write Calculated as a first person narrative – was that purposeful or just the way it came out?
R.S.: I think it’s just the way it came out. It would’ve been interesting from a first person pov, but I think I could explain the story more fully by using third person.
WIDW: What was the most difficult part of the writing process?
R.S.: For me, penning the rough draft. I struggle through laying out that skeleton. But the second draft is like heaven! I love filling in the details, creating the twists, and bringing the story to life.
The second hardest part in the writing process is letting it go. I’m the type of writer who could take one story and edit it all my life, never believing it’s perfect enough to show the world. Calculated is the first of my works I’ve been willing to let go and see what happens.
WIDW: Any quirky writing habits you’d like to share? – you can be honest we won’t tell.
R.S.: I’m not sure if this is quirky, but I have to have complete silence. No music, conversation, television, alerts from my phone… I’m way too easily distracted. And I pretty much need a constant flow of coffee. No coffee, no writing.
WIDW: You’ve written, that in some ways, Ana, the main character is a version of you, are your other characters “real people re-imagined” or did you start from scratch?
R.S.: It kind of became a combination, I believe. I think that, in a way, all of the main characters I’ve pulled from myself. Ana, Mara, characters you’ll meet in future books…they all have a little piece of me, my strengths, and my vulnerabilities in them. Many of the secondary characters, though, I’ve pulled from either real experiences or real people that I’ve heard of. But some are completely made up, and have no relevance in the real world at all. I’ll leave it to the readers to figure out which ones are real and which ones are made up.
WIDW: Female readers are driving book sales and female authors are getting much attention. While that is a great thing, it makes for a lot of competition. What is your strategy for making R.S. Novelle a household name?
R.S.: I’m so not a competition kind of person. There’s nothing that says the person who reads and enjoys my book can’t read and enjoy a hundred other authors. I think that focusing on competition actually makes you a weaker competitor, and that the stories should and will speak for themselves and set themselves apart ultimately. My focus is just to put it in the hands of as many readers as I can, and show support to my fellow authors along the way.
WIDW: Speaking of…Novelle – a pen name? Any story behind that?
R.S: Novelle is actually my legal name. Kind of fitting though, right?
WIDW: The follow up to Calculated is Driven, in which we go back and discover Mara’s, a character from Calculated, back story. I really like that idea, it is a technique that Tami Hoag uses to propel her books. Reflecting back on it, knowing what you know now, would you have made Driven the first in the Series.
R.S.: No, I think I would’ve kept it in the same order. I like that we start with a story that features a main character people can relate to, and the plot compels us to open our minds just a little bit. And that the follow up gives us a sort of behind-the-scenes glance at what was really going on the whole time. Of course in book 3, Avenged, the two women get to duel it out and we get a resolution of sorts to everything we’ve learned about them.
WIDW: Most Indie novelist have a back-up plan for their careers although we will probably never stop writing- Does Renee have a backup plan?
R.S. My backup plan is to lose myself on a deserted island or maybe teach yoga in some random other country…
Just kidding. Nope, no backup plan here. It’s sink or swim, now or never, whatever other cliché you can think of. But this is it for me, and I’m not giving myself a way out. Failure is simply not an option. This is what I’ve always wanted to do with my life, and I think if I had a backup plan to focus on I’d begin losing faith in myself.
WIDW: Where can the readers find you?
R.S.: Everywhere! If readers visit my website, http://www.RsNovelle.com, I have links to seven different social media sites that I’m on. They can also sign-up for my newsletter so they get the latest and greatest announcements. And of course, you can find me on my Amazon Author page.
WIDW: Again thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us. Calculated is available through Amazon. As Independent Authors, one of the most important things we can do for our business is to support other independent authors. R.S Novelle’s success will just add further proof to my belief that within the Indie market are writers the world wants to read.
Book #1 Discovered Series
eBook Release: August 31, 2013
An investigative journalist gets an unlikely tip from a mysterious informant. Dismissing it as impossible, she disregards the information and drops the story. Until the informant turns up dead, as predicted.
Plunged into the murky waters of a seedy underground prostitution ring, this psychological thriller provides twist upon dark twist in a story that would ultimately pin the church and several government officials in the largest murder cover-up the city has ever witnessed.
But is it true, or has the journalist merely been used as a pawn in a greater scheme? And how many people is she willing to sacrifice trying to figure it out?
Categories: IAI - Indie Author Interviews