Its my pleasure to interview Tina Ann Forkner. I really enjoyed her debut book Ruby Among Us.
Firstly thanks for agreeing to this interview and congratulations on your debut novel.
You are welcome, Jenny. I am so happy to be here!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I write fiction that focuses on the intricacies of family relationships. Originally from Oklahoma, I graduated from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in Wyoming where I now live with my husband and our three children. I stay busy serving on the Laramie County Library Foundation board of directors and also enjoy gardening and spending time outdoors with my family. I am also a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers and work full-time as a writer.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer, have you always had the desire or did it come later?
I was a little kid when I told my parents I wanted to be a writer and they said, “Okay.” Much of that early writing was really bad, but my parents’ tendency to brag only encouraged me.
Like many writers, I majored in English and I became somewhat involved with the literary community at CSU Sacramento. When I graduated, I realized I would have to put my fingers to the keys and write with no writing community to inspire me. That was difficult when I became a single mom and had to focus on working full-time, as well as doing the mommy thing. That’s just what was more important at the time.
It wasn’t until I later married my husband that I had time to write the novel. I went to a writing conference the same year I finished the book and was invited by an editor to submit my manuscript. It would be cool if I could say, “and he decided to publish it!” But it was ultimately rejected. It wasn’t until I had an agent that it finally sold to Waterbrook Press. That was a fabulous day.
If you were not a writer what would you like to be?
Hmmm. That’s a good question. Probably a master gardener. Of course, I would have to learn to be a much better gardener. I live in Wyoming, so it would be a challenge.
What was you motivation for writing Ruby Among Us?
For a time I lived in Sacramento and spent a few weekends a month visiting relatives in Santa Rosa and driving through the Sonoma Valley. The beauty of it really grew on me and served in many ways to heal my heart as I went through some tough moments known only to me at the time. I think the setting lent itself to the book easily because I had absorbed so much of it during that growing period in my life.
One evening a few years later, I was living as a single mom in Wyoming and feeling particularly down about my situation in life. I began to think about my daughter and worry about what would happen to her if I were to die while she was still young. I asked myself a question like, “What would she be told about me?”
And then like a typical writer, I expanded my questions to the hypothetical. “What if someone decided to take her away from everything that has to do with me? How would she feel? Would she try to find out about me?” And I sensed she would, so I typed out what amounted to a few paragraphs of fiction, or maybe a few pages, I can’t remember, and then I called it Ruby Among Us and closed the file. It wasn’t until I later married my husband that I pulled that file back out and it turned into a book.
How do you come up with the characters for your books and are they modeled on people you know?
I do mix in interesting traits from people I have known, but I find the best way to create a character is to watch their personality unfold as I write the story and they become like real people.
The story of the three characters in Ruby Among Us is told by the youngest, Lucy DiCamillo. She is a gifted young college student living a very private, quiet life with her grandmother surrounded by books, music, and art. Her longing in life is to remember her mother.
Lucy’s character developed as the story unfolded, but because I already knew she was going to be struggling with trying to remember her mother, I shaped her personality around that. Lucy really had to be the kind of person who doesn’t watch television very often or care a great deal about the internet, or pop culture. So Lucy ended up being a very introspective person who doesn’t explore much beyond her own home and expresses her longing for her mother’s memories through artistic endeavors. She is in many ways a recluse surrounded by an artful life.
What was the Hardest part of writing "Ruby Among Us"?
I think time is the biggest challenge for me when it comes to writing as a career. For Ruby Among Us I had to get up around 5am every day to get it written because at that time I was working a day job.
What would you like readers to take out of reading "Ruby Among Us"?
I hope they get lost in the world of Lucy, Kitty, and Ruby and fill satisfied and hopeful after they have read it. The book is about grief and redemption. Those are things I hope readers will be able to relate to. I think God is bigger than we give him credit for. Our problems aren’t too big for him.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
I have a second book coming out from Waterbrook Press in 2009 that is a standalone, but gives a glimpse of some of the characters from Ruby Among Us. I also have three other books in the works that are as yet un-contracted, but I’m hoping for the best.
How can readers find you on the web?
Readers can find me at www.tinaannforkner.com
Do you have any final thoughts for us?
If you are a reader, then bless you! I hope you love Ruby Among Us and will let me know your thoughts.
Finally thank you so much for agreeing to this interview and sharing your time with us. I really enjoyed reading Ruby Among us, it was touching and special.
Thanks for the great interview! All the best!
You can read my review here
I will be giving this book away in the near future.