International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog
Title: Willow’s Walk
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Synopsis: The Path each person walks is entirely their own. The pitfalls along that path, as well as the way in which they are dealt with are entirely up to the individual. But Willow Sutherland-Crosby walks a far different path, and with her own agenda. Abuse, deception, intrigue, and a never ending quest for happiness and love – will she find these, or will her blind determination be her downfall? This 5-star awarded romantic fiction drama is a gripping new tale, certain to hold readers captive from the very first page. Set in the beautiful city of Ottawa, Canada in 2003, this touching story centers on the life and times of a woman determined to prevail at all costs, regardless of what is set before her, the result of which is certain to leave the reader reeling in its wake.
Rusty Blackwood, Author
CH: Today’s Guest Author is Rusty Blackwood, a Canadian author. This is Rusty’s second interview on my blog. Welcome back, Rusty.
CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book.
RB: I believe what can be derived from Willow’s tumultuous journey is invaluable in helping the reader with their own life choices.
CH: A quote on the back of your book reads, “The path each person walks is entirely their own.” So, what inspired you to write about “Willow’s Walk?”
RB: I very much enjoy writing about topics near and dear to my heart, and although Willow Crosby is not me as such, the idea to borrow assorted aspects of my life in which to create her, the tumultuous path she walks and the story surrounding it, was greatly influenced by my life experiences. I believe a reader can gain enormous insight into their own life by the way in which a story is presented to them, especially if they themselves are contemplating an area whose outcome, should they blindly venture forth, not turn out exactly the way they might hope.
CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your type of writing?
RB: This is a question that I don’t really have a specific answer for and I don’t think many authors would without sounding full of themselves. However, I would hope my readers enjoy the perspective of what I’m writing about, possibly my tenacity to write it the way I feel and want it to be, and possibly my ability to open my soul in areas one might not expect. I’m an expressive writer, but I don’t believe in writing so intricately that my readers would require the constant need of a dictionary in order to understand the words I’m using, or what I’m trying to express with them. Often times, the more simplified the use of an adjective or verb, the more impact they have when trying to state a point. I don’t enjoy reading a piece that confuses me, or makes me feel inept because I can’t understand it. I don’t wish to imply that a writer who writes this way is doing so with the intent of appearing more knowledgeable than another writer—for that matter the reader—or is trying to appear well above others who may not hold the same level of education. My writing style has been described as simplistic and smooth, lyrical and genuine, as well as somber and appropriate for the chosen topic, but to me my writing, as well as the style of it, is simply an outlet of expression and emotion, and if I cannot feel what I’m writing about then I may as well put it away and wait for another day.
CH: Which character was hardest to write?
RB: All characters have their idiosyncrasies, as well as their own views and personality that the writer gives to them, so in that respect this question is a bit difficult to answer. But if I had to choose, I would say it would be Willow’s second husband, Jonas Crosby. When you create a character, especially for a specific role in a story, it can be difficult to project them in the way you would expect them to be if they actually existed. You put thoughts in their head, make them do the things they do, and you hope that the choices you make will be believable, and politically correct in keeping with the story you’ve put them in. I somewhat answered this previously when you asked whether or not I base my characters on actual people. Jonas, without revealing my inspiration, was in-fact a bit of a stretch because I wanted to present him in a multi-colored light, because he truly is a multi-faceted character who happens to have sharp wit, a spiteful tongue, and whose over-the-top-actions could be taken out of context, depending on the happening of the moment. He can even be calculating and heartless, but without revealing too much, he is justified in what he does. I tried to walk a careful line with him and not let my feelings over-take the character, because he really is someone that the reader will either like, or despise.
CH: Which character was your favorite to write?
RB: There are a few that were a delight to create and brought me enjoyment to use, but I believe my favorite would be Willow herself. I certainly relate to her in many ways and can totally understand where she’s coming from, why she makes the choices she does, and why she is so adamant to see them through. Experiences in life have made Willow strong, to quite an extent, but they have also made her vulnerable when it comes to the choices she makes. I admire her point of view, as well as her staunch determination to stand her ground and find her way, even when the odds are stacked against her.
CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?
RB: I, basically, draw from my life, the experiences I’ve had, and hopefully have learned from. I’m fortunate to be blessed with a vivid imagination and endless ideas in which to draw from, but I don’t sit down and purposely decide to write a specific topic; instead, I let my thoughts go where they wish, and often times they reveal the next story. I have never been fortunate to physically travel the world, so I do it in my mind, and let my expression do the rest.
CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing this book?
RB: Unfortunately, yes. At the time I began what eventually became Willow’s Walk I was still writing Passions in Paris and I was also going through some very difficult personal issues, so it was difficult to express anything, let alone stay focused on the creation of a new story. As the years went by, certain issues changed into other issues, and some of these managed to help in the writing and finishing of Willow’s Walk. There were times—many times in fact—that I simply stepped away and totally shelved it, but it always beckoned me back. I believe a story, possibly the characters within a particular story, are what allows a writer to continue with it. I think the characters develop the need to live, and this very often helps to finish a piece that might otherwise stay on the back burner, or totally abandoned.
CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life?
RB: I draw from my own life experiences, as well as my ideas and needs. I’m a hopeless romantic, I’ve said that many times, but just because I have never managed to find that wondrous bliss for myself doesn’t mean I can’t find it in what I write. I’ve always thought that whatever one writes about should be situations that are not only believable, but something that the reader can actually relate to. Then again, there is a lot to be said about writing about topics that might be considered totally unbelievable. It’s really all in the imagination and mind of both the writer and the reader, but I think if it’s believably written then it will be believably enjoyed.
CH: Take us through your writing process. When you get an idea, do you map out the book beforehand, or do you allow the characters to write their own story?
RB: I’m a character writer first and foremost. I love that part of the entire writing concept. I truly do feel the characters can project the scenario they wish to be immersed into, so I always create them first and then the story. But I will admit to already having an idea of what I’d like to say. I’ll map-out certain areas of a story to help me move along the course I’m hoping to take, make notes to refer to and pull from along the way, but I don’t block out a book. It’s hard to explain, but the method I use seems to work for me, and so I stay with it.
CH: How long does it take you to write one of your books?
RB: That very much depends on what I wish to express. Passions in Paris took ten years—of course that’s from initial inception of character and story idea to a finished novel, and Passions in Paris is a grand scale novel. I was also working full-time during the writing of that novel and could only work on it during evenings and weekends. Willow’s Walk has taken ten years, but as I stated earlier that was due to personal issues throughout the time of writing it. The stories that appear in my children’s short story collection, Through the Eyes of Innocence, where created at an earlier time, and then newly revised in order to create that collection. The same could be said in regard to my poetry collection, Impressions. Both of these collections were previously published under different titles, but because I was not satisfied with the way my work had been handled by the publishing firm I had used, I decided to terminate my contract, revise the work, and republish it through the company I presently use. The Misadventures of Derwood Tugbottom, the comedy short I wrote in 2012, took only a few months to write and produce, so it really depends on the circumstances at the time of writing a piece.
CH: When did you realize that you were meant to be a writer?
RB: I don’t know if I am meant to be a writer, but I greatly enjoy it, I always have, although it was something I did not set out to do with my life; therefore, I was never professionally trained in the field. But I have always loved to write, and would write whenever the time allowed. It wasn’t until the separation from my husband that I decided to see where my writing could take me. One might even refer to me as an accidental author, but I have never been sorry for making the decision to write and self publish my work. I suppose when you invest time and money into something you also make the choice to see it through, which of course I did, and continue to do, but I greatly enjoy what I do and hope to continue with it for many years to come. If I could change any area of it, I would have loved to become an author at a much younger age; then again, if that were so I wouldn’t have experienced life as I have, nor would I have that experience to draw from now. In that respect a lot can be said for beginning new ventures later in life.
CH: What are some of your aspirations as far as the writing profession?
RB: I would like to see independent authors and writers be given the same respect and chances as those represented by Standard Houses. Unfortunately the reading public has been educated to think that if a book has not been written in the traditional manner, or by an author who is represented by a Standard House, it is not worthy of attention, least of all purchase. This can be witnessed in bookstores everyday; the shelves are lined with books carrying Standard House imprints. They are front and centre; the latest publications stacked at the front of the line and practically forced into the hands of the reading public; yet, a self-published book—if it even gets into the store let alone on a shelf—is totally ignored. It is given not one speck of promotion, nor is the author. Some stores, depending on the manager, have an independently published author and local author area, but it is usually no more than a few spaces, and the books will get no coverage or push. When an author does a signing, it is on consignment, the author provides the stock, does all the signage, all the work, and the store takes forty-five percent of sales—if you manage to get any at all. Some have a set requirement of sales in order to be given another signing, if you’ve not managed any prior success. Yet how can you hope for any measure of success when you get no support? The stores think they are being supportive because they allow an indie author time and a table in their store, usually in areas where you’d have to literally trip customers in order to get their attention. I may sound somewhat jaded, but if I do it’s because I’ve been through this so many times. This kind of treatment needs to stop, or at least improve. If these places were to have a renowned author grace their establishment, they would roll-out the red carpet for them, and if they can do that for them, they can do it for all. There are many talented, superb authors who choose to remain independent, and it is my hope that the choice to remain so, will finally be given the respect it deserves.
CH: As far as accolades or achievements, what would you say has been your greatest writing achievement?
RB: I believe that would be the writing of my 818 page romantic fiction drama Passions in Paris: Revelations of a Lost Diary. To undertake a novel of this scale is not an easy task, nor is it something to be taken lightly. However I don’t intend on ever writing a piece of that page count again, not because I can’t, but because the cost of stock and shipping is too great because of the weight. Looking back, I don’t think it was my intention in writing a piece that lengthy, but I had a lot to say, and the further I went the more I had to say—or the characters had to say and do—so it ended up being what it became. The original manuscript was well over 1,000 pages before edit, and it was hard to let pages be cut, but of course it was necessary, areas were repetitious or simply not needed. It really did feel like cutting your child’s arm off, because a piece you create and build is very much like a child you are nurturing. I realize it’s only another writer who could understand this comparison, but it is true, and hard to explain any other way. I’m extremely proud of Passions in Paris and I am of Willow’s Walk, as well. I’m proud of every book I’ve written, as well as every poem, because they are part of me, my thoughts, and my life.
CH: What authors do you read? And who are some of your favorites?
RB: I seldom get a chance to read as much as I would like, in fact I don’t read at all when I’m writing a piece of my own. I like to remain focused on my own thoughts, words, and experiences, as opposed to the possibility of borrowing from someone else, and though the chance of that happening would be next to nil, by not reading another’s work during the creation of my own removes that possibility entirely. However, in between projects, I do try to read interesting work; the last novel I read was The English Professor by fellow St. Catharine’s author, Gina Iafrate. Wonderful read, and made even more pleasurable by the fact it was written by a local Indie author. I very much enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett, very descriptive writer, and entertaining story. I still enjoy the authors I read during my childhood: Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Canadian author, Lucy Maude Montgomery. I greatly admire Stephen King’s work, for I find his uncanny ability in creating a story that will never leave your mind, an ability that not many writers possess. But in general, I don’t I have a favorite; I simply appreciate expressive writing, and interesting storylines.
CH: Last but not least, why do you write, and what do you want readers to take from your novels?
RB: I write because I love it, I love to create scenarios for my characters that I would like to experience myself, if given the chance. There are times I feel the need to express something that I cannot express verbally, or if I do, it is not wholly expressed in the way it would be if it were in written form. I have often used my writing, especially my poetry, as therapy to help me through troubled times in my life. I, often, pull from life experience when creating a piece, because I, more than anyone, know how I felt at the time it happened, or at the moment of expressing it again, and it can often assist me in coping with or accepting something in my own life, possibly something I am experiencing difficulty with, or something that I would like to experience for the first time. I find an escape through writing, and I would hope that my readers could feel this same way in regard to something that may be happening in their own life. Above all, I would hope my readers find enjoyment through my expression, the topics I write about, the scenes I describe, and the stories I tell.
CH: Can you give my audience your website address?
RB: You may find my official website at http://www.rusty-blackwood.com and from there you can take direct links to my Twitter and Facebook pages.
CH: Can you tell my audience where is your book sold?
RB: Willow’s Walk is available in paperback and Kindle at all Amazons worldwide, in paperback at Barnes&Nobel.com, and Create Space. The E-PUB version for all reading devices is available at Payhip.com Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1TBylle
CH: Any closing remarks?
RB: I would very much like to take this opportunity to thank you for this interview, Cheryl. Through conducting an in-depth interview such as this one, and displaying it on a well patronized Blog, such as yours, allows an author’s work to gain a larger audience, and better awareness of what is found between the covers of a new title. The boost it gives is invaluable in more ways than you realize, so thank you again.
CH: Thank you Rusty Blackwood, it has been a real pleasure discussing your book and your writing journey with my audience.
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