Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I 'met' Ronda Hinrichsen on line a little over a year ago and continued the acquaintance in person at a writers conference we both attended last April. We had breakfast together, and, as we talked, I was struck not only by her fine eyes and poise, but also by how dedicated she is at honing her writing skills.

Ronda’s first novel, Missing, was published last fall, and she has generously agreed to let me interview her on my blog.

Liz: Tell us a bit about yourself: where you're from, about your family.

Ronda: I’m the oldest of seven children. I was born and raised in Rexburg, Idaho, but I’ve lived the past 22+ years in Utah. I currently have a son about to return from his mission, and another son who’s been in the mission field for about 7 months.

Liz: You’re kidding! You don’t look old enough to have sons out on missions! Writing must keep you young. What is your writing schedule?

Ronda: I write almost every morning as well as throughout several evenings when the house is quiet. I do my best work in the quiet, but since solitude isn’t always possible, I also write whenever I get the chance—waiting at the doctor’s office, etc. About ten years ago, I used to have a set schedule, and that worked well for me at that time, but now. . . let’s just say I adapt writing to my changing schedule.

Liz: That’s another example of your dedication. How long have you known you wanted to be a writer?

Ronda: I was in the 6th grade. My teacher was reading S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS to the class, and when she reached the section where Johnny urged Ponyboy to stay “gold” I realized I wanted to write "golden” words just as Hinton had. More than that, I wanted those words to encourage the "golden" in others.

Liz: It’s marvelous that you knew that early what you wanted to do. How have you learned the craft?

Ronda: I always learn a great deal about the craft of writing when I’m edited. However, I studied English in college, and I’ve read/studied TONS of “How to Write” books. Also, about 20 years ago, I started writing for magazines. I had young children and little time, so the relatively short structures and specific formats of stories and articles taught me how to use precise language and gave me the opportunity to build my portfolio of published credits.

Liz: Have you transferred what you learned in formatting of stories and articles to your novels? I guess I’m asking, do you plot your books ahead of time or just begin writing and see where it takes you?

Ronda: Both. I initially gather ideas as they come to me in a notebook, and then I begin to outline the important points of the story. I absolutely have to know my beginning and my ending or I can’t write. However, as I write from point to point, a lot of “waiting to see what happens” takes place.

Liz: What is the hardest thing about writing?

Ronda: Constantly drumming up the courage to submit my work, have it read by others, and ultimately critiqued. When it comes to writing, I have a great deal of the perfectionist in me, so I’m always afraid my work isn’t quite good enough. That said, there is nothing like the thrill I get when I learn others have enjoyed and/or been blessed by my words. That success—joy—more than compensates for my fear.

Liz: Good for you! Tell us what Missing is about.

Ronda: Missing is about a BYU-Idaho student who’s on a college choir tour in British Columbia when she sees and then searches for a child who was kidnapped from her own hometown in Rexburg. That’s the exciting part, but underneath the plot, it’s also about sacrifice and a mother’s love for her child.

Liz: I had an affinity for Missing because it’s set in the Pacific Northwest, near where I live. Why did you set this book on Vancouver Island, B.C.?

Ronda: Honestly? Because I wanted a romantic setting that hadn’t been overused. My husband and I went there for our anniversary one year. I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I’d seen. And yes, it was very romantic.

Liz: Well, that last scene in the book where Stacie is driving through the winter weather, trying to save the child was more than romantic. It was exciting, and you captured the feel of Vancouver Island in the winter very well.

Music also plays a big part in this book. Does it play a large part in your life, too?

Ronda: Yes! In relation to the use of my talents, music is second to writing. I love it. Like Stacie Cox, the main character of Missing, I’m a soprano soloist. I also teach beginning piano. In my opinion, music and words are two of the most powerful media we have. My desire is to mold those powers to influence the good in all who read or hear my work.

Liz: That already partially answers my next question: What do you want the reader to take away from this book?

Ronda: I hope readers will experience the story almost as closely as Stacie Cox (my main character) does. I hope they will enjoy it. Most of all, I hope they will feel that the time they spent with Missing will have been well worth the effort.

Liz: Have you begun your next book? What is it about?

Ronda: I’ve actually just started my third novel, but I’m also making “final” edits on my second novel, tentatively titled Trapped. I’m really excited about it. Like Missing, it takes place in an exotic location—Salzburg, Austria—and is filled with mystery, suspense, and romance. But it also has an element of fantasy. The basic premise? A young woman discovers she and her entire bloodline are under a devastating, centuries-old curse only she can end.

Liz: We’ll be looking forward to it! Thanks so much.

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen’s book Missing can be purchased at Amazon.com or Deseretbook.com
Follow this blog! I promise Navajo Tacos THIS WEEK! Well, maybe I'd better temper that, as I'm expecting a new granddaughter tomorrow and I'll be taking care of the new one's siblings. However, I'll bet I can make it happen. They don't call me SuperGrandma for nothing! Actually, they don't call me Supergrandma at all. They call me Grandma Tudy, but that doesn't fit the situation. I'll give it my best shot, and if I succeed at posting my Navajo Taco recipe, you can all call me SuperGrandma.


Ronda Hinrichsen said...

Thanks, Liz. It was fun talking with you. And I'll be watching for that recipe!

Donna Hatch said...

I enjoyed your interview. Missing sounds like a great book. I love exotic locations, but I travel very little so I have to rely on books to enjoy new places.

Tanya Parker Mills said...

Great interview, Liz. I was interested to hear about Ronda's writing process...particularly that she has to know how a book will end before she begins writing it. I'll admit, it's a lot less scary doing it that way.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Great interview, Liz. I hope I get to see both you and Ronda at the Storymakers Conference. :)