Get to Know…R.A. White

Final Cover RAWThis week, we get to know a newly published author, R.A. White. Welcome, R.A.!

Tell us about your book.

My book is titled Kergulen. It’s a fantasy novel about a slave girl who escapes her master by crossing her country’s border into the Kergulen forest, where she hopes to find refuge. She does eventually find a refuge of sorts, but she’s attacked by various forest guardians, and the people of Kergulen are aggressively racist toward her. It’s more about overcoming fears and life’s oppressions than it is about monsters and dragons, but it has those, too. While it deals with some dark themes, it’s mostly a fun story with plenty to laugh at, and a couple characters that require a love/hate relationship with the reader.

Where did the idea come from?

The surface story of a girl escaping into a dangerous forest came from a dream I had when I was maybe thirteen years old. It was just a people-trying-to-kill-me-or-lock-me-in-an-asylum dream, which I still have regularly. Hasn’t everyone had that dream? But this particular dream stuck with me, I think because of the beautiful but scary nature of the forest. I, like many people, have seen some of the horrible things that happen in this world, and so I’d say that life experiences gave me the more important ideas in this book.

Why write in the fantasy genre?

Because it’s so much fun! I’ve been reading Terry Brooks and David Eddings since I was a pre-teen. There’s something to be said for escaping into an alternate reality, even if you’re pretty happy with the life you have. If I’m too busy, I like to escape into fantasy. If I’m bored, I like to escape into fantasy. What better way to deal with real life issues than in a completely made up world?

What’s the book’s opening line?

The slave girl forced herself to accept the blow without shrinking back.

Originally, the first line was: Whack!

I was trying to come up with a beginning for the story, but I had a block. I remember sitting in the library trying so hard to think of a good beginning, and these two ladies were having a gab about their dogs, and not even quietly. I sat there, growing more irritated by the second, and suddenly I had this incredible urge to smack one of them. So I typed out Whack! and that was the official beginning of Kergulen.

What do you most enjoy about writing?

I’m tempted to say it’s the creative outlet. Sometimes that’s true. But most of the time my favorite part of writing is the process of bringing scattered thoughts and feelings together into meaningful and enjoyable sentences, paragraphs, and stories.

Please share a writing tip you’ve found helpful.

Read Strunk and White’s Elements of Style before you share your work with anyone. Then practice it on your own book!

What’s your professional background, and how does it influence your writing?

I’ve had a number of low-level jobs: restaurants, fast food, day-care and so forth. I think that working with other people who make just over minimum wage helped me to identify with those who don’t feel like they have a lot going for them.

I also did apprentice missionary work in Russia for a couple of years, and that experience showed up a lot in Kergulen. I could never have written believably about a person living in a foreign culture without being personally familiar with the kinds of things she would face.

How are you enjoying your experience as a newly published author?

I enjoy the feeling of having accomplished an important personal goal, to write a novel and make it available to the world, but honestly it’s been more work than joy in most ways. It’s been fun to get involved with some online book sites, but even that is a lot of work for a low-tech chick like me.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

I’m going interpret ‘book’ as ‘novel’, here, and say Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz. It’s less thematic than some of his other great novels, but still it speaks strongly about the joy of living an uncomplicated life with dear friends and family, and about what we must be willing to do for those we love. Plus, it’s hilarious. I’ve read it at least half a dozen times, and it still makes me laugh my head off.

Who is your favorite fictional character? (Any medium)

I suppose she may be off limits, but I’m going to say Rima, the heroine in my own book. She can sometimes be a bit emotional, but I admire her determination to overcome and her refusal to be mired in her past. Her audacity inspires me, and it also makes me laugh.

If you could have one super-power, what would it be and why?

I would be a shape-shifter. Then on a cold day I could turn into something furry before I left the house, and then once it was toasty in the car I could turn back into myself. I hate wearing a big coat in the car almost as much as I hate feeling my blood ice up between the car and the grocery.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a sequel, now. I’d say I’m about ninety percent finished with it, and then it still has to be edited, but I’m already excited about it. It’s looking to be a fun story with a broader cast of characters than my first book.

Where can people learn more about your work?

They can look me up on GoodReads or Amazon, but the best way would be to read a sample chapter or two and see what they think. I can write all kinds of things about my writing, and they can read some great reviews on Amazon, but there’s nothing like going right to the book and letting it speak for itself.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

While I was living in Russia, my missionary friends and I went on a little trip to Italy. One night we borrowed the sheets from our beds and had ourselves a toga party on the streets of Rome. We ate dinner, visited some sites, and took some great pictures. I remember being concerned that we would get into trouble, but the Italians either thought we were funny or dismissed us as crazy Americans, and the nuns never knew that we had borrowed their bed sheets.

Thank you, R.A.!