Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ruth Sims Interview

Interview with Ruth Sims

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

Late at night. That’s always caused problems because I’m a Night Person in a Day Person’s world and I have to get up at 4:15! No matter how sleepy I am, the minute I get horizontal my brain goes into writing mode.

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

Computer. The beautiful handwriting I had once upon a time deserted me when I learned to use a keyboard. Now I can’t even read the grocery lists I write by hand.

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

Just about everything. Words I overhear. People I see. Things I remember. Other peoples’ memories. Magazine articles. A new character name that pops into my head.

4: Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?

I wish I could say Yes. The most productive writers I know set themselves a daily goal and stick to it. I, however, am the world’s most disorganized human being. I make lists of things to do each day and never get half of them done. I sit down at the computer, grimly determined to put out x-number of words but never do. Some days I accomplish much. Some days I can’t finish a sneeze. It’s kind of a miracle I get anything at all finished.

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

I'm a published author, though a few years ago I did have a brief flirtation with subsidy publishing (not the smartest thing I ever did). My first publisher, back in the mid-90's put a horrible cover I loathed on my book. I had no input at all on the cover and didn't see it until I got the actual book. I'm glad it's out of print. The design of my subsidy book was my own (but not the execution). I scanned some very old leather covered books, including a 150-year-old novel, and sent the image to an artist in England, who came up with the final design. I rather liked the cover.

Last year, Lethe Press republished my subsidy book, The Phoenix (quite a few things in the text were changed in the new version, btw), and put a gorgeous red-and-gold cover by Ben Baldwin on it. While I didn't make any real decisions regarding the cover, Steve Berman, the publisher, put me in contact with Mr. Baldwin, and we worked out a general idea of the appearance of the characters and details such as eye color. It was a nice surprise to be involved that way.

Counterpoint:Dylan's Story, coming in July, has a cover by the multi-talented Alex Beecroft, who is also a terrific author. What's interesting about it is that she is not one of Dreamspinner's regular artists. She's someone who enjoyed the manuscript and wanted to try doing a cover just for fun, even if it wouldn't be considered by the publisher. The publisher thought it was perfect, accepted it, paid her as they would have their regular artists, and, other than a few minor changes due to software differences, it's as Alex created it. I absolutely love it. I don't believe very many publishers involve their authors in the art work, and few would be that accepting of an unauthorized outside artist!

6: What drives you to chose the career of being a writer?

Stringing words together into the semblance of a story is the only skill and the only talent I have. It’s that or stand under a streetlight in stiletto heels and a miniskirt and I’m too old for that. And, anyway, I love doing writing.

7: Do you own an ebook reading device?

Not yet, although I recently downloaded Amazon’s free Kindle for PC. Does that count? There will have to be more of a consensus on which one is the best, and they’ll have to be cheaper before I buy one.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?

So many of my friends are outstanding authors I really hate to do a “favorite authors” list. It would be endless, and I’d have to leave someone out. They all have different strengths and skills in their writing that comparisons are difficult. I’d have to make a list, hang it on a bulletin board, and throw a dart.
I just finished one of the best memoirs I’ve ever seen (I love memoirs and biographies) called Deep Water: a Sailor’s Passage by E. M. Kahn, written by a man who loved another man deeply and lost him to AIDS, and also loved sailing just as passionately. Even a confirmed, water-fearing landlubber like myself felt as if I were really on the sailing boats with Mr. Kahn and his partner. I wish it was a book more readily available because I’d recommend it to anyone.

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?

I love book trailers. Whether they help sell books or not, I don’t know. I have a beautiful trailer for The Phoenix, which was done by Brenda Adcock. It’s on my website as well as other places. Brenda is working on a book trailer for my upcoming release from Dreamspinner, titled Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story. Like The Phoenix (Lethe Press, 2009) Counterpoint is a gay love story set at the end of the 19th century. Even if I knew the trailers would never sell a single book I’d have them made. Why? Because it’s the closest I’ll likely ever come to seeing my books made into film. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Brenda (who is also a talented novelist) is doing for Counterpoint: Dylan’s Story. I’m sure it will be as gorgeous as the other one.

10: What are you working on now that you can talk about?

I have six other novels in various stages, not really far enough along to be interesting to anyone but me. May I talk about my short stories instead? Although I’ve always loved short stories, I said for years I couldn’t write them. I was wrong! Now that I’ve done a few, I find that not only can I write them, I love to write them. The trouble with short stories is that they are – or at least, were – almost impossible to sell. Now, thanks to the internet and the invention of ebooks, that’s no longer true. There are several publishers who do them.

Jay Hartman, who has long been a champion of e-books, has published two of my stories as ebooks: “The Lawyer, The Ghost, and the Cursed Chair,” which is guaranteed to give you a few giggles, and “Mr. Newby’s Revenge,” about a man who was bullied as a child. Never fear; Mr. Newby ultimately gets even by using his wits, colored contact lenses, brown paper towels, and kitty litter. There are gay characters in them, but they’re not gay stories.

Coming up very soon from Untreed Reads are two serious stories that are a little more literary. First will be “Burma Girl,” about two sisters whose lives are ruined by their father’s obsession with the Burma Girl. And “Song On the Sand,” about an embittered elderly man who finds a peculiar salvation. Untreed Reads ebooks are available worldwide now, and are available for just about any kind of reader.  I hope people who read my efforts will drop me a line at

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