Take Five With...Molly Ringle

Monday, March 28, 2011

This week’s author is Molly Ringle, who has a talent for creating sympathetic characters. The Ghost Downstairs was a different and interesting read for me as it was the first time I was reading a romance novel with this unique storyline. All the while, I was rooting hard for Lina, the main character, to win her guy, even if he belonged to another realm.  Let’s just say the situation turned ominous and that kept me reading until I was satisfied the outcome was the one I hoped for.  Molly’s settings for her stories are diverse, which leads into the first question.

How or why did you choose Scotland as the setting for a novel?

The short answer: I love it there! It's enchanting. And an enchanting setting is the best for any novel, in my opinion.

The long answer: I became an Anglophile (or rather, entire British-Isles-ophile) sometime in college, probably from reading the Bronte sisters and E.M. Forster, and listening to The Cure and The Beatles, and so on. It's a common enough fondness for Americans, especially those who have British ancestry. Then I actually went there with my parents and younger sister when I was 20, and the obsession went full-blown. I was almost in tears when we left, despite it being only a ten-day and very touristy visit. I knew I had to go back. So I did, when I graduated from college.

I arrived in London on my own in the fall of 1996, and made my plans for my three-month work-abroad stay. I somewhat arbitrarily decided that Edinburgh would be where I'd settle and find work, so I took the train up to there and did just that. I had an internet acquaintance in the Edinburgh area already, which helped, but also Scotland seemed more exotic than England--and if I was going to have a work-abroad experience in the UK, I might as well take the more exotic option, right? I'm very glad I did, though of course now I also want to spend more time in many other areas of the British Isles and get to know them equally well.

In any case, I later used my impressions of being a young American living in Edinburgh to write 'What Scotland Taught Me'--adding a lot more teen angst into the mix for dramatic effect, of course!

What do you think of current publishing trends?

I'm quite stoked that the e-book revolution seems finally to be here, at long last. I got e-published for the first time in 2002, and believe me, the world was NOT ready then. Nobody I talked to understood how you would go about reading a book on a screen, or why you would want to. I settled back and bided my time, and watched my e-publishers go under, one after the other. But I honestly believed e-books had a future, so I signed on with another e-pub when I had a manuscript ready (with The Wild Rose Press, who do also put their full-length novels into print, which I admit sweetened the deal).

Then around last year, more and more people started talking about getting Kindles and Nooks, and reading books on their iPhones. I credit the iPhone/iPod Touch with people getting so comfortable reading electronic text in longer form, actually. People came to love their little devices so much, they were willing to bring books onto them. I think it's great. Sure, I'd still love to have Penguin or Random House print my books on gorgeous acid-free paper by the million some day. But if they never do business with me and I get a million downloads instead, I'll be perfectly happy.

What advice would you give newly published writers?

Being someone that people can easily work with is going to get you a long way. Yes, you do need to have a handle on grammar, plot, and dialogue, and all that. But having a great book isn't going to open many doors for you if you're unwilling to consider editing suggestions, unreliable about doing your work, and/or generally unable to come across like a sane human being.

Eccentricity has its place in the literary world, but on the whole, editors and agents want their authors to act professional, which means being mature and respectful. All too often you hear the advice, "What you need most of all is to have written a great book," and that's certainly part of the recipe, but I thought I'd shine some light on the other part today, just for variety.

What kind of books do you read? Do they influence your writing in any way?

I read mostly novels, and a little nonfiction if the subject interests me. The novels are of every sort--young adult, adult, commercial, literary, contemporary, classic, genre, non-genre. I like to keep my fiction palate wide and varied, and I definitely think (and hope!) this variety influences my writing. Even if I'm writing within a genre (such as romance), I like to bring the influence of other areas of knowledge into it, so that it won't just read like a cookie-cutter story. I can't resist throwing in a touch of the literary, or a whiff of the paranormal, or a fun fact about history.

What are you working on now?

I'm frequently told I have a hand for comedy and should write more of it, so I'm finishing up a novella that's got a strong humor angle. Basically, the ghost of a young woman shows up and tries to throw a living woman and man together, with specific and often sappy or bizarre requirements for how the courtship should go. (If they don't obey, she throws poltergeist-like fits, so they fall into line pretty fast.) It's romance, but at the same time it pokes fun at the romance genre. Does that make it meta-romance? In any case, I hope I'll be able to announce the release of that one soon! Beyond that, I have more "serious" novels about star-crossed lovers, guardian angels, and Greek gods among my files, all awaiting my revision time. I have no problem coming up with new project ideas, only with finding time to write them. 
Molly Ringle has been writing fiction for over twenty years, and her stories always include love and humor, as well as the occasional touch of tragedy and/or the paranormal. Molly lives in Seattle with her husband and kids, and worships fragrances and chocolate. Visit her at http://www.mollyringle.com

Do share your comments and/or questions with Molly. One lucky follower who comments will win an e-book of their choice.  The winner will be announced on Saturday, April 2, 2011.    


  1. I love the Scottish and Oregon locations in your novels! However, are there any pockets of the US that intrigue you with their mysticism and/or culture that you plan to explore?

  2. Thanks, simplegrl! Despite my love for the UK, the majority of my stories are set in the US. I've always lived on the West Coast, so that's the area I cover most often--frequently Seattle, along with Oregon. I also have a novel in progress (involving guardian angels, though not of the usual Biblical kind) set in the gold country of California, in one of those tiny towns in the foothills of the Sierra, surrounded by old mining equipment from the 1800s. That region has a charm and mystery about it, I think. I'd also like to try the desert Southwest sometime--huge amounts of mysticism there!

  3. I love Scotland. I just spent some time there last summer. I'll check The Ghost Downstairs. :)

  4. Hi J.L. and Molly! Great interview.

    Just yesterday, I was re-watching the movie Made of Honor. The scenes in Scotland were utterly gorgeous. That's one place I'd love to visit. I've been to Seattle, so I must say that you seriously know how to pick a beautiful setting to live in :).

    Best wishes with your writing.

  5. Thank you, Ciara and Rula! 'The Ghost Downstairs' is set in Seattle--so far only 'What Scotland Taught Me' is set in Scotland. But, yes, they're both gorgeous. I once tried setting a novel in a dull area (*cough* Sacramento Valley *cough*), and found I couldn't do it. I need pretty scenery to play with.

    Haven't seen 'Made of Honor' yet--will look it up!

  6. I love the UK as well! It's so nice to hear your thoughts here.

  7. Enjoyed this post so much. I love ghost stories (so my interest is definitely piqued) and I love the British Isles. Like you, I was fascinated by the Brontes and smitten with the Beatles.

  8. Thanks, Clarissa! Good to see you here. :)

    Thanks Elizabeth as well! I think the olde Anglophilia is a very common malady among us Yank lasses.

  9. Ever since winning the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, I've been a fan. I find her writing style very enjoyable; she has a great sense of humor, and it comes out through her writing. It will be fun to watch her career!

  10. Heheh--I'm very glad the Bulwer-Lytton win did attract a few new friends to my circle! (Once again: that was an *intentionally* bad sentence...but people of quality do understand that.) ;)

  11. Hi Molly, well as a long time fan of you -- and your writing -- I can vouch for your humor. It's delightful... like your books. So you and your work are highly recommended by me!

    And reading the Bronte sisters is what turned me into an Anglophile as well! Doralynn

  12. I won a signed version of What Scotland Taught Me, and spent a Lazy Sunday reading it. It was fun, not my usual fare, but interesting perspectives, and having been to Scotland several times, it was fun picturing the locales. Cleverly written, with excellent use of humor, I enjoyed the lesson.

  13. Thank you, Doralynn and Kevin! Corresponding with you two has been a definite positive point in my online writing experience so far. :)

  14. Great interview, JL! Thanks.

  15. Doralynn and Nas, thanks for stopping in.

  16. Loved your interview Molly. I enjoy hearing how other people chose setting as I also need to have an interesting, exotic setting for my characters to spend time in. I find it motivates me to write the story. (and we all need motivation to keep going) I have lived in the Pacific Northwest (Canada side) for the past 20 years and it is filled with amazing settings for stories. I look forward to more of your stories Molly.

  17. Ebooks seem like a very cost effective way of doing things and a good way to increase an author's profits, but I sure prefer regular old books.

    Tossing It Out
    Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

  18. Interesting interview. I always find it fascinating to read about different authors.

  19. Nas and Ca88, thanks for reading!

    Thank you, Darlene--you choose wonderful exotic locations yourself! :)

    Don't worry, Lee, no one's taking away the paper books--I like my own too. Ebooks are just a good new option, and help save shelf space and cost. :)

  20. I use to read every romance that was set in Scotland. Such a romantic place to set a story. And Edinburgh is one of my favorite places to visit. Sounds like a really great story, especially with the paranormal element.

    Great interview and review!

  21. What a great interview. Molly is such a fun writer and I liked hearing more about what goes into her writing. Thanks J.L. and Molly!

  22. Oh, the ghost downstairs! That sounds good. How would you work out a love like that? I'm interested on getting my hands on this one.

    Very good interview and post. Well done.

    And yes, we were already following one another. So sad. You got lost in my blog pile. So sorry about that. BUT, consider yourself officially stalked :) You are in my BEST DARN BLOGS EVER! folder.

    I will be back.

    ~Angela Scott

  23. Thanks, Carolina! For what's worth, 'What Scotland Taught Me' is the one set in Scotland, not 'The Ghost Downstairs' (that's Seattle)--but there's still a ghostly element in the Scotland one. I'm so glad there are other Scotland fangirls who understand. :)

    Thanks to you as well, Michelle--you've been a huge help in my writing!

    Thanks, Angela--hope you look it up and enjoy it! It's sort of in the spirit (hah...spirit...) of 'The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.'

  24. Thanks, guys. Angela, I'll definitely be stalking-er, make that catching up with you! :D

  25. Great job on the interview, joy!
    And Molly, I really have to pick up copies of your book. I love the UK as well, and will be going there this May to get inspiration for my own book. My stepfather is Scottish and has been telling me all about Scotland. I'm hoping to visit Edinburgh and Glasgow one of these days.

  26. I'm definitely going to check out some of Molly's books. I'm glad ebooks finally came into style. I was beginning to think it would never happen.

  27. A great interview. Thanks, both!

    I have to say I have serious cover envy when I look at The Ghost Downstairs. A wonderful cover. Love it! I must check out the book.

  28. Great interview. I love meeting other writers and learning about how they do things.

  29. Nutschell, I'm envious that you're going to the UK soon! I haven't been there in years now. Have fun, and thanks for stopping by!

    Thanks Mary Anne! I was wondering if the ebook revolution would ever come, too. Glad it did. :)

    Thanks for the cover compliment, Shirley! I've gotten lucky with my cover artists--I could never do that stuff myself.

    Heather and Carol, thanks so much for reading!

  30. Great interview! Scotland is indeed a beautiful place.

  31. Thanks for the great interview, ladies!

  32. Love your blog and especially the interview. Found you from the A-Z Challenge, it sounds like it’s going to be so much fun and I can’t wait to get started!! I’m now following your blog on GFC and I hope you have a chance to check out my blog and maybe follow me back!!

  33. Thank you, Talli and Elle and Monica! Looks like Joy attracts great readers. :)


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