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.