An interview with Tori Ridgewood, author of the paranormal romance Wind and Shadow, published by Melange Books.
Hi Tori! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author? What got you into writing?
I’ve always been an avid reader and a storyteller. When it came to telling tales from my own imagination, all I needed was an audience, even if it was only myself. For example, when I was eleven, I had to be told to stop talking during a ski lesson, as my stories were holding up the instructor. And when I was a teenager, I often entertained myself on my newspaper route and walks to school by quietly narrating romances and ghost stories to myself, complete with dialogue. I was thrilled any time something I’d written made it into print -- poetry chosen for a school anthology, or articles written for the student section of the local newspaper -- and created my own storybooks for pleasure. I found a reflection recently that I’d written at at 13 in which I expressed my goal of being a published author. I find it very satisfying to create imaginary worlds, people, and situations that carry my readers away from the ordinary world.
What inspired you to write “Wind and Shadow”?
I was always fascinated by disasters when I was growing up, and when I was an adolescent, my family lived near a community that had experienced a minor event: a sinkhole had opened up in the pavement of a street, large enough to swallow a car. It was the result of an old mine shaft under the town -- one of many -- collapsing as its timber framings rotted. Until it was fixed, it was billed as the world’s largest pothole by enterprising citizens of the area. My family eventually moved away from the area, but the imagery stayed in my mind. After I married and returned to the region, I really wanted to write a story based around the collapse of the street. What else might have caused the sinkhole? Could it have been a vampire? And how would it have been trapped there? While I was on maternity leave with my daughter, I started shaping my novel around those questions, drafting and revising, until I found a plot and characters that worked.
In addition to the sinkhole, I wanted to write a novel that expressed my love for vampire fiction, both text and film. Much of my vampire mythology is inspired by Stephen King, Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, and films like “The Lost Boys”, “Daybreakers”, “30 Days of Night”, and “Van Helsing”. I often feel as though Wind and Shadow is an homage to those pieces of vampire pop culture. I’m a fan of all things paranormal, and I’m both a Wiccan and a witch, so I also wanted my book to include witchcraft in a gritty, but positive way. Much of my inspiration for the magick in the book is due to fiction such as “Practical Magic”, “The Craft”, and some works by Nora Roberts.
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
It really depends on my mood. They all rather take turns!
Malcolm de Sade, my primary antagonist, is an old-school vampire who enjoys his malevolence and is an expert at stalking his prey. I find his honesty refreshing -- he doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a killer and a libertine. He takes great pleasure in finding the weaknesses in his targets and wearing them down, and he fancies himself to be rather invincible as he’s managed to avoid being destroyed by vampire hunters for the last three hundred years. He’s both a talented lover and a bloodthirsty fiend, his handsome features morphing into those of a demon when he’s feeding. I find him utterly fascinating.
Opposite de Sade is Rayvin Woods, my protagonist. A curvy, petite redhead in her late 20s, she’s my favourite most of the time because she’s so gutsy, intelligent, independent, and yet also vulnerable and rather lonely. She’s had a hard life, having lost her mother at a young age and never known her father, but she’s never given up on herself. She’s not so proud that she can’t ask for help when she needs it. She’s also very talented at magick, knowledgeable about witchcraft, and struggles to control her telekinetic / psychic abilities. I love her sense of style, her self-awareness, and that she has a good heart. She’s learned to get along without many friends, but it would be nice if she had more positive individuals in her life.
My third favourite is Rayvin’s love interest, police officer Grant Michaels. Rayvin refers to him most often by his surname, because they’ve never seen quite eye to eye in spite of their obvious attraction to each other. Grant is tall, dark, handsome, and very capable, as comfortable collecting samples of herbs from the bush as he is fishing. He’s a natural leader and authority figure, loyal to his friends and his community, but he’s not without his faults. He’s incredibly stubborn and rather insensitive. He doesn’t react the way I expect him to in certain situations. I like that.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
There are two that come to mind, competing for attention:
First, I love the build to the climax, when Rayvin is preparing a powerful ritual with a sex-powered spell to curb the vampire coven that de Sade is forming until more help can arrive. Without revealing spoilers, I can say that when I had originally envisioned the final rise to this pivotal moment, I saw it happening much differently. I even had it sketched out in preliminary notes, but when the final draft came together, the characters took over and made it their own. I enjoyed setting up this scene with visuals, as Rayvin chooses her ritual jewelry with care, creates her sacred space for the working of magick in her own backyard, and mentally prepares herself for the casting. I especially liked the way she broached the topic of sex magick to Grant, and his reaction.
My second favourite scene is midway through the novel, when Rayvin and Grant are resolving some of their issues. Their conversation is so honest, and they lay to rest a few misunderstandings, but more complications arise when their quiet evening is interrupted by a vampire attack. Then, they draw strength from each other, and sharing the conflict leads to an even greater connection between them. I love the environment of their conversation -- the candles in the fireplace, the floor-picnic with a comfortable quilt and cups of tea, the emotion of the moment as both individuals attempt to bare their souls, but can’t quite communicate. It’s poignant and sweet.
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?
I think it’s both describing scenes and writing dialogue. I love creating word pictures, sketching an image in my mind and being able to relate it clearly to a reader. It’s very satisfying to be told someone could see what I was seeing, or to be told that my description of a specific place reminded others who’d seen it also, and brought them back to it.
At the same time, writing believable, meaningful dialogue is rewarding in its own way. I love acting, so writing words as spoken by others gives me that fun of playing a part. I’m such a big kid at heart, I have a lot of fun speaking in another’s voice, even if it’s a villain. I get to “say” things I’d never be able to put into words in real life.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?
I’m able to write a book in two months, though not consecutively. Between the demands of work and children, “Wind and Shadow” was written over the course of seven years, but the sequel, “Blood and Fire”, was completed through two Novembers, in 2011 and 2012 as part of NaNoWriMo.
I do have a process -- I prefer to make notes ahead of time, so I have a general idea of where the book is going. I’ve found, though, that it’s not necessary to follow it religiously. The best moments in my writing have come when I’ve let the characters take over and followed the twists as they’ve presented themselves in the plot.
Why did you choose to write paranormal? What is it about the genre that appeals to you?
I love the unknown of it -- that there are aspects of our world that science, physics, and biology cannot yet explain. I’m fascinated by our need (past and present) to fill the darkness with strange creatures. I believe that there is more to our world that is not yet discovered than we realize, and paranormal novels help to explore that world by showing us all its possibilities. It gives me shivers, and feeds my imagination.
There are all kinds of "rules" out there about writing - show don't tell, no dialogue tags, etc. What's your opinion on them? Do you heed them? Bend them? Ignore them?
I generally try to follow them because I find it very hard to let go! At the same time, I’m looking forward to experimenting with the rules, one day. You have to tell the story the way it wants to be told, and if you’re going to bend or ignore conventions of writing, be prepared to defend the concept. But that also requires a strong vision, and I don’t have one yet to accompany such a divergence.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing “Wind and Shadow”? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
Absolutely. Jason Lucas, a minor protagonist in Rayvin’s life, became much more important to the plot of the trilogy as a whole by the end of the first novel. And I was surprised when the climax changed on me, sending the plot into a direction I hadn’t expected. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the second book, as well as the third.
What’s next? Are you working on anything new? Where can readers keep up with you online (include any websites or social media links for yourself or your book)?
I’m currently working on “Crystal and Wand: Book Three of the Talbot Trilogy”, in which the conflict between the agents of the Light and the followers of Evil reaches its zenith. I’m looking forward to writing through November again, in my third year with NaNoWriMo.
I’ve been posting fairly regularly on my blog, Romance and Other Dangers, at http://torilridgewood.wordpress.com, and I’m on Twitter as @torilridgewood. Readers can “like” my fan page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ToriLRidgewood, and find me on Manic Readers: http://www.manicreaders.com/ToriLRidgewood/.
Thanks so much for having me on Zigzag Timeline!
ABOUT TORI'S BOOK:
Tori L. Ridgewood’s new book Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy, published by Melange Books, was released on June 20, 2013.
After a series of misadventures including being accused of attempted murder in high school, Rayvin Woods, a photographer and natural witch, left her hometown of Talbot in Northeastern Ontario, hoping to start her life over and never return. Ten years later, circumstances force her back to face her past and her former crush Grant Michaels.
Malcolm de Sade, a cunning vampire, escapes from an underground prison looking for vengeance. His accidental release unleashes his hunger and ambition on a small, sleepy town. Rayvin’s power is all that stands between de Sade and his domination of Talbot, and beyond.
Grant Michaels, a police officer, thought Rayvin was a murderer. He will do whatever it takes to protect the community he loves from danger... but will he learn to trust his heart, and the word of a witch, before it's too late?
Rayvin didn't count on rekindling a lost love or battling a malevolent vampire and his coven for her life when she came home to Talbot. Facing the past can be a nightmare… It’s worse when a vampire is stalking you.
After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.
At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.
Tori L. Ridgewood’s new book Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy, published by Melange Books, was released on June 20, 2013. For more information, visit http://torilridgewood.wordpress.com/.