New Year’s Day 2017 2016. Wow, what a year. Full of ups and lots of downs. So, as a result, I wanted to start 2017 off on a positive, fun note. And when I think of people who embody that, fellow urban fantasy author and reigning NaNoWriMo Otter King Ronnie Virdi comes to mind.
1. Thanks for taking the time to do this. So, first off, the usual. Vital stuff. Who are you? Where are you? How long have you been writing? What is your favorite dish?
A: I’m Dragon Award-nominated author, R.R. Virdi. I’m based out of Northern Virginia and have been writing now for about 8 years. My favorite dish? Ooof, bison burgers or lamb. 2. Tell us a little bit about yourself as a human being. What is the coolest thing about you?
A: As a human… I'm a martial arts nut. I also meditate. I'm deeply spiritual and believe almost...a bit too cornily in the idea that creativity is...something not necessarily ethereal but...it's something more than we give it credit for. I mean, I don't plot a single novel...and somehow...without fail...ideas come to me...always. They always work out no matter the stress and it's just like...they've always been there for me waiting. So...I'm weird.
<Follow up question: What martial arts? A: I did muay thai, aiki bujutsu, and ninjutsu>
The coolest thing about me? If you ask my fans, and many women apparently, my hair! It has its own fandom…not to mention life.
<Follow up: How do you and your hair get along?
A: Not at all! We're mortal enemies. I, for the longest time, buzzed my hair and or kept it very short... Eventually, I was encouraged to try growing it out and since that time the general public has seen it and has issued bans on me cutting it...ergo...we have problems... Not to mention, it gets in my eyes...I like working on cars so it's a pain there...women constantly want to pet it...some men too... It's taking all the glory and fame I want for myself...
3. Now some things specific to Ronnie as a writer. You’re on what I generally call the professional track, working toward writing for a living. Did you always want to write for a living, or was it a hobby first?
A: It was a calling if that makes sense. It was the summer after highschool, I was 18 and it just struck. I became obsessed after only wanting to tinker on writing a fantasy novel. The second, I mean the second I had the first few words down…I had a page a bit later and then more. Game over. I knew what I wanted to do for life, career, living, passion, whatever. It was writing. Pursued it and still am. Left college, have dropped jobs, all for this.
4. Brag a little. What is your favorite writer related story to tell, your coolest moment as a writer?
A My coolest moment? Well, it’s a two parter. Meeting Urban Fantasy king, Jim Butcher and having him ask me to sign a copy of my first novel, Grave Beginnings to him. Then later in 2016…being a finalist for DragonCon’s Dragon Award under the best fantasy (paranormal) category alongside Jim himself! Freaking honor!
5. You’re in an elevator and the agent you wanted to sign with gets on. After a moment they turn to you and say “Oh, I recognize you from Facebook. Tell me about your work.” Bonus points if you tell us who you wish this would happen with.
A: Jennifer Jackson. Fast pitch? It’s Quantum Leap meets the Dresden Files. Vincent Graves is a soul without a body murdered by the paranormal without a clue what did it. He’s stuck as a soul forced to inhabit the bodies of those killed like him and use their minds, memories and skills to solve their murders. The more he does it, the more skills, memories he keeps of the deceased at the cost of his own. The series starts in media res so he’s forgotten his original identity and goes by Vincent Graves, hoping to figure out his past while fighting to protect people.
The newest one is Dangerous Ways, book one of a new series set in the same world.
6. If you were in a room with your favorite living author, who would it be? And if you could ask them one question, what would it be? Same thing, except with the ghost of your favorite non-living author.
A: Jim Butcher, and, I’ve done it haha. For the ghost of an author, oooh, probably Marcus Aurelius, the roman emperor. And I’d ask just about life, what he’s thought about it, learned. It’s a people thing.
7. You’re about to take a long trip, and you can only take one book to read for the next week. What is that book? Bonus points for telling us where that trip is taking you.
A: Um, probably a compilation of short stories, maybe Neil Gaiman’s. Good reads with complete stories that don’t take a lot of time but differ so much you’re just always learning.
8. What are your career goals as a writer? Where would you like to be in 5 years? In 10?
A: Whooo boy-o. Okay. Career goals: make a full time living. A great one. The best I possibly can. Be able to visit my fans and do large signings. Just keep growing and getting better. In 5 years, I’d love to be a solid name and full time writer making a living to afford a house and stable life. In 10? I have to be a household name. Is it ambitious, yes? Is it maybe a bit selfish? Possibly. But I want my work to have that, that fanbase, be seen, be shared, be everywhere bringing people joy.
9. What are you working on?
A: Right now, book three in The Grave Report
10. What is your favorite video game/RPG? Why?
A: Skyrim! I’ve grown up with The Elder Scrolls games. Morrowind was my favorite and so well developed, loved, and fleshed out. But Skyrim…just grabbed me as it was and then let’s not forget the mods, fans adding to it. It’s beautiful. Enrapturing. Perfect.
11. What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about writing?
A: Keep writing. <And don’t forget that.
12. What advice would YOU give an aspiring writer?
A: Keep writing. <And don’t forget that. The rest will come and can be learned. Marketing, promotion, all that is learnable. Keep writing.
13: What is your writing routine like? Any special things you do to help you stay in the groove when you write?
A: I try to write 2k a day, doesn’t matter when, but, but, I have to do it in one setting. It’s impossible for me to almost do it over multiple ones.
14: You’re a largely self-published author. Where do you see the publishing industry going in the future? What do you think are the smartest moves for new writers just starting to publish or submit their work?
A: I think we’re going to see it become even more mainstream. The big pubs will consolidate from 5 to 3 to 1…and more medium to small presses will set up shop and become the norm. I liked being indie and still love it. I got to cut my teeth, learn more of the business than I thought possible. I hang with trad authors (best sellers and not) and indies (best sellers and not) and soak up all of it. For me, I think going indie first was right. I’ve learned how to write and, more importantly, be the marketer and build my name and brand. That matters.
15. What books/writers influenced your writing style the most?
A: Jim Butcher, Glen Cook, Alexey Pehov, Robert Jordan. Finally, where can people find you and most importantly, buy your work?