Jen: Today we welcome R. Ann Siracusa to Romancing the Book. R. Ann, will you share a short bio with us?
R. Ann: R. Ann Siracusa [you have to guess what the R. stands for] is a California girl who earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from UC Berkeley, then went immediately to Rome, Italy. On her first day there, she met an Italian policeman at the Fountain of Love, and the rest is history. Instead of a degree from the University of Rome, she got a husband, and they’ve been married going on fifty years. In Rome, she worked for as an architect and land use planner for a land development company for several years until she and her husband moved to the US. Together, they have three children, eight grandchildren, one great grandchild, and another on the way.
Now retired, she combines her passions— world travel and writing— into novels which transport readers to exotic settings, immerse them in romance, intrigue, and foreign cultures, and make them laugh. Her first work [a mafia thriller] was published in 2008. Since then, Breathless Press has published a five-book romantic suspense series, three short stories, a sci fi romance, and a time travel novella.
She loves to hear from her readers:
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
R. Ann: My latest release is a time travel romance (novella) about a university student in 2500 who illicitly uses the university time machine to go back to 1979 to research, first hand, the founder of the mineral capital of the solar system. There, she falls love with the topic of her thesis and plots to return to his time.
Melody appeared out of nowhere, blown into of Red Gulch, a decaying mining town in the Mojave desert, on the crest of a desert breeze like the ever-present tumbleweeds that filled the empty streets in the blink of an eye. Except everyone knew where tumbleweeds came from.
Brandon O’Donnell never figured out where Melody came from, but she captured his heart with her flaming red hair, hypnotic light-grey eyes, and intense but distant way of speaking…as though, Brandon had thought for years, she knew a lot more than she let on.
What will happen to their love when Brandon find out the secret Melody has been hiding from him all these years?
It’s amazing where ideas for novels come from. Anywhere and everywhere. I first became acquainted with Red Mountain, CA, the model for the fictional town of Red Gulch in the novella, in the late 1970’s when my husband and I and our two boys used to race motorcycles in various locations of the California Mojave Desert.
The races were sometimes held about fifteen miles from Red Mountain, and we would ride into town sometimes for supplies. Well, to be honest, for beer. At that time, Red Mountain was a nearly abandoned mining town, a left over from fairly prosperous silver and gold mining in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1942, all gold mining was stopped in the US by the government, and after that the town nearly died and never revived.
There was a café, a general store, a post office built in 1922 and a few dozen houses, all of them tiny old shacks. I remembered wondering how people could live there and why they stayed.
“Copyright by Andrew Alden, geology.about.com, reproduced under educational fair use.“
The place stuck in my mind and never went away until I found the correct story to fit it. In my opinion, this particular story couldn’t happen anywhere else.
Red Mountain is still there, out on Highway 395. I haven’t been there in many years. I hear, however, that the town itself is reviving as a Ghost Town and now has a population of 130.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
R. Ann: Yes. My mother’s uncle had a number of work published in the early 1900’s. My mother wrote but never published. My father wrote one or two technical books on construction accounting.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
R. Ann: At this point in my career, I’m about 50-50, but I’ve tried both and made the usual mistakes. I wrote the Mafia thriller seat-of- the-pants and it ended up 1,200 manuscript pages [about 300,000 words]. I had to cut 600 pages, and it was like killing my children. Some of my favorite scenes, some of my best writing had to go. First I cried for six months, then it took another year and a half to revise.
After that, I wrote from a very tight outline until my experiment with writing humor in first person. With that book [my first sale], I started out with a general idea and not a clue what was going to happen. It worked, but I was sooo lucky that it did.
Since then I’ve settled into using a one page plotting outline [one sentence per scene re: what happens], so I know where I’m going and what scenes I need to get there, but not how I’m going to accomplish it. The outline changes along the way, and I update the outline if the modifications are important enough impact other scenes or the overall direction.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
R. Ann: Action, Suspense, Romance
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
R. Ann: I try to carry a small notebook and jot down ideas that I get when I’m away from my writing space. I have a similar notebook in my car and by the TV.
Actually, many of my story ideas come from world travel. While I pay attention to setting and cultural features, sometimes an idea comes at a time or place when I can’t write it down. Occasionally, they come at night when I’m just drifting off to sleep. Those I rarely capture.
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
R. Ann: I would love to write science fiction. It’s one of my favorite genres to read, but I’ve never had the confidence to try writing sci fi. I did write a sci fi romance, but that’s different.
I don’t particularly enjoy writing erotica, and I don’t believe I could write compelling young adult…although I didn’t think I could write humour or in the first person, either, until I tried. You never know.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
R. Ann: My favorite author is always the one I am currently reading. Right now, I’m reading the entire series of mysteries by Andrea Camilleri translated into English by Stephen Sartarelli. They are super. They’re been made into a series on Italian television.
Another of my recent discoveries is Evie Woolmore.
I’m fairly eclectic about reading, and I like many genres. There are too many “favourite authors” to name all of them, and I’m constantly finding new ones I like. Some of my all-time favorites include Janet Evanovich, Katie MacAlister, Dick Francis, Issac Asimov, C.J.Cherryh, Andre Norton, Carl Hiaasen, Bob Mayer, Ann McCaffrey, Helen MacInnes, Linda Howard, J.D.Robb, Daphne DuMaurier, Rosamunde Pilcher.
Jen: What’s next for you?
R. Ann: My next new project, after I finish editing an already-completed murder mystery, will be a historical WWII novel about the incarceration of the Japanese-Americans in the US. It’s a shameful piece of our American history that I feel strongly about, and have been wanting to attempt a mainstream novel about the topic for years. I have far more ideas than I have time, so many of them may never see the light of day.
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