Author R. M. Ridley

Write and Author is interviewing R. M. Ridley, author of Bindings & Spines of The White Dragon Black Series.

R. M. Ridley lives in Ontario, Canada and, from his front porch, can see the middle of nowhere. His yard is filled with fowl and, despite having a green thumb, not much else.
Married to a woman patient enough to listen about plot ideas over morning coffee, he is truly blessed. He carries a flashlight with him to the bathroom as to not trip over when his St. Bernard who always sleeps in the most inconvenient places, and to avoid the four cats who fling themselves between his legs, for the shear joy of watching him flail his arms wildly against gravity. 
Currently, R. M. Ridley is working on writing the sixth novel in the White Dragon Black world, and has a few short stories in various states of completion making him feel guilty that they are unfinished.
When not writing a fictional world, Ridley lives in one, by being a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism – a historical recreation group. His hobby with-in this hobby, is spending time building calluses on his fingers, in the hopes of producing pretty things for people to wear. Never satisfied with really knowing how to do one thing, when he can know a little of everything, he flings himself into new challenges constantly. He has never quite mastered the following skills; blacksmithing, bone carving, jewelry making, and lapidary work – and is still looking for more things he can dabble in.
The SCA also helps allow Ridley try to keep a physical shape that isn’t pear. He accomplishes this by spending a number of hours every week, widely flailing a rapier about, picturing himself as D’Artagnan while appearing more as a ten year old with a stick. But the sound of steel clashing on steel gets his blood pumping and, with a sword in one hand, and a dagger in the other, there is always a wide grin on his face.
To those who call Ridley an escapist from reality – he has only one response, ‘From what?’ Reality isn’t always kind to Ridley, as he suffers from severe bipolar disorder – that is thankfully well controlled due to proper medication. R. M. Ridley believes wholeheartedly in being open about his mental health issues because myths should be kept to stories.

In one sentence how would you describe Bindings & Spines?
'A man struggles to overcome monsters - his own, and others.'
What is the genre and how did you decide to write in this genre?
I usually simply refer to it as' Urban Fantasy', as that is such a broad brush, but I recently stumbled across the appropriate genre sub-term for these books - 'Occult Detective'.

I quite honestly never decided to write this series. I was happily immersed in a different universe, one far more true to the term 'Urban Fantasy' (as influenced by the works of the great Charles de Lint). One day my Muse said 'Here, write this short story ' and it was about this private detective who was also a practitioner of magic. I thought it was fun and a nice, one time, change from my usual characters... then I came back to write the next day and found my creative mind space had been cleared out, except for an old battered desk, a bottle of bourbon, and the smell of stale cigarettes. That was five novels, and at least a dozen short stories, ago.
Did you know you were going to start a series when you wrote the first book?

No, the first book started as a personal NaNoWriMo challenge. I had the concept of something that was just a bit longer than a short story and I wondered if I could actually use it to finish the challenge. I did, with two weeks to go, and then just kept writing until there was nothing more to write... in that novel.
Tell us about your publishing journey, I.e. finding a publisher, how long it took, why you went with them?

I knew a few indie author writers on Facebook, and a couple of them had got picked up by a new, small press, publisher. They seemed happy and so, when I had cleaned up my novel as much as I could, I submitted to the same place - and was rejected. But I was given some great advice with the rejection letter and took it to heart. I wrote a whole new first chapter, did some other adjusting, and then resubmitted - and was rejected. I debated just going it alone, but thought having people to help with the detail work, and the chance to have additional edits suggested by a professional editor, plus someone to do the finicky formatting and getting the 'behind the scenes' work done for me, was worth looking around for another publisher.

I spent a week, at least, looking at who was out there, what they published, and what their website looked like. Once I narrowed down my options, I then searched forums to see what people in the industry had to say about these publishers. Finally, I decided that Xchyler seemed the place for me. At that time, to get into the publishing house, you submitted a short story for their anthologies. If you got accepted for that, then they knew your work, and how well you worked with the team. I submitted a story that featured the same world, and protagonist, as the novel - and was accepted. The anthology had just been released and I found myself signing a contract for the novel.
What was your hardest scene to write and how did you get through it?

I am lucky, and work under the influence of my Muse. That may sound completely crazy, but I get inspired by a scene in my head that plays out like watching a clip from a movie, and then I translate that into words. Due to this processes, I rarely have issue getting a scene out. However, the one obstacle I did encounter with this novel is that my protagonist was spending a great deal of time examining a book in painstaking detail. To simply write about that would have been painful to the reader, and would have killed any momentum of the book. I had to find a balance, a way to have the reader understand the tediousness of this time spent, yet not drive them away from the page. I overcame this by writing as much of the book examining scenes as I could stand to write. I put 'staring at a book' into as many different words as I could manage and then stopped. Once I had done that, I broke it up with other aspects of the story that were active and engaging. Once combined, I read through it and, as soon as I started to yawn at my own work, I'd trim down the tedium and slide in the engaging. I hope I found the right balance. In the end, that will be up to the readers to determine... and maybe they will let me know in the reviews.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?

From concept, to finished first draft, usually only takes me between seven to nine months. After I have written a story, short or long, I let it sit and work on something else for at least a month. Once I have distanced myself from the initial thrill of the moment that is the story unfolding, I go back for the first edit. If a novel, this often takes two to three months of making myself do the work necessary to make clean and cohesive. Then I send it to my personal editor, who rips it apart and, about a month later, sends me the bloody pieces in a pretty box. More edits equals a couple more months work spent on the words. Then it goes to my beta-reader, and comes back in a month or two with suggestions, observations, and questions. Once I have dealt with those, the book is ready for my publisher to see.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The Emotional Thesaurus - that book is gold. If you want to have people in your writing, and want to 'show not tell' have that book right beside your keyboard.
How often do you write and what is your process?

If my Muse is with me, I write nearly everyday for an hour or two - sometimes more. If my Muse is ignoring me, I'm dead in the water. I write what I am 'shown', 'by the seat of my pants', as it were. I can't plot a novel to save my life. I also don't write chronologically. I write what I am inspired to write - all over the story line - and slowly the bits fill in, and I stitch the work together as a whole.
Can you give any writing tips or advice for other writers?

It doesn't matter when I write, first thing in the day, middle of the afternoon or last thing before bed, the important part is the feeling of being swept up in the story. Music, appropriate to the character, the scene, the story on a whole, is often the best aid to telling the story. It blocks out the world around you and helps immerse you in the world you are creating. So I take the time to make a playlist for the world - then break that up into moods (action, heartbreak, excitement, hope, determination) so you can access that emotion when you need it for that character or scene.
Can you create a short writing prompt?

A young girl's shadow asks her to protect it from the monster
CoverFrontNewBindings & Spines
by R. M. Ridley

A slave is a slave, whether living or undead, so Jonathan Alvey bristles when an unknown novice necromancer turns up in New Hades. Despite their obvious talent, Alvey is forced to clean up the messes the rogue leaves behind. He must find the culprit and put an end to their attempts, before they succeed and put an end to Jonathan himself.

But Alvey has problems enough of his own. As he battles his addiction to magic, and the withdrawals that may very well kill him, malignant gnomes infest his building and are out for his blood. A simple divorce case turns into a murder investigation. Why would the victim, a meticulous practitioner, create a spell book pocked with inaccuracies? Why would an unknown assailant do anything to get it? Alvey must solve the mystery, and keep himself and his client alive until he can.

R. M. RidleyR.M. Ridley

Where R.M.’s books are sold