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An Interview with Raymond Rose

March 4, 2011

[Portrait of Tommy Dorsey, Beryl Davis, Georgie Auld, Ray McKinley, Johnny Desmond, Vic Damone, Mel Tormé, Mary Lou Williams, and Josh White, WMCA, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1947] (LOC)

An Interview (Not Raymond Rose or Dragonflyy419)

Raymond Rose is the author of two great novels, Better Together and The Fire InsideBetter Together is a contemporary fiction novel about a single father who after a tragic accident ends up raising his wife’s child.  The Fire Inside is a science fiction mystery about a retired “Teen Protector” (super hero) working on solving the murder of his best friend.  Both of these novels have been reviewed on my site:  Better Together & The Fire InsideThe Caffeinated Diva also reviewed Better Together and her review can be found here.

 

Raymond Rose was kind enough to allow me to ask him a few questions about his books and about himself.  Below is the interview.

A Short Bio from Raymond Rose:

All my life, I have been surrounded by stories.  Whether it was my grandfather telling me tales of World War II, my grandmother of her trips to Europe, or my parents of their years before my sister and I were born, I was raised on stories.  So, no wonder, that I became a storyteller myself.

For the past fifteen years, I have been actively pursuing this life of a writer.  In 1997, I left the comforts of Boyertown, PA for Chicago, IL and spent a year at Columbia College of Chicago as a Fiction Writing major.  That was an amazing year.  I learned a lot about how to be a writer, how to write, and how to feel good about myself in this chosen profession.  Those teachings only fueled me in the years to come as I made my way into the world, into the corporate sector, into being an adult.  I met a wonderful woman, got married, and moved back to Pennsylvania, intent to get published and provide for my family on my earnings.  Now I am publishing with Christopher Williams Books and things are really starting to take off!

As the interview began,  I started off by asking Raymond some questions about his novel Better Together …

Better Together by Raymond Rose

Q:  This book has a lot of emotions tied into it, was there any specific life event that motivated you to write the book?

The biggest event that made me start to think about a book like this was becoming a father.  It’s funny, I knew that becoming a dad would change me but I never thought (and I’m not sure why, in hindsight) that it would change my writing.  However, three months into fatherhood, I found I really wanted to write about being a dad.  Not a ‘Mr. Mom’ deal but something about taking care of an infant.  I tried it with one project but it really wasn’t working.

Then, one day, I saw this book on the fiction shelves, Breakfast with Marshmallows by Dorothy Koomson.  It was sort of in passing so I didn’t know much about the book other than the title.  But that title made me think of a guy looking after a child that wasn’t his and giving him marshmallows for breakfast because he thought it was a good idea.  That whole Bill Cosby ‘Dad is great!  Gives us chocolate cake!’ skit.  Over the next 24 hours, the main concept of Better Together came to me.

The thing that was important to me was to convey that Paul, the main character, decides to keep and raise Max as his own because he loves the boy.  Not because he was Annie’s (although that is a reason) but because of who Max is, his personality.  Parents don’t just love their kids because they are their kids.  They also love them for who they are.  I found this when my first son was three month old and his little personality was starting to come out.  I was blown away by how much I loved him because of who he was.  I wanted Paul to have that realization.

Q: Obviously this book is written with the knowledge of a father, what is your favorite part of parenthood?

Just watching them discover new things and try new words.  I love being there in the thick of things when they start to blurt out new words or find something cool.  Right now, my boys are 1 ½ and 2 ½ so we’re discovering new things on a daily basis.  It’s an explosion of language and sights and what their bodies can do.  That’s exciting.  And exhausting…

Q: My favorite part of this book was about the controversies Paul, the protagonist, dealt with as a single father.  You deal with the issue of reverse sexism and the roles that men and women face in society when it comes to raising children.  Do you feel that this is a relevant issue in today’s society?  Do you think this will be able to change?

Oh yeah!  I get that sort-of sexism a fair amount.  When people find out that I’m the ‘day manager’ and that my wife works during the day, people rolls their eyes or make some snide comments.  I get the cold shoulder from moms during playgroups or community activities.  Especially when it comes to my parenting style.  I’m, like most dads, am a ‘no blood, no foul’ responder to injuries.  My youngest is a ‘drama-king’ and he’ll play up any stumble or shove to get the maximum attention.  Sometimes I get this look from moms like I’m the most horrible person in the world when I’m saying to my kids, ‘You’re fine.  Walk it off.’

I think that people’s views on fathers being a primary caregiver will change when more fathers take upon themselves to be larger participants in child rearing.  I know a few dads who don’t change poopy diapers.  Get over it.  Pull up your sleeves and dig on in! Social morays change when individuals start thinking and doing things differently.  This concept of child raising not being masculine is ridiculous.  To me, a real man isn’t going out and killing some poor animal.  A real man is getting up at 3 in the morning to change a dirty diaper so his wife can get some sleep.

Actually, I started changing my first son’s diapers because I wanted to play a part in this.  When he was first born there was sleeping, eating, and pooping.  I couldn’t feed him for obvious reasons so changing diapers was a way that I could be involved.  Then, when he was a little older and drinking from a bottle, I took over feedings in the middle of the night.  Anything I could do to not be sitting on the sidelines but be there in the thick of things.

Next I asked Raymond some questions about his book The Fire Inside …

The Fire Inside by Raymond Rose

Q: All of your characters have fascinating and fun powers, which power is your favorite and which one would you want to have?

That’s a hard question to answer.  I wouldn’t want Jack’s powers because I have a redhead’s temper and fire and anger, as we’ve seen with Jack, just don’t mix.  Probably I would like to have Fey’s powers: the ability to make mental images solid.  The ability to make a giant robot suit or a dinosaur rocks!  Fey’s power is one that I’m really going to delve into later in the series.  In many ways, I wanted each of their powers to be sort-of vague because I really want to get into them later on.

Q: Your fight scenes are amazing and some of my favorite parts of the book, I’ve always wanted to ask an author what inspires them to write these scenes?  How are you able to choreograph them so well?  Does it just come naturally to you?

No, fight scenes don’t come naturally to me.  They involve a lot of hard work and sketching and visual imaging to try and figure out who is doing what at what time.  Having Jack fight one person is one thing.  But to have five people fighting five people plus others in the wing waiting to jump in can be really hard.  To me, it was important to have a sense of where each character was and what they were doing.  But that sense had to be crystal clear.  I’ve read enough books where the action was muddled and I was like, ‘What just happened?’

When I write these scenes I think of R.A. Salvatore.  When I read his Dark Elf trilogy for the first time, I was blown away by how precise and clear his fight scenes were. That was something that I’ve tried to do in my own writing.  I often think: What Would R.A. Do?

Finally I had to ask Raymond a general and bookish question …

Q:  I’m always curious what types of books people read, so I thought I would ask you what some of your favorite genres and authors are?

My favorite author always will be Stephen King.  Other authors that I love will come and go but Mr. King has been my mentor: he taught me how to read, how to write, and how to do what you want to do even if the critics blast you.  Now, below that are Michael Chabon, Dennis Lehane, Neil Gaiman, and Laurie R. King.  Recently I’ve been smitten with Audrey Niffenegger, Marissa de Los Santos, and Lauren Willig.

I’m across the gamut for genres.  I used to be mostly a mystery fan but lately I’ve been reading a lot of sci/fi (I’m a Star Wars novel junkie – they’re like my romance books) and paranormal novels.  For example, Mike Carey’s The Devil You Know.  Loved it!

Thanks for taking this time to talk to me.  I hope your readers will wander over to Christopher Williams Books (www.cwbooks.net) and check out my novels!

I’d like to thank Raymond Rose for answering these questions and for writing such wonderful books.  Don’t forget to check out his two novels Better Together and The Fire Inside.


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