ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ross Ponderson is a retired IT guy from the USA. Formerly spending far too many hours writing programming gobbledygook, he is now writing actual, human-readable words in the hope that millions of people will indeed enjoy reading them. His favorite stories to write are those chronicling ordinary people meeting extraordinary challenges with extraordinary courage, strength, and determination. He's a FIRM believer in happy endings, both in life and in his novels.
He has enjoyed writing since his grammar school days when essay assignments delighted him while provoking groans of pain from his classmates.
His pleasure centers include writing (of course), reading, railroading, Subway sandwiches, history, surfing (the web, not the waves!), museums of any kind, 1970's music, wishing he had become a professional musician (much to the dismay of his weary keyboard), and strolling through the local malls. He ALWAYS brakes for book emporiums, ice cream shops, and music stores.
"Child of Privilege" is his debut novel; his second novel is currently being first-drafted. Hopefully, many more will follow
THIS OR THAT
Which do you prefer? . .
Paperback. Strange answer for an author with an eBook, don't you
Read a book once/Re read books more than once?
Drama, Mystery, Romance?
or New books from a bookstore?
New books from a bookstore. Gotta keep them in business!
Nights or Late Nights?
Summer, Autumn or Winter?
Chocolate, Milk Chocolate or White Chocolate?
Cheeses, Medium Cheeses or Strong Cheeses?
Heeled Shoes, Medium Heeled Shoes or High Heeled Shoes?
(Laughing heartily) Flats!
Eyes, Brown Eyes or Green Eyes?
Nails, Natural Nails, or Nail Enhancements (i.e false nails) ?
(Laughing heartily again!)
An Excerpt from Child of
Privilege Chapter 22
The clear blue waters of
Miller's Lake felt crisp and refreshing around Dana's bare feet.
Fortified by a stout meal, a hot shower, and a good night's sleep, Dana had spent
the day exploring the picturesque farming community of Beckett Junction: from
its historic railroad station; to the cluster of towering grain elevators on
the south end; to the railroad branch line and siding that sliced to the south;
to the small factories and light industries to the east; to the truck stop and
motel and the Interstate 770 overpass to the north; the quaint downtown
business district; and finally to the peaceful, tree-lined shores of Miller's
Lake to the west.
The lake was over 1,000
spring-fed acres; its shoreline dotted with affluent residences, rustic
cottages, and comfortable vacation homes. With the onset of autumn, the
trees hugging the shimmering lake burst forth in brilliant hues of red, orange
and gold, the colors reflecting in the gently rippling waters. Although
the air was clean and invigorating with the season's characteristic chill, the
water felt so refreshing and cool against Dana's tired, burning feet.
The pier upon which she sat
was one of only a handful still jutting into the lake waters this late in the
season, protruding from a cozy park a short walk from downtown. This time
of year the compact sandy beach was deserted, as was the swing set and playground
several yards away. An angled string of stacked picnic tables resembled a
comic conga line from some classic old movie.
In her solitude, she wiggled
her toes in the water and kicked her legs playfully. The clear water
foamed and splashed beneath her, moistening the cuffs of the jeans she had
tightly rolled up nearly to her knees.
In the warmth of a late
afternoon sun well into its descent into the western horizon, Dana faced the
reality that some painful decisions loomed before her. The prize money
from Red's was rapidly dwindling and would soon be depleted with several more
nights at the motel at the north end of town. Then there was the decision
about leaving town to remain ahead of her father's detectives ... and where she
would go from here. She knew Reavis Macklin must've surely been debriefed
by this time, her father gaining precise information on her whereabouts.
Soon his people would be in Beckett Junction itself searching for her.
In a town that size, there
weren't many places to hide.
But there was also the
exhaustion beginning to haunt her, a fatigue deep in her bones from four long
weeks of buses, cheap motels, fitful sleep, rushed meals, and continually
looking over her shoulder in fear. Dana wrestled with the pangs of a
longing to settle down, to once again put down the roots she had torn from the
toxic soil of North Briarwood. Four long, lonely weeks on the road had
taken a toll on her mind and body.
She yearned to call someplace
Her brooding was interrupted
by a dog barking nearby on shore. She spotted a sleek black Labrador
retriever galloping onto the pier and ambling curiously toward her. His
claws clicked sharply on the weathered wooden planks.
He approached her
inquisitively at first, sniffing curiously around her. She began speaking
softly to him and petting him gently. He returned the affection by
enthusiastically wagging his tail and licking Dana's face.
"Looks like he's made a
Surprised by a sudden male
voice, Dana saw Greg Parmenter standing nearby. Wearing a red plaid
flannel shirt, khaki pants, and hiking boots, he could've passed for an ad in
some outdoors magazine.
"Are you following me or
something?" she shouted from the pier.
Using her question as an
invitation to join her, he shuffled onto the walkway and approached her.
"Hey, my buddy here takes me for a walk past here just about every
day. I have a cottage a little ways down the road."
"I didn't ask where you
lived," she said sharply. She paused for a moment. "I'm
sorry. That was rude."
Greg nodded his acceptance of
Dana gently stroked the dog's
silky black coat. "What's his name?"
Dana did a double-take at the
jet-black canine. "Whitey?" she asked quizzically.
"Hey, don't blame
me. He's not mine. He belongs to a neighbor, an old guy who can't
always get out to walk him. So, Whitey and I sometimes go cruising
together looking for girls."
"Thanks for the warning."
Greg eased his muscular form
down onto the pier next to her.
"Why don't you join
me?" she asked sarcastically.
He countered with a syrupy
smile, "Thanks, I already have."
"Dana, can I ask you
She turned away from him and
surveyed the lake. "I know what you're going to ask," she said
softly, "and it doesn't have anything to do with you. So, don't
"What are you running
from?" he asked sincerely, ignoring her request. "And what's
the deal with your father?"
She kept her attention
focused on the distant eastern shore of the lake. "Something you
don't want to get involved with," she answered distinctly. "So,
just let it go, okay?"
"Not everybody in this
world is out to hurt you. You may find this hard to believe, but there
actually are people out there who would like to get to know you, be your
friend, and just enjoy being around you ... myself, for one."
He waited for some sort of
reaction from her. There was none. He sighed deeply.
"But you just won't let anyone get close, will you?"
Dana pulled her jacket
tighter around her and shivered a little. The sun was nearly gone by now
and a definite chill was settling by the water. She pulled her feet from
the water and hastily slipped on her socks and shoes. "I'm getting
cold," she said quickly. "I think I'll be getting back to the
She stood up and quickly
brushed past a confused Greg Parmenter. "It's 6 blocks away,"
he called as Dana strode back onto shore. "I can drive you."
"No, thanks," she
answered. "I just got the sudden urge to walk 6 blocks."
Greg quickly stood up and
called to her. "Dana, there's a restaurant next door to the
motel. It's called the Country Kitchen. Meet me there for
breakfast, will you? Eight o'clock? Okay?"
she shouted back.
Dana started a brisk pace
back toward the little motel by the freeway overpass.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did
you want to be
In a perfect world (do you know anybody with one
for sale?), I’d happily spend the rest of my days cranking out novels that
would become instant best-sellers (I know; I am truly delusional!).
However, because of that nagging entity known as
“real life,” my writing has been restricted to a leisure-time pursuit.
I’ve been writing in one form or another since
my preteen years when I would scour the local newspaper for news and sports
stories, commandeer my mother’s ancient typewriter (which displeased her to NO
end), and type out my very own household rag (complete with editorials and
carbon paper smudges) which I then inflicted upon family and close
neighbors. Thank heaven we had very tolerant people living around us!
I moved on to providing short humor pieces to a
number of hobby newsletters I subscribed to at that time. I even had my
own humor column for about a year. Guaranteed space! Now that’s
Next were the literary and little magazines
whose kindhearted editors delighted in providing a platform for new
writers. Thanks to their generosity, a number of my early short stories
saw the light of publication. I already had visions of the best-seller
list in my head!
Then “Child of Privilege” came along and
anointed me an official “novelist.”
Although my real-life career ultimately settled
on Information Technology, I wanted to be a professional musician (keyboards),
disc jockey (“rock and roll radio!”), and a songwriter at various points in my
Someday, I WILL grow up.
take a long time to get your first book published?
After Child of Privilege was finished in 1997, I
entertained the same lofty hopes and expectations that intoxicate every new
author: I was absolutely convinced that my novel was destined for the best-seller
list and I for “best-selling-author land.” But reality came a-knocking in
Every publisher (it was still worthwhile to
query publishers back then) and every agent yawned, “No, thanks.” After a
disheartening (and expensive) encounter with a less-than-scrupulous agent, I
packed the manuscript into a box and tossed it rather unceremoniously into a
closet. It fermented there for nearly 19 years while I got on with my
Then I discovered Kindle Direct Publishing in 2014. As a result, my novel’s time-in-waiting was unusually long.
work another job as well as your writing work?
I am currently retired from a long stint in
Information Technology. But, after some classes at a local community
college, I hope to start a second career in Social Media Creation in the near
the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20
words, what would you say?
My novel is entitled “Child of Privilege.”
An emotional, suspenseful story of one woman’s
strength and courage in freeing herself from the horrors of Domestic Violence.
your publisher? or do you self publish?
I’m self-published through KDP.
How long does it usually take you to write a
book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
About a year, all things considered. If I
could rely on writing as a paying, full-time endeavor, I could probably crank
the books out more frequently.
Writing is very natural for me; it never feels
like “work” even if I grind away at it all day. I do it in the hope that
I might someday share my words and stories with the entire world. A noble
goal, don’t you think?
your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
I already consider the second novel (currently
trying to grind out the first draft) as much more difficult than the
first. The first was written with considerable help from blissful
ignorance. I’m struggling to apply the lessons learned from Child into
the yet-unnamed #2. My standards for plotting, characters, and writing
mechanics are much higher this time around; a textbook case of “If I knew then
what I know now….”
we expect from you in the future? i.e More books of the same genre? Books
of a different genre?
I enjoy writing stories about women meeting
extraordinary challenges with extraordinary courage, strength, and
determination. It’s also more challenging because it forces me to
interpret life from a completely different point of view than my own. It
would probably be much easier for me to write a “guy novel.” But easier
is not always the best way to advance in your craft.
have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Yes. The first draft of my second novel is
about one-third finished (a lot of numbers there!). I don’t foresee
writing a series at this time. Both of my books are standalone.
genre would you place your books into?
A blend of Women’s Contemporary Fiction and
Romance, with a touch of Suspense. I have a true talent for making things
you decide to write that genre of book?
Women (starting with my mother) have played
monumental roles in my life and have helped me to become the person I am.
Perhaps I enjoy telling their stories as a small token of “payback.”
have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
I love all my children despite their faults and
varied traits: Richard Van Werner, the savagely aggressive and
so-evil-to-the-core lawyer; Maggie Van Werner, who sold herself into a kind of
gilded slavery in exchange for her high society lifestyle; Dana Van Werner,
strong beyond her years, intelligent, beautiful, kind-hearted, but quite
capable of putting up one hell of a good fight when pushed into a corner;
Reavis Macklin, a vulgar, hormone-driven reptile; and Angelo Saranello, a
leg-breaker with a conscience.
you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
I guess I’ll be forced to give away one of my
There are several beautiful shopping malls in my
area. When I’m in need of a plot idea, an inspiration, or a new
character, I’ll set aside an afternoon or evening and simply stroll around a
mall and people-watch. Or perhaps find a comfy seat in the Food Court,
get a slice of pizza or a sub sandwich (SUBWAY is my favorite), and watch the
people drift by.
I find it an invigorating mental exercise to
select random individuals in the crowd and try to imagine who they are and what
their life stories could be. You’d be surprised how many ideas have
developed while simply sitting there, snacking, and speculating.
have a certain routine you have for writing? i.e You listen to music, sit in a
First, I MUST have a plan for that writing
session or the computer stays off. I need to know which characters I’ll
be working with, what I plan on doing with (or to) them, and how I intend to
construct a given scene. I’ll usually head for the master bedroom with
its comfy old recliner/rocker and tables on which I can put my feet up and
write for hours. No music, no TV; just blessed silence.
I’ll sustain myself with water and unsalted
pretzels (and maybe M&M’s) at my left hand, and beer or wine at my right if
a session is going particularly well. Then I’ll write until I’m literally
dozing off with the keyboard in my lap. Ah, the glamorous life of an
have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release
them? i.e Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I tried family/friend reviewers with Child of
Privilege with less-than-stellar results. The reactions ranged from
apathy to boredom to jealousy to outright contempt. I’ve since decided to
rely solely on my own instincts. I also maintain relationships with
several trusted blogger/reviewers and will solicit their feedback when the time
gift books to readers to do reviews?
I’m happy to gift a Kindle download to any
blogger or reviewer who will commit to providing a fair and honest review ...
and then follow through on that commitment.
ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about
As tempting as that would be, I would deem it
highly unprofessional of me as an author to even consider doing that. I
would also lose respect for any reviewer who would comply. If the news is
bad, accept it, learn from it, politely thank the reviewer, and move on.
you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who
designed the Cover of your books?
KDP has a proprietary Cover Creator application
on its publishing page, so I thought I’d give it a go. I must admit to
having a bit of fun playing “mix and match” with the wide range of color and
design options available. I was nearly ready to give up when I spotted
the picture of an adorable little girl playing in the mirror. I instantly
fell in love with her because the novel opens with Dana (the lead character) at
just about the same age as the little girl in the picture. It seemed a
perfect lead-in to the story. I’m thrilled to have received many Facebook
likes and compliments on it.
I plan on exploring some of the royalty-free picture
websites for the 2nd novel’s cover when that time comes.
you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I attempt--to the best of my ability—to avoid
using actual names for antagonists or despicable characters. I have no
desire to cause anyone needless embarrassment should the novel go viral.
I also research very carefully to find fictitious locations for the same
decide on character traits (i.e shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole
book or as you go along?
A little of both. I’ll begin the first
draft with a basic sketch of each proposed character. Along the way, I
don’t hesitate to gently adjust personalities in order to accommodate the
subtleties of a particular chapter, a specific scene, or the overall
storyline. People grow and change constantly; I see no reason why
literary characters shouldn’t do the same.
basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do
you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
Both again. I’m discovering in this
interview that I am one indecisive author!
Plotting and planning are good and I believe in
them. But most authors will agree that the creative process includes
sudden ideas, inspirations, “ah-ha moments,” and “what-if’s.” I have no
reservations about “going with the flow” when it happens. In fact, the
final version of “Child” deviates in many respects from its initial master
outline. Spontaneity can be good!
What do you think makes a book a really
(Laughing) Oh, if only I knew the answer to THAT
Have you suffered from a "writer's block"?How did you get past writer's block?
WARNING, MISTER AUTHOR! WARNING!
That’s what writer’s block means to me: my batteries are low and need
recharging. Get up, get away, and shift your mental gears. Do
whatever is necessary to escape the computer for a while: take a walk; go out
for fast food; stroll around the mall; write an email to someone you haven’t
corresponded with in a long time; make an entry to your blog; watch something
worthwhile on TV (good luck with finding that!); or listen to your favorite
music (1970’s pop music works best for me).
Sooner or later, the block will break.
Like they say in the dating world, it’ll will happen when you least expect it.
you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
Music has been my lifelong “go-to” oasis.
I grew up (musically speaking) in the late 1950’s, the 60’s, and the 70’s listening
to the artistry of Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Carole King, the Carpenters,
the Beatles, Gordon Lightfoot, a sizable number of the “British Invasion” rock
bands, and many of the other artists who defined that era. For many
years, I wanted to make my living in the music industry. I’ve weathered
many of life’s storms wearing my headphones for protection.
I’m also a railroading enthusiast.
Actually, anything that involves transportation interests me: buses, trains,
planes, trolleys, etc. I enjoy journeying to several museums in the area
and simply spending a relaxing Sunday afternoon strolling around the grounds
and riding the demonstration trains. There’s something about a steam
locomotive thundering down the tracks….
your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
My personal favorite is a novel entitled “Mister
Roberts,” a story about a WWII naval officer serving aboard a decrepit U.S.
Navy cargo vessel operating in the South Pacific. The idealistic Lt. Doug
Roberts truly longs to be in combat, to be in the thick of the war with the
Japanese. Unfortunately, he’s trapped by a petty, monarchist Captain who
isn’t about to let his most efficient officer get away. So, Roberts
languishes there and dies a little with each passing day.
Through a twist of fate (not to mention an act
of forgery by a crew that loves him), Roberts is finally transferred to a
destroyer stationed at Okinawa. He is finally in the war.
Not long after Roberts’ departure, the crew
finds out that he has been killed in action by a kamikaze attack. Another
officer (a close friend of Roberts’) is so enraged that he commits a blatant
act of vandalism against the Captain’s prized possession and then boldly storms
into the commanding officer’s quarters and confesses. He effectively
succeeds Roberts as the Captain’s resident thorn-in-the-side.
This story has been a novel, a movie, a Broadway
play, and a short-lived TV series. It is an endearing story with lovable
characters and a storyline that courses repeatedly from bitter to sweet to
funny and back again.
I’ve read the book many times and enjoy it to
this day. I also have the movie (starring Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, Dick
Powell, and James Cagney in stellar performances) on DVD. Thoroughly
you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback
“Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter”
by Randy L. Schmidt in hardcover.
I was a huge fan of the Carpenters during their
heyday. It’s quite a shock to discover that--despite her beautiful voice,
her success, and her fame and fortune--she was a deeply tormented, sad, and
lonely young woman. Very moving and revealing reading about a woman whose
talents I admire to this day.
(What a coincidence, I am also reading a book about Karen Carpenter! It's an e-arc and is called Some Kind Of Lonely Clown: The Music, Memory, and Melancholy Lives of Karen Carpenter by Joel Samberg, it's due out 6th January 2016! I am also a fan of the Carpenters. the book I am reading is quite interesting so far)
a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't
The Magnificent Ambersons. I’ve had
some sort of mental block about this story ever since I was assigned to read it
in school. For some unknown reason, I simply couldn’t get into it.
Something about it bored the daylights out of me and I simply couldn’t keep my
eyes open long enough to read it. As a result, I unwisely set it aside
and ignored it. BIG mistake; it was the subject of a test later that
If you could invite three favourite writers to
dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and Mark
Twain. Now if I could only figure out how they’d like their steaks
readers follow you?