Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Getting Inside the Mind of Rita Stradling!

I could not be anymore excited about this post.  Recently I had read Ensnared by Rita Stradling, a sci-fi retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  It was beautifully written and a unique concept that I hadn't read in other re-telling with the use of AI units.  It can be describe as something akin to the movie Ex Machina. Why does this have me super excited?  I got to have an interview with the woman herself: Rita Stradling!  Complete fan-girling over here, so let's get right to it!

Falcor, Harley and Orion wanted me to get the most important question out of the way first…Do you have any “Literary Cats” or Literary Pup?

I have a literary dog named Stewie and two literary chickens named Katy and Boo (my son named them). They fight over territory on my lap as I read or write. However, at almost seventy pounds, Stewie, as cute as he is trying to sit on my lap, sometimes makes my legs fall asleep.

What inspired you to write “Ensnared”?

A combination of things, really. I love retellings of the original Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and I’ve always been tempted to write one. Also, I’ve been mesmerized and terrified by the new breakthroughs in humanoid robots and AI being developed right now, and the new world change that might be right on our doorstep. These two fascinations merged together to form this story.

What was the hardest thing about writing it?
The science. 

Hands down, the science. 

Even though I really tried to keep the technical elements of this book underplayed, I wanted every technological element to be both theoretically feasible and imaginably achievable. Basically, I wanted you to believe it without for a second going, ‘huh?’

I am no scientist. Actually, if there was an anti-scientist, that would be me. But, thankfully, I happen to know a scientific genius who summoned the patience to turn my abstract ideas into something that would theoretically work. I am leaving this science fiction experience with a new awe for hard science-fiction writers. I just dipped my toes in, and it was quite the experience!

What was the easiest?

I’d have to say that it was the romance. Lorccan and Alainn really just fell in love on their own. They wouldn’t be rushed; they had too much internal stuff to work out. 
What has been your reaction to the reviews you have gotten so far for Ensnared?

To be honest, the reviews for this book have been quite a bit more mixed than I’m used to, but such is life. Many readers seem to truly connect with the story, and that’s something I’m really excited about. Almost all of the reviews that are posted now are for the ARC version of the book, and I’m curious to see the change when the finished version is available – for good or ill. Two editors had their hands on the book since the ARC version. It’s almost exactly the same, but there were a couple cut sections (particularly one of the longer “sexy” passages) and some stylistic changes throughout. 

Truthfully, when I listed this book on NetGalley and it rose to #1 most requested in New Adult and #7 most requested in Sci-fi/Fantasy in less than a month, the experience was a little overwhelming. I’m used to about two hundred reviewer downloads, and with this book some days it was nearly two hundred a day. But, I have to say that I appreciate the time and interest so many have devoted to this book already!
Do you currently have anything in the works?
I actually just finished a book titled Colorless. 
Kind of a funny coincidence, the reason I wrote Colorless was because of another interview I did for Ensnared. A little over a month ago, I interviewed on the “This is Lit” blog, and the interviewer asked me if I had any never-published works. I told her that I wrote a book eight years ago that I loved, but it was my first book ever and it needed a lot of TLC. Unfortunately, I abandoned it and never planned to pick it up again. 
But . . . 
After the interview I just couldn’t stop thinking about how much I loved the story of Colorless, and how the world I had created had just passed into the ether, unread. 
It took me a month, but I rewrote the whole thing. And, I mean the WHOLE thing. It has the basics of the story, characters, and world but all of the words are freshly written. 
Did you publish anything prior to Ensnared?
Yes. I have eleven other books out, among them a young adult urban fantasy series, young adult/new adult paranormal series, women’s fiction serial, and a new adult romance.

When did your love of books/writing develop?
The answer to that is a little complicated. My passion for books came from, perhaps, infancy. My father would read aloud to my sister and me every night, from The Cat in the Hat to Bunnicula to The Hobbit. It was my favorite time of the day. I also created many stories of my own, some of which I wrote out to the best of my ability. However, I had an unusually hard time learning to read and write due to a myriad of learning disabilities (including dyslexia). Also, unfortunately, this was during a time (late 80s, early 90s) where there was this lingering attitude that you could humiliate a learning disability out of a kid by having them do things like struggle through long passages in front of their peers. So, while the passion and love of the written word remained, I truly thought it something that I was too incompetent to master. It wasn’t until my last years of High School when several of my teachers asked to read my essays aloud to the class or to save the essays for examples, that I started to think that maybe I wasn’t all that inferior to the rest of the world at writing. Fifteen years later, I write full time (and have an awesome editor).
What are some of the ways that you manage writer’s block?
It depends. If I have a deadline, I’ll usually just power through it. If I don’t have any sort of deadline, I’ll put the project away for a while and work on another book until inspiration hits.

How have you been able to handle rejection as a writer?

As Yann Martel says in the Life of Pi, “You can get used to anything”. I think rejection becomes just a part of the day-to-day life for artists of any profession, writers, actors, directors, chefs – as does acceptance. There are the small rejections and acceptances and then the really big ones, but they all pass quickly with more opportunities near on the horizon. 
 What are some of your ambitions and goals as a writer?
My biggest ambition would be to write a book worthy of becoming a movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

 **That answer made me squeal as I LOVE Miyazaki's work as well, and can almost picture "Ensnared" being told in his style.**
What is your go to feel good book?  Your guilty pleasure book?

My feel good book(s) would be anything by Ilona Andrews. Growing up my feel-good book(s) was anything by Isabel Allende. Their words are my safety blankets.
For guilty pleasure, hmmm, maybe books more of the Tijan, Penelope Douglas, and Erin Watt variety.

 What is a book you always recommend to other people?
Oh, that’s a hard one because it really depends on the person. However, if you’re looking for an amazing fairy tale retelling, I’d recommend The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Shannon Hale just has an amazing rhythm about her writing. I’ve recommended that book to several friends who loved it.
 If you could meet any author, who would it be?
Can I say two people who make up one author? Gordon and Ilona Andrews. I’m just a little bit of an obsessive fan-girl for this pair.
Who has been some of your biggest inspirations?
I have so many favorite authors that it’s really hard to pin down just a few. Definitely the ones I’ve mentioned thus far in the interview along with the movies by Hayao Miyazaki. I also really enjoy studying old folklore, myths, legends and parables – I always want to give even my contemporary stories an authentic, old-world feel.

What advice would you give young writers looking to begin somewhere?
Just write. Just write your first draft without stopping, and you can make the writing good on your many revisions. Fact is that you just need to get all of your ideas out first. Most books go unfinished, and I think that’s because people get so caught up in their individual sentences they lose all momentum. It’s way easier to fix something into becoming amazing than to invent it perfect the first time around.

How can your readers discover more about you and your work?
You can check me out at:

My Website

Thank you Rita for taking the time out to answer my questions and making this girl's dream come true.  Be sure to check out Ensnared if you haven't yet.  I am going to run over to amazon and hunt for those 11 other books!  Also if you haven't read my review of Ensnared just click the link here.

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