Welcome to Books That Hook! Today, we have author Ruth Vincent here for an interview.
Please tell me a little about your journey to becoming a published author.
ELIXIR was actually the first novel I ever wrote, although that initial draft bears no resemblance to the now published book! I had been writing stories since childhood, but finally took the plunge to try writing a novel back in 2009. Learning to write a book was a process of trial and error. I wrote three 300 page drafts I ended up throwing out 90% of, making major changes to the plot, before arriving at the story as it now stands.
After a lot of revising, I started querying the manuscript, and ended up meeting my now editor at a pitch session at the RWA Nationals conference in 2015. There was a huge room full of editors and agents, and we each got seven minutes to tell one of them about our book, sort of like speed dating! My editor liked the premise and asked me to send her the manuscript. Months went by and I didn’t hear anything, so I’d assumed it was a pass. Then out of the blue I received an email with an offer. I almost fainted on the sidewalk in the middle of Times Square as I was coming out of work and read the news on my phone!
Armed with an offer, I reached out to a short list of agents whose clients I admired and who seemed like they’d be a great fit. I’m now represented by the wonderful Jennifer Udden of Barry Goldblatt Literary.
I never dreamed that the first book I wrote would end up being the first one to get published (I wrote two other manuscripts along the way.) I think a first book always has a special place in a writer’s heart, so it’s really exciting to see this one out in the world!
What scene in ELIXIR do you love the most? Why?
Without giving away any spoilers, one of my favorite scenes from ELIXIR is where my heroine, Mab, and her love interest, Obadiah, make the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop into a portal to fairyland. I’d established in the story that traveling to the fairy realm is very difficult for a human; the spell requires the focus of a crowd of millions of people, all concentrating on a single object at exactly the same time. The New Year’s Eve Ball drop is the perfect solution of course. My hero and heroine figure out a way to get inside the ball, so that the unwitting crowd will be focusing on them, powering their spell, and opening up a portal to the next world. Being squeezed together in the ball for hours waiting for the countdown forces my characters to talk to each other, building the budding intimacy between them. The “drop” itself is a fun thrill ride that was absolute joy to write.
What is your opinion about how much romance should be included in an urban fantasy novel?
While the urban fantasy genre is very much separate and distinct from the romance genre, I think urban fantasy novels can really benefit from having a strong love story subplot. The difference is where the focus of the story lies. In my novel ELIXIR, the mystery and adventure aspects of the story could easily stand alone without the romance, but I think the love story adds a depth and nuance to the characters. I think good urban fantasy is very much about the voice, growth, and evolution of the heroine, and giving her a love life that is compelling, and that also challenges her and forces her to grow as a person, adds a lot of richness to a book.
Are you already working on another book? If so, please tell me about it.
I’m hard at work on the sequel to ELIXIR, book 2 in the Changeling P.I series, which will be coming out with HarperCollins Voyager Impulse in October 2016! Writing a sequel has been a lot of fun, and easier than I expected. I really appreciate the opportunity to go deeper, darker places with the characters in the second book! I also wrote a Gaslamp fantasy manuscript, which I’m currently revising. It’s also about fairies, but the Victorian variety. It’s a lush, fun world, with a strong narrative voice that I think is both very period and also relatable. I’m very excited to see where that story goes.
What was the most difficult aspect of worldbuilding for ELIXIR?
I think crafting the mechanics of a magic system in a way that’s consistent, logical, and yet still feels “magical” to the reader is always a challenge. It took me several tries to figure out how “elixir,” the liquid source of my fairies’ power, worked. I finally settled on the metaphor of water: elixir is both the primary substance from which fairies’ bodies are made, but they also need to consume it in sufficient quantities to live, and a drought of elixir will kill them. I tried to keep the explanations of how my world works spare and light, however. I think too much explication can overwhelm the reader and make them less instead of more interested in the worldbuilding. My goal was to create just enough rich sensory details of the world to make the reader curious and want to explore it more.
If you had to give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
The best piece of advice I ever received as an aspiring author, which is the best piece of advice I could give, is to finish your manuscript. “The only difference between a professional writer and an amateur writer is professionals finish what they start,” a college writing professor (and successful writer for The New Yorker magazine) once said to me, and I think it’s very true. Finish your book. Even if you don’t think it’s good enough, finish it anyway. You can’t edit a manuscript until it’s complete. Getting to “the end,” is only the beginning, of course, but it’s the necessary prerequisite to everything else. Only a finished manuscript can get published!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!
Thank you so much for having me!
May 3, 2016
About the Book:
Mabily “Mab” Jones is just a twenty-something, over-educated, under-employed New Yorker trying to survive as a private eye’s unpaid intern… or is she? Once a powerful fairy, but tricked by the Fairy Queen into human form, Mab is forced to face her changeling past when investigating a missing person case at a modern speakeasy.
Obadiah Savage bootlegs fairy Elixir to human customers thirsting for a magical fix. But when Mab and Obadiah become joint suspects in a crime they didn’t commit, the only way to prove their innocence is to travel back to the fairy realm. And when Mab confronts the Fairy Queen and learns the depth of her betrayal, she must decide if the fate of the fey world is worth destroying the lives of the humans she’s come to love.
About the Author:
Ruth Vincent spent a nomadic childhood, moving across the USA, culminating in a hop across the pond to attend Oxford. But wherever she wanders, she remains ensconced within the fairy ring of her imagination. Ruth recently traded the gritty urban fantasy of NYC for the pastoral suburbs of Long Island, where she resides with her roguishly clever husband and a cockatoo who thinks she’s a dog. Find out more at www.ruthvincent.com