Debut Author Ruth Trippy Reveals Character Inspiration

Ruth Trippy was born in western Michigan to a Dutch family with
values similar to the Victorian era she loves. She left home to teach high
school language arts in Florida where she explored her love of apologetics. She
also worked as Public Service Director for a radio station in Ft. Lauderdale.
Ruth and her husband reside outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and have two grown
children. 
Some say a writer is born and others say
anyone can learn. What do you say?
Both make
up the equation, I think. There has to be some kind of spark, or intelligence
or sensibility that is a gift. But then the real work begins: learning the
craft of writing. A few writers are like Mozart. They get an idea in their
heads, write it down and it’s beautiful from the get go. Most are like
Beethoven. They struggle to express their idea, reworking it many times, then finally—it’s
beautiful.
Was there
a specific ‘what if’ moment that sparked your latest release story?

When I
read George Howe Colt’s The Big House
and learned what characterized Boston Brahmins—and recognized many of the same traits
in my family members—the character of Edward Lyons took off, because I knew him.
Do you
have a full or part time day job? If so, how do you balance your writing time
with family and work?

I teach
piano part time, have since I was fifteen. But balance—what’s that? I’m
constantly looking for the perfect “lifestyle” where I feel all warm and cozy
and inspired. Simplifying my life—again and again—has helped. Mental outlook is
key: Sarah Young’s Sept. 3 devotional in Jesus
Calling,
depending on God, is wonderful.
Did
anything unusual or funny happen while researching or writing this book?

Unusual,
yes. My childhood nemesis provided inspiration for the character Loydie, the
mischievous boy. During a Michigan winter, “my” Loydie made me walk in a deep
ditch covered with ice. I was terribly afraid, not knowing when the ice would
break. Years later I saw him at a high school reunion. We mended our fences,
and he looked forward to reading this novel. As a high school basketball coach,
he was in great shape, but a few months ago died suddenly from a heart attack, before
the novel was released.
Do you
consider yourself a visual writer: If so, what visuals do you use?

I don’t use
visuals in the normal sense. My “visuals” are people and settings from my past
and, of course, others are completely made up, but all expand to have a life of
their own as the story develops.
What is
your writing MO? Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between?

Somewhere
in between. I know where the story is generally headed, but as I continue to
research while writing, new information will suggest another character or scene
or additional layer. Often while I’m having my time with the Lord in the
morning, something will pop into my head for the story and I quickly jot it down
on a post-a-note. I figure it’s from the Lord!
Have you
discovered some secret that has helped your process for writing?

I read
before I go to bed each night, usually fiction, because it feeds me
emotionally, “fills the well,” which is a big part of writing. Then I trust the
Lord to help me draw from that well the next day.
What are
your thoughts on critique partners?

The right
critique partners are invaluable; we all have our blind spots that need to be detected,
especially someone like me whose writing background was “spotty.” My novel is a
better book not only because my critique partners are savvy, but I worked hard to
keep them entertained!
Do you
prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing?

Editing!
I’d better, because I do so much of it. In fact, I think of myself as a
Rewriter—rather than a Writer. I feel a great affinity with Beethoven’s
painstaking method of working.
What’s the
most difficult part of writing for you – plotting, setting, characterization?

How about
all of the above. Every once in a while I get an idea and the words just flow. Also,
I’m not a writer who can lie down on the couch and dream up the next scene. I
get as far as the opening and then my mind goes round and round on a merry-go-round.
Like the Israelites who had to put their feet into the water for the Red Sea or
Jordan River to part, I have to physically put pen to paper or type words into
my computer before a character or scene starts developing.
What’s
your strength in writing (characterization, setting as character, description,
etc)?

Hmm. I
don’t think I have a strength, it all comes so hard. However, I do have a fire deep inside of me—a moral
premise—that I hope comes out as my characters live their story. I write
intuitively, often not knowing what I’ve really
written, how it’s coming across to a reader. Only recently, when I read a
couple of random passages of SOTR did the Lord allow me to see it as someone
reading it for the first time. This was encouraging after feeling in the dark about
my writing for so long.  
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?

I have this lovely study where I do most of my work. However, when I get “creative,” papers and books start piling up Everywhere, and it doesn’t look so lovely any more.

Did you
have any surprising discoveries while writing this book?

Yes, the
color red and its many shades kept cropping up: the red leather of Tennyson’s
book of poems, the deep red roses at a dinner party, the dusky pink of Celia’s
dress. I finally saw that it was Edward Lyons’ favorite color so let it blossom
in the story.
What’s the
best writing advice you’ve heard?

Be
persistent. Don’t give up. After years of writing, I was given the Persistence
Award at a writing conference. That was years
ago. And finally now, I’m published.
Do you
have any parting words of advice?

Be willing
to learn from others, even when you think your scene, chapter or manuscript is
polished to a wonderful sheen. Writing can be a humbling business. Now I’m glad
I wasn’t published when I thought I was ready—that I had to wait, was forced to
keep growing. My son, a virtual non-reader, read The Soul of the Rose and expressed with wonder in his voice, how real the characters were. A reaction like
that made the waiting worthwhile. 
  
Soul of
the Rose

“And the soul of the rose went into my blood…”
This line from a Tennyson poem captivates young Celia Thatcher,
who supposes every woman’s heart hopes to be that rose that enchants a man.
Celia is searching for her own sense of hope after the tragic
death of her closest friend. In 1876, she starts life afresh by taking a job in
a Massachusetts bookstore. There she soon catches the eye of not one but two
men: the elite but unkempt Edward Lyons and the charming law student Charles
Harrod. One is hiding from his past and from God. The other promotes a
religious belief Celia had never before considered. Both leave Celia wondering
if either is right for her.
When one of her suitors is accused of murder, Celia is
challenged with a deeper choice: should she follow her heart or her faith?