Interview with K.S. Ruff
Author of Saving Tir na nOg
I live in Northern Virginia with my football-crazed husband, two beautiful daughters, and two psychotic Shih Tzus. I teach courses in international relations, peacekeeping, and human security for the American Military University. What can I say? I still love school.
I'm addicted to coffee, dark chocolate, reading, and writing; although not necessarily in that order. Reading will always be my first love. Writing appears to be edging out coffee for second place, unless it's morning. In the morning, it's coffee.
I haven't a clue what's going on around me when I'm writing. The house could be burning down, and I wouldn't even notice. I'm counting on my husband to save the children and the dogs.
More than anything, I want my readers to FEEL something. I love it when you growl at my protagonist, when you hold your breath in anticipation, when your heart stumbles against your chest, when you laugh, and when you cry. I've written several romantic suspense novels in The Broken Series under the pen name K.S. Ruff. I've also written an epic fantasy/middle grade novel entitled Saving Tir na nOg under my full name, Kimberly S. Ruff.
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How would you describe Saving Tir na nOg to a new reader?
- Saving Tir na nOg is a noblebright novel that encourages kindness and compassion. It's a magical read steeped in Irish mythology. Readers will travel through a portal into Tir na nOg with Madison and her friends. They will train with warriors and druids so they can better understand their powers, fulfill the prophecy, and save Madison's family. They will face some of the most dangerous creatures ever born in an epic battle as Madison seeks to prove it is love not violence that will save the realms.
To what extent is Saving Tir na nOg based on your own experiences?
- There are little nuggets of truth woven into this book. For example, Madison fondly recalls building leprechaun traps and saving worms that are washed up onto the sidewalks after a heavy rain so they won't bake in the scorching sun. These are activities I've engaged in with my own children. My daughter Madison was a NICU baby, and her sister Lexie required a kidney transplant when she was two and a half years old. So, while I've never battled Fomorians, the black-winged Sidhe, or Fir Bolgs, I have battled demons of a different type. Every single one of those battles required faith, hope, and love, which are central themes in this book.
If you had to pick a favorite scene in Saving Tir na nOg, which one would it be?
- If I had to choose just one, I'd say the epic battle near the end of the story is my favorite scene. That scene made me cry while I was writing it. The scene where Madison and her friends are learning to fly runs a close second. That scene made me laugh so hard tears streamed down my cheeks.
What lessons can young readers glean from Saving Tir na nOg?
- Several lessons can be gleaned from Saving Tir na nOg. This story captures how kindness, compassion, self-sacrifice, faith, hope, and love can transform the world we live in. Madison's efforts to save her family and fulfill the prophecy captures the importance of believing in yourself and working with others toward common goals. Madison teaches the Sidhe to question what they perceive as their limits. Ainle claims there are an infinite amount of possibilities, more choices than any one person can possibly comprehend. These lessons are empowering. Saving Tir na nOg also captures the dangers that lie in value Judgements and labeling others. Madison challenges the Sidhe's long standing prejudices against other mythical creatures. And last but certainly not least, Saving Tir na nOg encourages environmental responsibility and questions our dependence on technology.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Writing is not an independent activity. You need a team... people you can bounce ideas off, an editor, beta readers, an illustrator, a graphic design artist, maybe even a cartographer, an ARC team, and businesses that will assist you with book promotions and marketing. If you go the traditional route, you'll need to add an agent and a publisher to that team. It also helps to have a tribe, to connect with other authors who are writing in your genre. Authors are a friendly bunch and generally willing to share their experiences and offer advice. You can connect with local authors through your local library and/or local bookstore, by attending book talks/signings, and by visiting book festivals. You can connect with additional authors online through Facebook, Twitter, and Kboards (just to name a few places).
Which authors do you most admire? Which qualities, in particular, have influenced your writing?
- I really admire C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. Their character development, complex plot development, compelling themes, and world building are simply incredible. As a reader, you tumble into their worlds and you never want to leave. They set a high bar, but they've inspired me to strive for the same things.
What is your workspace/writing environment like?
- My usual workspace includes an oversized chair with an ottoman, a blanket, two furry dogs, coffee, and chocolate. I prefer to write when it is quiet so I can immerse myself in the scene, so I don't play music or the TV. I've been known to write in my car (while my husband is driving), in bed, in hospitals, outside (if the sun isn't too bright), and in foreign countries (when I'm conducting research).
If Saving Tir na nOg were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
- I would love it if Saving Tir na nOg were to be adapted for TV or film. I really can't picture anyone besides my daughter Madison in the lead role, since she was the person I was picturing in my mind's eye while writing the story.
How have readers responded to Saving Tir na nOg?
- So far, so good! I've had several young readers e-mail me, sharing what they enjoyed about the book and offering up ideas for the second book in the series.
Where next? What are you working on now?
- I'm currently working on a spin-off novel for my romance series. That has proven difficult, in part because I would rather be working on the second book for this series. I'm anxious to return to Tir na nOg. I've got several exciting adventures planned for Madison and her friends.
When Madison's father fails to return home from a business trip, Madison and her remaining family set out to find him. But then? Her entire family vanishes. This sparks a shocking revelation from Madison’s godmother. Madison is one of the Chosen Ones, one of three young Sidhe secreted inside the human realm at birth. They were born to fulfill a prophecy. The time has come. There are those who seek to destroy them so they can rule the realms. Madison crosses through a portal into Tir na nOg so she can awaken her powers in Ogham. Before she leaves this ancient realm of trees, the Rowan Tree asks the one question no twelve-year-old should be forced to answer... "Would you sacrifice your life for those you love?" Dragons, druids, demons, and faeries abound in this magical tale steeped in Irish mythology. "A dazzling read for all ages," 5 Stars -- Liz Konkel, Readers' Favorite