Friday, June 22, 2012

Guest Reader Interview: Twelve Questions with Katie Wood Ruffin

Today at the Reader Roundtable is a name in which you should be familiar, due to this blog. Katie Wood Ruffin and I met through Carolyn Haines a couple of years ago (as is the case with many writers in my life). After a few email exchanges, phone calls, and connections through social media we became writerly friends and colleagues. Here’s what Katie had to say when faced with my barrage of questions.

M: What kind of a reader do you consider yourself?

Katie: I used to be a very simple reader. I’d browse the library or bookstore and pick anything off the shelf that drew me in by the cover art. I’ve always read for the pure joy of escaping into the story. Since completing my own manuscript though that has started to change. Before, I’d never read or concentrated on one specific genre. I’ve always picked a book for a cool cover and interesting blurb on the inside jacket. Now I read not just to enjoy the story, but to learn and stay in touch with other writer’s works who write the same things.

M: What kinds of books do you read and why?

Katie: I tend to stick with urban fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and mystery. I have plenty of reality in my reality so I don’t want it in my books. My favorite kind of read is the one where I say to myself, “Could this really happen?” It takes an amazing writer to suck the reader in that way. After experiencing that once, now my ever-present goal is to find another book that will give me that same feeling.

Katie: Stories about strong female protagonists, creatures that are fantastical and expertly crafted by the author’s writing style and anything with a southern flavor to it are all things I seem to gravitate toward.

M: How has the eBook revolution changed the way you read and how you buy books?

Katie: I’m anxious to see how eBook technology changes over the next five years. It’s opened the door for lots of writers that didn’t have a publishing option before. But as a reader, I’m not a huge fan of reading my books that way. There’s nothing better than holding a book in my hand, tucking into bed and snuggling down with a great story. Plus, if I fall asleep and drop my book it’s less likely to make me nauseous compared to dropping the iPad.

M: What makes you pick up a book or author you've never read before?

Katie: Any great cover will draw me in; a creative hook on the flap will only make it more appealing, recommendations by friends, my librarian, or bookstore staff are all things I depend on when looking for a new book. I rarely go read reviews online. Even if I do, I’m going to decide for myself after looking the book over.

M: With so many books to read, why do you choose the books you do?

Katie: Reading is pure enjoyment for me. I won’t finish a book that doesn’t take me somewhere outside my normal. Escapism is one of my favorite things books offer. Sticking to fantasy and paranormals guarantees I don’t grab a book about mom stuff like laundry or cooking dinner.

M: Film before book, or book before film? Why?

Katie: Book before film, always. Films have major restrictions when telling a story that books don’t. Two hours for most films, lots of necessary action to translate on film, characters that are limited by CG and technology if they aren’t real are all boundaries of film. Books can accommodate any whim of the author’s imagination. Ink, paper and time are all that’s needed.

M: List the five books that stick with you and tell why they do.


The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien because it’s the first book that when I finished I remember saying, “Wow, I’ve totally got to do that again!”

The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe because it absolutely scared the crap out of me. I loved it!

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley because the characters and story crawled under my skin and wouldn’t let me go until I finished it.

East of Eden by John Steinbeck because I’d never felt so much pity for characters before. They are all so damaged.

A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway because the overwhelming love and horrible loss the characters suffer is unforgettable.

M: Do author blurbs, cover jackets, and awards seals matter to you when choosing a book to read?

Katie: Blurbs and jackets will definitely influence whether I choose a book. Award seals, not so much. Awards are just someone else’s opinion of the book. In the end, the work has to hook me in. That happens with the blurbs and jacket information.

M: Favorite Protagonist of all time. Why?

Katie: That’s too hard to say for sure. I can tell you two that I never get tired of re-reading because they evolved over the series in ways I could’ve never anticipated. Anita Blake in Laurell K. Hamilton’s series because she has changed so much over twenty books and still keeps me guessing and Ethan Wate in the Beautiful Creatures series because he’s written splendidly written as a guy protagonist.

M: Have there been books you didn't finish reading? Explain yourself.

Katie: There have been very few books I’ve given up on. I’m not a quitter so not finishing a book picks at my stubborn streak. It really takes a lot of boring swill for me to throw up my hands on a story I’ve committed to read. It has happened unfortunately but thankfully not often. One thing that I do have trouble reading is a book with super strange language or phrasing. It takes me too long to get used to the strange dialects. Those kinds of stories tire my brain.

M: Favorite villain of all time. Explain yourself.

Katie: Gollum in The Hobbit. He’s bat crap nuts and pretty evil yet I found myself wanting to like him so much. I've re-read his chapter many times and still get a kick out of him.

Katie Wood Ruffin is a mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a dental hygienist and a writer. She loves to laugh until tears run down her face, the smell of the ocean just after it rains, and a good book she can fall into. She resides in Hernando, MS and her first manuscript is Unwilling.

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