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Interview With Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti, you're one very active lady. You currently script a radio show, create worship music, write essays for publication, volunteer with writing groups, speak to women's groups and spend time with your church, family and grandchildren. And yet, you still find time to write women's fiction. Have I forgotten something? : )
I make an award winning homemade applesauce. My grandkids are the only judges, but still...

However do you balance your life with writing fiction?
Right now, there's no denying balance is an elusive pursuit. It dodges and hides, zigs when I'm zagging (spell-check attempted to turn that word into sagging). I try to stay ahead of the game as much as I can, not wait until the last minute, stay organized, and allow for interruptions in carefully (or not so carefully) laid plans. But I can easily point to times in my life when balance has not been as skittish as it is right now, especially as I add marketing-related tasks to that previous list. I've had to jettison some hobbies and have trimmed some excesses that were counterproductive to the calling the Lord has on my life right now. Someday I'll pick up a dust rag again.

Your debut novel, They Almost Always Come Home has a stunning book cover. How much 'say' did you have in its design?
The publisher (Abingdon) was wonderful about accepting input and making the cover design a collaborative effort. It was important to me that the cover reflect darkness and light, soul-deep longing yet with hope on the horizon, and accuracy regarding the location--the Quetico Provincial Park wilderness area in Ontario, Canada. I think the cover successfully sets the tone for the story.

Was this the first manuscript you wrote, or do you have them piled under your bed?
Like most authors, I have several manuscripts tucked away. This was my fourth completed manuscript.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
It might be expected I would say this, but it's true. I doubt I would be published if it weren't for ACFW. The role this organization has played in helping me grow as a writer, preparing me for publication, improving my manuscripts, encouraging me, teaching me the craft, and offering the kind of cheerleading I needed during the waiting times has brought me to this point. But I didn't just join ACFW. I joined with a heart to learn, listen, apply, and follow-through.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Faith is infused in life, not applied to it like make-up. I don't believe anyone--even those who would call themselves faithless--can write without their belief system evident in their stories. For me, the novels I write fit my tagline: Stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark. The capital H on Hope is purposeful.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
Before my mother's death following a long and arduous battle with congestive heart failure, I had the privilege of laying an Advanced Reader Copy of They Almost Always Come Home in her frail hands. She was an exuberant fan of Christian fiction and encouraged me in innumerable ways through this process. The book meant so much to her. Although she did not live to see the finished product, having that ARC in her hands brought a smile that broke through her pain. The hospice staff agreed with the family that it seemed she began to let go of this earth life after that moment. When I took her the ARC, she clutched it to her chest and said, "My book!" Then she quickly added, "I mean, our book." I'll always be grateful that the ARC arrived when it did. She drew her last breath just two weeks later.

They Almost Always Come Home is a story that forces a woman to re-examine her life and faith. How much of 'you' is in that book?
Probably more than I even realize! The details and motivations of my main character Libby are very different from mine, but she sometimes jabs me with her elbow to tell me to pay attention to what she's saying. I aspire to have the tenacity of Libby's friend Jenika. I tell people that when my characters are behaving themselves, that's me!

My husband almost didn't come home from a canoe trip to Canada a few years ago--different reason, but no less life-altering. It wasn't hard to imagine some of the emotional breakers that crashed on the shore of Libby's heart. So although Libby's story and mine cross paths infrequently, they do intersect.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I hope readers will say I create stories that feel both lyrical and real, gripping and soothing, with enough humor to keep tension's aneurysm from bursting.

Finish this sentence. If I was going to paint over a white wall, the color or scene would be ... of those trompe l'oeil murals of French doors opening onto a wide ocean view. My heart is drawn to scenes like that and to cottages on the sea. Every year, a booth at an art fair in our local town has oil paintings from an artist who specializes in beach scenes, views through the door or window of a cottage at the water's edge. I always linger in that booth and find myself sighing with a deep-seated longing. Did I mention I live in the landlocked heart of Wisconsin?

Any parting words?
Readers, thank you for taking the time for this interview and for your interest in They Almost Always Come Home. I look forward to interacting with you. Published authors who've gone before me, thank you for marking out a clear path and inviting me to join you on it. Yet-to-be-published, take heart. Hold fast to the task and to the assurance that the Lord has big plans for you.

Thanks for sharing with us, Cynthia!
Thank you for the privilege.

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