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Interview with Ruth Reid

Ruth Reid’s genuine affection and admiration for the Amish community shows in the pages of her books. Her latest novel, Brush of Angel’s Wings, is the second book in her Heaven on Earth series for Thomas Nelson, preceded by The Promise of an Angel.

Being a pharmacist is a rather unconventional path to an author’s life. Yet your writing is both engaging and professional. Have you always wanted to write, or is fiction something you came to as an adult?

I believe God planted the seed for writing at an early age. Growing up, I spent countless hours writing stories and preferred writing over reading any day. However, I lacked confidence and my spelling was atrocious, so I never considered pursuing a writing career. That almost changed in college. During one semester, I had calculus, organic chemistry, physics, and advanced composition. The class that brought the most grief was the English class.

The first day of class the instructor wrote a writing prompt on the board and said we had the class hour to write 2-3 pages. While others stalled for ideas, I churned out five pages. The next class period, she returned our papers. Stapled to my assignment was the instructor’s critique. Typed, single-spaced and two pages long, she raved. It even said I had potential to be a great writer. Of course, I smiled—until I turned the page—she gave me a D-.

She probably heard me gasp because she expected me to talk with her after class. After she told me how she’d never had a student’s writing cause her to tear up like mine, I thanked her for the compliment and said, “Let’s get to the point. What happens if I write something you don’t like?”

She laughed and handed me a sheet listing the hours of the tutoring lab. Not only was the tutor free, the instructor offered extra credit for going. I spent more hours a week in the tutoring lab than I did sleeping. The final exam, a lengthy research paper, she handed it back saying, “Now this is publishable. Have you thought about changing your major to journalism?”

Like you, many of our readers work full time. How do you find the time to write, edit, respond to e-mails, and do all the other work that is part of the writing life, while still maintaining your role in a busy family? Are there time management tips you’d be willing to share?
Having a 7 day on/off schedule, I’m able to split my days between working as a pharmacist and writing. Usually I answer emails before and after work. I try (probably not hard enough) but I don’t have much presence on the social media. As for time management tips . . . I wouldn’t follow anything I have to say about that. I wing it—and the dishes stacked in my sink are proof.

In tackling the real, tangible presence of angels, you’ve taken on a tricky topic. How have readers responded to the overt presence of heavenly beings as characters in your books?
I’ve received several emails and notes from readers who said that reading my books are a reminder that God is at work in our lives even when we are unaware.

Do you have a particular goal for your books, besides telling a good story?
To always to show God’s love and compassion as the characters face difficult times.

Are you more of a “planner” or more of a “pantser” when you write? What does your writing process involve?
I tend to be a pantser, but somehow I keep thinking it would be easier to outline and plan more. Currently, my writing process is basic. After forming a solid inciting event, I develop a few turning points and have a general idea of how the story will end, then I let the characters take me on their journey.

How did you decide to write Christian fiction as opposed to ABA fiction? What has your journey to publication with this series of books been like?
My stories wouldn’t fit the ABA market because I mention Jesus too much. Since I don’t see myself ever stopping, I’ve never considered another market other than Christian fiction.
The writing journey has been an awesome experience. I’ll never forget NOT receiving “the call”. My agent sent an email that she would call me later with details, only the phone never rang. I waited hours only to discover that our phone was unplugged. Apparently, one of my kids needed the outlet that the phone base was plugged into and hadn’t remembered to reconnect the phone. That moment kicked off the process and it’s been as if I’ve been living a dream ever since.

Who are some of your favorite fiction authors? What’s currently on your nightstand to read?
Some of my favorite authors are dead. (C.S. Lewis, Ernest Hemmingway)

Currently on my nightstand is Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra Bricker. Recently, Sandra and I both signed books at LifeWay Christian Store in Tampa, Florida. She was so much fun to hang out with that I knew her book would be great before I read the first page. I’m not disappointed.

What’s ahead for you as an author, Ruth? You have a third book in the Heaven on Earth series. What is the projected publication date for that one?
An Angel by Her Side is scheduled for release in January 2013.

Are there other books you are itching to write?
I have several books lined up to write; one I’m particularly excited about is a novella with Beth Wiseman and Mary Ellis that will be released in 2013.

Thanks for sharing with us, Ruth.
This was fun! I enjoyed talking with you.

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