Interview with Laura Rittenhouse

Published 2016-02-01.
What is your writing process?
I start my writing days with a brisk walk where I think about the previous day's progress and visualise the next few scenes of my book. When I get back home I reread what I wrote the previous day (trying to control my urge to edit) to get back into the rhythm and voice of my story then write, write, write. I force myself to take a normal lunch break and finish before dinner. I repeat this cycle until the first draft is complete. That draft gets ignored for a few days, preferably a month, then the edit process begins. And another edit. Then I edit some more.
When did you first consider becoming an author?
I read Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter House Five and I remember thinking, "I want to do that". It was a simple thought and I wondered if I could and if I'd write in that style and when I could get started. It was decades later that I first sat down to try my own novel but Mr. Vonnegut sat on my shoulder, egging me on for those first few scary days.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote pages and pages and volumes and volumes of text for work - technical stuff, contracts, training manuals, snore. I started writing creatively when I stopped working. I was in my mid-40s, had always loved reading, wrote quickly and with pleasure so decided to give a novel a go. I wasn't sure I knew how to write a full book, I had no confidence I'd find a publisher if I did finish, but I put one foot in front of the other and 3 years later, my first novel was published.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in suburban Seattle in the US. I can't swear that this had a huge influence on my writing but it did have an influence on my life. I wanted to escape suburbia and incessant rain which led me to move to Australia, take jobs in some of the world's biggest cities and travel far and wide. This life not only has given me fodder for the page, it's also given me a chance to crawl outside my safety zone and enjoy experiences that I hope make my writing resonate further afield than my own demographic.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love writing for the same reason I love reading - I get lost in the story. Writing is like reading on steroids because it takes so much more of my brain to process. I get caught up in the lives of the characters with any book, but when I'm writing it, I also wrestle with keeping them in line so we reach the end at the same time and in the desired fashion.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember most stories I've written. Certainly I remember the full manuscripts. But there are the odd short stories written to obscure themes for random competitions that are sadly forgettable. I keep a list and sometimes go back and laugh at the "work" I've done.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I'm sure I don't remember the first story I ever read but I do remember parts of a short story I read as a teenager in a magazine in a doctor's waiting room. The hero was a rock star and he was keeping beat to the music by tapping his heel because it caused his whole leg to move which he felt was sexier than a toe bouncing up and down. That visual jumped out at me and is the first time I remember noticing how writing can do more than simply reveal a plot.
What are you working on next?
I've got 2 projects on simmer. One is my first non-fiction. I wrote an account of an 8 month camping trip my husband and I took around Australia. It was almost as much fun to write as it was to live through.

My 2nd project is a piece of crime fiction. I've started and I've written the last chapter but there's a lot of plot twists and character development to put in the middle. We'll see how that progresses.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I live on an 18 acre farm. Very little farming takes place beyond the piece of land rented to a real farmer. Mainly I spend my time in the garden (there are an unbelievable number of weeds that need pulling year-round) or in the apiary (my husband and I manage 25 hives of very productive honey bees). Then there's the chickens, dog and cat to keep me busy. It's all too easy to forget how much I love to write and to leave my word processor unopened.
What do you read for pleasure?
For pleasure I read mainstream fiction - dramas about normal people in situations that are, to them anyway, extraordinary. I get lost in the machinations of normal people's minds and their reactions to what life throws at them.

I also read just about anything courtesy of 2 book clubs. I love the book clubs because they force me to read books I'd never think of picking up otherwise. I've read some real stinkers that way but also found some true gems.
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Books by This Author

Laura's Shorts
Price: Free! Words: 11,000. Language: English. Published: January 13, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
Laura's Shorts is a random collection of unrelated short stories. Many were prepared in response to prompts or criteria of competitions, all were prepared for the sheer joy of storytelling.