Rhonda Ramsey is a prolific new author who enjoys breathing passion and life into each and every character she creates. She is an avid writer with eleven completed novels, four novels near completion, and five short stories. She is also a military wife, mother of two, and student.
Over the course of seven years, Rhonda has diligently researched topics ranging from but not limited to; relationships, addiction, abuse, and mental illness. With a passion for people, helping, and learning, Rhonda’s zeal for inspiring others through her writing has also expanded to freelance writing and blogging; as she has her own blog, and enjoys contributing to other websites as well. She hopes to continue in her quest of inspiring others as well as learning from everyone she meets.
Her latest book is Just Beneath the Surface I.
Thank you so much for this opportunity.
Just Beneath the Surface I is an emotionally intense novel about domestic violence, obsession, and much more.
Kendall, a mother of two, leaves a somewhat rocky relationship after fourteen years. She finds herself involved with a man who is shy and quiet on the surface, but turns out to be unpredictable and abusive. Meanwhile, her daughter Diamond becomes involved with an obsessive teacher’s aide; Diamond is also drowning in gossip at school. Just Beneath the Surface I is a story about a mother and daughter who find themselves lost, and in very unhealthy relationships.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
In the novel, the two main characters are Kendall, and her daughter Diamond.
Kendall is a loving mother of two, who leaves a somewhat rocky relationship after fourteen years. She finds herself involved with a shy, quiet man who becomes very unpredictable and abusive. As the story unfolds, Kendall’s confidence and warmth diminish, and Kendall gradually loses herself in fear.
Diamond is an insecure teenager, who is not handling her parents’ separation very well. Her father becomes distracted and distant, her mother is nurturing her new relationship, and Diamond is stumbling along and seeking the wrong type of attention from males.
Michael is one of the supporting characters; he is the man Kendall has been with for fourteen years, and early in the book, readers may find him a bit difficult to tolerate. He is insensitive, immature, and impossible to communicate with.
In the beginning of Kendall’s new marriage, Michael appears to be completely opposite her new husband. (I will not give too much away, as the man Kendall marries is meant to be a ‘surprise’). She is drawn to the calmness, and sensitivity that the new man in her life seems to possess. He is not what he seems.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
I think writing about intimate details of another person’s life without permission is crossing a line. My characters are from my imagination. I have never written about the people I know. Although the situations I write about are very real, and very intense, they are purely fictional.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
Generally before I start writing, the only things I am consciously aware of, are the messages that I want to convey. The twists, turns, dialogue, and conflict of the plot come to me as I write.
Q: Your book is set in a somewhat small suburban town. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
I did not name the city, but I did choose a smaller town because there are multiple incidents where bumping into ‘strangers’ is crucial.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
The setting does not play a major role in this story. The novel revolves almost solely around two separate relationships, as things spiral out of control and become dangerous.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
In page 69 of the book, Diamond’s relationship with Bobby has really started to blossom, but is also showing signs of instability. Diamond is with two friends from school, and Bobby is pressuring her to come and spend time with him. He seems to have forgotten her age, and is very frustrated with the restrictions placed upon their secret relationship.
Diamond enlists the help of her friends, Veronica and Tayla. She will ask them to cover for her, so that she can sneak away to be with Bobby.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
He stopped in front of the garage, and sat quietly.
“Something wrong with your garage opener?” I asked peering over at him. Why were we sitting in front of our house? Something deep down in my bones said run as I reached above our heads for the garage opener.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of his hand and flinched, but by then it was too late. He shoved my arm away from the garage opener and punched me so hard in the side of my head that my face hit the passenger window. I only sat doubled over. The car was completely quiet as he stared over at me and waited menacingly. Whatever he was waiting for, he would not get from me. I refused to look at him or speak.
I decided that any human being would stop there if I stayed crouched down and quiet. I was wrong; his fist connected with my ear. I gasped and let out the strangest sounding moan I had ever heard as I held onto the latch on the door. The world around me was quiet, and everything I looked at reminded me of a television screen with static; blurred figures and unclear sounds. I held my left ear with one hand and pulled at the latch on the door with the other.
Before I could open the door Spencer grabbed both of my hands and pulled me close to him, “Clubs? Drinking? Lies?” he growled. He threw me back over to the passenger side of the car, raised his fist, again and began punching me repeatedly in my left ear. I instinctively covered my ear with both of my hands. I screamed over his shouting that I could not hear him over the ringing sound. I could only hear my heartbeat.
The longer I sat unable to make out what he was screaming at me, the more hysterical I became. But I managed to sit perfectly still, as I crouched over. What if I was deaf? What if the ringing and swishing sounds never stopped?
I opened the door and fell onto our driveway. I felt so dazed, but I had to run. Wherever I ran would be better than going inside of the house. As I pulled myself up using the car door, I could hear his loafers scratching at the pavement as he edged closer.
Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?
Yes, I have experienced the infamous writer’s block. When I get stuck, I have to plan every detail; this is not the way I normally work. It feels forced, and writing is not something I like to force. But sometimes towards the end of my books, I find myself having to sit down and really brainstorm. And no matter how long it takes me, I will plan every detail.
Of course to take a break is a common suggestion to cure writer’s block, but I find it impossible to mentally disconnect from a story until it is finished.
Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?
With an extra hour, I would do what I spend most of my free time doing — I would write.
Although I am the type of person who can write no matter what is going on, my favorite time to write is when everyone has gone to bed, and I can listen to music as my thoughts flow. But if I could have that extra hour during the day, instead of staying up an extra hour at night — that would be ideal.
Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?
Nicholas Sparks novel, The Notebook is such a beautiful story. To write something that has touched so many hearts, inspired so many to fight for love, and moved so many people to tears would be a dream come true for me.
I always say that if one person is inspired or deeply moved by something that I have written, then I am genuinely happy; I would love to write a book as beautiful as The Notebook.
Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?
I am very new, and my advice may be a bit limited.
I would say research everything related to writing, promotion, and publishing. Research until your eyes are blurry, and your fingers ache. I think it is very important to keep our minds open to learning new things, accepting constructive criticism, and most importantly, perseverence. Never quit, and certainly never allow outside influences to break your spirit.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Rhonda. We wish you much success!
Thank you so much!
I really enjoyed interviewing with you…I appreciate the opportunity.
Visit her blog at www.arirjames.wordpress.com.