Today. I welcome to the blog, author Ruth Madison. I found her books to be really intriguing as her most of her books contain characters who have some disability, and yet try to live a normal life. I know this is something that is not commonly done, and for me, it is the first time I have come across such books, except for Emlyn Chand’s Farsighted series.
I was really interested in knowing what made her write about this subject, and I had to talk to her about it. Let’s take a look at how that went!
Interview with Ruth Madison, author of (W)hole
Describe your books? What genre would you classify it into?
I write love stories because there’s nothing more beautiful to me in life than love. I always enjoy seeing people loving and supporting one another. The twist with my romances are that the heroes in my stories are always dealing with a physical disability of some kind.
How do you come up with the idea for the books?
It depends, but usually a story is sparked by me wanting to respond to something. I might overhear someone saying that a young man who has become paralyzed will never get married and that makes me want to write a book showing that a paralyzed young man can indeed get married and have the family life that he wanted.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in middle school because I ran out of books at the library that interested me! The stories were not about the people that I found most interesting. So I began to create my own books and tell the stories that I wanted to hear about.
How has your journey from writing to getting published been?
It’s had its ups and downs, of course! My first novel is a tough sell. The agents and publishers that I submitted to respected its uniqueness, but didn’t believe that there was a market for it. The story is about a young woman struggling with her sexual desires and how much they scare her. I felt it was an important story to tell and important to show that people who are considered by society to be “sexual freaks” are just regular people who didn’t ask for their feelings. I took the book to market on my own and it has found an audience who can appreciate it!
Who is you favourite character from your books? Is there a character in your books you think the readers will hate?
The love interest in (W)hole (my first novel) is a young man named Stewart and as I wrote him, I completely fell in love with him. He can be gruff at times, but behind his hard exterior is the most caring and loving heart. He continued to be a character in the sequel to (W)hole, and then I’ve done some short stories focusing on him. I plan to do more!
There have been some readers who hate Elizabeth, (W)hole’s main character. That’s tough. I tried to show her humanity and how much she is suffering, but some of her behaviors are things that people have been uncomfortable with.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
The biggest challenge by far was psychological. Writing a book requires diving very deeply into yourself and looking at things that are terrifying within us. Not only do writers look at and explore those things, we then pin our hearts to the pages and let the world in to stare. It can be extremely scary. The subject of my first book was deeply personal and I’ve had to develop a thick skin about it.
Who designed the covers of the books?
I did the cover for (W)hole and for several of my other stories and books. I have a few covers that were hand drawn by an artist. I’m looking into hiring a professional cover artist to redo the ones I’ve done myself!
Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
I learned a lot about myself and my own personal demons, but I also have been learning about other people and all the things that make me similar to others. It’s amazing to connect with a reader who can relate to my stories and to talk about life with him or her. Every day I have a stronger and stronger sense that we as human beings are more alike than we are different and our struggles have a lot in common with each other.
Writing these books has also allowed me to become involved in disability rights politics and I love doing that. I am extremely passionate about working towards equality and civil rights for people who have disabilities. I hope that my books will show people that those who have disabilities are like them, not some other species!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
Definitely. I spent ten years writing (W)hole and it was the best I could make it. But now I can look back at it and still see places where it could be improved. I would adhere to a more traditional structure if I were to write it over. I have to keep looking forward, however, and make every new book better than the last.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Was there somewhere in the books you felt stuck?
The biggest challenge is to remember to be respectful of all the people I am portraying. Not every character is going to be me or like me and I am always aware as I write that the way I show the characters will have an impact on real people. For example, learning to write in a respectful way about characters who have disabilities that I do not.
What are your current projects? When is your next book coming out?
I have two big book projects in the works and I’m very excited for both of them. I think they open up to a wider audience and will appeal to general romance readers, not just those with a particular interest in disability.
Could you describe what happens in the next book? Can we get an excerpt?
The next book is called (Be)Longing and it is the story of a young man named Dylan Sinclair who has a tremendous singing talent, but is also a wheelchair user. He feels that no one will take him seriously as a musician because they are too busy feeling sorry for him, so he hatches a scheme to have his brother, David, impersonate him. The plan works too well and Dylan is soon trapped in a situation where his brother is getting fame and attention for Dylan’s hard work.
You can definitely get an excerpt! It’s still in rough draft form, but here is a link to the opening scene as it is now.
What book are you reading now? Which are your all-time favourite authors / books?
Right now I have just finished reading The Old Mermaid’s Tale (which is a gorgeous, lush, and romantic book). I’m also reading Stranger in Town and The Hunger Games. My first favorite book was Treasure Island. As a kid I loved the complexity of the motivations all the characters had. My recent favorite is The Time Traveler’s Wife. That’s one of the most loving books I have ever read.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.
Oh gosh, let’s see. Things people typically don’t know about me and are surprised to find out are 1) I competed in Ballroom dance tournaments as a teenager, 2) I can read Hindi, and 3) my parents are scientists.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
Thank you for sharing the journey of these stories with me. I love knowing that your emotions and my emotions are being guided along the same path and I love sharing my beloved heroes with you.
About Ruth’s books
Some of them are. Many of them are fantasies of some ideal experiences I would like to have! Realizing that some people were curious about what my personal experience with disability has been, I did put out an eBook talking about some of my real life dates with men who have disabilities!
How difficult is it to write about disabled heroes?
Once you learn, as a woman, to write a believable man, then it’s easy! Disabled heroes are not any more difficult to write than any other hero, but it does take a while to develop the skill of writing men who are not just women with beards.
What would be the one thing from you books you would like readers to take away?
That we are all human beings and everyone deserves the same respect and chance at love and happiness.
How are the disabled heroes in your books different (both good and bad) from other heroes in fiction?
I guess they are more likely to have some issues with insecurity than other romance heroes might. I think they also tend to be well-rounded because they’ve learned to adapt themselves to a world that isn’t designed for them. They know how to deal with challenges well!
Why do you write romance?
Life is all about love for me. I like to watch shows about weddings and to hear stories about people who are happy together. Those are the stories in real life and in fiction that I adore.
If you could not write romance, what genre would you be writing and why?
Probably literary. That’s what I was trained in and I do like to tackle real issues in my work. I like to examine life in a realistic way sometimes and not just write to escape reality.
What is the best part of writing romance novels, and the worst?
The best is the feeling of satisfaction that you get when two people who are good for each other and can help each other finally come together.
The worst is avoiding cliché. There’s a lot of romances out there and a lot of very tired and overdone plots. It’s important to always bring something fresh and interesting to the old stories.
How have your books been received? What were the best and worst comments you remember?
I think there’s been a lot of confusion around my books. People haven’t been sure how to respond to them. The best comments I get are people who email me privately and tell me that reading (W)hole was like reading their own diary. The relief in them to discover someone else who understands how they feel is tremendous. I like being the person who can show them that they are not alone. The worst comment was in a review where someone was so disturbed by Elizabeth that she said she could see her becoming a serial rapist. Elizabeth is the character who is most like me in all my books and stories so that was quite difficult to hear.
ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
eBooks for first reads, paperback copy if I love it!
Cats or dogs?
Dogs. I have a thirteen pound terrier who lights up my life.
Coffee or tea?
Neither. I actually only drink water!
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream?
Vanilla with candy bits mixed in.
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My cell phone, my legal pad, my planner, and my glasses.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I do it all over the place and really random times. I ought to get a more disciplined schedule, but I seem to manage to get plenty of writing done despite my lack of strict habits.
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you any why?
I’m sorry, I have no idea with this one! Never really thought about it before.
Tell me one (and only one) of your all-time favourite songs.
What Do You Want of Me? From Man of La Mancha.
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
About author Ruth Madison
There isn’t enough fiction out there with characters who have disabilities. Ruth Madison aims to fix that.
After years of combing through the dusty back shelves of libraries looking for her elusive, imperfect hero, she started writing her own.
Ruth’s romantic tales are full of wounded heroes: men physically challenged by life, but not defeated. These men overcome the difficulties of amputation, paralysis, or cerebral palsy to find acceptance, happiness, and heroines who love them exactly as they are.
You can find Ruth here:
Elizabeth Foster is a young woman with a promising future. She has the perfect family in a nice neighborhood and she is getting ready to graduate from high school and begin her life.
The only problem is a dark secret that she has kept hidden all her life. No one would ever guess that the quiet and shy girl has a rare sexuality. She is only attracted to men with physical disabilities.
After years of trying to make it go away, Elizabeth comes face to face with the paraplegic man of her dreams and can fight it no longer.
As they begin a relationship, she works hard to keep him from finding out the truth about her initial interest. But she can’t hide it forever.
Stewart Masterson was a champion surfer before he lost the use of his legs. He has come to Massachusetts running away from his past and trying to remake himself as someone new. He can’t escape from his own guilt so easily, though. Only three people in the world know the truth about how he became paralyzed and he disappeared from the surfing world without his fans ever knowing what happened to him.
He is making a new life for himself when he meets Elizabeth and they start a relationship based on secrets.
Together they begin a terrifying journey of self-discovery.Will Elizabeth and Stewart learn to accept the broken parts in themselves and each other? Will they be able to re-define what it means to be whole or will fear and guilt drive them apart?
- Author Monique Morgan interview (frellathon.com)
- Interview with Kelsey Miller, Author of Retribution (riteshkala.wordpress.com)
- Review of Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days Book 01) by Susan Ee (riteshkala.wordpress.com)