I first met Rue on Twitter, and they were so sweet! As you know, I love giving exposure to authors through this blog, and one of those ways is through my “Meet the author” posts. Rue has become one of my favorite people, and I love when they show up on my timeline. Please enjoy this post, “Rue Sparks: Meet the Author.”
Thank you, Rue, for answering some questions for me, and letting my readers get to know a little more about you!
What kind of books do you write?
I straddle the line of a few genres: science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, magical realism, and mystery. Most of my worlds are modern, but they have hints of the other-wordly or futuristic, which ties in to the other genres.
I do tend to write stories that are character-driven, even if they have a solid plot. I’m always asking how the goings on would affect the characters in my stories on a personal level. I tackle a lot of complex issues like grief, love in times of extreme duress, and the grey areas of morality.
What is your favorite genre to read?
Like in my own writing, I’m a genre hopper. I love anything from poetry, to psychology, to science fiction. My requirement seems to be that it needs to be quirky in some way—it’s one of those ‘I know it when I see it.’
I do have a soft spot for LGBTQ+ fantasy, and I tend to avoid straight contemporary fiction, but there are exceptions even to that. For example, one of my favorite books of all time is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, which is a mix between a contemporary and a mystery.
Do you read a lot? If so, what are you currently reading?
At minimum, I read one indie book every two weeks, which I review on my blog and do an author interview for. I’m currently reading Under New Suns: Tales from The Year Between, Book 2. I’ve been doing this since June 2020, and it’s been a great way to get me to read consistently, and a variety of books at that. It’s also been great to support the Writing Community on Twitter in any way I can.
What writing projects are you working on?
I’m currently writing the manuscript for an adult magical realism novel, Origami Bones (working title.) It’s about a nurse at an assisted living facility who discovers that one of her patients is the embodiment of Mother Earth. It’s a complex novel that covers issues like grief, environmental issues, disability, family, and friendship.
I’m also writing a web serial on Patreon called The Dragon Warden. I’ll be posting the first issue by the end of January, and it will be released monthly after that. It’s a sword and sorcery series following Achilles, a dragon trainer who tries to rescue dragons and bring them to safety from countries that would use them for evil. It’s got a lot of mystery involved, and a diverse cast including a lot of LGBTQ+ characters, as gender is seen differently in their world.
What do you like most about writing?
I was an artist before I was a writer, but I had to severely cut back on creating art because of my disability. Creativity has always been my release, a way to discover parts of myself and work through my own confusions and insecurities about life. When art was taken from me, I was devastated. Writing gave me that outlet, that ability to form stories and create in a way that was less painful. I’ll always be thankful that writing was there as a parachute when I needed it most.
Where do you see yourself and your writing in 5 years?
I hope to be published within 5 years, but I know that’s out of my control to some extent. Instead, I want to focus on things I can control. I want to have several more manuscripts under my belt, and The Dragon Warden continuing or completed. Beyond that, write, write, write.
What one writing tip would you share?
Don’t always take everyone else’s suggestions as universal truths. There are many paths to writing, to publication, to the writer’s life. When I first started writing, I took everyone’s advice as the golden rule, when it’s all just guidelines. No one person has the answer, and while yes, you should listen and consider the advice around you, know that many people will disagree over the finer points, so you’re allowed to choose the truth that makes sense to you.
Did you do any special research for your books?
I research any subject I’m not familiar with. For The Fable of Wren, this meant researching parts of birdwatching and tracking. For Origami Bones, I’ll be researching more into assisted living facilities. My general rule is if I don’t know it, I need to research it.
What comes naturally to you as a writer? What is the most difficult thing for you as a writer?
Emotionality seems to come to me the easiest, probably because as someone who’s struggled with depression, I’ve done a lot of work reading up on psychology and investigating my own emotions. It’s also a part of a lot of therapy programs to attend group therapy, which means listening to the struggles of others in group workshops. Because of this I’ve gained empathy and become interested in how others process their own emotions. All of this means emotions make sense to me, when for others it may feel intangible.
Despite being an artist, description comes harder to me. This is probably because as a reader, I’m on the aphantasia spectrum—I don’t imagine what characters or scenes look like as I read. In fact, I struggle not to skip over long descriptions as a reader, because much of it becomes boring to me. This means I often struggle to know when to describe things as I write, and when it’s okay to continue on without getting into too much detail.
Who has been the biggest support to you as a writer?
There are quite a few people who have been supportive in different ways, so it would be hard to pick just one! Each person has taken a bit of the weight of my foundation, rather than one person taking the brunt of it. I think it is this way for many creatives nowadays, where we can rely on a multitude of people for different things.
Lou Willingham (@lw_writes) has been a positive influence for me when it comes to navigating publishing and keeping me motivated, and Cheryl Burman (@cr_burman) has been so helpful when it comes to proofreading and as a mentor.
Kevin Emmons (@KevinEmmons4) has been in the trenches with me since the beginning with my very first story, Daylight Chasers, and his suggestions have greatly improved everything he’s touched. Victoria (@scinerd28) has helped me think through some marketing and writing issues, and we often commiserate on some #neisvoid issues as well.
And those are just a few of the people on Twitter! There are many more people in my personal life that have made me feel seen and heard when I’ve felt despair, such as Melissa, Cam, Harper, Kai, Carol, Tashi and Michelle.
Where are you from, and do you find your location influences your writing?
I’m from the Midwest United States, but I’ve also lived in North Carolina and Colorado. Living in different areas of the country has made me think more about how my location biases how I write my characters and setting. I think it’ll help me create stronger characters in the long term, as it makes me consider things like dialect, word usage and etiquette, weather nuances, and landscape.
Even if you can only travel a state or a few cities away for a night, I highly encourage people to travel and see whatever bit of the world they can see. It’s not just a matter of knowing about specific places, it’s a matter of knowing how to think about researching different settings, and where to start.
How can readers connect with you?
I’m mostly on Twitter (@sparks_writes) but you can also find me on Instagram (@rue.sparks.makes) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rue.sparks)
You can also see my work at the sites below:
I have an art and writing group where I encourage people to post about their own work as well:
Well, there it is! I really enjoyed reading Rue’s answers, and I hope you do too! If you enjoyed this interview, please share with your friends! And don’t forget to hit that subscribe button, so you never miss a post!
Until next time, bookworms!