Bolder and Older: Rita Monette
This month we are fortunate to have Rita Monette answering questions. Rita writes a series that opens adventures for middle schoolers. A lot of young people of today will discover a world without cell phones and social media. Her readers are like my grandchildren, even the teenagers, who question me about what life was like growing up back in the olden times…LOL
Rita, did you always dream of being a writer when you were growing up? If so, how did life sidetrack your dreams?
I never dreamed of being a writer growing up. I wanted to be an artist. Of course we all need to get a real paycheck, so I lived that life while I worked as an administrative assistant. I suppose writing was in my blood though, because looking back, I seemed to always gravitate toward it: Writing newsletters for a booking agency I worked at, then submitting articles for another publication while working for a state government agency, adding my sketches now and then. I also wrote short essays and poetry for my own enjoyment. It wasn’t until I retired that I had the idea of writing, and specifically, writing for children.
What age were you when you first published? Do you feel being over fifty when you reached for the dream was a positive or a negative?
I began seriously writing when I was sixty, but didn’t get published until I was sixty-seven. As far as being positive or negative, I’d say both. I had reached the age where I was confident enough to persevere through many rejections, and knew it was just a matter of time. And that is the negative part. I realized, after learning how the industry works, time was not on my side.
How did the idea for the Swamp Legend series come to you? Is Nikki based on anyone you knew growing up, or even on some of your adventures?
When I began writing, I first wrote a few picture books, but wasn’t quite happy with the outcomes. Then I decided to write a story about my childhood growing up in the Louisiana bayous, and being bullied because I lived on the wrong side of the levee. We were called “levee rats” by children living in town. When I had the story written, I realized it need to be more adventurous, so I tapped into the legends my father used to tell us kids to scare us into being good. “Nikki Landry, and The Legend of Ghost Dog Island was born, and I was hooked on writing for middle graders.” I didn’t intend to write a series until some of my readers begged for more of Nikki Landry and her dog Snooper. So basically, Nikki is me, with a little more sass, and the other characters are based on people from my childhood. The adventures are mostly fiction, with some historical facts weaved in. I always add some of those tidbits in the author’s notes, so the kiddos can do some more research on it if they want.
Is there a new book for the series in the works? How many do you anticipate there will be?
I am working on book four as we speak. As long as my fans want more, and I can dream up more adventures and mysteries for Nikki, I will probably keep it going.
If the series was picked up for the big screen or television, do you have anyone in mind to play Nikki?
I have not. Probably because child actresses grow up too fast, while Nikki Landry is perpetually eleven years old. If I picked one today, she’d be too old in a couple of years. For past child actresses, I would have liked Joey King, who played in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and Beezus.
Do you have a daily writing schedule?
I do not have a schedule, but I work better early mornings when hubby and the dogs are asleep and the house is quiet. Also, early morning is when my mind is coming up with new ideas for scenes or story twists, and I need to get up and write them down while they’re fresh. That being said, I don’t write every day.
What works best for you, plotting in detail, going with the flow, or comment cards you can arrange or discard as needed?
I am definitely not a plotter, although I’ve tried and tried to get more organized. Once I get something all planned out, it shuts down my creative flow. I usually have an idea where I want the story to go, and then I let the characters pull me along until they get out of hand. Then, like being a parent, I have to rein them in and show them a better plan.
Do you have another genre you would like to tackle?
I have started an adult historical fiction novel, based on my great grandfather’s life, but things, like my series, keep getting in the way. One day, I may finish it.
What advice would you give aspiring authors of any age, but especially older ones who are hesitant?
My advice is, if you love to write, then write. Don’t worry about the market, or those that say you can’t do it, or you’re too old. Sometimes age can give you an advantage. I’m more comfortable writing what I know, and that is the time period when I was growing up. My series is set in the 50s. I’ve had a couple of publishers tell me it isn’t modern enough, and kids won’t connect to it. Well, they do, as do many adults. And they are the ones buying the books…and reading them. While there are those that love the vampire, magical worlds, many love the simpler times, when a kid can go on adventures, without cell phones to get them out of trouble, and they have to use their own wits to overcome their obstacles.
Where can readers find your books and connect with you?
My web site is http://ritamonette.com. There is information about me as an author, as well as excerpts for my books that are currently out, with links to buy them.
My blog “Tales from the Bayou…and Other Worlds” is: http://ritamonette.blogspot.com
My publisher is Mirror World Publishing: http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/
My author facebook pages is: https://www.facebook.com/RitaMonetteBooks/
Twitter is @ritamonette
Thank you for your time, Rita. It was terrific getting to know about you.
Columnist Lizzie T. Leaf: Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf started life in Kansas, sprung to adulthood in North Carolina, and currently shivers through the winters in Colorado.
Since discovering the fun of writing paranormal, she plays with creating vampires, faeries and other immortals. When she needs a touch of reality, her Contemporary Erotic Romances come into play. Her most recent release is Nordic Heat, available at http://amzn.to/1owng5k
If she’s not creating mischief for paranormal beings, or getting under the covers with her erotic heroes, she can be found exploring the other genres she wants to write. She is a member of RWA and has served as President for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers and VP of Programs.
Lizzie loves to read, spend time with her family and travel with her best friend husband.