Molly Ringle has been writing stories since middle school, and especially likes creating fiction about love, humor, and frequently the paranormal. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, because a climate without rain would make her sad.
Can you tell us about your road to publication?
It got off to a slow start, with years and years of rejections, nibbles that ended up going nowhere, and publication by small houses that soon went out of business. But finally in 2008 The Wild Rose Press accepted my manuscript, The Ghost Downstairs. Hurray! My experience with that press was so positive that I decided to approach another small press (Central Avenue Publishing) two years later for one of my YA titles, What Scotland Taught Me. The editors there have turned out to be wonderful and attentive too, and we’re now talking together about my next novel, a YA paranormal based in Greek mythology.
What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?
I like novels that bring a setting alive for me, and have lovable characters who feel real. Moments of humor are always appreciated, as well as fresh ways of phrasing things; and, of course, a plot that makes me want to keep reading. Accordingly, books I dislike tend to feature anything that bores me or pulls me out of the moment: info dump (“the author did a lot of research and is going to make you pay for it”), characters who are flat or annoying or who don’t lift a finger to get themselves out of scrapes, and clunky phrases or excessive clichés.
How much research was involved in writing your books? How did you go about it?
One type of research I did with both What Scotland Taught Me and Relatively Honest was to employ Britpickers. I’ve been to the UK, but my memory isn’t perfect, and neither is Internet research. So I sent the manuscripts to British friends and begged them to fix the dialects, the setting details, anything they could catch. And I’m glad I did, because they all caught things I never would have guessed were wrong.
Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?
When I was a teenager, I used to have my sister and friends read my works in progress. But these days I feel more comfortable composing a semi-decent complete draft before unveiling it to others. I tend to feel first drafts are not to be seen. I do my own first round of fixes and edits before even letting the beta readers see it. If nothing else, I don’t want to make everyone tired of the story before it’s even officially done. For my upcoming YA paranormal, I have posted occasional small excerpts to show people what I’m up to–just a few lines here and there. I’m hoping those serve as teasers or appetizers, making people curious to read it later. But even posting those made me a bit nervous.
Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?
It interests me when some readers hate the protagonists and others love them. This has happened most dramatically with both What Scotland Taught Me and Relatively Honest. The teen narrators for those books make a lot of ethically dubious decisions, which I knew would pose problems for some readers. And indeed, for the Scotland novel, some hate Eva (the narrator) while loving Laurence (another main character); but others ended up feeling vice-versa. And with Relatively Honest, I’ve had some people say narrator Daniel is loathsome scum, while I’ve had others say he’s lovely and tame and adorable. What I’m hoping this means is I’ve created actual three-dimensional characters with many facets, just like real people
Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?
Parodies, mainly. I find it funny to condense a whole movie or book into a ridiculously short format (say, a few pages), which alone is amusing, but which I augment by cracking jokes along the way. I’ve done this for several of the Harry Potter books, and the Lord of the Rings films, as well as the unabridged Les Misérables (they’re all available on my website), and people seem to like them. Despite my laughs at the expense of these films/books, I only write parodies for material I honestly like. I wouldn’t bother spending that much time and effort for something I didn’t like.
If you were to write a non-fiction book, what might it be about?
Perfume. It’s one of my main hobbies and biggest non-literature-related loves. Scents fascinate me because of how closely they’re tied to our emotions and memories, and perfume is the art form of the scent world. So when it’s well done, it makes me swoon. Plus it involves a lot of science, and science is sexy.
Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?
Just don’t answer it. Anything you say will call attention to it. Silence is the best revenge. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll have fans come to your defense with their own outrage, which is always satisfying.
We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?
I love my covers, because I’ve been very lucky: both of my publishers asked for my input on what I’d like the covers to look like, then employed graphic artists to create them. (Good thing, since I have almost no graphic art skills myself.) Are they important? I think they are, more than the old saying would indicate. We can’t help being psychologically influenced by a cover. Haven’t we all hesitated to be seen in public with some book whose cover features a couple ripping off each other’s clothes, or a gory weapon splattered with blood and a cheesy horror font?
Have you ever wished that you could bring a character to life? If so, which one and why?
I wish it with every book. And of course these days I wouldn’t mind meeting some of my Greek-god characters. But one of the most enduring favorites of mine who I’d like to meet is Daniel, narrator of Relatively Honest. His whole persona revolves around being charming, flattering, clever, and hot. Plus he’s got a London accent. So, though it’s shallow of me, naturally I want to meet him, just to listen to him talk, and to let him flatter me. Even though I already set up a girlfriend for him.
Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?
I live in Seattle, and most of the time I’m content to be here. But sometimes I miss the warmer, milder climate of Oregon, where I grew up–especially the smaller cities with less traffic. I also suspect I’d do pretty well living in Provence or the south of England, but those are more like pipe dreams. I do require pretty landscapes and some rain in the climate.
Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?
I can’t help thinking trains are coolest, and my young sons would agree. But planes sure are faster. I just wish they’d give you more legroom without asking an exorbitant fee.
Care to brag about your family?
My parents, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts–they’re all quirky, hilarious, and far above average in intelligence. They’re a fabulous gene pool to have come from, and I treasure them. As for my main household: my 3-year-old can already read lots of words! My 7-year-old has gotten 100% on all his spelling tests this year! And my husband puts up with me with far more grace than anyone, ever! That alone qualifies him for a Nobel Prize, believe me.
If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?
This is surely not the most practical answer, but what first leaped to my mind was, “Greenhouse!” A sunroom/mudroom, basically, would be awesome. Glass walls or at least big windows on three sides, lots of plants, space to leave your muddy boots before entering the rest of the house, and informal places to sit and read. Maybe we could camp out in there on warm summer nights. Yeah. All sounds pretty good.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Most sane people would say I have a ridiculously large number of perfume samples, decants, and bottles, more than I can use in a decade. So sniffing at those, and selecting the “right” one to wear each day to suit my mood, probably counts as a guilty pleasure. Also chocolate. Not a day goes by without my nibbling bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips.
CONNECT WITH MOLLY