Memories (Post 3): Interview with Ross Ponderson
Child of Privilege is a book which left an indelible impression on me. This is why the following interview is very memorable for me.
Originally posted in 2016.
Hello! Welcome to The Page-Hungry Bookworm and thanks for participating in the interview!
Hi, Sara, and thank you for the opportunity to stop by and chat with you and your readers.
1) Firstly, tell us a little about your writing.
I love to write stories about ordinary people meeting extraordinary challenges with extraordinary courage and strength. In my blog recently, I wrote, “Everybody has a story; everybody IS a story.” So many of us are—as Thoreau put it—living lives of silent desperation. I think each one of us has a personal war that we fight every day. The foe could be loneliness, illness, toxic relationships, poverty, pain, victimization, or any number of things. There are so many folks out there for whom getting out of bed in the morning is a major accomplishment. For the most part, we fight our wars silently, sometimes with neither help nor encouragement. But we carry on as best we can.
It’s my goal to chronicle those wars on the printed page, to salute those who struggle and eventually prevail against seemingly insurmountable odds and go on to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Child of Privilege is a prime example of the kind of story I want to share with the world.
2) What kind of books do you usually read? Do you like to try a variety of genres or do you have some preferences?
I read nonfiction mostly: biographies (the non-authorized books usually make for intriguing reading!), inspirational, how-to, publishing, social media, behind-the-scenes celebrity tell-alls, creative writing, entertainment industry stories, and true crime. If I have an appetite for fiction, I’ll usually turn to the tried-and-true old masters: Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Dickens, O. Henry, and the like. But between marketing Child of Privilege, first-drafting my second novel, and dashing off the occasional short story for my blog, I frequently feel the need to shift gears and disconnect myself from fiction. Every writer needs to walk away sometimes.
3) When did you start writing? What was your biggest inspiration?
I pretty much started in grammar school as soon as I was taught to compose a meaningful sentence. I truthfully can’t recall ever not wanting to write. To this day, I can remember the collective groan that filled the classroom whenever the teacher handed out an essay assignment. That act of group defiance usually resulted in the teacher increasing the word count. In my class, that meant the assignment usually ended up being tripled or quadrupled by the time we were through groaning! But I loved it; I was being ordered to write. Under my breath, I thanked the teacher. Later, I started contributing short humor pieces to assorted hobby newsletters I subscribed to over the years. Then I moved on to small press and little literary magazines whose editors were kind enough to publish my short stories.
Then I wrote my “first” first novel, may it rest in peace in my attic. Then Child of Privilege came along and thankfully found a home on KDP.
My inspiration? Two things: the indescribable thrill of seeing my words on the world’s literary stage; and reader approval! A positive review on Amazon brightens my mood for days afterward. An email from a satisfied reader feels a lot like Christmas morning to me. If only it could happen every day!
4) How would you describe Child of Privilege?
Child of Privilege is a story of hope, of overcoming, and of the indomitable strength of the human spirit. Dana Van Werner, a young woman tired of serving as a human punching bag for her twisted, sadistic, monster of a father, finally abandons everything she has ever known and flees for her life. She hurls herself headfirst into the “real world,” a universe for which she is totally unprepared. Try to imagine her feelings of loneliness, fear, and isolation as this debutante spends her first night riding on an intercity bus. Imagine her embarrassment as she strips in a seedy honky-tonk’s wet t-shirt contest in order to make enough money to buy another bus ticket. Imagine her terror as she is attacked by a sexual predator who is actually a detective hired by her father to bring her back home.
She finally finds a safe harbor—and love—in a small Colorado town. But fate has other plans for her. The road unexpectedly draws Dana back home for a final, bloody, no-holds-barred showdown with her father. Secrets are revealed, ghosts are resurrected, and long-simmering anger finally explodes. This novel is not for the faint of heart. It’s a gritty, dark, emotionally-wrenching story written in a direct, in-your-face style. How does it end? There’s one way to find out....
5) What do you think is the most important aspect of a novel like Child of Privilege?
I think it touches many readers on several levels. It highlights the best and worst of human nature. It’s a harrowing chess match between Richard and Dana, a cat-and-mouse game with life-threatening implications. It’s a profound story whose message remains in readers’ thoughts long after they’ve finished the last page. Finally—and most importantly--it not only shines a bright light on the scourge of Domestic Violence, but also demonstrates how determined, strong, and courageous women can be. It would be the thrill of my lifetime to see it become a motion picture someday (hope, hope!).
6) I often hear from authors that they chose not to continue with many of their initial projects. Is there any writing venture you started on but never completed?
My “first” first novel. It was called “A Matter of Freedom,” a romance with a shallow, self-absorbed, male principal character and told from his POV. As I look back on it now, the characters were wooden stereotypes, the plot was ridiculous, the dialogue laughable, and the writing stunk on ice! I just hope I’ve improved (at least a little bit!) since then.
7) Are you working on anything now? If yes, please tell us a little about it.
Aside from an occasional short story for my blog, I am currently focusing my creative energies on the first draft of novel #2, as yet unnamed. It’s the story of a woman who is hired—with a great deal of attention and media fanfare—to bring a lagging technology company back from the brink of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, her executive team has already painted a target on her back before she even walks in through the door. Those old boys aren’t about to report to “a girl.” Complicating this scenario is a behind-the-scenes romance between her and another employee. This story becomes quite messy ... quite quickly. The best is yet to come.
8) Lastly, a message for your readers.
A heartfelt Thank You to everyone who has read Child of Privilege. Another Thank You to the reviewers whose feedback has left me both grateful and humbled. I resolve to use that energy to make my second novel better than Child. For those who haven’t read it yet, I invite you to give it a read. It’s a strong, compelling story with characters you won’t soon forget. You may even find yourself rooting for Dana along the way. As I say in the promotional blurb, “You just may discover a part of yourself in her.” And a final Thanks to you, Sara, for the pleasure of interviewing with you and meeting your readers.
About the Author:
Ross Ponderson is a retired IT guy from the USA. Formerly spending far too many hours writing programming gobbledygook, he is now writing actual, human-readable words in the hope that millions of people will indeed enjoy reading them. His favorite stories to write are those chronicling ordinary people meeting extraordinary challenges with extraordinary courage, strength, and determination. He's a firm believer in happy endings, both in life and in his novels. He has enjoyed writing since his grammar school days when essay assignments delighted him while provoking groans of pain from his classmates. His pleasure centers include writing (of course), reading, railroading, Subway sandwiches, history, surfing (the web, not the waves!), museums of any kind, 1970's music, wishing he had become a professional musician (much to the dismay of his weary keyboard), and strolling through the local malls. He always brakes for book emporiums, ice cream shops, and music stores. Child of Privilege is his debut novel; his second novel is currently being first-drafted. Hopefully, many more will follow.