Friday, November 29, 2013

Interview: Penny Ross

Greetings humans, half-breeds, and everything in between. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, Penny Ross. A good time was truly had by all and here’s how it went down.
image provided by author

Hi there Penny! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ECS Blog. Don’t worry about the darkness, your eyes will adjust.

So tell me, who is Penny Ross?

I’m an author, Aboriginal educator, storyteller, mother to two grown sons, and wife to an amazing man. I’m a weekend/holiday writer as I have a full-time job. I’m also an avid reader and love to travel.

I’m so glad to be finally talking with you. I’m excited to learn about Aboriginal education. I too am a part-time write, but I unfortunately do it full-time while also working. I drive myself crazy. I hope I get to hear about some of your travels later on.

So whacha got for me today?
image provided by author

I’m doing the final edit on my third and latest novel ‘Stolen Spirits.’ It will be published in January 2014. It’s a young adult murder mystery about stolen spirits taken from their loved ones. I’ve dedicated the novel to missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls of Canada and their families since one of the underlying themes in the novel is missing and murdered Aboriginal girls.

Wow, this sounds like a very deep and touching book. I must admit that I was unaware of the problems with missing Aboriginal Canadian women. Meeting you prompted me to do some research. I like and appreciate that you’re using narrative to inform adults and teens of this issue.

So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of Stolen Spirits?

My main character in ‘Stolen Spirits’ is Diane, a M├ętis teen who’s murdered in the first chapter. Through the voices of her friends we piece together who Diane was and how her murder impacts those close to her. Readers connect with Diane’s spirit, as she hasn’t crossed over yet. Marti is another major character in the novel. As an international author and amateur crime fighter, Marti is enlisted to assist the police in the investigation. ‘Stolen Spirits’ is a fast-paced novel as it takes place over the span of nine days.

Again, this story sounds very impressive. Fast-paced and emotional, I’m sure this book will take off. I already like the sound of Marti.

Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?

I write on my couch most of the time with my laptop. I have background music on since it gets me in the zone. When the weather is nice I sit outside in my gazebo and gaze at my pool while I write. I love listening to the birds while I peck away at the keyboard. I find it restful yet inspirational.

I prefer a lap top for my novels and freehand for my children’s books. For my latest novel, ‘Stolen Spirits’ I sketched out chapter outlines freehand on recipe cards partway through the book. I have so many characters I got confused where some of them were during the murder. LOL.

I’m currently working on a story that combines all the elements I love…fantasy, time travel, adventure, a princess and giant animals. We’ll see where the characters take me.

I like the idea of using recipe cards to outline characters; I may have to try that myself. I love getting tips and ideas from other authors, thus my selfish reason for interviewing ;). I really like what I’m hearing about the next book you’re putting together. You’ll have to come back and tell me all about it.

What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?
I love Maeve Binchy. She was the ultimate storyteller. I wish I had one ounce of her talent. As I become immersed in one of her stories I find myself wanting to know the characters, get into their headspace and see who they are and what makes them tick. Her descriptions and settings make me want to travel to the locale she’s highlighted.

It is bad of me that the only reason I ever hear of this wonderful author is that her book, Circle of Friends, was turned into a movie. I hope not. I like to think that sometimes, film versions of books make people interested in the writing. I know some people just don’t read, but if the movie made me interested, why not someone else?

Whose brain are you just itching to scratch?
from IMDB
Temperance “Bones” Brennan from the TV series Bones. So I guess it would be the real life actress Emily Deschanel I would interview. I adore Temperance’s character and love the Kathy Reich’s novels. OK, now I’ve confused myself. Perhaps it’s Kathy Reich’s I’d interview since Temperance is the heroine of Reich’s crime novel series. I admire them both as they’re strong, smart, independent women. I guess I’d love to interview both of them. That would be totally awesome!

I’m with you on that. I stopped watching, but before I did, I really got into Bones. One day when I decide to take up the tube again, it’ll be waiting for me in my Netflix queue. Both the author and the actress are sure to have some amazing stories to tell. What a great answer!

Who is so you and why?

I’ve been compared to Angelina Jolie, not that I’m as beautiful as her though. I think it’s because we both have pouty lips, love children and support numerous causes. I admire how Angelina uses her wealth to support humanitarian efforts.

That’s pretty cool, to be compared to a pouty lipped humanitarian. You go girl!...Seriously, I like when celebrities try to give back, but sometime they go too far. Maybe being famous is really hard :/ .

What’s your ideal reading spot for your next highly anticipated read?

I’m saving my next highly anticipated read for the beach. We’re off on a winter vacation soon since I’m a ‘fun in the sun’ kind of gal. My version of the perfect spot to read is on the beach or beside my pool. I love the sun! In the winter months as snow wraps around my house I curl up on the couch with the fire roaring and immerse myself in a paperback or ebook. During the cold months, which we have many of, I imagine myself reading outdoors, soaking up the sun’s rays again!

I like that, it sounds very cozy. I have trouble reading at the beach. It has to be a very exciting book to keep me alert, otherwise the sun and sea make me sleepy.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?
from Goodreads, 1972

I loved all the classics when I was young. Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren, was one of my favorite books. I always longed to be free of rules like Pippi. I loved her adventures and hijinks. I took my boys to see a play about Pippi Longstocking years back at a nearby city. We couldn’t stop laughing. When I confessed I always wanted to be Pippi they weren’t surprised. Go figure?

I too was a fan of Pippi. I thought I had read all the books, but a few eluded me. Then they made TV movies about her and I watch them all...

Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

Work with me baby.

Alright then, here we go.

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
from IMDB
I would have to choose Dirty Dancing. I love that movie! I know all the words to the songs and must confess as I watch it, I imagine myself dancing with Patrick Swayze…swoon!

I think this is one of those movies that people just love, and if they don’t, they don’t seem to mind that other people do. Anyone who has an appreciation for music you can dance to loves this movie, but you know- it has a good and eternally relevant story too.

What makes you geek out?

I love singing and dancing to two movies. I already mentioned one of them, Dirty Dancing. The other one is Grease. I know all the words to the songs and every scene. I love to blast them extra loud in my car when I’m alone as I sing to my heart’s content.

Grease is definitely one of my favorites. I thoroughly enough belting out, with all my tone-deafness, to those great songs. I’m so glad we connected. I’m enjoying that we have so much in common and am appreciating our differences.

So what’s testing your patience right now?

What tests my patience is people that rush to publish their books and don’t get them edited. It drives me crazy when a truly original, creative idea is ruined with spelling and grammatical errors. I hate when I download a book onto my Kindle then have to slug through it. Get some beta readers and an editor people! Don’t ruin the quality of your work by rushing to get it published. Take your time!

Yeah, I know what you mean. I try to focus on the story as much as possible, but sometimes it is hard. I do think though that this rush to publish trend is starting to lessen. At least for me, I’ve been able to read a better quality of books lately.

When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?

I love women artists like Adele, Jewel, Jan Arden, Natalie Merchant, adult alternative pop I guess you’d call it. I also enjoy classic oldies like The Beatles, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones.  I can’t stand guitar riffs or electronic dance music. I want to pull my hair out and gnash my teeth when I hear that kind of music.

Whoa there with the gnashing of teeth (great description by the way)! I feel you, though I think my tolerance is a little higher than yours. I can listen to two, maybe three, electronic dance songs before I start to turn green, but then I am a lover of all musical forms deep down…In any case, I like your taste in music. It’s good stuff.

What’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?
I love going on family holidays with my husband and two sons. We’ve travelled to many places, shared adventures, had tons of fun, been daredevils, and created lifetime memories. They love when we’re almost late for a plane as I remind them, “Someone has to be last.” It’s one of our family catch phrases. They love to tease me.

I love it. Making memories with your family, that just can’t be beat.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

I hope to write full-time soon and we want to travel down south somewhere warm for a few months every winter. I live in the middle of Canada where we have frigid, cold months. I long for warmth when winter arrives. I’m a summer gal that loves to read and write outdoors in the sun. With regard to world issues, I think our youth are passionate about saving our world and I see hope when I talk to them. Together, I think we can work towards making Mother Earth a better place for future generations.

Through your eyes, the future looks bright indeed. I like and hope for all your dreams and goals to come to fruition.

Is there a question you would like to ask me?

Q: Are you someone famous? When I saw your picture on LinkedIn I thought I recognized you.

A: I get that a lot. Here’s what I think is happening. 1) I just have a very familiar looking face. 2) I can think of three different actresses people seem to think I look like. 3) In certain LinkedIn and online circles, my face is around a lot. I’m not famous yet, but maybe one day.

Ok humans, half-breeds, and everything in between, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Penny Ross, check out these great links:

GoodReads: Penny Ross
Facebook: Penny Ross
Twitter: @PennyRoss2
Author Central: Penny Ross (Kindle books available for $2.99 just in time for the Holidays)
Pending the release of Stolen Spirits, check out another Ross book Bird of Paradise… at

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Click below to share your reactions and more. Remember, I’ll be moving to the ToiBox full-time soon, so please, stop by to check it out. Until next time, Toi Thomas. #cursescanbebroken #thetoiboxofwords