It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for another gift from me to you. Today I’m excited to bring you Amber West with her debut novel, The Ruth Valley Missing.
Amber is one of those people that I only know online, but someday we’ll meet in person and it’ll be like we always knew one another. She’s super sweet, very funny, and crazy smart. I’m going to have a full-length interview with her in January, but for today I wanted to introduce you to her so I came up with a little Q&A. If you absolutely must know more about Amber, hop on over to Tiffany White’s Ooo Factor and check out the cool video of the girls!
Right. Onto the questions…
ME: Where did the idea for The Ruth Valley Missing come from?
AMBER: Ok, first off, I’m not crazy. I just felt the need to get that out of the way before I say this.
It came to me in a dream.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I kill me.
Seriously though, I’m not going to get all Stephanie Meyer on ya’ll, but I did have a dream, involving some very creepy things happening in a small town, creepiness that seemed to involve the local convent. In the dream, I was trying to figure out what was going on and was investigating with the help of a local cop, who for whatever reason in the dream was played by Vince Vaughn.
I’d like to take a moment out to remind you, once again, that I am not crazy. Promise.
Anyhoo, the convent and the church were on a cliff, and the nuns were after me, and I woke up thinking, “uh, perhaps I need to cut back on the spicy foods before bed and never watch Dodgeball again”.
For those of you who haven’t read The Ruth Valley Missing, there is no Vince Vaughn or cliffs, but that dream IS what turned into this whole book.
ME: Jameson has a keen interest in photography, was this born from your love of photography?
AMBER: Yes, at first out of practicality.
The Ruth Valley Missing was actually a NaNo attempt from last year. After having that crazy dream I figured that NaNo would be a fun way to work out a story for what happened in my head, and if it was lousy, who cares?
Since NaNo means a lot less time for research, I figured giving the lead character a hobby I was familiar with would cut back on the need for making sure anything felt accurate. Plus, it allowed for some plot elements to work out great.
Although that was mostly by accident, since I am totally a “pantseur”.
ME: – If your book were made into a movie, who would play Jameson?
I’m undecided on this one. I’m still working out what redhead is worthy. If Molly Quinn were about 10 years older, she would probably be lovely. I have a few other non-American actresses in mind, but am still searching.
Father Mike and Sheriff Jack, on the other hand, are totally cast.
ME: What made you decide to self publish and how has your journey been so far?
AMBER: A couple of things. One, control. I’d done a lot of research, and I felt that after all the work I put into this story, I didn’t want to relinquish what would happen next.
And in the spirit of being completely honest (which will probably get me some nasty remarks, but oh well), I didn’t want to wait. Even if the first agent or publisher who saw the manuscript said “we love it!” it still would have been quite a bit of time before I could get the book out to readers. And I didn’t expect the first (or second, or third) person I queried to say “let’s do this” because honestly, given a lot of what does get published today, quality doesn’t always seem to be the winning factor.
I know. That sounds sort of rude, but when Snooki is getting book deals, I tend to worry that I’m not exactly what the market is demanding.
The journey has been lovely so far. I didn’t do this to get rich or famous. I wrote because I love to, and I published in hopes that someone would enjoy reading what I wrote. It’s really that simple. And so far, I’ve had amazing feedback from my readers.
Can’t really ask for too much more than that.
Except maybe an interview with Colbert, and a movie deal with the actors I’ve already cast. 🙂
ME: Tell us a little more about Jameson.
AMBER: Jameson is smart, quick-witted, but far from perfect. She can be a bit klutzy, and as observant as she is, she tends to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to guys.
She’s more concerned with comfort than fashion. She loves food, but she enjoys the solitude of a good run, so she manages to eat bacon without terrible consequences.
She makes a great friend, but doesn’t seem to have many close ones. We may have to investigate that further, which leads to your next question!
ME: Will there be more books starring Jameson?
AMBER: I planned on this being a standalone novel. But, the overwhelming feedback I’ve had from readers is that they want this to be a series. I thought about it, and I’ve already begun to work out a general sketch of the next book. In my head, of course, not on paper. I think I have at least two more books featuring Jameson in me, but we shall see.
ME: Ruth Valley is a small town. We’re talking super small. Have you ever lived somewhere like that?
AMBER: Visited, yes. Lived, no.
The tiny towns I have visited that are strongest in my memory are in North Carolina, ergo the choice for Ruth Valley to exist there.
That’s enough of Amber (for the time being!), now for the book.
The Ruth Valley Missing:
Jameson Quinn is sick of trying to find herself in the big city. After a gallery opening ends in a trip to the ER and an argument with her self-involved boyfriend, she decides to take off for the peace and quiet of a small town — Ruth Valley.
The small town has everything Brooklyn lacked: simple people, peaceful surroundings, and a feeling of safety. Jameson even finds the perfect house to rent from the town’s most eligible bachelor, Sheriff Jack. Life is finally headed in a promising direction.
But something isn’t right. A young man is mysteriously injured, then disappears — and Jameson finds he isn’t the only person to suddenly vanish. The suspicious behavior of an abrasive nun and a creepy priest set her off on an investigation of what’s really happening. Will she figure out the secrets of Ruth Valley before she’s the next to go missing?
And since you’ve all been so good, here’s an excerpt from the book!
“You know, wandering around on someone’s property unannounced around here can get a person in a heap a’ trouble.”
I leapt away from the window, tripping awkwardly across my own feet. I regained my balance and looked up to see the same man from outside the diner standing behind me. He towered over me, one hand on his hip, his other hand resting on an unhooked holster, complete with gun.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t think anyone was home.”
He raised an eyebrow. “That doesn’t make you sound less suspicious you know.”
“Right. Sorry, sorry. I was looking for the house for rent and didn’t think it would hurt to sneak a peek through the windows. I would have knocked, but it didn’t look like anyone was home and I didn’t even know if I had the right house and it’s so early…”
Between being startled and neglecting a jacket for the run, I could feel myself starting to tremble, and knew I was rambling. I took a deep breath. The man with the gun grinned.
“It’s ok. Why don’t we walk up to the house and grab a cup of coffee. Then I’ll show you around the house.” He held out his hand, “I’m Jack.”
I grabbed his hand and shook it, squeezing tighter than normal to control the shaking. “I’m Jameson.”
He paused before grinning again. “Nice grip, Jameson.”
I followed him as he walked up through the yard to the big house, glancing at the gun in its holster and wondering if following this guy was such a good idea. If I was still in the city I’d have mace on my keychain, but out here all I had was my phone. Somehow I couldn’t picture beating someone down with the butt of a smartphone.
Coffee did sound awfully good, though.
Doesn’t that sound great? I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next one in the series!
Amber West is a Northeastern transplant dodging rodent sized bugs and sweltering heat in the jungles of Central Florida. When she isn’t battling the urge to pass out, she’s busy being a wife, mother, geek, photographer, and writer, in no particular order. You can read her ramblings at http://www.withoutsushi.com or find her on Twitter (@amberwest) where she abuses hashtags and makes people laugh. Or at least, makes herself laugh.
I hope you enjoyed today’s gift! Amber’s book is available in print and ebook, so you have no excuse not to get it.
Have you ever had a dream influence you the way Amber’s did? Many a novel starts out as nothing more than an image flitting through our mind. What’s the strangest one you’ve ever had that influenced something you did?
Next week I’m going to have a double gift for you in the form of two novellas. I love this way of giving, don’t you?