ALL ABOUT RUTH
Ruth D. Hays is a native Floridian, a graduate from FSU School of Theatre, a wife and mother. She has created costumes for and worked on several independent films, and enjoys drawing faerie art in her spare time. She published her first novel, THE DAWNSTONE TALE, in 2009, followed by the second in the series, THE CONVERGENCE, in 2010. She currently has a short story and recipe in the Second Wind Publishing anthology, SECOND HELPINGS, and will have a fantasy love tale included in an upcoming anthology by Triscelle Publishing. The third book in her fantasy adventure series The Translations from Jorthus, THE EXCURSION, will be available from Amazon soon.
LET’S CHAT WITH RUTH
Where are you from?
I live in Kissimmee, Florida. Born in Jacksonville, I moved to Orlando with my husband in 1997.
What sparked your interest in writing?
Reading, really. I grew up listening to my mother read bedtime stories, and I enjoyed any creative writing assignments I was given in school. Once my teachers began encouraging me, I pursued every composition class I could find.
What components, in your opinion, makes a great story?
I think the classic elements of character development are essential. Without characters that entertain the reader, I find even good plots can fall flat.
How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
I would say they are fantasy adventures, with a touch of indelicate romance.
Do you set your books/stories in your home town, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
The stories that I’m writing now are set on another world, one similar to Earth in the past. Only where we advanced through technology, they use a spiritual kind of magic.
How much of your writing is based on people or events familiar to you?
Since it is fantasy, events are out of my ordinary realm of everyday life. But, the interactions between characters involve emotions that I’ve dealt with in my life, and some aspects of the characters are taken from personalities of friends and family.
What inspired you to write the Translations from Jorthus series?
I’ve always loved fantastical/fairie tale settings. And, growing up, many games that I would play with my sister or friends were acting out of our imaginations, whether play-acting or role-playing. I took a few elements from some of our more original or memorable adventures and expounded on them with characters that I had created with my friends. The inspiration to put them in story form came when I would share the new ideas in letters with my best friend.
How did you come up with the title?
Well, I wanted the stories to seem like tales chronicling another world, but filtered, or translated through our own understanding here on Earth. So, I referred to them as story translations from Jorthus, the main world. THE DAWNSTONE TALE is, of course, the story of how the major characters encounter the mystic crystal known as The Dawnstone. It’s simple, but I liked the ring to it. With the second and third book, I tried to think of one word that would describe the major action in the books.
What was the hardest part of the story to write?
The scenes that connect between major action scenes. Sometimes they are necessary, but I just wasn’t inspired and had to drag them out of my brain. The first draft would seem so dry, until I could integrate them as part of the whole.
What was the easiest part of the story to write?
The dialogue. I can hear conversations between the characters in my head all the time, so I try and catch the good parts on paper.
Was there much research involved?
I love researching, always have. I try to draw on things that I learn from history, the humanities, word origins, geology, astronomy, and psychology. I’m fascinated by all of those.
Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
I write to entertain, but I think each of my main characters carries a message for me. Readers usually see different things in a story than the writer does, and that’s what makes it special.
What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
I’m not sure. Keeping track of a plot timeline without having to write it down, I suppose.
When your first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
Editing and how much I had to cut out.
Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
I usually indulge in something naughty, like eating some decadent chocolate thing.
Do you have a set writing routine?
Not really. I should, but my days are so erratic.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Most of the time. Usually something instrumental because if I know the words, my brain insists on singing along instead of concentrating.
What do you like least about writing?
Previously, I have had an awful time with the number of files that I used. I would be writing on one computer and save my work, and then find myself writing somewhere else later, like my laptop or a new hard drive, and would end up saving the work under a different name. This led to my biggest headache with the first two books, comparing and condensing all the files into one master file. Too many backups! Now, I just keep one name and one backup copy.
Give us a mini-tour of your writing space.
I usually sit on the living room sofa with my laptop on my knees and earphones on, so I don’t hear too much of the television. I dream of having a desk someday.
Which authors do you feel have influenced your writing most?
Probably a mix of Anne Rice’s early work and Douglas Adams.
Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, Salem’s Lot (or most Stephen King circa 1970’s and 80’s), Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, Dragonlance, a collection of Greek myths, and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
If you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a bottle of wine?
Edgar Allen Poe.
You’re marooned on a desert island. What’s the one book you’d want with you, and why?
I suppose I would want my big ol’ works of Shakespeare, because it has a little bit of everything: love, betrayal, drama, fights, tragedy, comedy, gore, and plenty of cross-dressing!
Have any new authors caught your interest?
I recently read a short story by Tori Truslow that I found beautiful and fascinating. I’m also enjoying some writings by Tracy Angelina Evans. They both have poetic style prose that envelope the reader and whisk her/him away to dark, intriguing places.
What’s next for you?
I am going to finish up the plot-line started in THE DAWNSTONE TALE. It may take two more books, but there is an ending to that cycle from which I just can’t deviate until it is completed.
Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?
Yes. After the Translations from Jorthus series is done, I hope to start a more personal series, based on one of my main characters called The Northgate Papers.
Who supports your writing activities most?
My husband, my sister, and my best friend. Oh, and my son talks about my books a lot, even though he’s too young to read them. Some parts are not exactly G-rated.
What does your family think of your writing?
The ones that don’t normally read Fantasy have a hard time with my writing, but the ones that enjoy ‘other worldly’ stuff seem to really enjoy it. They are all encouraging me to write more.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Write what you enjoy. Create a story that you’d like to read. Because if you don’t like it, then who will?
Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
Listening to music, watching good movies, drawing, designing costumes, chatting with friends (of course), working on film/play sets, and traveling.
How can readers reach you?
You can find more information here:
The Translations from Jorthus:
What happens when an out-of-luck thief, an innocent spell caster, and a charming stranger all go after the same treasure? Well, naturally they join forces; but, if they happen to win their prize and evade their enemies–how will they escape each other? With chaotic magic threatening the very orbit of their world, the wicked are forced to become heroes, and the honorable to become legends. A magda, named Lylith, must step outside the solitary comfort of her tower home, and follow a destiny calling to her from the living rock of the planet. Along her adventure, she is joined by elves, thieves, and admirers: who come to either help her or hinder her. She isn’t sure which!
But, through it all, she discovers more (about her world and those closest to her) than she had bargained for– and more about herself as well.
THE WORLD OF JORTHUS
ON THE BORDER OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF CAULDERA, Westlands, Myretrae.
Hours slid by and the guards made their token appearance for the evening. The cellblock faded to silence as one by one the prisoners fell asleep.
All except for the human in the next cell. Keinigan was getting irritated. He hated this man. Valuable time was being squandered.
The Ear-hunter was sitting on his cell’s back wall, near a window in the hallway. The one window Keinigan would need for escape. He sat there plucking straws apart and staring blatantly at Keinigan. It was obvious the man was not intending to sleep.
Keinigan’s muscles ached from inactivity and anticipation. He wanted to shout at him to sleep, close his eyes, or even just look away for a moment so the escape could proceed. Minutes were slipping by, minutes that he would need to make a stealthy exit. He could not simply get up and run out, no matter how much he wanted to do just that.
Soon, it was more than he could endure. He chose to go ahead and leave, taking his chance.
Keinigan slowly rose. He slipped to the door and gently opened it. Little by little. The hinges threatened to squeak a few times and he stopped his pull. Breathing hesitantly, he began again. It was a painstaking procedure and required more patience than Keinigan felt he had to give. His heart was pounding in his ears, so much so he thought he heard someone coming into the hallway.
The space was finally big enough for his body to slip through without making any noise. His tread was light, careful not to disturb even the straws on the floor. Step by step, the window got closer.
A hand clamped over his wrist. His heart stopped, taking up lodgings in his throat. He looked down to see the hot, grimy hand slip off his arm and open palm up, as if waiting. Keinigan glanced to the human and that toothy grin, then to his own hand that still held the pick.
“You owe me,” was all the man mouthed.
It was true. He could have called in the guards at any moment. If Keinigan gave him the wire, they both could escape and no one would know what exactly had happened to either of them. If not, the man could snag him, keeping him smashed to the bars until the guards came.
Keinigan stared at the grime-coated face.
“This is for the Faerlins.” He whispered. Wrenching the outstretched arm against the metal, Keinigan jabbed the wire into the ear-hunter’s flesh.
A scream exploded from the prisoner as Keinigan sprinted for the window. Two or three steps and he tore on the wooden latch. The window was just big enough for the fae to dive through, the pane swinging back down shut behind him.
Rolling to a stand, he looked around quickly. No one was in sight yet. One breath and he was speeding away towards the edge of town. There sat a tavern, just outside the boundaries of the local jurisdiction, called The Drunken Faery. It was a safehouse for thieves and would hide him well for a few days until he could figure out what to do. The trick would be passing the threshold with empty pockets. They would demand a fee. Nothing was ever done without a price, and he wondered where he was going to get that kind of money.
MILLSWON, A SMALL FARMING VILLAGE
near the Midlands of Myretrae.
Hamlin did not stop until he had the shelter of the trees to hide him from the accusing stars above. Stumbling to a breathless halt, he was surprised to see the other two coming up behind him, but he was glad of their persistence and support. Daria could barely breathe.
“What am I going to do, Dar?” Hamlin panted, slumping against a tree trunk. “If he dies, it’ll mean The Rope! No questions, no excuses.”
He saw her expression confirm this fate as she looked up at him, unable to talk yet. Bringing up his hands to wipe cold sweat from his face, he saw the scarlet evidence still on his fingers and stared at it, his mouth agape.
“Death for a death, that’s for sure.” Jerob mumbled, looking back at the dark spot on the horizon that was The Loft surrounded by the low crops spreading out for miles. “Especially for someone like Broane.”
Daria glared at the thoughtless remark and then, licking her thin lips, went over to wrap her arm around Hamlin. “It’ll be alright, Ham.” She started, but he looked at her and shook his head as he held his tarnished hand up.
“How?” he gasped. “How will it? I’ve killed someone. The sheriff’s own son, no less. I’m bull-mulched! It was an accident, but I’m still kecked. What am I going to do?”
A strange calm fell over Daria as she reconciled the facts to herself. “Well, you were just saying how you wanted to get out of here. Now’s the best time.” she stated quietly. They were all silent for a brief moment as each one contemplated what this actually would mean for them.
With all seriousness and practicality, Daria handed Hamlin the money she had on her and then turned to Jerob. He resisted until she threatened him with physical harm. “He’s your cousin for the love of the Creators! Give him some money.” She insisted. The younger man pulled a small, stringed pouch from his vest and looked at it sadly.
“A week’s earnings.” He muttered desolately.
“Like you’ll miss it,” she hissed as she stuffed it into Hamlin’s trouser pocket. “You still live with yer ma.”
Turning back to the issue at hand, she got her friend back on his feet and wiped the blood from his hands with some grass, wet with early morning dew. “Now, this is the best way to make sure you stay alive.” She was saying as calmly as a mother speaks to a frightened child. “Take the money, and get as far from here as you can. I won’t tell you where to go or which way to head, so that even we won’t be able to tell anyone. I’ll explain everything to your folks.”
“But,” he weakly interrupted her instructions. “What if Broane doesn’t die?”
She was silent — a little too silent as she brushed and straightened his clothes. He waited. Her hesitation gave him her assessment of Broane’s wound. He swallowed hard and nodded.
Speaking into his chest as they hugged goodbye, Daria whispered, “If he lives, I’ll find you. I promise.”
She felt his strong arms grip her tightly as he pressed his face to her head. “Thanks be, Daria.” He kissed her forehead, then turned and ran into the darkness.
Excerpt from Book Three: THE EXCURSION
2 LADY PINNE’S QUARTERS, Caulder palace…
Professor Frenashien trotted in, his cane tapping on the polished floor as he greeted them both. It was a long-standing custom between these old friends to meet privately after each Caulder Magda Council, so that Lady Pinne could regain perspective on life. The magda councils were so focused on their own details that it clogged their vision.
During their brief, polite meal, Pinne leaned in and gave the satyr a steady glare. “My friend, I want you to tell me how close the sister-world will come to our Jorthian orbit and exactly when?”
“Down to business so soon?” Frenashien smirked as he pulled a leather-bound journal from the small bag he had lain on the floor. “I thought that these star charts might help. I have projected its elongated path; and our appulse will have the strongest influence in a few months, just before the autumn equinox. There is a risk of a volatile gravitational draw towards Quorrelles as it passes, for the opposing strength of the sun may be overpowered on that side of our orbit.”
He looked up at her over the spread papers and asked, “Have you been watching it closely? I have a long lens up near the rim of the caldera that shows it well.”
Magda Lady Pinne nodded as she inspected the projected lines again. The planet looked to pass so close on the footsteps of Jorthus that it appeared to cross her circuit.
“Yes, I have. My scope shows abnormalities stirring its cloudy shell. Though, I don’t need a telescope to tell me that there is something amiss. I have felt a hindrance during my meditations.”
The professor listened and then turned to Paraneo for his opinion of what effect the planet’s approach may pose. The mentalist shrugged, “Quorrelles has come this way before and she will again, though not while we are still here.”
“But, don’t you feel that there is something different with it now? Something frantic,” the magda asked him. Sitting back with a noncommittal cock to his dark, bald head, her aide stroked his short beard while considering her question.
“You keep referring to her as an It, my lady.” He said finally in his deep contemplative tone. “These giants that we live on have personalities — as do all things made by the Creators’ thought — and we should consider their needs, not just their reactions.”
This made the satyr nod with grave appreciation.
“The fluctuations that we see or feel may be a way of getting our attention,” Frenashien suggested. “For, with the Doors shut, this crossing may be her only chance to contact us, if she needs our help.”
“Damn those stupid laws.” Pinne cursed. “If only we could step through the Transyns du Aeternite and find out what the problem is.”
They all jumped at the new voice that had quietly joined them from the hall. Paraneo smiled in a way that told Pinne he had known of the dwarf’s approach the whole time.
“Calbraum!” The professor leapt up to embrace his old friend and the grand magda followed suit immediately.
“Glad you’re here.” Frenashien regained his seat. “I was having the most interesting talk with your young lady friend, Lylith, earlier. Which, in fact, may be relevant to our current discussion, Lady Pinne.”
“You should have brought her.” The white-haired gnome smiled. Not truly expecting a response to this superficial invite, she was caught off guard when that is what she got.
The professor confessed that he had bid Lylith stop by a little later, to tell the gnome about a dream. Pinne glanced at the small table of trays that now held little more than crumbs and stems. Her stare was not missed.
“She will have eaten at the Hall.”
“Oh, then there is no problem.” Their host laughed. “And, I can congratulate her on being accepted by the council — to a full magda status.”
“In that case, I will send for another bottle of wine to celebrate!” boomed Master Calbraum.
LINKS TO THE BOOKS
THE DAWNSTONE Translations from Jorthus: Book One
THE CONVERGENCE Translations from Jorthus: Book Two
THE EXCURSION Translations from Jorthus: Book Three
Coming soon to Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com