YA Paranormal author Aaron Michael Ritchey has penned a dozen manuscripts in his 20 years as a writer. When he isn’t slapping around his muse, Aaron cycles to look fabulous, works in medical technologies, and keeps his family in silks and furs. His first novel, The Never Prayer, dropped March of 2012 from Crescent Moon Press.
Aaron, what gave you the idea for The Never Prayer?
I was challenged to write an angel book. And I’m a sucker for a challenge. I try not to play truth or dare anymore because I don’t have a good handle on my limits. So, yeah, don’t dare me. I won’t respond well. I wasn’t excited about writing an angel book, nope, angels, demons, blah, blah, blah. It’s all been done before. So I decided I was going to do something completely different. And I did. My angel starts off as an atheist.
I personally think that if there are such things as angels, they’d have be a cynic or have a great sense of humor to get through their day. Think about it…they have the creator of the universe as a boss. The hours are horrible. Most of the clients are needy and/or never happy with the way things are going. Atheism seems like a way to go, all things considered.
Yeah, being an angel would suck unless you were totally co-dependent. I was going to write a story about an Alanon meeting for angels. Some people just get addicted to helping others. That wouldn’t be me.
What was the first scene you wrote?
I’m linear type of writer. I’m also a reformed seat-of-your-pants writer. With this book, the first scene and the climax were indelibly stamped on my brain, and as a good little plotter, I mapped it all out so I knew where I was headed. Then wrote the first scene first. And I loved it. Of course, my first draft was overwritten, overly dramatic, over-the-top, over. So I chopped and pruned and thanks to my lovely critique group, I had a solid first scene that I hope hooks people. You can read it on the Crescent Moon Press website.
Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?
Um, actually, kind of embarrassing, but I was short. No guy likes to admit such a thing, but the first draft was small, just around 55,000 words. When I was full-blown seat-of-my-pants writer, I struggled to keep my novels under 100,000 words. Now that I map things out, my plots are tighter than the brassier on a Solid Gold dancer. So actually, for this book…
Uh-uh, dude. Stop right there. You said Solid Gold, and I just totally flashed back to my days of bored futzing with the door-knocker handles on my parent’s console TV. That obligates me to interrupt you and ask what about that show made such an impression that you’d use it in a metaphor 30 years later?
Oh man, I was a total Solid Gold junky. I can still remember the thrill of Kim Carnes’ Betty Davis Eyes winning. I had a sad childhood and watched WAAAYYYY too much T.V. I figure with google, you can pretty much allude to anything and people can always look it up if they’re curious.
Praise Google! So you were saying, about this book being tight…
I had to add scenes! Funny, but the scenes I added so fleshed things out, the book is far better with them in. I talked with one reader whose favorite scene is one of the scenes I added!
I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?
I knew the book was going to be short, and I wanted another layer of conflict, and I had to come up something apocalyptic. When I get stuck in a book, I go for a long walk. So I was walking in the forest, when it hit me. The a-ha moment. I have a character, Dane Bramage, or Bramage for short, and he kept shrieking about the apocalypse. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was something big. On the walk, it hit me. It involves dynamite and cell phones. And it is the apocalypse. Now.
I can relate to exactly that. So, are you surprised where the story took you? Or if it ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?
I always thought if I left my “pantser” ways, I would no longer be surprised by my characters or my story. That is so not the case. The first draft, other than Bramage’s madness, went how I thought it would. It was in the re-write where I got surprised. My hero, I can’t give his name, decided to tag along with my heroine, Magdalena Marquez, to go and talk with the uppity queen of the high school. My hero and the bitch-queen are like oil and industrial strength lemon Pledge. I remember being as shocked as my heroine, Lena. Really? You want to go talk with Deirdre Dodson? What are you thinking??? The scene turned out great because there was so much conflict.
I think the characters taking over is a good indication you’re going in the right direction.
Those kooky characters, always acting up. Like herding cats. That’s what’s fun though about the creative process as long as the characters don’t try and change the plot, that’s when I get out my whips.
Oh, and I had to add a love scene. I got to the end, and my characters never hooked up! Well, I had to fix that. But in a tasteful YA way. I mimicked how Maggie Steifvater handled her love scene in Shiver. Thanks Maggie!
What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?
Oh, her. It’s not a him. My story is definitely a girl…
…in a modest, long-sleeved dress, dirty from a cattle drive through a post-apocalyptic wilderness. That’s Cavatica Weller, and she has sisters, and there’s a boy, and of course, when three sisters like the same boy, drama happens. It’s your typical YA Steampunk Biopunk Sci-Fi Western Family Drama Epic! Rough draft is 140,000 words. Yeah, I kind of relapsed into pantsing with this one. Working title is Dandelions, Guns, and Little Lost Souls. It’s The Hunger Games with more cattle. Or Lonesome Dove meets Firefly meets The Waltons. If I don’t get to work on that book soon, I just might die.
Do get to that, Mr. Ritchey. The YA shelf at the library is short on Steam/Biopunk Sci-fi Western Family Drama epics.
Oh, Wendy, let us hope so. Thanks again!
For more about me and The Never Prayer, you can visit us both at www.aaronmritchey.com. And of course, I’m on Facebook, as is the book at http://www.facebook.com/TheNeverPrayer. And I tweet – @aaronmritchey. If you are at all curious about the novel, our friends at Amazon.com would love for you to visit them!
Thank you, Aaron, for filling in my odd Evolution Wednesday slot. And lovely readers, please come back tomorrow for the Midsummer Night’s Blog Hop. I’ll have links for more than a dozen character vs. character interviews!