This month’s featured writer friend is Randy Ribay, a fellow member of the Cherry Hill-based South Jersey Writers Group. I remember catching a glimpse of him at my first ever SJWG meeting when he stood up and announced that he wrote YA and had just signed with an agent, and my immediate thought was this is a person I should know! We’ve still not managed to cross paths in the physical world since then, but twitter is a magical place that brings people together. Randy was kind enough to agree to be interviewed for April’s Writer Friend Feature, so I’ll let him take it from here!
1. Basics first: Who are you? Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Filipino-American YA writer, teacher, book reviewer/blogger with THE HORN BOOK, and vlogger at Writing in the Margins. In my head, I’m also a Gryffindor and Jedi, and totally not a Cylon. My first book, a YA contemporary titled AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES, comes out this Fall from Merit Press/F+W Media!
2. What’s the earliest story you can remember writing?
In elementary school, I remember writing a story about nachos from outer space trying to invade Earth. I don’t remember if they were victorious, but I’m certain they were tasty.
3. What do you think is the secret to balancing writing pursuits with a busy life?
Hmm. I’d say you need to schedule writing into your day at a time that you’re consistently “free” so you can make it a routine. It doesn’t need to be a lot of time. Writing a little bit every single day adds up. During the summers I write full time (yay, teaching!), but during the school year I wake up at about 4:30 am and write for about an hour or so until I have to get ready for work. Just by following that routine, I’ve been able to complete first drafts within 3-4 months. And besides just putting down words, I think that the practice of daily writing simply improves your ability to write well.
4. What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
I really like revising. I probably wouldn’t say this when I’m actually in the middle of revising because it always takes me way longer than I think it should and it’s always frustrating. But at the same time I love that process of sitting down with a mess of a first draft and trying to figure it out. I like refining the story at every level, from plot to characters to sentences. I feel like that’s when things really start to take a shape that I feel proud of.
5. Tell us something useful. A piece of advice, a link to an article you found valuable, a writing reference book you love, etc.
WHAT I TALK ABOUT WHEN I TALK ABOUT RUNNING by Haruki Murakami really changed my attitude toward writing, and I credit it with actually getting me to take this seriously and approach it in a disciplined way. I’m also a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s 8 Good Writing Practices. And I’m years late to the party, but I just discovered the podcast Writing Excuses which has some really great stuff in it.
6. What are you working on right now?
I’ve got two projects in the works right now. One is a YA contemporary urban, and the other is a YA dark fantasy. I don’t like to talk too much about WIP, so I’ll just say that they are absurdly different from one another and from my debut!
You can find Randy all over the interwebs! Follow him at the links below, and don’t forget to pre-order AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES on Amazon.
Thanks for joining me today, Randy!