Seattle author Molly Ringle recently won the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, the literary competition that challenges writers to come up with a really bad opening line to a novel. Ringle is the author of one published and two soon-to-be-published novels. She told the Bulwer-Lytton folks that she writes bad fiction when she fails at good fiction. “She’d rather not say how often this happens,” they write. “She lives in Seattle with her family, and her vices include uncalled-for moments of sarcasm, excessive consumption of Nutella, and an unladylike avidity for the raunchy films of Mel Brooks.”
We asked her a few questions.
Here’s an opportunity for you to plug your real books in a sentence or so each. How about a sentence you’ve written that you love: Here’s one from The Ghost Downstairs, in which the protagonist gets an upsetting message from her ex-boyfriend: She re-read his email four times, feeling offended and breathless, like he had casually grabbed her head and stuffed it into a pile of wet leaves.
And for what it’s worth, that sentence does occur in the lead-in to a love scene, so it might end up carrying some sensuality in its own way.
Now, how about setting the scene for an ideal writing day? Ah, it’s fun to daydream about this question. I’m tempted to say I’d open the sliding glass door next to the desk for some fresh air on a warm summer morning, sit down, and type for seven or eight hours with only short breaks for tea and meals. But I think my shoulders and neck would be killing me by the end of that. I’m not used to marathon computer time anymore. So, on an ideal day, it would be 64 and cloudy outside, and I’d start with a brisk walk after breakfast (with or without family) just before the rain moved in, then go home and sit down with a cup of tea or cocoa and write for a few hours while the rain tapped the windows. I’d get up to rejoin the family for lunch and an excursion into downtown Seattle (the rain now tapering off but leaving everything fresh and cool), where we’d go to some upscale stores that make us feel affluent just by being there, and bring home some expensive chocolate. I’d do more writing while the kids watched a DVD during afternoon quiet time, then have dinner together and put the kids to bed. And though I used to write just before going to bed myself, I’ve lately learned it keeps me from falling asleep easily, so that’s when I prefer to settle down and read someone else’s writing.