Rhonda loves reading and writing a variety of genres. She’s written apocalyptic fiction, paranormal, nonfiction, and the cozy mystery series Witches of Whispering Pines She lives in a small Texas town and was an investigator for the state and county for twenty years.
You can find out more from her Author pages on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Kobo and Smashwords. And don’t forget to click on Rhonda’s picture to go to her website and follow her on Facebook.
Which is more important to your book, the mystery or the love story?
Because the main genre for this series is cozy mystery, I think readers expect the mystery to be the most prominent. However, romance is a very close second. My main character, Charley, is a 16-year-old in high school, so of course, she and her friends are having fun learning about who they are and what they want in relationships with family, friends, and significant others.
What type of love story plays out in your book—friends to love, enemy to love, instant love, or something else?
Charley and Jackson have been best friends since kindergarten. They both have feelings for one another but don’t want to ruin their friendship in the beginning, so there is some hesitancy on both their parts. I really love how their relationship progresses throughout the series.
Does the love element cause problems for your protagonist?
Oh, it does. First, there are the feelings Charley develops for her best friend. Then relationships with others before they get together. But there is also the family witchy secret that she’s kept from Jackson all these years that is a whole other issue.
What inspired you to start writing?
My mom had me reading by the time I was three and I’ve never stopped. Writing stories just seemed to be the next step for me. I wrote my first short story in third grade about how the raccoon got his mask. Being my biggest supporter, my mom has kept it all these many years.
Once college and work came along, I didn’t have time for writing, and I didn’t create anything for a long while. However, a friend got really tired of hearing me say “One day, I’m going to have a book published.” She picked up a continuing education package from a local college and told me it was time. And it was.
Things just kind of fell into place after that. I signed up for a course and the instructor liked my writing so much she invited me to join a local workshop she attended. I haven’t stopped writing since and have followed my dream of writing different types of books.
What comes first, the plot or characters?
The plot is so very important, but for me, it’s the characters that are the major dynamic for any book. The characters need to be well-developed so that readers want to know about them and what’s happening in their lives. Without caring about the character and what they’re going through, it really doesn’t matter what happens, does it?
Usually, when I have an idea for a book, I come up with the characters first. I even spend a good amount of time researching names and their meanings to come up with just the right name for the main characters. By the time I finish writing a book, my protagonist is almost real to me.
Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
I found it surprising that one of the characters I love the most in my series is Charley’s great-grandmother, Ruby. She’s sassy and loyal to a fault. I have so much fun writing her scenes. Here’s one of my favorites so far:
Grandma Ruby was on her feet in a flash. Just because she was in her seventies, it didn’t mean she was fragile. Although only five-four, she was all-powerful, and she seemed to tower over the room. I gulped.
Grandma Ruby began pacing the floor, muttering to herself. When she turned her back to me, I nearly choked. Printed across the seat of her pants were the words, “Kiss My…” in ruby red.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one having trouble not laughing. Deanna let out a sound I never heard before in her effort not to do so. I clapped a hand tightly over my mouth, pressing my lips against my teeth. My shoulders heaved at the exertion of keeping the laughter inside.
“Grandmother!” My mother yelled. “Where did you get those pants?” She shook her head. “Never mind. You need to change. Right now.”
“Now, you listen here, Missy.” Grandma Ruby pointed at my mother. “I don’t like being told what to do. Not by you or your sister.” Her glare swung toward Aunt Nadine and then back. “I’m your grandmother, not your child. Both of you should remember that. Or you can just…” She turned around, bent at the waist, and wriggled her behind.