Getting to Know Ramona Flightner
Ramona is a historical romance author who loves to immerse herself in research as much as she loves writing. Ramona’s heroines are strong, resilient women, the type of women you’d love to have as your best friend. Her heroes are loyal and honorable, the type of men you’d love to meet and bring home to meet your family for Sunday dinner. She writes for the Pioneer Brides of Rattlesnake Creek series. You can learn more about Ramona and her book here.
Where did you grow up, and where do you live now? Tell us something a lot of people don’t know about your home town.
I grew up in Missoula, Montana and it’s where I currently live. I moved away for about twenty years, but I moved home two years ago after living on the East Coast, in Boston, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, DE. Although I loved my time outside of Montana, I am excited to be home. Montana has always been “home” to me. I marvel every day that I get to live here. If you aren’t from Montana, you don’t realize that the hottest part of the day in the summer is around 5 pm. You’ll think the day isn’t going to be that hot because it’s still comfortable at noon, but then it warms up!
What is your favorite part about writing Sweet Romance/ Cozy Mysteries?
I love writing the novels I write because, rather than focus on the buildup to a big sex scene, I’m able to focus on the interpersonal relationships, the misunderstandings that occur in every relationship, and the need for forgiveness. I also write historicals, so I have the added bonus of doing research, which I love.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
In 2010, I felt there was a void in my life. I was working full time as a family nurse practitioner, but I wanted to do something more. I had always wanted to write, but I was terrified of having to show my writing to anyone. When I was fishing in Montana that summer, I had an idea for a novel, which turned into my first book. I plotted and thought about writing it on the plane ride back to Boston. After doing tons of research, I started to write, and my Banished Saga series was born. I had made a bargain with myself that I’d write for me and not show it to anyone. However, I’ve gotten over that, as I’ve now published twelve novels, and writing is a large part of my life.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be doing?
My other career is as a family nurse practitioner, and I love seeing patients and helping them with their health concerns. I’m fortunate I am able to do the two jobs I love.
Do you have any pets? Please tell us about them!
No, I don’t have any pets right now.
Have you found your own real life happily ever after?
What is one book that impacted or changed your life that you think everybody should read? Tell us about it.
I find this is very hard as I am such a reader! A book that I read four or five years ago that became an instant favorite was the Elegance of the Hedgehog. I loved that book and it’s on my book shelf as a “keeper.” The writing was brilliant, and I fell in love with the characters. It reminded me that too often people are judged by appearances rather than by who they truly are, and when someone looks deeper and truly sees them, they blossom. I still remember the emotional punch I felt after reading that book, all these years later.
What is your favorite part of writing?
I love almost everything about writing. As my novels are historical, a lot of research is necessary. Thankfully, I love research. I know a lot of writers don’t like editing, but I relish it. I love seeing how I can make a good scene better. One of my favorite aspects of writing is the first draft. There’s nothing better than the free-flow of ideas before I have to edit and make sense of everything.
What is your least favorite part of writing?
I write long novels, but I don’t write a typical outline or plot out my novels. I write scenes as they come to me, even though they are out of order. Thus, when I have to piece the novel together, it can be a challenge. It’s rewarding, but it is the aspect of writing that I dread.
Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
My ideas come from a variety of sources. I get them from research or from stories people tell me. Often, the stories that people tell me will be a starting off point that I alter to fit a scene. Some ideas come when I’m driving or in the shower. Basically, at any time, I can have a great idea. The challenge I have is writing it down (if I’m at work or half asleep) so that I can remember it. I also read a wonderful article by one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon, recommending that as an author, I should envision the worst thing that could happen to my character (other than death, although that’s always an option for some of them), and then do it. I remembered that advice as I was writing Reclaimed Love, and I’ve been torturing my characters a bit more each book since then.
How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?
You don’t need to be too afraid that you’ll end up in one of my novels! However, that said, I do listen for interesting ways people speak or act and incorporate what I hear and see into my novels.
What is your writing routine like?
I have a full time job as a family nurse practitioner, thus I write when I can, often at 5 am or over the weekends. I don’t have a set routine, but I still manage to get my writing done. When I try to follow writing “rules” or “edicts” such as writing an hour a day, it takes away the joy of writing for me.
Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring authors?
The most important thing is to not give up. Keep writing and keep finding the joy in writing. There may be days when you think you’ve written nothing worthwhile, but set it aside and read it with fresh eyes in a few days or weeks to be able to better evaluate what you’ve written. Also, embrace editing and don’t be afraid to cut entire scenes or chapters. It hurts, but if it makes your novel better, it’s worth it.
Do you plot or use an outline?
I used to take great pride in saying I didn’t plot or outline, and I don’t. However, I now wish I had a more systematic approach to my writing. The problem is that every time I make an outline and try to write to it or use it as a guide, my muse takes a nap. She believes that if it’s already plotted, it’s not all that interesting and thus she’d rather be in Fiji. Thus, I now make a detailed list of characters who’ll be in the book, ideas of things that might happen, what I need to research, etc, and then write whatever comes to me. It means a lot of wasted words, and I have to do a lot of editing to make sure there is good continuity, but it’s the only way I am able to write.
How did you come up with your character’s names?
Sometimes I’ll hear a really beautiful name and then envision a character. For most of my characters, I’ve used a “Victorian Names” webpage to help me determine names that would have been popular when my characters were born. The names most readers are curious about are Sophronia and Zylphia.
Do you really like to conduct research?
I love research. I will often preface a comment to my friends, “You know I’m a nerd…” and they know I’ll talk about something I learned in my research. I have to restrict the number of research books I’ll buy because I’ve run out of bookshelf space numerous times!