Interview with paranormal romance author Tori Ridgewood

Today’s guest is paranormal romance
author Tori L. Ridgewood who is sharing a little about herself and her new
novel
Wind and Shadow: Book
One of the Talbot Trilogy.
Bio:
After her first heartbreak, Tori
found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an
after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the
summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing
her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to
become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of
filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake
her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her
second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching
full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years
before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process,
Tori finally found her stride as a writer.
At present, on her off-time, Tori not
only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she
walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes
needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel,
collect, and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a
thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history,
the supernatural, vampire, and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other
dangers.
Tori is currently working on Crystal and Wand: Book Three of The Talbot
Trilogy
. She lives in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada with her husband and
two children. She is a full-time teacher at a local high school.
Welcome,
Tori. Please tell us about your current release.
Wind and Shadow is a
paranormal romance about a good witch and a malevolent vampire. Petite and
red-headed Rayvin Woods, a photographer by trade, has always been able to do
magick but has hidden her abilities from the world, trying to live a normal
life. After a series of misadventures, she is forced to return to her hometown
in northeastern Ontario, arriving at the same time that the bloodthirsty and
evil Malcolm de Sade breaks free of his prison in a collapsed mine under the
main street. His plan, after a year of being trapped underground, is to create
a trap for another witch he obsesses over, a married artist named Charlotte
Fanning Mahonen who is away on her honeymoon when he escapes. De Sade wants to
use the people of the town to create his coven in order to capture Charlotte
and kill her husband when she returns. Soon, Rayvin finds herself also a target
of de Sade’s plans, but at least she is able to fight back. She looks to
policeman Grant Michaels for help, though it’s difficult to convince him and to
ignore her growing attraction to the tall, dark, and handsome man, her former
high school crush.

Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogyfollows the novella, “Mist and Midnight”, which was published as part of the Midnight Thirsts
anthology in 2011 by Melange Books and is now available as a single. The
trilogy as a whole is set in the fictional town of Talbot, Ontario, located
near the non-fiction body of water called Lake Temiskaming, close to the
Ontario-Quebec border. The protagonists of “Mist and Midnight”, Charlotte and
Pike Mahonen, appear briefly in Wind and
Shadow
but will have a stronger presence and role in Book Two: Blood and Fire (due for release in February 2014) and Book Three: Crystal and Wand (due for
release in June 2014).

What
inspired you to write this book?
Much
of Wind and Shadow came from a
combination of my movie-buff tendencies, my love for the paranormal, and a
place where I lived as an adolescent.
Firstly, part of my
impetus for writing this trilogy is as a response to Twilight.  I’m a big fan of
the Twilight Saga, both books and films, but at the same time, I can pick it
apart and talk about problems I see in it. 
So as Wind and Shadow
developed, I began to see it as my answer to Stephenie Meyers.  A kind of argument, if you will. I’m also a
huge admirer of the film “Practical Magic” and the book on which is was based,
written by Alice Hoffman. My witches are rather reflective of Sally and Gillian
Owens and their abilities. There’s a terrific Showcase series that I follow as
well, called “Lost Girl”, which involves a host of supernatural characters, and
a lot of my work in Wind and Shadow
and the rest of the trilogy was inspired by that show.
The paranormal has
always fascinated me, but I remember a turning point when I first read Stephen
King’s vampire horror novel Salem’s Lot,
around the time I was 10 or 11 years old. After reading that one and sleeping
with the lights on for a few nights, I devoured any vampire fiction or film I
could get my hands on, as well as ghost stories, sightings of creatures like
the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, and alien encounters. If I had been better at
math, I might have gone into paranormal investigations rather than becoming a
teacher! But the fiction had my heart — books like the original Dracula by Bram Stoker, Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice,
and movies such as “John Carpenter’s Vampires”, “The Lost Boys”, “Thirty Days
of Night”, “Blade”, “Underworld”, “Daybreakers” — I can’t get enough of them.
In a lot of ways, I feel that Wind and
Shadow
and the subsequent novels are my homage to my favourite vampire
writers.
Finally, the story
in Wind and Shadow came about
sometime between moving back up to northeastern Ontario with my husband, and the
birth of our second child. Coming back to one of the regions I loved as a
child, living relatively close to my favourite towns, Haileybury and Cobalt,
reminded me of an incident back then when an old abandoned mine under Cobalt
had collapsed and left a massive hole in the street, right downtown.  It prompted a thorough investigation and
survey of all the abandoned mines threading underneath the town and around it,
and for the brief interval between the collapse and the fix, it was a tourist
attraction as the world’s largest pothole! 
So, twenty-five-odd years after that event, I kept thinking: what if
there was more to it than that? What if the collapse wasn’t (just) due to water
seepage in an old mine? What if there was some kind of creature down there,
like a vampire? If so, how did it get down there? What is the history?  Who was affected by it?  I began writing notes on the idea after my
daughter was born, slowly building the story. I’m very happy with how it’s
turning out, too.
What
exciting story are you working on next?
I
am working on the third book in the trilogy, Crystal and Wand, as well as wrapping up edits on the second book, Blood and Fire.
In
Crystal and Wand, the allies of the
Light (Rayvin, Grant, Charlotte, Pike, and a few new characters I introduce in
B&F, professional vampire hunters Marcy and Siobhan) are preparing for the
final showdown with the vampire coven as it spreads its poison and threatens
the entire community of Talbot, and beyond. I would love for the third book to
be epic, but at the same time, I worry about disappointing my original vision
and my readers. Hopefully, it will be as enjoyable and satisfactory as the
first two books have been.
When did you
first consider yourself a writer?
Only
very recently, when Wind and Shadow
was actually released. I was writing very short stories as soon as I was able
to print. My mother has a clipping of a Christmas story I wrote, printed in a
local newspaper, when I was in kindergarten. And I contributed stories to
school anthologies as a youth and a teen, as well as writing regularly for the
community newspaper’s school page while I was in high school. But even while I
was getting short stories and my novella published in 2011 and 2012, I didn’t
yet consider myself a writer. That may
be due to my own issues with anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. Having my
first full novel come out was the fulfillment of a dream I’ve had since I was
eleven or twelve years old, so I think that has made the difference, but there
are still many days when I have to say it aloud in order to believe it. I am a
writer.
Do you write
full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than
write and how do you find time to write?
I
am a full-time high school teacher, so I work writing into my vacation time for
the most part, as well as intensive writing periods in the fall and the spring
(when I’m not doing all the things that a mom does). I joined NaNoWriMo
(National Novel Writing Month) in 2011, and that made a huge difference in my
ability to complete projects relatively quickly.
My
work day typically starts around 8:30, when I arrive at the school. (Note: I
used to get there at 7:30, about ten years ago when my first child was a
toddler and my husband stayed home with him during the day, and worked as a
chef in the evenings. As soon as my second child is able to get herself to
school, I will likely start my days earlier again.) When I get to the building
and have de-snowed (most of the school year is pretty cold and/or wet), I often
have a first-period class to get ready immediately. Sometimes this involves
last-minute photocopying, but during good weeks, I’ve gotten my lesson plans
ready the day before. I’ll check my work email, set up instructions on the
board, and often pull up on the projector a few interesting headlines from
io9.com or another news / media site to share with the students and discuss. My
classes run 72 minutes in length. This year, I have two in the morning, and
after lunch, one in the afternoon.
During
classes, my strategies run the gamut from straight lecture of 20-30 minutes to
all-student-centred research or writing, depending on the group of students,
the material, and the schedule. In general, though, I explain concepts, go over
instructions, engage them in determining the learning goals and success
criteria (with the overall objective being the students taking ownership of
their learning), and then I circulate to help, give feedback, and keep kids on
task.
At
lunch, I’m either playing Candycrush or reading while I’m eating. A few lunch
hours involve student meetings for extracurricular activities, like Anime Club,
the Gay-Straight Alliance, or play rehearsals (I’m supervising this year rather
than directing — a bit of a relief). I do some prep as well, once I’ve had
some down time. I find I have to decompress a little during my spare period as
well, unless I’m covering someone else’s class or doing hall monitoring. My
prep period also helps me to keep up on planning, marking, and phone calls. The
days generally pass very quickly.
When
I get home, in past years I’ve tended to crash, though my health is improving
this year and it’s getting easier to keep going. That’s when I get to my
writing, though the most is done after the children are in bed and the house is
quiet. I’m a night owl — I love it when there are no distractions, when the
house is cocooned and there is nothing to watch on TV, as it forces me to
redirect my focus. I will write until midnight, or later if I don’t have school
the next day. However, these intensive periods take their toll. It’s partway
through November now, and I know that once NaNoWriMo is over, I will hit a
wall. These past 20 days, I’ve averaged about 2,000 words a day in my off-time.
What would
you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I
love my ellipses! To me, that little sequence of periods is like a breath in a
piece of music, a pause in the train of thought, an extra space of time in
which one considers an idea or slows down to rephrase the words about to be spoken.
Some writers and readers supremely dislike them . . . but I find them to be an
essential part of conversation, thought, and character-narrative.
I
also love including parentheses in my writing, because that’s how I think. I
have what I like to call “Squirrel!” moments (thank you, “Up!”), in which I
have a side thought that, if it were written, would be in brackets.
As a child,
what did you want to be when you grew up?
In
the summer, when I was trying to declutter my house, I found some journals from
when I was thirteen in which I wrote that I wanted to be a published author.
But I also wanted to be a professional actor (still do!), a paranormal
investigator (still lots of time), and a meteorologist — I had a childhood
fascination with tornadoes, hurricanes, clouds, and weather phenomenon in
general.
Anything
additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m
hoping in the near future, once the Talbot Trilogy is done, to work on an
anthology of stories or a few novels that take place in a fictional town based
on where I live. I’m interested in doing more erotica, as well as writing
completely non-erotic YA novels. With that in mind, I don’t mind sharing that I
write under a pseudonym, and will likely adopt a different name for YA fiction,
eventually. My nom-de-plume actually helps me to be more creative, and it feels
like an alternate expression of my self. For example, at home I am Mom and
Mommy; at work I am Mrs., to my parents I am my childhood nickname, and to my
husband and various friends I am another variation of that name. My pen-name is
simply a different facet of my personality, and I have found that it frees me
in a way that writing just as myself hasn’t been able to do.
Thanks
so much for having me on Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews!
My pleasure.
Thank you for joining my blog!

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