Ronda Del Boccio is a renowned author, public speaker, and mentor, living in rural Missouri. She has kindly taken some time out to answer some of our questions regarding her various projects, her views on the important role of funeral homes, and getting over grief. You can learn more about Ronda, and her work by following her on Twitter @TheStoryLady. You can also get photos and more, from her Press Page: http://WriteOnPurpose.com/press.
Q1. Can you please start by introducing yourself to our readers? How would you summarize your writing in a few words?
This reminds me of being on a job interview where the employer says, “Tell me something about yourself.” I am mostly blind yet see more clearly than most people. I’m observant enough to notice things like where you dropped your keys. People go out of their way to come tell me absolutely anything. My family joke that I have a flashing sign on my forehead reading, “Come talk to me.” And I absolutely love wordplay. Perfect assets for a writer!
I would describe my writing as quirky, visionary and sticky. Quirky because who knows what will come out of my fingers next. Visionary because even my humorous fiction tales have something to uplift and cause deeper thought while entertaining. Sticky because I’m told, “That story really stuck with me.”
Q2. What was it that originally got you interested in writing? Do you remember your first story?
I used to tell stories with my stuffed animals as a tot, with no prompting or urging from my parents. I guess I was destined to write. While I don’t specifically recall my first written story, I recall writing stories about animals as soon as I learned to make letters. As a matter of fact, I sometimes got in trouble in class for writing bits of a story. How could I help it that inspiration struck in the middle of math class?
Q3. You cover a variety of themes and topics, often including the paranormal. What was it that drew you to that subject specifically?
Woo-woo warning: My response may seem “way out there” to some readers, but it is my truth. Some of us that had “imaginary friends” and talked about seeing or sensing spirits, ghosts or dead people actually DID. I am in that category. I had paranormal experiences (still do), and began being aware of things and beings that most people are not from the cradle onward.
That said, I do sometimes write paranormal tales about things I have not experienced, but even in those, there are kernels of reality. Of my reality, at least.
I most enjoy bringing other-worldly elements into modern world reality, because I like to leave room for the possibility of cool powers and interesting non-humans existing in daily life, right along with morning coffee, mosquitos and paying the bills.
My writing is eclectic. A Tasty Morsel includes a depressed ban-shee, a ghoul nurse, and other characters at a hospital for the undead. My novel in progress is about a reluctant demon hunter. And every once in a while I shock my friends and write something with no paranormal elements, like The Assassin and the Prince, which is a humorous fantasy about race relations and coming of age.
Q4. You have also touched on some serious emotions including grief. Is this something that interests you?
I don’t know if I can honestly say grief interests me. Good conversation, exciting novels and word games interest me. Grief happens. It’s part of life. People grieve. Animals grieve. So it makes for wonderful literary fodder.
As an author, engaging people’s emotions is important. Grief can be a huge motivator of a person or character’s actions. Grief can incite someone to vengeance, help someone change their ways, cause introspection and more.
The protagonist Kassidy in my novel-in-progress is a young widow grieving the death of her soldier husband in battle. She struggles with whether it’s time for her to start thinking about dating. When she reunites with high school friend Russell, his kiss both pleasures her and makes her cry. Such is grief. It permeates life like a tea bag infuses its contents into water, seeping into all areas of life without censorship or hesitation, coloring all of life and changing its flavor. If you wish to read this excerpt, I just published it on my site at this link: http://writeonpurpose.com/7247/writing-skills/novel-writing/grief-is-like-a-tea-bag-book-excerpt-from-they-all-died-smiling-kassidy-and-russell-first-kiss
Q5. What is your view on closure? Do you think cremation can play an important role in that?
Dealing with remains can be part of closure for many people. Personally, I prefer cremation to embalming and burial in a gigantic box, but I say do whichever suits your preference. The loved one isn’t in the remains, but in your heart and memories.
Is there ever really closure after a beloved dies?
Grief will go on past the cremation or burial. Love never ends. In my own life, I’m on my third dog guide now; I’ve taken the passing of my first 2 harder than any human. Each time, it takes a few years for me not to be brought to tears when something reminds me of them. Here’s a true story relevant to grief about my decision that it was time for a new guide dog: http://writeonpurpose.com/6943/leader-dog-chronicles/time-for-a-new-guide-dog-leader-dog-chroicles
Since we’re talking cremation, I’ll tell you that I’ve had my first two guide dogs cremated. The spirit isn’t in the ashes, but for me it feels important to keep them both with me..
As I write this, I’m coming up on the second anniversary of Molly’s death. Even though I have her beautiful successor Jemma at my feet, I keenly feel the loss of Molly. Something will remind me of her or of things we did together, and memories come back to life. Tears flow. My heart clenches and aches all over again. I feel such gratitude for all we shared. She and Thunder are both forever a part of me. That’s why there is never really closure when it comes to passing of a loved one.
Q6. Finally, do you have any upcoming projects you would like to mention?
Thank you for asking. I’m always working on something. I have a novel in progress that I’m calling (working title) They All Died Smiling. That’s where you’ll meet Kassidy. I’m also writing a nonfiction book about the journey of getting my new Leader Dog, Jemma. I’ll go into what it’s like to go through the month of training in Michigan and our first few weeks as a new team.
Jemma has a Facebook Page where she speaks in her own voice. That’s at http://Facebook.com/LeaderDogJemma. My author page is http://Facebook.com/RondaDelBoccio.
You can find my books on Amazon at http://WriteOnPurpose.com/amazon.
I’m on a bunch of networks. Here are the main ones:
You can see excerpts of my current and upcoming works on my website http://WriteOnPurpose.com. Look in the Leader Dog Chronicles category for my journey with Jemma. The Fiction category has stories and excerpts from me and other authors too. I also write book reviews for those who love to read, and author resources for any of you writers out there.
Thank you so much for the interview.
Follow your B.L.I.S.S.
Ronda Del Boccio