Today’s interview is with K.S. Ruff, an indie writer who also teaches at the American Military University.
LQ: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
KR: I live in Northern Virginia with my football-crazed husband, two entertaining daughters, and a nut-job-of-a-dog (my daughter’s words, not mine).
I teach courses in international conflict resolution, human security, environmental security, and peacekeeping for the American Military University. Reading and writing are two of my favorite things.
I haven’t a clue what’s going on around me when I’m writing. The house could be burning down, and I wouldn’t even notice. I’m counting on my husband to save the children and the dog. I’m happiest when I’m in my PJs snuggled next to my dog with a good book or writing on my laptop with Dove dark chocolates and a warm cup of coffee nearby.
LQ: What does your writing process look like?
KR: I’m a planner, so I start with some preliminary research and an outline. I conduct additional research off and on throughout the writing process, pinning pictures of luxury accommodations, vacation spots, clothes, or food my characters are indulging in on Pinterest.
Still, my characters are a little headstrong. They’ll veer off in directions I wasn’t anticipating. Planning turns into intermittent “pantsing” until I can rein everyone in. I’m not complaining. Those unexpected developments often lead to some of my best scenes. I write in chronological order, but if I’m struggling with writer’s block, I will skip a section and work on a different scene.
I spend far more time editing, wordsmithing, and massaging the text than I do writing the initial story. I make three or four editing runs on my own before turning the book over to my editor and beta readers. Then, I make one final editing run, maybe two, if my editor identifies additional areas in need of improvement.K.S. Ruff
LQ: What was your favorite book to write so far?
KR: Broken Wings (the third book in The Broken Series) has been my favorite novel to write thus far. I laughed until I cried while writing a scene where my protagonist, Kristine, was given truth serum during an interrogation. Who knew the truth could be so funny? I also bawled my eyes out while writing one of the most tragic scenes I’ve ever written. That book gave me all the feels, and it remains one of my favorites to this very day.
LQ: Who is your favorite character to write about?
KR: Maxim Markov is my favorite character to write about. You will meet him in Broken Wings. Maxim is easily the most lethal man my protagonist has ever met. He’s killed numerous times. His eloquence and his passion for helping others prove disarming despite his dark side.
He challenges Kristine to view his work for the Russian Mafia in shades of gray, rather than black and white. He is the head of the Russia Mafia in Ukraine, but he abhors the Russian government. He’s completely devoted to his country, and he wants nothing more than to lift his people out of poverty.
Kristine is left wondering whether Maxim isn’t one of the good guys. He pursues her in an effort to improve his image and to further his political objectives. Oh, who am I fooling? He’s completely in love with her. He’s protective and domineering. He lacks boundaries. He’s an alpha who quotes Shakespeare. Oh, and he can bring a woman to orgasm while indulging in nothing more than a heated kiss.
LQ: Who are your favorite authors? Have any of them influenced your work?
My favorite author is Deborah Harkness. Her All Souls Trilogy is the only series I’ve read five times. J.K. Rowling comes a close second. I’ve read the Harry Potter Series twice. I am in awe of their creative thinking skills, their storytelling, their world-building, the depth of their characters, and the complexity of their plots. I’ll confess, I fangirl Deborah. I attended one of her book talks and two of her book signings. She is so humble and sweet. Her All Souls Con is on my bucket list. I gifted her a copy of the first book in my middle-grade fantasy trilogy when I attended the last book signing. Both authors have given me something to aspire to, and they helped spark my interest in writing epic fantasies.
LQ: How are you doing during the current pandemic?
KR: Okay. I’m not going to lie. I’m finding it difficult to write. I’m teaching three courses online while trying to help my children with their online classes. Most of my “free” time is spent cleaning. I’m anxious and scared for my daughter.
She had a life-saving kidney transplant in January and has literally no immune system right now. The only time we break our “bubble” is when we have to go to the hospital for blood draws (which are currently once a week) or when I need to stock up on groceries (which I try to limit to once every two weeks). I never thought I’d be terrified to buy groceries, but I am. I’m so worried I will contract the virus and pass it on to her. With her immune system, she’d never survive it. So, yeah, I’m a bit of a mess.
LQ: What are you currently working on?
KR: I’m working on a spin-off novel for Shae. You won’t meet Shae until the end of Beautifully Broken (book two in The Broken Series). Shae’s character was inspired by a very dear friend of mine. We met in graduate school. Our friendship was cemented during a peacebuilding trip in Ukraine. Some of the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction moments we experienced in that trip are woven into Broken Wings. I adore Shae, and I’m determined to give her the happily ever after she deserves.
Anything else you would like to share?
Yes! I thought I’d add something that complements your mission “Read for a Better World.” I share your goals of fighting global warming and poverty, so I want to share one of my favorite strategies.
I switched over to a search engine called Ecosia last year. Ecosia functions just like any other search engine, with one key difference. The organization that runs this search engine uses their profits to plant trees.
Ecosia donates 80% or more of the money it generates through ad revenue to non-profit organizations that plant trees, targeting areas where they are needed most. You can use this search engine on your computer, your cell, or any other device. It takes about 45 searches on average to plant one tree. I’ve planted 40 trees so far, simply by using Ecosia as my search engine!
There’s a little counter in the right-hand corner of my screen that tracks how many searches I’ve done, so I can easily determine how many trees I’ve helped plant. When you click on the search engine you will see a rapidly moving counter that reveals how many trees have been planted by Ecosia users. Currently, that number is 90, 340,800 trees. But it’s a rapidly moving counter, so that number has already increased! Ecosia believes in full transparency. They publish monthly reports, they share footage of their tree planting projects on YouTube, they are privacy-friendly, and they are more than CO2 neutral. Here are some links that explain their mission:
Planting trees helps increase carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 emissions and slowing climate change. It also helps reduce soil degradation, improves food security, strengthens economic and social stability, and lifts people out of poverty. I sincerely hope you’ll give it a try!