Today I am so pleased to welcome Roan Parrish to Joyfully Jay. Roan has come to talk to us about her latest release, Small Change (which I reviewed here and loved), along with fellow blogger Judith from Binge on Books. Please join me in giving them a big welcome!
Judith: Hey Roan! Thanks for joining me…for another interview! This is the second time we’ve had a chance to talk about Small Change so I want to mix it up a little. Instead of you talking about yourself right off the bat, let’s kick this off with you telling us about your characters! Tell us three fun facts about Ginger, and three fun facts about Christopher.
Roan: Hey Judith, thanks for chatting with me. Again. Yes, let’s talk characters!
Fun facts about Ginger:
- She painted a crack in her apartment ceiling to look like a skeleton is reaching down into the room.
- Coffee ice cream is the only food she can be relied upon to have in her house at all times.
- Her first tattoo was of a potato (you’ll have to read for context).
Fun facts about Christopher:
- He’s had a lot of different jobs, all over the world.
- Since he owns a sandwich shop, he looks at all food with an eye toward how he might translate it into a sandwich.
- He always wears V-neck undershirts and they’re always unusual colors (you’ll have to read to find out why).
Judith: Christopher and his V-necks intrigue me…but I guess like your readers, I’ll have to read the book to find out more! If I like it, what are some books that you think readers of Small Change will enjoy?
Roan: Probably depends on if the readers of Small Change like it or not *wink*. If they do, I’d say maybe check out Karina Halle’s Darkhouse series, which is an awesome slow-burn romance/horror series about ghost hunters.
Judith: So clearly you’re a Karina Halle fan. Besides her and her writing, what would you say are your top writing influences?
Roan: Honestly, anything can be influential. I find myself getting ideas from books, tv, music, sure, but also from people I see on the subway or a newspaper article. Liking something doesn’t make it influential, nor does disliking something mean it doesn’t spark ideas. Media, life, whatevs, they’re just like a buffet where I’ll pluck little things out of context and shove them in my mouth—I mean, use them in stories. I’m hungry.
Judith: Let’s talk about your creative process then. How do the ideas come? How do you process them? How much research goes into a story? How many iterations are there?
Roan: Usually it starts with a little thing that gets stuck in my head and that I keep coming back to. It might be a character trait or a place or even a line of prose. Usually I’m working on something else at the time, though. So, whenever I get those little pebbles of ideas, I stick them into a Scrivener file. I have tons of files like that, sometimes with just one thing in them, or sometimes with more. As new bits stick in my mind I’ll put them in the file, and they just kind of live in the back of my mind until they reach critical shininess level and I have to do something with them.
But sometimes a whole story just … plops into my head. I was just on vacation, and I was reading Red Dragon by the pool. Thomas Harris wrote a foreward to it and he said two things that really resonated with me: “To write a novel, you begin with what you can see and then you add what came before and what came after.” And, “When you are writing a novel you are not making anything up. It’s all there and you just have to find it.” Usually when I am actually at the stage where I’m going to write something, I just start with what I can see—that one character trait or the one line—and I build out logically from there. And once I start doing that, I realize that it really is pretty much there already, in my head. So I can tell when I have an idea that doesn’t fit or that won’t work.
I research whatever needs researching, so it depends on the story. I care about details—they’re what make things feel authentic, especially for readers who know about the things you’re writing. I especially like to be accurate with places or with professions. It’s so frustrating as a reader to be really into a story and then read something that makes it clear that the author didn’t even bother to google the place their character has lived their whole life. That kind of inauthenticity really takes me out of the story.
Number of drafts also really depends on the book. I did about five very different drafts of Small Change, for example, but right after, I wrote a book that will hardly change at all from draft to publication. For me, levels of revision don’t really say anything about the quality of the project, just the process of writing. Some stories are discovered through sorting through a lot of different options to find the best combination, and some have a clearer path. It just depends.
Judith: Speaking of combinations…and btw, I’m about to be very unsubtle, who would you most want to write a book with and why?
Roan: I think there are very few people I’d want to write books with. I might fantasy want to write with someone because I love their work and would love the chance to see how their brain produces it, but having just co-written for the first time, it’s very clear to me that co-writing is mostly about compatibility and complementarity, rather than admiration. My first experience co-writing (Heart of the Steal, with Avon Gale) was a total joy. Avon and I have similar taste but our ways of working are in near perfect complementary distribution. Avon enjoys big picture things the most and I most enjoy details, so we had a really smooth writing and revision process where we had the same goals for the book, and didn’t step on each other’s toes at all.
Santino Hassell and I are currently cooking up a project, and I’m incredibly excited to write with him. Both of us are really interested in characterization and the psychology of how characters act in particular situations and interact in certain ways, so it’s really gratifying to talk about crafting characters with him as we start planning.
Judith: You’ve told us about writing secrets, now for our final question, please tell us a secret about Roan Parrish!
Roan: I am inherently distrustful of charming people because I kind of assume they’re secretly either serial killers or master manipulators.
Ginger Holtzman has fought for everything she’s ever had—the success of her tattoo shop, respect in the industry, her upcoming art show. Tough and independent, she has taking-no-crap down to an art form. Good thing too, since keeping her shop afloat, taking care of her friends, and scrambling to finish her paintings doesn’t leave time for anything else. Which … is for the best, because then she doesn’t notice how lonely she is. She’ll get through it all on her own, just like she always does.
Christopher Lucen opened a coffee and sandwich joint in South Philly because he wanted to be part of a community after years of running from place to place, searching for something he could never quite name. Now, he relishes the familiarity of knowing what his customers want, and giving it to them. But what he really wants now is love.
When they meet, Christopher is smitten, but Ginger … isn’t quite so sure. Christopher’s gorgeous, and kind, and their opposites-attract chemistry is off the charts. But hot sex is one thing—truly falling for someone? Terrifying. When her world starts to crumble around her, Ginger has to face the fact that this fight can only be won by being vulnerable—this fight, she can’t win on her own.
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre. When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
Connect with Roan: www.roanparrish.com