In today’s interview, I’m talking to Ronie Kendig, author of 15 novels and six novellas. Her rapid-fire fiction keeps her readers turning pages.
About the Book:
Don your tactical gear and enter the world of black ops and espionage within the pages of Ronie Kendig’s thriller Firethorn. Former Marine Griffin “Legend” Riddell, a fugitive from injustice, finds it difficult to trust anyone. Covert operative Kazi Faron, the woman sent to free him, has a dangerous secret that may jeopardize her life, mission, and the only man she respects. As Griffin and Kazi race around the globe to save Nightshade, the danger mounts. Will they find the culprit sabotaging their black ops team? Can their newfound feelings and trust survive when Griffin and Kazi face truth and terror?
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Bio: Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of a dozen novels. She grew up an Army brat. Now, she and her husband, an Army veteran, have an adventurous life in Northern Virginia with their children and a retired military working dog, VVolt N629. Ronie’s degree in Psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.
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Terri: It’s so great to have you here today. I fell in love your writing from the first book I read but Firethorn, the fourth book in your Discarded Heroes series, is extra special for me. How did you decide to write not only an ethnic character but an interracial couple, also?
Ronie: The development of Marine hero Griffin “Firethorn” Riddell wasn’t borne out of a conscious decision to “inject” ethnicity into my series but rather at the outset, I simply “saw” the team built up of diversity, which I feel is indicative our military itself. When I first encountered Griffin and dug deep into the research to know his story, I knew the only woman who’d both command respect and demand attention from him would be his complete opposite—so, where’s he’s large (6’4” and 250 lbs), she is petite (5’5”). Where he is content to sit back and let people figure things out, she was confrontational. Where he is African American, she was a very Caucasian with white-blond hair and fair skin.
Terri: Did you worry about pushback from your readers?
Ronie: In all honesty, *I* didn’t expect pushback because I didn’t think like that. However, when some involved wth the publication of my book suggested I should change Griffins ethnicity, I was both taken aback and angered, because to me, Griffin was who he was. It was his essence. I had even been told to be prepared to ‘get slaughtered’ for being a white female writing a black male.
Terri: There has been a significant amount of talk about sensitivity readers in the publishing world right now. You employed used sensitivity readers for this book. Why was it important for you to get their perspective?
Ronie: These new terms are interesting to me. When I wrote Firethorn almost seven or eight years ago, I approached his ethnicity with as much research fervor as I do with any other ethnicity or profession. Honestly, I simply wanted to get it right and show respect/honor to those within that culture that I was writing about. But because some in my publishing world had concerns, I was especially keen on getting it right with Griffin’s ethnicity. I had several long conversations with author and friend Michelle Stimpson, as well as with yourself, Terri, regarding writing an African American character. And quite honestly, you both educated me on things that I simply had never thought about—as happens with most “experts” I’ve spoken to. Writing is as much about learning as it is about entertainment to me.
Terri: Your books often take your characters into other cultures and locations around the world. How do you show these cultures without leaning towards stereotypes?
There are many ways to gain that information and accurately portray those cultures. A few include: digging around travel sites; reading pieces/articles/blogs by those who live there; talking with those who’ve been there. It’s the nuances—the smells, the colloquialisms, the foods, etc., that bring a culture alive in a novel. And quite honestly, if something is stereotypical of a culture/character, I work to make that “element” NOT a part of the character or turn it on its head. I think the biggest thing is to apply the same level of respect and intention/determination toward ethnicity as we do to professions within our books.
I think we need to write “unafraid,” because when you aren’t THAT person or haven’t worked THAT profession, you’re going to get something wrong. For example, I’d written something for a character from another country one time, based on direct input from someone from said country. Yet, another person from said country chastised me for not doing my research and said it was wrong. *shrug* But you have to be willing to make mistakes, learn and grow, both as a person and as a writer.
Terri: Coffee or Tea?
Ronie: Yes. Seriously, it depends on the day or maybe even the diet I’m on. LOL I love love a good cup of herbal tea, but I also savor having a caramel macchiato.
Terri: What is your go-to writing snack?
Ronie: The Krakken—apple sliced with peanut butter.
Terri: What’s next for Ronie Kendig?
I’ve been asking the Lord that myself. Ha. I’m currently about to delve into book 3 of The Tox Files, but after that? I’m exploring options that will continue writing paramilitary suspense as I’ve loved doing and have developed in my brand, Rapid-Fire Fiction.
Thank you so much for joining us today. I look forward to whatever God leads you to next.