#02 – Molly Ringle – Write Through the Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 02 with Molly Ringle: writer of romance with a magical twist

“My writing tends to be on the weird side.” 

Episode 02 – Molly Ringle – Show Notes
  • Molly explains what cheese puffs are
  • Mashing up love, honest emotion, humour and cool plot ideas
  • The power of marinating
  • Beginner’s mind
  • Bringing to life Puget Sound in The Goblins of Bellweather
  • Madeleine’s segment – Tick. Tick. Tick. The Pomodoro Technique:
Links

Episode 02 – Molly Ringle – Transcript

Madeleine

Hello, and today I’m speaking with Molly Ringle. Thanks for coming on the show Molly.

Molly

Oh, thank you for having me.

Madeleine

No problem. So, just quickly a little introduction about Molly. So, Molly is a writer from the Pacific North West, she´s seven novels under her belt. Her most recent trilogy, The Chrysomelia trilogy is based on Greek mythology in a college setting. She´s also the dubious recipient of the Bulwer-Lytton prize for the worst opening sentence for a novel. And a new novel, The Goblins of Bellweather which is inspired by the glorious poem by Christina Rossetti, The Goblin Market is out in October. Thanks for coming on the show.

Molly

Yes, thank you. Right, as we were first talking when we first got on, Bulwer-Lytton prize is actually not a novel sentence that I wrote, I mean, it’s not for a novel that was published. It´s an imaginary novel, intentionally bad.

Madeleine

Let´s just do a couple of quick warm up questions so people can get to know a little bit more about you and your writing style. Do you write every day?

Molly

I try to write every day, but some days are a little harder than others, but I try to write at least something every day, even if it´s not the actual fiction that I would ideally be working on. There are other days when I’m trying to figure out something that´s causing me to be stuck in a story or even a free write of whatever´s on my mind, which mean I´m getting closer to finishing a book, but it feels like it´s still practice. Like doing scales on a musical instrument, people say.

 Madeleine

Absolutely. And, are you a plotter or a pantser?

 Molly

I kind of wish I were more of a pantser but every time I try to be I write myself up against some walls that I can´t see past. And then I don´t know what should happen next, because I haven´t figured out the big picture sufficiently, who these characters are and where they´re going or why. So, it does work better for me when I use my plotter side and outline it first. But that said, I never stick a hundred percent to the outline. Inspirations always strikes somewhere in the process and prompts me to change something in the outline, based on a new brilliant idea. So, the outline is a guide, it´s not something I have to stick to a hundred percent.

Madeleine

Absolutely. And, what´s your favourite format of writing?

Molly

Novelist. I´m basically a novelist at heart. I will once in a while write something shorter, like a novella or short story, like, if I see a call for submissions that I´m interested in or if I´ve had an idea that´s very simple that can be told in short form. But, for the most part, I love the feeling of settling into a novel that I can work on for a year or really get in it and live in it for a while.

Madeleine

Yes, in my introduction I forgot to mention your parodies as well.

Molly

That’s true. They´re almost like fan fiction because it’s me really liking something, like the Harry Potter books or the Lord of the Ring movies, and doing something with them, making them ridiculous, condensing them down way short, and actually, not just condensing them but making jokes too. But I only do that with the things I really love, I wouldn’t if I didn’t actually like something. So, even if I´m parodying them, it’s a form of love to do that. Those are the shorter things I like to do occasionally.

Madeleine

Ok, and what´s your writing fuel of choice?

Molly

Well, so cliché, but it’s probably chocolate. Now, when I´m thinking through a problematic plot idea, I often find myself wondering into the kitchen and getting a handful of chocolate chips and standing there thinking about it. I guess my salty cravings it might be tortilla chips or cheese puffs. I know it sounds very unhealthy, I don´t eat very unhealthy on the whole but on the thinking moments I might get through these. I also drink a lot of tea though, that´s not so unhealthy.

Madeleine

What kind of tea?

Molly

I’ve all kinds. Black, green, herbal, many different kinds, I mix it up.

Madeleine

What are actually cheese puffs? Being from Australia, I don’t know.

Molly

I remember talking to somebody else in Australia who didn’t know. You don´t have Cheetos I guess. There´s this snack food thing that’s puffy, it’s probably based in corn, it’s sort of like Styrofoam but it´s sort of cheesy and salty, yes, and it´s strangely delicious. Yes.

Madeleine

Yes, we´ve got something like that but I can´t think at the moment what it´s called. A kind of cheese ring thing we have.

Molly

Something comparable, we call them cheese puffs, there are several different brandings. Cheetos is kind of the famous one but there’s others.

 Madeleine

Cheezels, that’s what they´re called in Australia, Cheezels. Ok, less about snack foods and more about writing.

Molly

More important, yes.

 Madeleine

How would you describe your writing? What themes do you explore?

Molly

Well, I would say my writing tends to be a bit on the weird side first of all. I do almost always write a love story in what I´m working on. Usually some humour. And at least in some books I like to have a magical or paranormal element.  But I seldom end up sitting the book nearly into any one genre, which is kind of the weird angle. And this is maybe because I don´t like some rule of a given genre so I decide I´m going to bend it or break it and maybe blend in something from a different genre instead. And luckily the publishing world these days is getting a bit more open to kind of mixed genre books, and people seem to be ok with that.

Yes, it does get called weird sometimes and that´s probably why. So, what´s important to me about any book I´m writing or reading is that I really care about the characters. And then there´s a good story that will keep people turning pages wanting to know what happens. I guess what I hope I consistently include is love, honest emotion, humour, cool plot idea and some intriguing way of mashing all that up together so it´s something unique, and maybe weird.

 

Madeleine

That sounds awesome to me. So, in your, I don´t want to say writing journey but I just did….

 

Molly

Craft.

 

Madeleine

Craft. What is the one thing that you think really made the different in your writing career that took you to the next level? What would that be?

 

Molly

What came to mind with that question was the rule to let the book kind of marinate after the first draft, and this is also one of the hardest things for me to do.  But, as everyone says, you know, when the first draft is down, you should not immediately jump right back at the beginning and start erasing because you won´t be able to see if you´re fixing it.

You need this objective distance, so you need to close the manuscript and not look at it for a while. I try to make it a month, although it´s really hard not to look at it. But then if you do, when you come back to it, then it´s much clearer what works and what doesn´t, it´s kind of magic but it is a hard month.

And actually another trick which is simpler is to change the font every so often when you´re revising it, because reading it in a different font, it helps you see it fresher. It´s weird but it works. At least for me it does, it may be because I´m very visually oriented but it might not work for people who aren´t. It´s kind of a fun trick and it´s very easy.

 

Madeleine

So, where did you get that tip from?

 

Molly

The font tip? I don´t remember. I may have heard it somewhere, or maybe I just stumbled upon it as I do often mess with the fonts anyway just from procrastination or I don´t know, because I like to mess with the fonts. I don´t remember who at this point.

 

Madeleine

Are you trying any new techniques at the moment?

 

Molly

Well, lately I´ve tried to coming in at writing novels or at least the plotting outlining part as if I were completely new to it. Beginner´s mind as they call it in some circles. Because maybe I feel that I´ve gotten too complacent at putting together novels. I feel it´s always worth going back to study the basics and make sure you really do know what you´re doing. So, I´ve been reading or listening to podcasts too about people´s theories of story structure and what goes into a compelling character or the typical plot line events like romance or a fantasy or so forth and thinking about that for the next book as well as the one I´m realising.

 

Madeleine

Are there any books or podcasts that you recommend for this?

 

Molly

Let´s see, there´s a couple of podcasts I’ve found. There’s ´Writing excuses`, it’s really good. Helping writers become authors is one I’ve recently found. I’ve been searching around to try new ones. There’s a bunch out there and they’ve given me a couple of good general rules and basically people put up really awesome plot outline worksheets that are good to ask yourself the questions that are on it. What´s the pinch point for the mid-point of the book and what’s the pinch point for that and characters´ goal going into it. Because sometimes I look at that, even with the book I’ve completely finished writing and you know, I´m not actually sure what the goal of the character is. That´s not a good thing to think. So yes, ask yourself some questions again.

Madeleine

And that’s what´s good with your taking that time to marinate because you get a little bit of distance.

Molly

Yes, definitely.  I think I just figured out eventually that I was revising and tinkering endlessly and just feeling like I was in a muddle, and all I really needed to do was put it away for a while and when I came back I was like, I know what the problem is. This part isn´t clear over here. So, if you´re just in it all the time, you can´t see it.

Madeleine

So, what writers inspire you?

Molly

There are so many. Just this week I was speaking to an Australian author. I was telling Kate Forsyth in e-mail that she inspires me because not only the amazing amount of great writing she does but the reading and reviewing and travelling she manages to fit into life. I’m following her Instagram page and she’s well travelling to do her books in two hours, seeing all kinds of things and she´s writing a gazillion books and reading them on. So, people like her remind me that, it’s like the old saying goes, if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. People are good at doing a lot once they get into the practice. So, I feel that I shouldn’t be so reluctant to take on a little bit more about writing and life sometimes. Probably fit it in, with what some people can manage.

Madeleine

But you do have a couple of small children, don´t you? I’m always in awe of people who can do that with the little ones.

Molly

They’re getting a little bit older now. I can leave them in another room for a while. They’re in school now. When they were much smaller, looking back, it´s amazing that I got anything done. I´m not sure how that even happened. I certainly didn’t get out and do a lot of world travelling and marketing, that kind of thing, just stayed at home and did what I could here.

Madeleine

I don’t know how you guys do it. You should be proud.

Molly

Thank you. I also have a deep of respect for people who can do historical research, and Kate Forsyth can do that, and also my dear friend Abby Williams is a writer of westerns as well as contemporaries. Like, they can just dive right into their research and bring it to the book so it feels like they’ve been to this time period and can tell us how it was. I just feel daunted by it. I´m just going to get things so completely wrong, I try to do it anyway. Yes, so people who can write historicals I really, I admire them a lot.

Madeleine

Absolutely. So, tell us a bit more about the Goblins of Bellweather.

Molly

Well, it was only a few years ago actually that I only read Christina Rossetti’s poem, The Goblin Market. A friend of mine told me about it, I read it and it intrigued me, because it´s not only based on a paranormal story about two sisters dealing with a nasty goblin curse, which is interesting in itself but it also has all this other evocative and a twisted imagery about, like sucking on fruits and grappling with the goblins smashing fruit in your face. Anyone who´s read it knows it comes come off kind of sexual, which, maybe that´s where my mind goes, but a lot of people said that. And, in any case, it struck me as the kind of story I can do something with because like a fairy tale, just seemed to have a lot of symbolism, it could mean a lot of things, or a lot of ways you could retell the same story. So, I wrote it down in my story idea file and after finally finishing my huge Chrysomelia trilogy, I decided to try the Goblin story next. It was very different because it was much smaller, that´s what I wanted. I wanted a smaller, simpler book after the big exhausting trilogy. So, this is a smaller cast, simpler story but similar to the trilogy in the sense that it’s paranormal and it’s retelling an older story in my own and weird way.

Madeleine

Yes, it was very interesting for me being Australian to read and not knowing the forests, and that was an interesting setting.

Molly

Yes, that was kind of, my other motivation in writing was to bring to life this landscape that I’ve always loved and Puget Sound is my probably my favourite place on earth. It´s very relaxing to me, also mysterious and a little bit spooky in its way. If you walk deep into the forest there and into deep dark waters, so I thought, this is a perfectly good setting as a deep dark forest and spooky setting for a goblin attack or a fairy tale so I should give this some love in my stories. I don´t think that I’ve given Puget Sound enough attention, so I give this setting a lot of attention, yes.

Madeleine

That’s great. So, what are you working on right now?

Molly

Well, for most of the year I’ve been on this ongoing revision and feedback from others is for a contemporary coming of age romantic comedy, no magic this time. And it’s a love story between two guys and I really hope to get it shaped up for the road soon, get feedback and revision done before that and next project I´m pondering another magic and fae related book. So, I´m writing the notes and figuring out how it´s all going to work, what the story should be about. There will be another love story at the centre, I know that much, that´s what makes me happy.

Madeleine

So, just to wrap up, I’ll let you get back to your writing and your little ones. Where can people find you online and your work?

Molly

I’m in a lot of places in social media, I’m on Twitter which is @MollyRingle, I´m a Goodreads author, I have my Facebook author page, a Tumblr that I sometimes update, a blog that I mirror in about three different places now. Basically, anyone who googles my name will find any one of those and my books can be found at the usual online bookstores and they should be able to be ordered locally in any bookstores and libraries too, if you ask them.

Madeleine

I also have to say that The Goblin of Bellweather has a beautiful cover.

Molly

Oh, I know. I can´t take credit for that. That´s my publisher who put that together. When I gave her a few back she said, yes, I like that. It is so pretty, I know, everyone loves the cover and rightly so.

Madeleine

Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today and I hope you have a good day.

Molly

Thank you, you too. I’ll be excited to share the show with everyone.

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2 Comments

  1. Enjoying your new podcast, Madeleine! Looking forward to more. Let me know if you ever want a new novelist on. Planning to launch the first book in my epic fantasy series by spring. 🙂

    • Madeleine D'Este

      Thanks Janell. I’m so glad you’re enjoying Write Through the Roof. Always looking for guests as everyone has their own perspective.

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