I had the great pleasure of being a co-author in the anthology in which Johnathan Alvey made his first public appearance. Now, the amazing Mr. R. M. Ridley has started us on the dark road that will follow Alvey through the White Dragon Black series of novels. Ridley’s latest work, Blondes, Books and Bourbon, brings us back to the short story format in a collection of stories from within the White Dragon Black universe and staring your favorite embittered, brooding detective, Johnathan Alvey.
I’ll be honest, the level of dark paranormal and surprisingly detailed real-world mysticism in the WDB series is on the edge of what my sensitive self can handle. But then again, so are some of the things that I write myself… It is really Ridley’s talented writer that keeps me coming back for more. What I really love about Ridley’s writing, is that it’s not all about the magic and the occult. At it’s heart WDB is really about the life and struggle of Alvey, trying to make a difference, while struggling with the figurative inner demons that threaten to slowly strangle him (though there are also plenty of not-so figurative demons with the same goal).
Blondes, Books and Bourbon is an excellent example of this Ridley’s character driven writing. While Alvey is constantly faced with supernatural doings his most impressive solutions are those where he engages his Sherlock quality wit and some slight of hand to win the day. Still, there is plenty of opportunity for magic and supernatural action through out that will keep you in awe of Ridley’s world building and knowledge of ancient mystic practices.
WHITE DRAGON BLACK
Tomorrow Wendell (Book 1, 2014)
Blondes, Books, and Bourbon (March, 2015)
Bindings and Spines (Book 2, 2015)
Ridley’s work has appeared in two Xchyler anthologies: “The Case for Custody” in Shades and Shadows: a Paranormal Anthology, and “Charon’s Obol” in Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions.
Want to know more about BLONDES, BOOKS, AND BOURBON?
Enjoy this great discussion with R.M. Ridley:
- Please share how you came up with the concept for your short stories? Which of the stories was the easiest to write and which was the most difficult?
All of my writing comes from my Muse, I can’t construct a story myself. From my perspective, I don’t create my tales – I just record them. Now doesn’t that make me sound crazy? But it’s true – the majority of the stories I write, are idea’s that come to me as snippets of conversations, or little scenes that play out in my head as images. My challenge is to turn those into words that capture what I ‘see’.
In many ways, ‘The Ties that Bind’ was the hardest story to write, as I wanted a thread that connected it to the next novel, ’Bindings & Spines’ and yet allowed the story to stand all its own. That made for a challenge that I truly enjoyed.
The easiest one to write was probably, ‘Sins of the Father’. Being the first story written in that world, I had no restrictions, no rules, and no history. I didn’t have to keep anything straight, remember details, or worry about contradicting myself. Of course, when I wrote it, I had no idea that it would spawn so many other short stories, and novels.
- Please name some of your other published works:
Tomorrow Wendell – first White Dragon Black novel
Horror Library, Volume Three – ‘Blink the Blood Away’
Tales of the Talisman Magazine, Volume 1 Issue 4 – ‘Pigeon Pete’
Mental Wellness: Real Stories From Survivors – ‘Ceaseless Cycles’
Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions – ‘Charon’s Obol’
- What is your preferred writing genre?
I’m a paranormal / urban fantasy author mainly, but I cut my teeth with horror, and that will always have a dark spot in my heart. I’m sure my mind will churn out some further grisly morsels yet.
- And preferred reading genre?
When it comes to reading, I’ll take just about any sort of spec-fic, as long as it’s well written. Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, alt-history – give me a well told story, and I’m yours for the duration.
- What are your top 3 favorite books?
Ignoring how awful question that is to ask of any book lover, these are three I certainly always come back to, both physically, and in my mind:
‘The Dark is Rising’ by Susan Cooper was my favourite book as a child, and it still ranks in the top three.
‘Snow Crash’ by Neal Stephenson was an amazing journey meshing cyber-punk, ancient myth, and philosophy and thus must have a place here.
‘Someplace to be Flying’ by Charles de Lint, in many ways is one of my favourites of his works. There is a darkness to it that really appealed to me and it stepped away from some of the better known characters and giving a fresh view into an odd world.
- Do you have any particular writing habits?
You mean good ones? I try to get my writing done at the beginning of the day. After enough coffee to find words, I sit down and write what my Muse deigns to share with me. That way, no matter what else the day throws at me, I have got the important part completed.
- Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your story?
Yes, definitely. It grows and shrinks every so often, as songs no longer seem pertinent to the world, or I find new meaning in songs that inspire me. I also have subsets for the different moods Jonathan goes through and, of course, one for fight scenes.
- Panster or plotter?
Panster – Absolutely Panster! If I even try to plan a chapter ahead, the entire train of thought comes to a painful screeching halt and I’m left, chin in hand, staring at a black page, listening to the sheep Baa.
- Advice for writers?
I think there are two things that I would recommend, one is easy and the other sounds hard, but is actually just a change of mindset. First advice is a standard – Just Write. Get it down, and don’t look back until you’ve told the story. The second thing is – Learn to Love Edits. It sounds impossible, but editing is just writing from a different angle. It is the same process, same creativity, same weaving of words but you are doing it from outside the box instead of inside.
- What’s up next for you?
Any moment now, my editor, McKenna Gardner, who worked wonders with my first novel, ‘Tomorrow Wendell’ and acts of magic to get, ‘Blondes, Books & Bourbon’ together, is going to show up with a red pen, and a cattle prod. This will be my cue that she intends to help me get the second White Dragon Black novel, ‘Bindings & Spines’, ready for publishing. Everyone should take a minute and thank McKenna for making these works exist, by the way.
- Please provide some insight, a secret or two about each of the stories.
‘Interview’ was actually written for a blog that was promoting the first White Dragon Black novel, Tomorrow Wendell’. They asked for a character interview and that really gave me pause. I tried to wrap my head around what sort of circumstance would find Jonathan Alvey giving an interview and realized there was only one.
‘The Play’s the Thing’ is the second story written in the WDB world. It was a fun tale to write, and I did so quickly, but it opened up a deeper understanding of both Jonathan, and his world, for me. It was also the story that made me realize I would be seeing a lot more of that character in my future.
‘The Cost of Custody’ was written as a submission for Xchyler Publishing’s open call for their next anthology. It was the first time I had submitted anything involving Jonathan, and I was actually quite surprized when it was accepted into ‘Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology’. This was the first time the public was exposed to the character who had taken over all my writing time… clearly it was only the beginning.
‘Sins of the Father’ is the story that started it all. At the time, it was quite a digression from my usual style. I thought it a one off, a cute tale that stretched my writing ability and nothing more. However, once it had been written and edited, I found the writing department of my mind had been cleared of everything but a brooding figure with his feet up on a battered desk.
‘Legerdelivre’ was written long ago, and then about a year after, my Muse showed me a different possible ending to the story. I enjoyed it in my head but never put it into words. When we were editing that story for ‘Blondes, Books, & Bourbon’, I told my editor, McKenna, about the alternate ending and asked if she’d like me to write it up. She suggested I should write it and another, if I could. It wasn’t that the original ending was bad, but the idea of managing to get a better one, was tempting. I went to work on it immediately, and not only wrote out the one I’d carried in my mind for quite some time, but a third ending as well. The version that is in this anthology is actually the best parts of all three ending fused into one. It wasn’t the easiest to pull off smoothly, but I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.
‘Do As I Say, Not As I Did’ holds a special place in my heart because it a story that shows that Jonathan can intentionally be, when he really wants to, a bit of a jerk. That, to me, is simply entertaining. Hmm, maybe this says something about me I should admit in an interview.
As I said, my stories come from my Muse, but sometimes I can say, ‘Hey, can we work with…’ and she’ll give me a story, there are two of those in this anthology. For the first, I wanted a story that was centered on Jonathan and his problems with keeping a secretary. That was it. That was what I asked for. After a day of musing (where do you think the term comes from?) what I got, was the story, ‘What a Nightmare’. The second was ‘The Ties that Bind’ and it came about because I wanted a short story that tied into the next novel ‘Bindings & Spines’. I wanted to create a tale that stood alone but, when read in conjuncture with the novel, enriched the understanding of the what, and why, of Jonathan trying to go ‘clean’ from magic.
Who would you cast for your main characters and why? Pictures would be great.
When I first started writing Jonathan I had an idea of him, his looks and manners, but no real face I could say ‘Like him’, that changed when I watched an episode of ‘Sanctuary’. There was a guest actor, who I knew well from watching SG-1 but who looked much different as this character. When I saw Michael Shanks, as he appeared in this role, I suddenly had a face for Jonathan.
Author Favorite Things:
– Quote – “Don’t you smile at me like that … that’s not even a real smile! It’s just a bunch of teeth playing with my mind!”
– TV show – Doctor Who. I mean ALL Doctor Who; not just the new, not just the old. Doctor Who.
– Comic book character – Death from Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’
– Movie – Casablanca. Is there any other possible answer?
– Candy bar – Big Turk. I mean, how can you say ‘No’ to Turkish delight and chocolate?
– Junk food – White Chocolate. No, wait, ice cream. No, Gin. No, gummy bears. Coffee?
– Place you visited – I haven’t traveled much, or very far. The trip to Wales, my mothers country of birth, was taken when I was young but even so it floats in my dreams always.
– Restaurant – The mom and pop diner, in the small town where I live. They have big inexpensive breakfast served all day, and burgers that just hit the spot every time.
– Island – Roke. There are, I’m sure, many wonderful ones out there but I take Roke as my choice.