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Author Interview: Rita Potter Chats about Thundering Pines

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Get ready to learn more about the book Thundering Pines in this discussion with sapphic author Rita Potter.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Rita Potter about Thundering Pines, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Small Town Romance category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Thundering Pines?

This was one of my earlier books when I was less confident in my storytelling or more accurately my ability to create settings. Since my father owned a campground that I inherited, it made it much easier for me to write the setting. The actual story is entirely fictious, but for me who doesn’t visualize well it made it easier for me to capture the place.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

Of all my books, this is the only one that I don’t have a favorite character. I like Dani and Brianna equally which is rare. I am probably more like Dani in that I love the outdoors.

What inspired the idea for your Thundering Pines?

This was the transition book for me. My debut novel was the story that had been in my head forever, while my dystopian trilogy was one that I’d vowed to write since I read The Stand by Stephen King.

Thundering Pines was the first book that the idea hadn’t been percolating for years, so it was a whole new experience for me. With that said, I grabbed onto what was at the forefront of my mind, which was a campground.

I wasn’t sure that I would ever have another story idea because this one felt a bit forced to me, while every book since has flowed much more seamlessly. Now I have an entire notebook full of story ideas, so

I never am without an idea.

What was the biggest challenge writing this book?

I wrote this book while attending the GCLS Writing Academy, and Jae was my mentor for it. I was still fumbling around trying to figure out how to write. I knew I was a decent storyteller, but I had a long ways to go with my technical writing skills. I received a Masterclass from Jae as she mentored me and honed my skills.

While it was a dream come true learning so much from Jae, I feel this is probably my most “disjointed” book because I was trying to incorporate so much learning while trying to find my voice as an author.

This was truly my turning point as an author, so I consider this as my bridge to my self-discovery. I learned how to be a better writer, but more importantly I became more confident in my voice.

What part of the book was the most fun to write?

The ATV scene. If you’ve read it, you know.

How much research did you need to do for your book?

I have to put this in here because it was the one thing Jae wanted me to take out, but I stubbornly left in. I researched the various types of firewood, and my characters have a discussion about it in the book. Jae asked if I really needed to go on and on about firewood.

What is your favorite line from your book?

“Wow, you’re a geek. I’ve never met anyone with a favorite firewood.”

Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

I am weird when it comes to this. I have a tiny notebook sized laptop that I write my first draft on. Since it’s portable, I move around. In the summer, I love to write outside.

Then when I do my first round of edits, I use my bigger laptop computer since I use the Read Aloud feature in Word to hear how the story sounds. My tiny laptop isn’t powerful enough to do this without it locking up.

Then after my beta readers have given me feedback, I do the edits on my CPU because it has two monitors. This way I can have two documents open at once. One with the manuscript and the other with all my beta readers suggestions.

As far as staying focused, a hurricane could be going on around me when I am in the zone and I wouldn’t even notice.

Do you have any odd writing quirks?

I could fill a notebook with my odd quirks. One of my quirks is that I am highly structured and organized. I keep track of everything in a program called Obsidian. Each of my book has a central note with many additional notes to keep everything together. I have word count tables, research notes with links, fast drafting notes, beta readers suggestions, marketing information and so much more. It’s hard to explain in writing, but let’s just say it’s elaborate.

What makes this even odder is that when I write, I am a pantser and have nothing outlined. I just pull all the random information from my notes and start writing away.

Have you ever hated one of your characters?

I love writing unlikeable characters. My most unlikeable one was probably in my trilogy. Since I am an optimist at heart, I fully believe in redemption, so I can’t imagine ever writing a book where I’m not constantly thinking of how a character can become a better person. Even in Thundering Pines, there are two characters who aren’t the most likeable people, but I’d like to think I found a way to explain, not excuse, some of their less than stellar actions which makes them more sympathetic.

Have you ever fallen in love with one of your characters?

All of the time. I’ve had crushes on many of my characters. The ones that I tend to fall for are the more feminine underdog, who in the end is a lot tougher than it might appear on the surface. I will forever have a crush on Jill from my debut novel Broken Not Shattered.

What books did you grow up reading?

Books have always been my first love. I remember saving up all my chore money, so I could go to the bookstore and buy as many books as I could afford. I also knew that my mom would never say no if I asked her to buy me a book, but if I asked for a toy I wasn’t guaranteed a yes. Being a clever kid, it was a wiser choice to ask for a book.

I am naturally curious, so I read everything. As a kid, I was always learning something new, and I have carried that with me for my entire life. Which has inspired my writing. For me, reading and writing is a buffet and I want to sample a little of everything.

Do you only read books in one genre or do you genre hop?

I am a HUGE genre hopper. My mind is too active for me to stick with one genre, both in reading and writing. It would probably be easier to tell you what genres I don’t read than to tell which ones I do.

Truly the only genres I steer clear of is erotica and straight romance, or anything with extreme violence or unnecessary cruelty.

I’ve found I tend not to be a big fan of some literary fiction that is too descriptive or meanders. When I read I want my books to be fast paced and character centric.

My escape read will always be suspense thrillers.

Meet Rita Potter

Rita Potter finds her inspiration from the quote, “The writer’s job is to get their main character up a tree, and then throw rocks at them.” She draws heavily on her background in social work to ensure her character’s struggles are authentic, while still infusing her stories with hope. Through the Storms is her tenth book in her eclectic catalog. She lives in the middle of a cornfield with her wife and their spoiled cat.

Visit Rita’s Website

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