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Author Interview: Rita Potter Chats about Whitewater Awakening

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

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

This book is part of the International Setting category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Whitewater Awakening?

I have always wanted to go whitewater rafting, but my wife is much more cautious than I am. Interestingly, she is an excellent swimmer, and I can barely dog paddle. I’m not sure where I get my bravado, but I decided if we couldn’t go at least I could live vicariously through my characters.

This has become my wife’s favorite book of mine, and she has even said that she would consider going on a whitewater rafting trip. I guess you could say I wrote it to convince her it would be fun.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

This is a really hard question, but I would have to say Mick who is one of the side characters. Mick is mischievous and playful, which I suppose is a lot like me.

What inspired the idea for Whitewater Awakening?

I already mentioned my desire to go whitewater rafting inspired part of this book, but there is a deeper story underneath. It was inspired by the Terri Schiavo case which came to a head in 2005. Terri was in a persistent vegetative state, and her parents and husband had a lengthy court battle concerning whether to remove her feeding tube.

The story had intrigued me for years. I always wondered how her husband felt. Thus Quinn must deal with the guilt and grief of having her fiancé in a vegetative state. I won’t give away any more of the story, but to say it goes much deeper than a simple whitewater rafting experience.

What was the biggest challenge writing this book?

The biggest challenge was capturing the emotional strain Quinn lived with and the heavy guilt she couldn’t escape. While at the same time, showing her struggle to move on with her life while still tethered to the past love they shared and the responsibility she still felt.

It created such a moral dilemma, and at times while writing it I felt claustrophobic at how trapped Quinn was.

How much research did you need to do for Whitewater Awakening?

A TON. I have never been whitewater rafting in my life, so I had to learn all the terms and techniques to make it authentic. The true challenge was the setting since the bulk of the story is set on the Zambezi River in Zambia. I watched countless videos and read numerous articles on the rapids. I didn’t just have to learn the names, but also the best way for a rafter to successfully navigate that particular rapid.

I have two screens for my computer, so when I wrote the action scenes I played YouTube videos of rafters taking on the rapid that I was writing about.

This was my favorite video that I watched over and over again. This shows the Minus Rapids which is the first rapids that my main characters take on.

Do you have a pet who helps/hinders your typing?

Chumley my cat who claims he is my editor. Anyone who follows me on social media has likely seen many more pictures of him than me. He says it’s because he is much more photogenic than I am.

He is a ginger cat, which he claims is the best. He truly is an amazing little guy with a big personality. He loves to lay on the table when I am writing and slowly reach out his paw and touch my hand or the keyboard. Eventually he will end up with his head or whole body in the way.

He says to please follow me on Facebook, so everyone can admire his handsomeness.

What animal or object best represents you as an author or your writing style?

My wife says I’m driven and disciplined, so I would go with an eagle. I have a goal in mind and tend to keep my eye on it.

What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?

What’s helped me is fast drafting which means that I just let myself write without editing my first draft. It allows my creativity to flow.

What hinders me is worrying about whether my books will sell. My books tend to be more of a romantic blend than contemporary romance. Which means I’m not writing in the most popular genre, but I am writing what I love. Every now and then I let it get into my head that I’m spending too much time on something that will never really net me much. But then my wife reminds me I can’t put a price tag on the joy I feel from writing my characters and interacting with readers who truly get my work.

What author in your genre do you most admire, and why?

I don’t really have a genre. I have jokingly, but maybe it’s not a joke, said that I want to write something in every genre, so I have different authors I admire for different genres. For dystopian, I admire what Stephen King did with The Stand. For suspense, I am a huge fan of Gillian Flynn. When it comes to historic, it would be Ken Follett. And a genre that I haven’t written in YET, urban fantasy, it would be Charlaine Harris who wrote the Sookie Stackhouse series. Note, I said yet because there may be something to watch for in the future.

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

Everything! Fiction and non-fiction. I used to read over 100 books a year, but now that I have become a writer I only get about 50 read. I’m excited for when I am able to retire, so I can get back to 100 books a year again.

Have you ever thought you’d hate a book, but ended up loving it?

Battlefield Earth by L Ron Hubbard. I thought I would hate it because of his ties to Scientology. I still struggle with how much I loved the book. The only reason I read it is because I love dystopian and couldn’t pass up giving it a try.

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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Author Interview