Interview with Coming of Age Suspense Author Ron Bay Jr @Ronbayjr

coming of age suspense

I welcome author Ron Bay Jr to my blog today. Ron is the author of the newly released coming of age suspense, The Boat. His previous efforts were non-fiction memoirs, lighthearted looks at his youth, Little Heathens and Always a Little Heathen. Although writing is currently an avocation, he hopes that someday it becomes his vocation.


Do you outline your books or wing it?  Describe your process.  

In my first two books, which were memoirs, I wrote a series of anecdotal stories that I turned into chapters, with no set beginning or end. With The Boat, my first fiction, and in my current project Lost Highway, I found myself writing the ending far ahead of finishing the narrative. I tend to have an opening scene and an ending in my head and then fill in the remaining chapters as I write.


What genre(s) do you write in?  Why?
I’m not sure I have a favorite genre, but I love to write about the teen years. I have such fond memories of those days, which many describe as excruciating, but which I remember as a blast. The things I did and the thoughts I had then are as clear in my mind now as when they occurred. Teens are paradoxical, on the one hand, bold and cocksure, and on the other shy and lacking self-esteem. They are ignorant of many things in life, and yet they know it all. They desire close relationships and yet often times their moodiness pushes people away. What I remember most is the closeness of my friendships and the undying loyalty that existed. And I hope those things come through in The Boat and my other writings. Lost Highway? A story narrated through the eyes of two teens, a grandfather and grandson.


What’s the strangest thing you have ever done in the name of research?
In The Boat, a brief scene describes heroin use. Not having personal contact with the practice, I found someone who had been an addict and asked them to critique my description. Their feedback is responsible for the phrase, “red blood cloud,” and much of the other details in that scene. Also, not having sailed much, I did a lot of reading to come up with the last scene in the book, when Alec rids himself of the interlopers on his boat. In my current project, I’ve had to read about the early 1950’s, as much of the narrative takes place then.


What inspired your latest release?
A number of things. I remember my two best friends and me, all throughout the junior high years, having serious discussions about building a sailboat and floating down the Mississippi River, with the idea that we would then spend our days sailing around the Caribbean. A dream we felt was doable, but that never came to fruition.  When I mentioned the idea for a book with my son, he said, “Dad, it’s already been done,” with Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And so I modified the story a bit. Secondly, I had an epiphany a few years ago and it hit me that your closest friends during junior high and high school actually only occupy six short years of your life, and then we all part ways and start our own lives. The Boat illustrates that theme. And last, when I wrote The Boat, it was intended to be a tribute to my teen years and the friends I had in those halcyon days.


Can you tell us about your road to publication?
A year and a half of query letters and 167 rejections later, I decided to not allow the gatekeepers that much power over whether or not I was going to have this story told. Maybe it’s because I write a lousy query letter and synopsis, or maybe it’s because my story doesn’t fit the popular fiction being written currently. Either way, I lost patience and now I’m glad I pushed through. With this project completed, I feel much satisfaction, and I’m more proud of publishing The Boat than just about anything else I’ve done in life. The road wasn’t easy. Besides writing the story, I sourced and hired an editor as well as a graphic artist, and editing the story from the editor’s feedback was tedious and challenging. But I’ve come through the process a much better writer and I’ve learned a ton about the self-publishing process.


How much of you is in the books you write?  In what ways?
Plenty. Many of the “fiction” stories in my books are based on real people or real events. Fiction allows me to insert stories about myself, via the characters in the book, which I wouldn’t normally share publicly, and which might hurt those close to me. Times and events in my life that don’t reflect positively on my character. People, who know me well, pick up on these things, but even they don’t know all my closeted skeletons.


Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
I believe I was born to write, but didn’t discover it until later in life. I had to raise my family first and then God supplied me with something productive to do while I live out the remainder of my years. There are few things in this life I’m more passionate about, and writing has become a substitute for other activities I once took pleasure in doing.


You’re having a party.  What character from your book do you hope attends?  Why?  What character do you hope doesn’t attend?  Why?
I absolutely love the characters in The Boat, and other than the Winston’s and Charlie Nichols, I would want them all at the party. It would be fascinating to be a fly on the wall and eavesdrop on the conversations between Alec, Robbie and Jason, not to mention Dougie and Cassie. I would especially love to watch the other boys watch Cassie. I remember once, in the middle of writing The Boat, I was in a hotel room and had just finished a difficult part of the book and I had to stop writing. I called my wife and she could tell by my tone that something was wrong. When she asked, with a sadness in my voice I said, “Cassie’s mom died.” She said, “Who’s Cassie and how did her mom die?” She thought I was referring to someone at work. When she found out it was a character in my book, she said, “You need counseling.”


What do you read?  Do you read different genres when you’re writing versus not writing?
I try to follow the advice of Stephen King, who said emphatically that one must read in order to stay sharp. I don’t read as much as he does, but usually have a book lying around. While writing and editing The Boat, I wanted to read other books in the coming of age genre. I found both Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey and Looking for Alaska by John Green not only well written and entertaining, but they both helped me in finessing my own work.


What music “soothes your soul”?  Do you listen to music as you write?
I don’t listen to music while I write, unless it’s Mozart or other classical. I find it hard to concentrate when I listen to songs; the lyrics continually get in the way. I prefer utter silence to disappear into my stories. However, music plays a big part in my stories. For The Boat, rock and roll from the era is referenced throughout, even having the name of Alec’s boat named after a popular song. The title, Lost Highway, comes from an old Hank Williams tune, and is the theme of the book. Music has played continually in the soundtrack of my life and thus it should in the stories I write.

For more about Ron, follow his blog, Mischievous Musings or follow him on Facebook or Twitter


The Boat

Alec Thornton, at age fifteen, shares his dream of building a sailboat and sailing to Aruba with best friends Robbie and Jason. They, being as excited about the project as Alec, enthusiastically agree to help.

When two local bullies begin harassing and terrorizing the boys, they strike back and the conflict escalates. After a severe beating at the hands of the two thugs puts Robbie in the hospital, the boys must face the stark reality that their tormentors aren’t going away.

On the night Alec plans to celebrate the boat’s completion, he discovers the barn that houses his dream has been mysteriously set on fire. The boys plan their revenge, but events take a dark turn when the plot goes awry.

How will the boys end the conflict and how many relationships will be ruined along the way? And in fulfilling his lifelong dream, what price will Alec pay when vengeance comes around?


Buy it on Amazon.


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