Author Interview- RJ Conte

I have known RJ Conte for almost 20 years. That is kinda weird to think about, so I’m not going to dwell on that because that makes me think we’re getting kinda old. Today I get to share her upcoming latest book with you!

Hotline Girl

“Arabella Rose is the county’s best suicide hotline telephone operator. But very few know the personal reasons behind her passion, until a call from a strangely compelling man shakes up her entire world.” The Hotline Girl – Available May 2nd on Amazon

Before I get to the interview, you are officially invited to the Facebook party for the Book release: The Hotline Girl- Book Release Party!

What is a Release Party? I shall copy RJ’s answer directly here for you:

“A Facebook party is a page dedicated to giveaways, pictures, questions, virtual snacks, and fun.  I talk a little about my book, let you ask any questions you want, and, mainly, I just give you things.  I have some great prizes, including an antique postcard, a bouquet of roses, framed calligraphy, and more.  In this party, I will be supporting many Indie merchants by giving you their stuff for free (and letting you know where you can get more!)”

Onto RJ’s author interview! I hope you’ve enjoyed both RJ’s and Griffin’s interviews this week, I know I learned something new about both these ladies. 🙂

1) When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Honestly, the first profession I really wanted to be was an actress. I think, inherently, that I am ill-equipped to be a writer in my natural personality. I’m very extroverted, outgoing, and hate to be cooped up in a house all day. But I never let anyone deter me from becoming a writer because I didn’t look or talk like other writers or didn’t write fantasy or sci-fi! I also love to teach, to tell stories, and I adore the written word. I think in full sentences, so stories are just always there. I have done many things: be a wife and mother, piano and voice teacher, a writing tutor, and a teacher for a two-year-old class, but writing is always that side job that kept threatening to overtake my life with its beckoning call. It’s too fun and fulfilling to avoid. 🙂 I guess, to answer your question, I’ve been writing stories since the age of seven. 🙂

2) Unless I’m mistaken, The Hotline Girl is your first short story, What led you to writing this story as a short story?
My first short story is technically The Hero of the Wars of Mougle, which you can find on Amazon here.
I am always so confused by the classifications of stories. I think The Hotline Girl is classified as a novella, since it’s 20,000 words. I wrote The Hotline Girl for a specific contest. It’s modern and realistic, with (I hope!) genuine emotions and character development, but the contest was looking for zombie/ghoul/ghost stories, so I was a terrible match all round. Nonplussed, I decided to share The Hotline Girl anyway, on my own terms. I’m glad I did!

3) The Hotline Girl is a retelling of a fairy tale, the first in a series of retelling of fairy tales. There are quite a few retellings of fairy tales nowadays, how do you hope that The Hotline Girl will stand out?
It’s only going to be the first of two. The third is getting postponed due to reevaluating my goals as a mother and Bible study teacher. I also am planning on traveling a lot this spring (And to come see you!), and so I thought it was detrimental to my family life to cut into it with a third book that hasn’t even been written yet. :-(To answer your question, I’m hoping The Hotline Girl will stand out by being one of the few fairy tale retellings that is non-fantasy. It’s really fun to imagine the fairy tales as happening in real life right next door to you. You can picture yourself as the heroine, and I hope the story exudes realism and honest, heartfelt romance and emotion. 🙂

4) You address the topic of suicide in this book. I for one was blown away at the grace, delicacy, and kindness you handled that part of the book. How did you prepare yourself for writing on those more difficult topics?
You’re so kind to me, Heidi! You have been one of my biggest supporters from day one – 8 1/2 years ago when I published my first book at the same time as you did yours! You encourage me like no one else. 🙂 I have a card ministry where I like to write to hurting people to encourage them with Scripture and biblical thought. I read a lot of fantastic Christian books (as well as the Bible!) to give me a picture of what it feels like to lose someone you love in this way. I like to understand people in every way possible. If a topic seems hard, I explore it even more. My husband and I went through nine months of training to be a Christian counselor, and I find that the program helped in more ways than one. Even if my main job is to be a mother to my two toddlers, my counseling heart, I hope, comes through in my books. I love people! And nothing is too dark or squeamish or brutal for God to handle and redeem. I want to be like Christ in every way possible, so I try to step into other people’s shoes to love them better. 🙂

5) And finally…it wouldn’t be a proper author interview if I did not ask this question: Any advice/sage wisdom for aspiring authors?
I’ll just pass on all of the great stuff I was told in my late teens and early twenties:
It’s harder than you imagine to get published, but the self-publishing world opens up all sorts of new possibilities! Find an author or authors’ group (I’d help too!) and ask tons and tons of questions. It’s a steep learning curve, but worth it.
Keep your priorities straight. If fictional worlds take over your life, so that you’re not seeing the people living and breathing around you, then it could be that you’re missing the actual ministry God has for you. I had to put writing away for a time, and I don’t regret it. (It’s fun to be back though!)
Read a lot. Reading a great variety helps mature your own writing.
Get good life experiences to build your writing, character development, and plots.
Don’t be discouraged at rejection, but keep writing and writing, even if your audience is made up of One. I write books that I think God would want on His bookshelf. His approval is, in the long run, all that matters. 🙂

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