Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I have a treat to share. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, Ralene Burke. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.
Toi Thomas: Hi there Ralene! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ToiBox Blog. I’m excited to learn more about you and your work.
Ralene: Hello, everyone! Toi, thank you so much for having me over to your corner of the world today. I’m looking forward to sharing with you and everyone else.
Toi Thomas: So tell me, who is Ralene Burke?
Ralene: I am the wielder of a freelance editor’s sword, a fantasy writer’s pen, and a social media wand. In the non-business world, I am wife to a disabled vet, homeschooling mama of 3, and aspiring home chef, expert seamstress, and all-around domestic diva. Those last ones still need some work, though.
Toi Thomas: Wow Ralene, you sound like a magical Renaissance woman to me. I have a feeling we’re going to have a lot of fun today.
Ralene: Maybe that should be my new tagline: The Magical Renaissance Woman.
Toi Thomas: I like that. Well now, before we dive into your special message today, let’s get to know you, the person inside the author or editor, depending upon which weapon you’re wielding.
Toi Thomas: Who is so you and why?
Ralene: Gilmore Girls is my favorite TV show. And I’ve always so related to Sookie, one of the secondary characters. She is just like me in so many ways: warm and friendly, if a bit on the emotional side; good at what she does, even though she’s a bit of a klutz.
Toi Thomas: It amazes me to this day what a following this show still has. I usually only see that kind of devotion from sci-fi and crime fans, but the show really stuck with people. It even started a reading movement with younger girls; what’s not to love?
Toi Thomas: If that’s who you relate to, I wonder what makes you geek out?
Ralene: Books? Hello, I’m a writer who also decided to become an editor just so I can be around more books. I’m a big fan of anything speculative fiction (books or TV).
Toi Thomas: That makes sense. No rocket science required.
Toi Thomas: Being a book lover, what was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?
Ralene: The Giver by Lois Lowry. I read it in the 4th grade, and it made me fall in love with people, life, and speculative fiction.
Toi Thomas: It’s almost sad, but definitely embarrassing for me to admit that I’ve never read this book. Of course it’s been on my TBR list for ages, and even got bumped up with the release of the film (I always make a point to read the book before seeing the film). I will read this book one day soon. I’m tired of being in the dark about this experience.
Toi Thomas: In terms of interviews, whose brain are you just itching to scratch?
Ralene: Frank Peretti is one of my favorite authors. He’s also considered the father of the modern inspirational speculative fiction genre, paving the way with awesome stories like This Present Darkness. I’d love to just pick his brain about how he does the things he does.
Toi Thomas: It’s hard not to like Peretti’s work unless there a difference in philosophical or religious views, but even then one must recognize his talent. I’m partial to his book The Oath, but that’s probably because it’s one of lighter reads.
Ralene: The Oath is one of my favorites as well!
Toi Thomas: Now that we know a little more about you, the person, let’s learn about you, the author, and dive into your special message.
Toi Thomas: So whacha got for me today?
Ralene: I’m a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest this year, so I can’t really tell you about the book I’m shopping around. However, I’m just starting a serialization project for a fantasy entitled Bellanock (a play on “Beautiful Night”). Bellanock is an island where God has placed all the creatures of lore–unicorns, dragons, etc.–but now the demons have infiltrated the island.
Toi Thomas: I love the premise of the story already and can’t wait to learn a bit more. The concept is both explicitly magical and spiritual (for some- religious) and I like that. The title also sounds very mysterious.
Toi Thomas: So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of Bellanock?
Ralene: Fauna is the fairy queen charged with caring for Bellanock. She’s strong and competent, but a little out of sorts when she has to leave the island.
Brian is a down-on-his-luck preacher who works at an inner city church. He’s reached a point where he doesn’t feel like he’s making a difference, that nobody cares about God, and he wants to give up. That all comes into question when Fauna shows up at his door.
Toi Thomas: Ooo, this sounds so sweet! What a great teaser!
Toi Thomas: What do you think is so special about this story that’s going to reel in the readers?
Ralene: Bellanock is all about finding your true purpose and joy in that purpose. I think too many people “settle” in this life because they want to be safe, secure, etc. But that’s not what life is about. Readers will relate to both Brian and Fauna and their inner struggles while enjoying the interwoven tale with plenty of fantasy genre fun.
Toi Thomas: I totally agree with that. This is something people can relate to. I too have written about finding one’s purpose, because, like you said, people “settle” and I don’t even think they realize it. I’m totally into this.
Toi Thomas: Now I know what you’re working on, but I’m curious: past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?
Ralene: After hollering at hubby to watch the kids, I grab my iced tea and head into the office, sit at my L-shaped desk, and open up Jesus Calling (a devo book) while the computer boots up. I’m either going to be working on writing Bellanock or revising Dividing Spirits (supernatural suspense). I pull up the story in Scrivener and read over my last sessions’ progress, making little fixes and such before diving into today’s work. I don’t have a lot of time to write, but my goal is 1,000 words/day (or 5 pages if editing). If there’s time for more, yay!
Toi Thomas: I feel bad about having trouble with finding time to write when I know authors like you do it with kids. I admire your dedication to a 1,000 word daily goal. I haven’t used Scrivener myself, but I’ve definitely been looking into it. I’ve heard it really streamlines the writing process. (Check out this video to see how the software works, if you’re interested.)
Ralene: A little bit of truth here: My goal is 1,000 words/day, but in the past year or so I’ve missed that goal more than I’ve made. I definitely do not have it all together most of the time and struggle with finding time to write.
Toi Thomas: So, what author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?
Ralene: Frank Peretti falls in here again. In fact, the biggest compliment I ever received was when someone compared my supernatural suspense to Frank Peretti’s writing. I don’t think it was a conscious thing for me to be influenced by him, but I really like the way he deals with life and story.
Toi Thomas: I can see that. Specifically from a speculative fiction viewpoint, I look to C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien for inspiration, but Pereiti fit in there as well.
Toi Thomas: Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?
Toi Thomas: If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ralene: Lord of the Rings. I love those movies. They are so well done and so memorable. And every time I watch them, there’s a little something new. And then I fast forward through the big spider parts.
Toi Thomas: Those movies are really awesome, and of course, the first in the trilogy is the best. Great choice.
Toi Thomas: When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?
Ralene: I’m pretty eclectic in my musical tastes, but I have less tolerance for secular music than I did as a teen/young adult. Most days my radio is set to the local Christian radio station or playing kids music. Yeah, I have 3 kids, remember? Anything by Casting Crowns, Lincoln Brewster, TobyMac, or Phillips, Craig, and Dean lifts my spirits. You don’t want to get me started on what brings out my rage!
Toi Thomas: TobyMac, nice! I’ll admit, while I’m unhappy with a lot a lyrical content these days, I’m a music lover. I admire musical creativity in so many ways, but accept that everyone is entitled to like or dislike what they want. For me, I don’t understand people who don’t like music at all, but to each his own.
Toi Thomas: Let’s play zombie urban survivor. What 3 things do you need to survive a black-out in Central Park the day zombies attack?
Ralene: Three things? You only need one: Daryl! OK, OK, if Daryl is not an option, then bow/arrows, friends with weapons, and fresh water.
Toi Thomas: LOL! I thoroughly enjoy this answer. Sounds like the perfect survival plan.
Toi Thomas: Can you think of the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?
Ralene: Last year’s Realm Makers conference. This conference has amazing workshops for speculative fiction writers, but it also has a TON of fun mixed in. This year, they’re having an all out Nerf-war on the second night. Score!
Toi Thomas: This does sound like a lot of fun, but conventions with authors and fantasy geeks always are.
Toi Thomas: Last question of the day; here we go.
Toi Thomas: Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?
Ralene: My home life won’t be much different. I’ll still be wife to a disabled vet and homeschooling mama of 3. However, I hope to be multi-published at some point. Between books sales and my editing business, I hope to have reached a point where my husband doesn’t have to work, but we can still afford for me to work from home.
Toi Thomas: That sounds like a very nice and simple future, no desire for excess just what you need and a little more for comfort. I hope this future is indeed waiting for you down the road.
Toi Thomas: Thank you so much Ralene for spending time with me today.
Ralene: Thank you again, Toi, for letting me hang out. I’ve so enjoyed your questions and your responses.
Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Ralene Burke, check out these great links:
Website: Ralene Burke.com
GoodReads: Ralene Burke
Facebook: Ralene Burke, Editor and Writer
Pinterest: Ralene Burke
This has been a
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords