A Murder Among Friends, an inspirational romantic thriller by Ramona Richards, is a twist on the standard mystery. Usually someone dies and the race is on to find the murderer. While Ramona’s characters try to solve the crime, they struggle with the the death of their friend and question their faith along the way. Are you going against God’s word by not telling the police everything you know in order to protect someone you love?
BV: Normally when I read a book, I zip through it and enjoy it or not. With A Murder Among Friends, I actually found myself thinking about what I would do in this situation. When you wrote this book, did you have life lessons in mind or were you just thinking mystery?
RR: A little of both, but mostly I set out to tell a good story. A lot of my training in plot development came from screenwriting, and you learn quickly the old adage, "If you want to send a message, call Western Union." I wrote a first draft of the hero’s story (Fletcher and the murder of his friend at a writers’ colony) almost 25 years ago. But I wasn’t mature enough as a writer to finish it. By the time I did, I had learned a lot about people and faith. I knew the heroine would be a Christian, so that came out some in the story. When people have a devout faith, it works to inform the choices they make. Therefore, it’s part of the character development and inner conflict.
Sometimes folks think that having faith means always making "right choices," like choosing to have sex outside marriage or not. In the long run, however, those are the easier choices and the conflict can wear thin. Instead, one of my favorite inner conflicts is when your faith pushes you in opposite directions; for instance, when doing what is "right" means not honoring your family or betraying someone you love. If you follow one precept of faith, it means violating another one. Now THOSE make for fun stories to write and read.
BV: I belong to Book Groups and I liked it that there were questions at the end of the book for use at book group gatherings. Was this your idea?
RR: No. I wrote the questions, but it was at the request of my editor. Steeple Hill has starting putting questions in all their books. But they’re following a trend, one that’s especially strong in the Christian marketplace. Almost all such novels these days including questions for group discussion or individual reflection. In fact, I’ve written a few for other novelists, when they didn’t have the time.
BV: You started telling made-up stories at the age of 3. When did you start writing them down and getting serious about it?
RR: My mother bought a typewriter when I was about 8 or 9, and I started typing up stories, mostly of them based on the YA mysteries that were popular at the time (Robin Kane, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift). I started trading pages of romance stories with my best friends in junior high school. I began seriously submitting stuff to magazines at 17 or 18, without a lot of luck. I sold a lot of non-fiction, but didn’t sell my first fiction (a science fiction story) until I was 27. I wasn’t a child prodigy with this – it’s that I always knew this is what I was meant to do. I just took a few side trips on the way.
BV: You’ve won several awards as an editor. Do you prefer to write or edit?
RR: I prefer to write. Editing was, at first, just a side trip. But I’m pretty good at it, and it’s been the main source of income. My favorite editing is fiction, of course, but I don’t get to do as much of that. But I’m a writer by mindset as well as trade, and I get all weird and grouchy, depressed, when I’m unable to write. Not being able to edit has never bothered me, unless the bills are due.
BV: What’s coming up next for you?
RR: I’m working on two new novels, with a whole lot of ideas waiting for development. The first is a sequel to A Murder Among Friends, set in the same New Hampshire town. Clues In The Clay is a new mystery with a new hero and heroine. Fletcher and Maggie are there, but they’re secondary characters this time. It’s due to my editor at the end of this month. The second novel is more of a mainstream romance based around a woman who’s raising a special needs child. She’s having an "intellectual friendship" with a man she talks to online but has never met…and because of her situation, she’s content with that. She doesn’t have the time or energy for a "real" romance. It’s when HIS world gets ripped apart that things become intriguing for her and her daughter.
BV: Any final thoughts you’d like to leave the readers with?
RR: I suppose it would be "preaching to the choir" to say, "READ MORE BOOKS!" ha! But what I really love is hearing from readers who’ve tried something new and loved it. Whether it’s been a book of mine or a new suspense or something more mainstream. I once got a call from a devout Christian friend who whispered into the phone, "Are you familiar with Laurell K. Hamilton? When I responded, "Well, yeah!" it opened a floodgate. She loves Laurell’s books. Same when I’ve heard from non-believers that they "um, well, really liked your book," although they’ve skipped over anything to do with faith. I don’t reject anything until I’ve given it a try. There are far too many great authors writing stories that entertain, challenge, or both. Let’s just keep reading.
Bottom Line: The mystery is…why haven’t you tried this new author yet?? Get inspired!!