An interview with novelist Rusty Blackwood, author of the 5-star awarded romantic fiction drama, Willow’s Walk

Rusty Blackwood will be at Coles, Seaway on Saturday, March 3rd from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm! We had an opportunity to talk to her about her book and life as a writer. Here is what she had to say…

What inspired you to write Willow’s Walk?

Rusty: I prefer to write a story that is not necessarily written with a message in mind: however I do like to present a topic that may be of interest to the reader because of what may surround a certain topic. I also draw from my own life experiences, which I did, in part, with Willow’s Walk. What Willow goes through, especially during her formative years, is very often experienced by many young women; infatuation with boys, finding your way, and trying to fit in. But what Willow comes to experience is something that not everyone experiences; hopefully they never will, but it happens more often than not. Willow is a fictional character, yet her life can be found in everyday life.

Why did you choose Ottawa as the main city to be featured in your book?

Rusty: I very much like the Ottawa area, and the city itself. I was impressed with it when I visited in 2008; the marriage of old and new architecture, what the city represents, and the culture it offers. I was impressed with it, and thought it would make a great setting for a novel.

What is the main message you would like readers to “take home” after reading your book?

Rusty: The youth of today is very different than in my youth. There were no computers, cell phones or the technological advancements that today’s youth takes for granted – too much so in many ways. Computers and the Internet, in many ways, can be a good thing, but they can also be a place of entrapment, deceit, and lies. An Internet chat room can be entertaining, but it can also harbour people who are there for deceitful, predatory reasons. Willow may be a fictional character, but what happens to her because of such an encounter in an innocent chat room is very real, and despite constant warnings the problem continues. It is my hope that the message revealed through Willow’s eyes is seen by all who read her.

How long did it take you to write Willow’s Walk?

Rusty: Quite a while actually, I would venture to say the better part of ten years overall from the first idea in 2005 until it was initially released in December of 2015. However the actual writing of the novel did not take that long, but I had stepped away from it for personal reasons and didn’t actually return to it in a serious fashion until 2013.

What does it feel like to win 5-star rating with your novel

Rusty:  A 5-star rating from Readers Favorite while still in pre-release is as high as one can achieve in the rating process of a book, so I was very pleased to have accomplished this with Willow’s Walk. My highest book rating prior to Willow was for my grand scale, romantic fiction drama, Passions in Paris: Revelations of a Lost Diary, which received a 4-star rating from Amazon. Willow’s Walk has been fortunate to garner several nominations along with me as Top Female Author 2018 from The Author’s Show. I received a nomination in this same contest last year, and am humbled to have received many for this year.

Are you currently writing a new book?

Rusty: I am always writing something,  but yes, I am about halfway through a new romantic fiction drama entitled, The Perils of Autumn. This novel is primarily set in the early 1970s on a fictional thoroughbred racing stable called Landon Lawns in a posh community known as The Meadows, located just outside Lexington, Kentucky. The story centers on newly graduated nurse Autumn Leeves, who is sent on assignment to care for the terminally ill wife of Cyril Landon, the English horse master of Landon Lawns. The stable also employs Duff Taylor, a world-renowned jockey who has a dark secret of which he is willing to go to any length to protect.

How does your writing process start?

Rusty: It usually begins with creating characters for an idea that I have in mind. Once my characters are created, I let them help me decide on a story to engulf them in

Who is your favourite author?

Rusty: I don’t have any one favourite, in fact I don’t read near as much as I should and I will not read someone else’s work when I’m writing one of my own. I also tend to support local authors in my area as opposed to those who are backed by huge Publishing Houses. Readers tend to forget that well known authors were once unknown, and there are many independent authors whose work rivals, even surpasses those who have become household names. It’s all in giving local authors in your area a chance; you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

What did you study at school?

Rusty: I’m not professionally trained in writing, meaning I don’t hold a BA in English; however I always had a fine understanding of the subject, and enjoyed both English Literature and Composition. I was fortunate in that I could express my thoughts in a very unique way. I loved English composition throughout my years in school, but I never gave thought to becoming a serious writer until my middle years. I hold two diplomas in Interior Decorating and Design.

What made you decide to become a writer?

Rusty: I would say the love of the written word as well as the expression of it. I enjoy reading work like that. I also enjoy creating a well constructed fictional scene that is so expressively and creatively written and presented, that the reader is totally captivated with what they are reading, and can’t put it down.

Do you have any advice for people who want to change careers and follow their dreams?

Rusty: Follow your heart. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done, for only you know your capabilities, and the passion you have for whatever it is you’re striving to be or to do. Whatever that may be, educate yourself about it, and research all aspects, but most of all, enjoy it.

What did you want to be when you were little?

Rusty: I wanted to be a celebrated horse woman. I also thought that I would like to be a nurse as I liked caring for people. I also loved art and music, both of which I ended up doing for awhile.

What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Rusty: Have my decaf coffee while checking my mail and messages.