Ron says he was an Army brat growing up, and lived all over the country, from New York to California and points in between. He began writing fiction full time at the age of 66 after a long career in journalism and public relations. Ron graduated from the University of Missouri in 1967 with a degree in journalism. He has worked as a reporter, editor, and columnist at newspapers in Texas, California, and Missouri. He was employed by a major oil company as a public relations executive, and later operated his own public relations agency. He created the board game Sixth Sense in 2003. Ron lives in Joplin, Missouri, and enjoys golf and hiking.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I took my first newspaper job at the El Paso Times when I was 19. I was a big fan of Ernest Hemingway back in those days, and I thought how nice it would be to rent some isolated beach house and write for a living. It was all a pipe dream because I lacked the discipline needed to write. Still, as the years rolled past, I held onto my dream. After I retired from a career in journalism and public relations, I gave writing another try. I was 66. Not only did I now have the discipline, but I pieced together in my head a half dozen novels. My fifth novel will be published this spring.
Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?
My life as a kid was filled with adventure—from climbing Mt. Fuji in Japan to hunting elk in Colorado—and it seemed only natural for me to write about those adventures, albeit with some literary license.
What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?
I create strong middle-grade and YA characters, present them a conflict, then turn them loose. They map out the story—I simply goes along for the ride. The greatest challenge with middle-grade/YA stories is dialogue that rings true. A middle-grade character speaking like an adult, for example, will turn off a young reader. I strive to write middle-grade/YA dialogue that is real, and pay close attention to what is being said when I am around kids in those age groups.
Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?
Young Jack O’Brien and his family arrive at a remote U.S. Air Force outpost where Jack’s father is base commander. The year is 1948. Sixteen-year-old Jack has never felt the bittersweet sting of love, but that all changes when he has a chance encounter with Fujiko Kobaysi, a beautiful and enchanting 17-year-old Japanese girl. Jack is immediately smitten.
Fujiko’s parents are overly protective and monitor her every move, and Jack and Fujiko meet secretly at her garden, located some distance from her village. Jack is devastated when Fujiko tells him that she has been promised in marriage by her parents to an older man, a practice common throughout Asia at the time. The marriage is only months away. Jack devises a cunning plan, one that will overshadow her arranged marriage and bring Fujiko and him together.
Playing out against a backdrop of swirling post-War social change, Voices of the Locusts also tells the story of three families—one black, one white, one Asian. Told in vivid and sometimes haunting detail, Jack and Fujiko are frustrated in their romantic quest by story characters coming to terms (often violently) with the emotional scars of World War II.
Much of the story is based on personal experience from living in Japan for two years. The story took shape in my head over many years.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
Amazon. It is available as an e-book or paperback.
What is up next for you?
I just completed a crime thriller I’m calling “The Redhead, the Bookie, and the G-Man.” It should be available to purchase later this spring at Amazon.
Do you have anything else to add?
Don’t give up on your dream. Tell a story that is unique, create characters who are believable but one of a kind, and write dialogue that is crisp and full or passion.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Ron. We wish you much success.