BEHIND THE WORDS: CYNTHIA RUCHTI

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BEHIND THE WORDS welcomes author CYNTHIA RUCHTI.

Welcome Cynthia. We’re excited to have you on Reader’s Entertainment. First, tell our readers a bit about yourself.

Where you’re from, where you live? Is writing your full-time job?

Although I was born in California, I only lived there for eight days. So, I suppose it’s a stretch to call myself a California girl. When my dad’s Marine unit left for an overseas tour of duty, my mom and I flew to her parents’ home in southern Wisconsin where we stayed until he returned. After that, the Marines and his love for learning (nine years of college) took us to Florida, South Dakota, Minnesota (several locations within the state) until our then family of seven settled in southwest Wisconsin. After my husband and I (grade-school sweethearts) eventually married, we nested in the heart of Wisconsin and have been here ever since. Now, we live in a restored farmhouse on ten acres not far from cranberry bogs, pine forests, and dairy farms.

I studied to work in a chemistry lab, but I retired from that pursuit when our kids were toddlers, working part-time for a while and then stay-at-home. At the time, I took correspondence courses in creative writing for what I thought was a hobby. But soon, I was handed a remarkable opportunity to write and produce a radio broadcast, which I could do while working at home. The radio broadcast remained on the air for 33 years.

In 2000, I began to pursue what it would take to write novels and nonfiction books for the inspirational market. I studied and read and attended conferences, immersing myself in all aspects of writing and publishing. My first book released in 2010, a novel, followed by other novels, novellas, nonfiction books, and devotionals. So far, I’ve authored or contributed to 35 books with more in the works. So, yes, full-time. I’m also a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management, helping other authors ready their books for publication and helping them find just the right publisher for their work.

How long have you been writing?
Even though I wrote the typical little stapled-together stories many of us do as a child, I didn’t consider myself an author-in-waiting. Then, one day a few years into writing and producing the radio broadcast, I realized that—what do you know?—I was a professional writer! I’d been writing fictional slice-of-life scenes for each of the daily broadcasts and then think-about-it nonfiction segments that coordinated with the theme of the day. Fiction and nonfiction. Lots of practice. I’d had an occasional newspaper or magazine article published prior, but have been writing professionally since I was 27. We won’t do the math.

Briefly describe your writing day.

No two days are ever alike for me. Some would find that annoying, but I’m never bored. My days are a lovely mix of agenting responsibilities, supporting other authors, dreaming up new book concepts, negotiating contracts for my clients, connecting with readers, marketing a current release, editing the next book to release in a few months, talking to libraries or book clubs, speaking to women’s events (in person or virtually), teaching for writers conferences, preparing press releases, connecting with retailers, reading, reading, reading, and answering emails…or any combination of the above.

Typically, I would be traveling once or twice a month. Right now, I’m home but experiencing new adventures with virtual schooling teen grandsons and caring for a darling toddler granddaughter every other weekend. My husband and I are still doing finishing details on a major remodeling project, so part of my day will involve spackling, painting, or decorating. My creative muscles are getting a good workout.

Because we live out in the country, it’s quiet here most of the time. Nature surrounds us. One thing that forms part of almost every day is cradling a cup of tea and staring out the window at the wonder of creation.

Tell us about your latest release.

Facing the Dawn is a novel that still affects me, the author, long after the writing, editing, more editing, and the release phase. It’s a book that increased my gratitude for the power of solid, meaningful, long-lasting friendships, and that swelled my compassion and empathy for those who grieve or experience other kinds of loss.

Brief background:

While her humanitarian husband Liam has been digging wells in Africa, Mara Jacobs has been struggling. She knows she’s supposed to feel a warm glow that her husband is eight time zones away, caring for widows and orphans. But the reality is that she is exhausted, working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage their three detention-prone kids, failing at her to-repair list, and fading like a garment left too long in the sun.

Then Liam’s three-year absence turns into something more, changing everything and plunging her into a sunless grief. As Mara struggles to find her footing, she discovers that even when hope is tenuous, faith is fragile, and the future is unknown, we can be sure we are not forgotten . . . or unloved.

What inspired this book?

Within the pages of this story are tucked subplots and challenges that aren’t unlike those readers might face every day—growing children making misguided decisions, mental health issues that sometimes press us to a precipice, unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves, and the idea that healing is often slower than we’d like and comes from unexpected places. Although I can’t point to a single event in my life that inspired the book, the “forever friends” I’ve known and treasure certainly served as models for a couple of the characters. The influence of forever-no-matter-what friendships can’t be measured. Whether it’s sickness, loss, anxiety, pain, disappointment, despair, the presence of a caring friend or two can change everything. If readers can’t point to friends like that in their own lives, they’re welcome to borrow the characters in this book.

Could you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book? Perhaps a juicy bit of back-story, or something only you know about a character? 

I often have personal dreams that have had to be put on hold or that just don’t fit into my current life—like learning to play the cello. So, I live vicariously through characters like Chelsea’s friend who plays cello during a sweet scene in the book. The song Chelsea sings while her friend accompanies her is one I wrote. It may seem like it came from Chelsea’s heart, but it poured out of mine.

What has been your hardest scene to write? Any of your books.

Truthfully, each of my books has at least one super-hard scene to write. A scene that costs me emotionally. I want to get it right, do it justice, treat the tough parts tenderly. But that often requires that I feel the scene in my marrow, my bones. When readers get to the “unkindness of ravens” scene in Facing the Dawn, and the first hospital scene, and the final two or three scenes, they’ll know they’re stepping into pages that bear the mark of the author’s tear stains.

Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? Why?

Mara in Facing the Dawn was difficult to write in part because she has—as my literary agent describes it—a wicked sense of humor. She’s snarky, but not in an unkind or harsh way. I wanted the reader to recognize that her sarcasm or her sharp retorts are birthed from a place of pain, not a character weakness. That was, as they say, delicate work.

If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why? 

In Facing the Dawn, Mara’s forever friend, Ashlee, has her own issues, but I love her zest for life, her uncompromising optimism and inner strength. She’s inventive and relentless in a good way. Every moment of her life is an adventure in loving and giving.

A second character into whose shoes I wouldn’t mind stepping is Bougie Unfortunate from As Waters Gone By. She’s just such a delicious, quirky, free-spirited person with a deeply caring heart. Her shoes though might be ballet slippers or army boots, depending on her mood.

Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?

I haven’t had a need for it recently, but I was a baton twirler in middle school and high school. Tossing it overhead and catching it mid-spin and everything. I wonder if I kept my baton? How much baton-twirling does it take to work off a gluten-free brownie?

Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy! 

Interestingly, it was writer friends who first introduced me to sushi. At a writers’ conference in Dallas one year, a fellow writer said, “You’ve never had sushi? Let’s correct that right now!” So, she and I walked several blocks and I got schooled in the fine art of sushi appreciation. My husband, however, does not share the passion. He likes his fish on the end of a lure, not chopsticks. I’ll take my sushi-loving daughter or sister or a writer-forever-friend with me if sushi is on the menu.

If we’re talking the-world’s-gone-crazy-and-I-need-a-dessert or it’s-Tuesday-and-that’s-a-good-enough-excuse, it’ll be crème brulee. Or cheesecake. My daughter makes magnificent cheesecake, so she’s a great go-to companion.

What is the one question you never get asked at interviews, but wish you did? Ask and answer it. 

How does a novelist flip back and forth between writing novels and writing nonfiction? Part of it stems from my experiences with radio—writing both for each broadcast. A musical interlude was the bridge and the signal to switch gears to a nonfiction approach. But that set me up to see how they do go hand in hand. I value storytelling techniques for both fiction and nonfiction. Story is such a powerful communicator. Story has played a transformative role in my life. I often say that the nonfiction I write are the books I’d like to hand to the characters in my novels. “Here, honey. Read this. I hope it helps.”

Thank you so much for joining us today, Cynthia!!

Here’s a look at Cynthia’s latest release:::: FACING THE DAWN

While her humanitarian husband Liam has been digging wells in Africa, Mara Jacobs has been struggling. She knows she’s supposed to feel a warm glow that her husband is nine time zones away, caring for widows and orphans. But the reality is that she is exhausted, working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage their three detention-prone kids, failing at her to-repair list, and fading like a garment left too long in the sun.

Then Liam’s three-year absence turns into something more, changing everything and plunging her into a sunless grief. As Mara struggles to find her footing, she discovers that even when hope is tenuous, faith is fragile, and the future is unknown, we can be sure we are not forgotten . . . or unloved.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events/retreats and writers’ conferences/workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.” Her books have received recognition from RT Reviewers’ Choice Book of the Year, PW Starred Reviews, Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, Golden Scroll Awards and Novel of the Year, The Carol Award, two Christy finalists, and more. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a founding board member of the Deliver Hope ministry, and is part of the worship team at her church. She’s also a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.