LS: What is your favorite thing about your book?
IR: I was able to recover a stolen rite of passage for a female character, and because of this she healed on a soul level.
LS: What was your high point while writing your book? Low point?
IR: The low point came when I was finishing the story — I had been writing for several nights with little sleep. I knew what was to happen but as I read through books of poetry, which is what I do if I find I need a touchstone, I wasn't able to recover that spark of inspiration that fuels the process. Then, I received a package from a friend, a music CD that was a compilation of songs that were thematically linked to the book and personally meaningful.
The high point followed—listening to this music and feeling incredibly connected to the heart of this book. I wrote into the dawn as this music played (much of it by Tori Amos) and finally finished the final scene. It was thrilling.
LS: How did you come up with the title of your book?
IR: The title came to me three years ago. It came completely out of the blue as I was sitting at my desk one day working on my last book. I knew it would be the next book and I wrote the words out on a piece of stationary and pinned it to the bulletin board beside my computer. I stared at it for two years and simply knew it would be. My mind started to fill in the story long before I sat down to write it.
LS: What are you reading now? What’s up next?
IR: I am devouring Justin Torres' We the Animals . I love the energy and propulsive language. Up next, Pure by Julianna Baggott, and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Zadie Smith's new novel, NW. Then three books written by friends, which will be published next year.
LS: If you could see one person, alive or dead, reading your book, who would it be?
IR: Gloria Steinem discussing the book with my grandmother. Sorry, that was two people.
LS: What’s the best compliment you’ve received about your book?
IR: One woman wrote to me and told me she was able to deal with a tragedy after reading the book. I like that the book helps people as well as entertains. I've heard: "This story gives unheard women a voice," and then someone said recently, "This book has peered into my heart and spoken my long kept secrets."
LS: What’s the #1 thing you want people to feel after reading your book?
IR: I want them to have the feeling of being at home in the world and of illumination.
LS: Favorite line or passage from your book?
IR: p. 4
It was the weight of her, the sheer weight of my mother's love for me, and mine for her, and the memory of our bodies curved inward, our knees touching, and the feel of her hands bracing my shoulders as if i could ward off harm for us both. "You are my life, Naida," she'd whisper, waiting. My words "and you're mine" became like escaped birds that floated above me, irretrievable. I wanted to reach out and grasp them, to tell her she was mine, then to tuck my mother's hair behind her ear as I usually did. But I held my breath under the blue sheet....
LS: Are you working on your next novel? If so, any hints?
IR: I am about 100 pages into my third novel, which is a love story set in Guatemala.
To find out more about the talented Ilie Ruby, visit her website.