Author Interview: Cheryl Ruggiero

Welcome to the first installment of our special series of interviews! We’ll be featuring authors who’s work appears in our new anthology covering the best of the first five years of LSQ.

Our first offer is appropriately Cheryl Ruggiero, long time supporter and emeritus Editor.

CherylRuggieroHi Cheryl! First off, please tell us a bit about yourself. Have any super powers or secret talents?

Ah, yes. The secret super-power. Mine is Curiosity. I can tunnel through the dinner talk of economists, leap laughing through the raving of football fans, fade right into engineering and science papers, and beam at the fond tales doting grandmas. Of course, it helps that I AM a doting grandma—a super-power in itself. The upside of this power is that I am never bored. It all shows up in fiction or poetry eventually.

Can you tell us a bit about what inspired your story in the anthology?

It started when I was enjoying a grandma moment and imaged a grandmother and her young grandchild, walking in my favorite Northern Arizona desert. It had a love and survival feel to it, but that didn’t quite develop into a story. I’ve always been intrigued by the kinship of species vastly different in the earthly array—tobacco and lettuce that can be gene-spliced to produce human proinsulin, for example. The idea of blending such disparate kinds of beings just rose up and suddenly there was Grandmother Yucca.

What have you been up to lately? Do you have any books out right now? Are you working on anything new?

I am working on novelizing my collection of stories about a troll (definitely not your normal carnivorous troll who turns to stone in the sunshine, and still up for a short time at Amazon as “Troll Tales I-V: Holes”) named Botch—a cross-dimensional tale of sentience, danger, and, well, love. I’m also working with a co-author on our science-fiction novel series. Hmmm. It’s also about sentience, danger, and love. Must be a theme here. Due out in September is a non-fiction book, written with two others, on the origin, rescue, and renovation of a local movie theater that has been called the heart of our town.

I’m always fascinated by where and how people work. What is your writing setup like? Any tools you enjoy using?

My laptop, a comfy chair, my big bay window looking out over the Blue Ridge, with birds and frogs singing in warm weather, and ice on a cattail-ringed pond across the road in winter… that’s the setup. I have no regular habits or times to write—I admire discipline but have little of it myself. I just dive into some detail in the work and emerge hours later—at all hours. Before retirement, that was usually late at night. Now it’s any time.

Most writers are lifelong readers and books tend to be important to them. What books or stories have most influenced your life (genre stories or otherwise)?

Ursula Le Guin showed me that the spiritual and the speculative work well together. Lois McMaster Bujold taught me to enjoy humor even in the midst of peril, though I myself can never pull it off as a writer. I revere Tony Hillerman and James Lee Burke for the sense of place they create so evocatively that I can scent the fallen pecan husks and hear the distinctive sound of high desert thunder. I admire Chaim Potok for fearlessly exploring the depths of life events so seemingly minor that few writers these days would even consider them, and for finding the light there. I am always glad for poet Kay Ryan’s lines: “waiting is . . . a place with its own harvests.”

Where can we learn more about you and your writing?

I’ve re-purposed my writer’s website for another project right now, so there’s no place to look online for me at the moment.

Thanks Cheryl! We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for Botch’s story!

If you’re intrigued by the inspiration behind “Grandmother Yucca”, consider getting yourself a copy of “The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years” and read it for yourself, along with the other forty-nine awesome stories and gorgeous cover art by Julie Dillon.

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