This month's story announcement for the CSR Book Club was Down a Darkened path by Ronyx. An experienced hand at writing, this GA Classic Author knows how to write a story that sucks in readers and keeps them reading as you can tell through many of Ronyx's works. This story was no different, based on the thoughts a lot of readers' thoughts. I know I enjoyed this story despite the sometimes troubling events and sad scenes, the redemptions and ending held true to my hopes for the characters. But what did you think? Make sure you share your thoughts at the end of the interview!
Who do you like best, Jerry or Tom?
Jerry. I’m extremely allergic to cats. LOL. Besides, Jerry was the smart one.
If you had 30 minutes of free time, what would you do?
I would take, Shadow, my twelve-year-old flat-coat retriever for a walk. Because of his advancing age, I know he won’t be with us too much longer, and I love to spend time with him.
What's your favorite room in your house? Do you plot or write there?
My den (or as some would say- my man cave.) Everything I need is here. I have a large screen television, a computer desk and a comfortable leather sofa. It is where I do all my writing.
Do you have a favorite quote about writing or reading?
My favorite quote deals with education (which involves writing and reading.) At the end of my story, Reggie’s Journal, after Reggie struggles for months to complete a weekly journal, the teacher rewards him for doing an excellent job. He also writes the comment: The purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. Very insightful comment about growing up and seeing the world through a different perspective.
If you could give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would it be?
I wish I would have started writing sooner. I had thought about writing in my teens, but I lacked self-confidence. When I was about sixteen, I wrote the first few chapters of a story, and it still remains hidden in the bottom of a drawer. It wasn’t until many years later that I threw caution to the wind and attempted to do what had always been a dream. I’m forever grateful that I did. It was the beginning of an amazing journey. I’ve made so many wonderful friends over the past twelve years through the Mustard Jar, Codey’s World and Gay Authors.
How much research did you need to do for Down a Darkened Path?
I didn’t need much research. I had never considered writing a story with a blind main character. One night I received an email from a college student who told me he was blind. He asked me if I would write a story about a blind person. At first, I told him I didn’t think I could because I had never known anyone who was blind. However, a few months earlier, my nephew was involved in a serious car accident. He was a passenger when the driver lost control and plowed into a bridge abutment. He almost died. He was in the hospital in critical condition for days, and after a month he was moved into a nursing home for rehabilitation. As a result of the accident, he lost his left eye. Several months after he returned home, he was attacked outside his apartment by two men who tried to rob him. He also was engaged to be married, and his fiancée decided she couldn’t handle the situation and left him. For those who have read Down a Darkened Path, you can see the similarities of incidences in the story and my nephew’s life. I was able to take a tragic personal event and incorporate it into the story. My nephew is happy today, and he has adjusted well to the loss of his sight. In the story, I wanted Troy to accept what happened to him and live a happy and fulfilling life with Jayden.
You wrote a scene where the characters tried to learn some empathy for your main character by experiencing sensory loss in a public place. Was that something you did for your writing process?
Not directly. When I was in college, I took many psychology classes. In one of the classes we did a trust exercise where we were blindfolded and led around the campus for an hour by another student. We were required to do several sensory experiments. I used that learning experience and applied it to the story.
This story has several very emotional scenes. How did you handle writing those?
As I discussed earlier, this story was written from a personal experience. Probably the most difficult was writing the hospital scene directly after the accident. Tony (my husband- it was his nephew) rushed to the hospital when we received a late-night phone call. At first, he was not expected to live. The engine of the car was pushed into the passenger’s side, and his lower body was crushed. He also hit the windshield which resulted in the loss of his eye. He was in intensive care for a week, and he managed to show improvement after several weeks. The sorrow that night was very intense and emotional. We also visited him in the nursing home when he was recovering, and he talked about some of the depression he was experiencing. It was difficult because he was only twenty-two at the time, and he had such a bright future ahead of him. Today, he still suffers from bouts of depression.
Do you have a favorite scene in the Down a Darkened Path?
I love the ending! I think it is one of my best. I admit tears flowed down my face when I wrote about Troy singing, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” What better inspiration than to end a story: “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high. And don’t be afraid of the dark.”
What is one thing you would like to share with us about your current or upcoming stories?
I took a hiatus from writing for three years. In 2015, I lost my twin sister. She was in intensive care in three hospitals for ulcerative colitis. I visited her for three months as her health continued to deteriorate. She passed away two days before our birthday. Fortunately, I had just finished my last story, Other Sinful Things. After her death, I lost my passion for writing, and I stopped. I never intended to write again. I had also written twenty-two full-length stories, numerous short stories and a two-act play (which has never been published.) I was literally burned out. During the past three years, my readers have been wonderful. They have waited patiently for me to write again. Occasionally, someone will email me with words of encouragement. Two years ago, an administrator wrote and asked me if I would consider posting my stories here. Interaction with the wonderful GA members has also helped motivate me. Last year, I attempted a new story, Dancing on a Star. It has been difficult trying to write again. Several times I even considered deleting the story. It’s been a struggle, but I am beginning to approach the end. I’m not posting regularly because I don’t know when I might experience a slump. However, I have always promised my readers that I will complete any story I start. Dancing with a Star will be completed. I hope that it contains the quality of writing my readers have come to expect. If not, I hope they understand.