Featured Interview With Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was raised in Springfield, Oregon. I spent ten years in a small ranch house in town, then moved to a five acre farm in the Mohawk Valley north and slightly east of Springfield. Growing up on the farm shaped a lot of who and what I am. I wandered the fields, rode my pony and horse, and worked to help my parents preserve food.
Now I split my time between Enterprise and Portland, Oregon. I lived in Portland for over thirty years and am now tired of the urban life. The joy of Enterprise is that just about everything is within walking distance, including the Fishtrap House, where I attend monthly readings by local authors in the wintertime. Wallowa Lake is ten miles away, and my horse moves around various pastures in the summer, depending on conditions, the herd, and what my barn owner’s needs are.
For the past thirteen years I’ve owned a reining-bred Quarter Horse, Mocha. We’ve had a number of adventures together, including the move from Portland to Enterprise. Mocha went from being a stall princess to living outside 24/7. She had a difficult adjustment to that change, but now wouldn’t stay in a stall even in windy subfreezing temperatures in the middle of an ice storm. Truth. Barn owner called us during those conditions once to suggest that Mocha go inside. We put her in a stall–and formerly compliant Mocha who would stay in a stall with the door open said NO WAY and was heading for the field and her herd with any opportunity presented. She is now fat, sassy, and enjoying the heck out of living life in a herd with other horses outside. But I think part of the appeal is that she can eat 24/7 if she so desires. And at the age of 18, being able to move around more freely than she can even in a big stall is much better. She is healthier than she’s been in years…and I have lots of stories.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I was an early reader, and was reading the Black Stallion and Little House series’ in second grade. Somewhere around that time I banged out my first short story. I can’t remember what it was about, except that the lead character was Mighty Mouse. Later, in fifth grade, I wrote my version of the Black Stallion books, except that the lead horse was a palomino filly who won the Triple Crown with her girl rider. Then I played with mysteries, but then I started work on what is now Goddess’s Honor after reading the Lord of the Rings.
I’ve been writing and telling stories to myself for a very long time.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I read widely and voraciously, so my favorites are not constant. My favorite method of discovering new work is to wander through Enterprise’s small city library and pick up whatever catches my fancy. While I prefer speculative fiction in my reading and writing, I also enjoy well-written fiction about the West. But then again, I also enjoy books by non-European authors. My main criteria are–does the book interest me? Are the characters engaging me? Is the writing itself enjoyable?
Blah, mechanical writing with cliched plots, cardboard characters, and unlikable characters need not apply for my readership.
Additionally, inspiration varies. Long-term influences include John Steinbeck, Zenna Henderson, and others.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
My latest book, KLONE’S STRONGHOLD, was inspired by a road sign I spotted en route to our hunting area.
The story mutated along the way, as stories can do even when rigidly scripted. But it developed in a fun way. I’m still finding out things about the story and the subcharacters, including the fact that many people (including Reeni herself) mangle her full name, reversing the first and middle names. So in one circumstance she is Irene Marie, in another, Marie Irene. If Reeni has to be formal, she goes by Marie–but she often chooses not to. The reasoning for that will show up in the next book.
Here’s the blurb:
In a world of supernatural beings, not knowing what you are is dangerous.
After Reeni Dutta’s ex-husband Karl attacks her at a music festival, she finds a refuge teaching cryptid construct children at Klone’s Stronghold in northeastern Oregon’s isolated Bucket Mountains. But things are not as they seem at the Stronghold, from the older proprietors of a nearby store and the Stronghold’s leader Alexander Reed Klone, to Reeni herself. She discovers it’s not just Karl who seeks to control who and what she is, but forces from her past that threaten her present. Can she learn the truth about herself and do what is needed in time to defend the Stronghold?
I had a lot of fun writing STRONGHOLD. Reeni’s voice came out strongly when I first started it, and I drew a lot on my experience as a special education teacher to chronicle her work with the delayed cryptid construct kids. She has endured a lot over her life, but she comes back with spunk and wit to manage it. Now I’ve decided that it will be part of a series–and I’m looking forward to playing with ideas for that series.
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