Today’s interview spotlights writer, R.S. Guthrie. In case your not already familiar with this talented man, we will start things off with a brief look at his bio:
R.S. Guthrie grew up in Iowa and Wyoming. He has been writing fiction, essays, short stories, and lyrics since college.
“Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel” marked Guthrie’s first major release and it heralded the first in a series of Detective Bobby Macaulay (Bobby Mac) books. The second in the series (Lost) hit the Kindle shelves December of 2011.
Guthrie’s “Blood Land” is the first in the Sheriff James Pruett Mystery/Thriller series and represents a project that is close to his heart: it is set in a fictional town in the same county where he spent much of his childhood and still visits.
Guthrie lives in Colorado with his wife, Amy, three young Australian Shepherds, and a Chihuahua who thinks she is a 40-pound Aussie!
Now let’s dive into the questions:
Tell me R.S., if you had to pick a favorite from among your writing projects, which one would you pick?
(R.S.) – “My third book, which is the first in my James Pruett mystery series, because I have always wanted to write about the people, land, and mannerisms where I grew up in Wyoming. It’s a place of which I’m very proud and when people read the books (I have a second out and a third on the way) and tell me that they felt like they were there and they loved it, well, that’s exactly what I was hoping for, so it’s pretty gratifying.”
Most people start writing as a hobby, dabbling a little here and there along the way. But for some writers, things happen in their lifetime that changes them as people and as writers. What was that moment for you?
(R.S.) – “When my son died of SIDS in 2008 it went so deep into my heart and soul that my writing changed. It wasn’t that the emotions weren’t already there, or that I wasn’t already the writer I was, but his death caused me (willing or not) to really plug into my core. That’s why I am so adamant to other writers that they need to dig down, use the pain, too.”
You have my deepest sympathies on the loss of your son. As a parent, that is the nightmare that keeps me up at nights (worrying about my kids).
Considering where you are at in life now and the lessons you have learned along the way, what advice would you give the younger writer you once were?
(R.S.) – “Write earlier. Write later. Write more. Write when you don’t feel like doing it. Make writing a part of every day, even if it’s just a fun short-short, blog. But man, once you’re forty, you have yourself in a rut where it’s too easy to put off (like exercise or a million other things in your life). I would have told myself that to be a writer there can be nothing more important in your life (elementally speaking).”
Sounds wise indeed and gives credence to the “practice makes perfect” theory. 🙂
I have asked other writer’s this, and I’m curious what you will say, but have you ever struggled with writer’s block?
(R.S.) – “I seriously don’t believe in writer’s block, per se. We get jammed up or blocked by something else in our lives (usually stress or pain from something) and creativity takes a blank canvass. I believe Life (capital “L” intentional) blocks our creativity and that’s what we writers call “writer’s block”. Until you deal with whatever is blocking your creativity, you CANNOT force writing. I mean you can do some writing exercises (I usually blog when I can’t come up with something for whatever I’m writing at the time—for some reason I can always blog). Now here’s the upside: if the thing that is blocking the creativity is something painful or dark (say a death in the family), use it. As I mentioned before, you should be using it anyway. Break through by figuring out what it is that’s stressing you and use those emotions to get you going on that page—infuse those emotions into a character, or a new plot twist. Say you were stressing about an upcoming family vacation. Jump a couple chapters ahead (i.e. disjoint from your current time line) and write about your character preparing for ______ (it doesn’t have to be a vacation; use the emotion you’re feeling to infuse a great scene for your character (and it can be something you use later, earlier perhaps, or even not at all, but it will get you writing like crazy).”
Were you ever inspired by other authors?
(R.S.) – “John D. MacDonald and the Travis McGee series really got me interested in writing Mysteries in a recurring character format, but it wasn’t until I read James Lee Burke and his Dave Robicheaux series that I really feel like I found my voice. I was recently fortunate enough to meet Mr. Burke at a book fair and then listen to him speak.”
On that note, are there any favorite books you are particularly fond of?
(R.S.) – “Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. There are several audiobook recordings of it, but a very special one, narrated by Scott Brick, is the most soothing, wonderful literature I’ve ever heard. I can listen to it anywhere – honestly it is like one of those relaxing Zen CDs. For me Brick accentuates what Conrad was shooting for as the writer; he assists in telling the tale rather than detract from it. Another combination of narrator/author that is completely magical is Actor Will Patton (Remember the Titans, Armageddon) reading many of the James Lee Burke newer collection. He is so perfect I can’t imagine listening to anyone else.”
Out of curiosity, what are the top three things on your bucket list (assuming you have one)?
(R.S.) – “1. Visit Scotland; 2. Meet Clint Eastwood; 3. Fly, just once, in one of those new wingsuits that allow you to leap off a four-thousand foot mountain, fly for several minutes, and then slow down, pull your chute, and land. You reach speeds over 200 miles per hour. (The death rate in that sport is near 100% if you stay in it for more than like five years. But there’s just something about it. Watch it here.)
Disclaimer about #2: I’m not a stalker. But if I could meet Clint just once and have a half hour or an hour with him, man, that would be amazing.”
I’m inclined to agree with you on #2. Clint is the man!
As we wrap things up, can I convince you to share a little known fact about yourself?
(R.S.) – “In 2002 I had cancer and just this past July, I hit my ten year anniversary cancer-free!”
That’s awesome news, Congrats! May you be blessed with many more decades of cancer free living.
Now that you have gotten the skinny on R.S. Guthrie, check out one of his books:
Blood Land Synopsis:
Crime’s an ugly constant in the big city. L.A. Chicago. New York. But when a savage murder brutalizes a small town and neighbor turns on neighbor, a tough-as-nails cop is essential to restoring order. Blood Land is a gritty, emotional saga set in the Wyoming badlands with both greed and vengeance at its core—the first in a series of James Pruett Mystery/Thrillers.
When billions of dollars in natural gas rights hang in the balance and the town’s top law officer’s wife is slain by her own blood, a reluctant hero is forced to battle his own demons and ultimately choose between justice, revenge, and duty.
In the tradition of Dennis Lehane, Tony Hillerman and James Lee Burke, Guthrie’s sparse, haunting storytelling compliments his talent for creating richly-drawn, unflinching law officers with human frailties and a sense of justice.
Don’t forget to check out these links for even more tidbits of info on R.S. –