Interview with Jo Ramsey
by Shanta Everington
Jo Ramsey is an author of novels for Young Adults. Her latest release, Where No One Knows, is out now with Musa Publishing.
Hello Jo and welcome to The View From Here. How did you get your first 'break' as a writer?
In 2000, I was working as a special education teacher in a very tiny rural public school. There were only 50 students in the entire nine grades! I didn’t have much of a budget to buy materials for my students, so I wrote a phonics-based reading series for them and then found a small educational publisher run by my former university advisor, which published my reading materials in 2002. That was my first publication.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Anywhere and everywhere. I have a rampant flock of plot bunnies hopping around in my brain, and I often see or hear things that add new ideas. I also have a few friends who like to say, “Hey, have you thought about writing this?”
Do you need to do a lot of research for your novels and if so, how do you approach this?
To be perfectly honest, I avoid research whenever possible, so I try to write about things I already have a working knowledge of. On the occasions when I do need to research, for example the scene in my novel Taking Control where the main character admits to doctors that her mother broke her arm, I prefer to contact people who know about such things over just reading about it. In the case of Taking Control, I phoned an emergency room nurse, a domestic violence detective, and a child protective case worker to find out what the procedure would be.
What do you particularly enjoy about writing for young adults?
Reaching kids who need encouragement in their lives, and giving my characters better experiences than I had as a teen.
Tell us about your latest release, Where No One Knows?
Last summer, I went to Philadelphia for a short vacation, and on the bus the phrase “If you have enough
A few months later, at the GayRomLit convention, I was introduced to Elizabeth Silver, an editor at Musa Publishing who had just helped launch a new YA LGBT imprint. She asked whether I thought I could write a book about a transgender teen. My “bus boy” popped back into my head and became Kellan McKee, a 16-year-old female-to-male transgender teen who had to run away from home after accidentally using his psychic powers to set fire to a man who attacked him.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I think all authors have their own unique processes and habits, so I don’t know that there’s any such thing as usual or unusual.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Raise my kids, clean my house, pet my cats, and watch guilty-pleasure reality TV. And sometimes take walks. Most of my time is spent writing, or at least promoting what I’ve written, since I’m a full-time author with two pen names.
Do you have any advice for writers trying to get young adult fiction published?
Do your homework. Learn what today’s teens sound like, how they think, how they act before you attempt to write about them. I read one so-called YA book in which the characters sounded like they were in their 30s; the only reason I knew they were teenagers was because the author said so. Teens are not adults with lower ages; they have completely different thought processes, different ways of handling emotions, major mood swings at times, and vastly different life experiences than adults.
And also do your homework about publishers before you submit. Make sure the publishers you target actually promote and market their books. Find out what their sales numbers are like on average. Find out how—or whether—their books are distributed to stores.
What's next for Jo Ramsey?
Good question. I don’t have any current works-in-progress as Jo Ramsey; I also write adult romance under a different pen name and have been working through some commitments under that name. However, as Jo I’m in the planning stages of a sequel to my novel Nail Polish and Feathers, which was released in August from Harmony Ink Press.
Thank you, Jo, and the very best of luck with all your writing.
For more information on Jo and her books, please visit www.joramsey.com