RODNEY STRONG

Do you try more to be original, or to deliver to readers what they want?
I have to admit that I don’t always think of the readers when I write. I’m writing for myself first, which is why I sometimes come up with things that are difficult to put into genres, like Troy’s Possibilities. The readers come into it when I get the manuscripts read by the Alpha readers.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Surnames can be a bit tricky, but I have used my friends and family a lot with first names. I also ask my mailing list if anyone wants a character named after them, so I’ve had three characters across the cozy mystery series that have been named after readers.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I think I would say to my teen self to write what you want rather than try and recreate popular fiction. And trust my abilities, no matter how raw they were at the time.
Have you Googled yourself? Did you find out anything interesting?
I have. Mostly what comes up is the Rodney Strong Winery which is just outside San Francisco. I’ve been there before and it’s quite nice wine. Unfortunately, they don’t export to New Zealand.
Are there any secrets in your books that only a few people will find? Can you tell us one? Or give us any hints?
The two main characters in my first book, Troy’s Possibilities, appear in most of my other books in small cameo roles.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Why?
No, but my children’s books are under R.G Strong just to allow for better separation between the two different audiences.
How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
I wrote my first book as part of a creative writing programme, and I learnt a lot about the process and gained really valuable feedback from industry professionals along the way so it really changed what I thought about planning and character development.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Half-started – too many to think about. Unpublished just the one YA book, which I really like the idea but the book needs a lot of work before it gets published if it ever does. My biggest ever regret regarding writing is that in the 1980s I wrote a book, I think I was about 15. I got 150 pages in, then one day decided it was rubbish and threw it in the fire. These were the days of typewriters so there was no copy.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I love reading reviews. The good ones give you a buzz and help keep you going on days that are a bit tougher than others for a writer. The bad ones also help keep things in perspective and can be a real eye-opener in terms of comments.