Angela Ruth Strong survived breast cancer, works as a flight attendant, and uses her own crazy life experiences as inspiration for the stories she writes. Her books have earned TOP PICK in Romantic Times, been nominated for a Christy, won the Cascade Award, and become Amazon bestsellers. She and her husband also got to play extras when her novel Finding Love in Big Sky was adapted for film. To help aspiring authors, Angela started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho and blogs regularly on inspyromance and learnhowtowriteanovel.com. She’d love to have you visit her at angelaruthstrong.com.
More about Angela
What do you like to read?
Stories that make me both laugh and cry. Sometimes suspense, but usually romantic comedy. My favorite tropes are hidden identities and heists.
Sounds a little like me, although I like marriage of convenience tropes.
Tell us about a typical day in your house.
Typically, I’m on call as a flight attendant, so I make plans for “if I’m here.” Then, either I write, run, and cook a fabulous dinner, or I message my husband to let him know I’ll see him when I return from visiting the world’s oldest continuously running bookstore in Pennsylvania or hiking the Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs. Win-win. Of course, traveling makes me value my time at home so much more.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For Hero Debut, I attended Citizen’s Safety Academy where I got to race cop cars and shoot water from a fire hose. Much of this story is inspired from my experience.
Racing cop cars and using a fire hose both sound like fun. Sort of.
Do you travel to research your stories?
This is one of my favorite things to do! Fun Fact: My friend Hilarey Johnson traveled with me to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to research for Christmas Ella, and she just narrated it as an audiobook.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I had two book contracts dropped a couple of years ago, which helped spur my midlife crisis and redirected me into becoming a flight attendant. This past month alone, I’ve already scrapped two book proposals. And now I’m learning to write screenplays, which may never see the light of day. I seem to be a glutton for rejection. But the good news is that I have more ideas for future stories than I can ever finish, so hopefully this sifting process will reveal the best of them.
I think all writers are gluttons for rejection, either from literary powers or readers. 🙁
What does literary success look like to you?
Success is a mirage. I’m not sure anyone ever feels like they’ve reached it. I’ve come to believe my writing is never as good or as bad as I think it is at any given moment, but if it ever means something to someone else, that’s pretty special.
What is the coolest, wackiest, or riskiest thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve ridden on the shoulders of a unicyclist. I also once won an Xbox and TV in a hamster ball race where I was the hamster. (AKA reasons I write romcom)
Tell us about your latest book.
In Hero Debut, a screenplay writer attends Citizen’s Police Academy as research…and to get closer to her own personal hero.
What inspired you to write this story?
The character of Gemma was a fan favorite from my Christy-nominated romcom, Husband Auditions. I actually wrote her happily-ever-after as a flash fiction piece for Spark Magazine, then when my editor requested two additional books, I knew the first one had to be about her.
What did you edit out of this book?
I deleted more words from this story than I have for any other book I’ve ever written. Basically I had to rework the hero’s motivations twice because I’d taken it a little too dark for romantic comedy. It was a painful process, so it means a lot when readers tell me they really got something from the spiritual message. (Because I had my doubts.)
Can you give us the first page?
Karson Zellner is my hero. Not only because he’s the police officer who busted into my town house to rescue me from my roommates when he’d thought they were my captors, but also because I’m literally using him as inspiration for the hero in my next script.
He’s not aware I’m here, though, because I registered for Citizen’s Safety Academy at the door. All to prevent him from finding someone else to teach the class in an effort to avoid me.
As he scans the conference room in search of supervillains, I duck behind my journal. Not because I fit the supervillain profile, but because I’m Lois Lane on assignment.
I peek over the top of my journal.
He’s gone back to talking with another policeman by the entrance, so I’m in the clear. There’s time to take in all the details that will make my story come to life.
I scribble notes. Karson is about medium height, medium weight, and medium-brown hair, so he’s more similar to Marvel’s superhero Hawkeye than Superman, but that’s not a bad thing. Like Hawkeye, he buzzes with an inner strength and intelligence. He’s constantly on alert, ready for shootouts, motorcycle chases, and taking down corrupt government agencies.
My heart plays a drumroll in anticipation of the moment our eyes will meet. There’s nothing average about his eyes. I’d call them cornflower blue, like the weird crayon in kindergarten that looks darker than it actually shades. In the same way, Karson’s light eyes appear darker when brooding underneath his constantly creased forehead and widow’s peak.
He’s in uniform, of course. I’ve never seen him without it. Would I even recognize him in civilian clothes? It’s as if he was meant to wear a shiny badge, a black button-down, and the thick belt holding all kinds of gadgets.
He stands at the doorway to the modern conference room in the back corner. The officer next to him laughs and shakes hands with the civilians entering the room.
Karson keeps his arms crossed. He’s always so serious that it makes me feel flighty and frivolous in comparison.
That’s GREAT. Thanks for joining us.
Thanks for having me!
More about Hero Debut:
“Another sparkling feel-good romance, brimming with perfect doses of heart and heat!”– Bethany Turner, award-winning author of The Do-Over
Gemma Bennett is the leading lady of her own life, and her true love is writing screenplays. With her trusty pink notebook in hand, she signs up for the Citizen’s Safety Academy to research her newest blockbuster hope, a rom-com with a police officer as the hero. And the fact that the handsome and heroic Lieutenant Karson Zellner is the one leading the training? Well, who can blame her for wanting to spend evenings with the man she swooned over months ago when he responded to a call at her apartment?
Karson already has his fair share of problems before Gemma shows up, and he’s not exactly a fan of the ditzy blonde who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. The last thing he needs is a damsel in distress to rescue; there are plenty of people in real need of his help. The fact that she seems to think his job makes him a superhero is just one more strike against her. This isn’t a movie, and he feels like the furthest thing from a leading man.
Gemma can’t seem to stop doing the worst, most embarrassing things at just the wrong time. And as time goes on, Gemma begins to realize that the scripts for a perfect screenplay and a real-life happily-ever-after are two very different things. Can she step out of her own way to find the hero her story needs?
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