Ruthie Knox is the author of Ride With Me, an original Loveswept title that released earlier this week. I have always loved this line of category romances, so I was thrilled when it was revived. I was also delighted to be part of Ruthie’s blog tour. She dropped by to share her childhood writing influences. Check out what she has to say, and then comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Ride With Me!
Beloved but Questionable Influences by Ruthie Knox
My debut novel, Ride with Me, came out this week, and that means I’m officially a Fiction Author. Which means I’m officially allowed to talk about Books That Influenced Me. How cool is that?
I mean, it’s not as if I had an adolescent fantasy in which I released a world-rocking best-seller and someone (possibly Connie Chung) stuck a microphone in my face and asked me, Tell us, who are your five biggest influences as a writer? and I smiled a Crest-gleaming grin and said, Well, Connie, I have to say, I’ve always been a voracious reader… there are so many! Let’s see…
Or maybe I did. *ahem*
But at any rate — thrilled to be here, and thrilled to share five novels that imprinted on my psyche when I was a young reader.
Oh my gosh, you guys, this book. I think today it would be classified as YA, though honestly, I’m not sure it would be published today, because it is so weird and dark and fraught. The heroine, Ellen, wakes up on her tenth birthday to find a silver crown under her pillow. She puts it on and goes for a walk. When she gets home, her family is gone and her house has burned down. A policeman behaves oddly, scares her, and tries to abduct her, at which point she sets out on her own to try to travel to her aunt’s house hundreds of miles away. She teams up with a younger boy named Otto who throws knives and deliberately causes semi trucks to wreck on the highway so he can steal the goods to support himself and his elderly grandmother. Then they set off across the mountains together. There’s evil and captivity and a mysterious school in the woods and brainwashing and it is SO. GOOD. All YA should be this wonderful.
A hundred teenage boys start walking. One of them is the narrator. If he slows down or stops, he gets warned. If he gets three warnings, he gets shot. Whoever’s alive at the end wins. This novel is fascinating—high-concept, beautifully realized, full of psychological insight and amazing storytelling and dread. So much dread. I read it over and over again as a teenager.
There are probably people who would want to throw my parents in jail for letting me read this book as a kid, but I loved it. I read it a million times, and even though there were parts that I really didn’t understand until I was older, it hooked me in the gut and never let go. It’s the story of Celie, a poor, ugly black woman in the South whose father impregnates her, gives away her children, and then turns her over to marry a horrible man who needs her to raise his kids, and who sexually pursues Celie’s sister Nettie—the only person in the world who loves her—until she has to leave, and Celie doesn’t hear from her again for years and years. It’s the story of how Celie discovers reading and love and family, how she endures hardship but experiences grace, how she becomes the center of something beautiful in a hard, difficult word that wants her to believe she’s worthless. Chokes me up just thinking about it. A beautiful novel.
Okay, this isn’t an earth-shattering pick, but have you read Gone with the Wind? Have you read it? Because I tried to read it three or four times as a preteen and early teenager, and I could not get into it at all. Scarlett was so vapid and horrible. There were all these long speeches about secession, and Ashley Wilkes was the dullest hero in the history of heroes, and I could not bring myself to care. But then I tried one more time, one hot summer day when I was fifteen, and it sucked me in and didn’t let go. I read all day long in my bed, book above my head until my arms got tired. I think Gone with the Wind was my first epic historical romance adventure, and after I finished I wanted to cry because I couldn’t keep living in the book forever. Instead, I had to go find something to eat and see if there was anything good on TV, and I lived in central Ohio and life was boring and I had nothing to do. Ah, being a teenager. I do not miss you.
Patrick “Acer” Mullaney (and yes, he’s always called “Patrick ‘Acer’ Mullaney,” even by the heroine, even in her own head) is a football player with a career-ending knee injury. Lux Sherwood is a plucky woman who shows up at his door to deliver a six-foot-tall teddy bear from her shop, Warm Fuzzies. He is a playboy, she is a good woman. There are some abandonment issues and roommate jokes and a hospital-waiting-room labor scene right out of a 1980s soap opera. This is . . . not a fabulous romance novel, it turns out. It is, however, the first one I ever read, and it completely, totally, utterly hooked me. I wouldn’t recommend it, per se, unless you like humor reminiscent of Magnum, P.I. and heroes who wear white V-neck sweaters with chest hair showing. But it does have a special place in my heart—I might even go so far as to say a warm, fuzzy place in my heart—since I suspect if it wasn’t for Warm Fuzzies, I wouldn’t be a romance novelist.
Ruthie Knox figured out how to walk and read at the same time in the second grade, and she hasn’t looked up since. She spent her formative years hiding romance novels in her bedroom closet to avoid the merciless teasing of her brothers and imagining scenarios in which someone who looked remarkably like Daniel Day Lewis recognized her well-hidden sex appeal and rescued her from middle-class Midwestern obscurity. After graduating from Grinnell College with an English and history double major, she earned a Ph.D. in modern British history that she’s put to remarkably little use.
These days, she writes contemporary romance in which witty, down-to- earth characters find each other irresistible in their pajamas, though she freely admits this has yet to happen to her. Perhaps she needs more exciting pajamas. Ruthie abhors an epilogue and insists a decent romance requires at least three good sex scenes.
Ride with Me, available from Loveswept on February 13, 2012!
In this fun, scorching-hot eBook original romance by Ruthie Knox, a cross-country bike adventure takes a detour into unexplored passion. As readers will discover, Ride with Me is not about the bike!
When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger — a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she’s spent years planning.
Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.
Even Tom’s stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?
Ride With Me is available now! You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:
Ruthie has generously offered to give a digital copy of Ride With Me to one of you! Entering is easy! Here’s how to enter:
How about you — what book(s) hooked you in the guts as a young reader and refused to let go? One lucky commenter will be randomly chosen to win a digital copy of Ride with Me. Winners will pick up their copy through Net Galley. Good luck to all!