Updated: Oct 4
Time to put away that report - don't worry, the boss will understand. I mean, how often do you get to read about such a fascinating guy as Ricardo Rodriguez?
Professional dope, part-time author, Ricardo Rodriguez loves fantasy, sci-fi, mystery — really anything that lets him be someone actually cool for a few hours. His favorite food is the greasiest, favorite games the simplest, and favorite movies the worst. He lives in the molecular town of Winters, California, and hates the idea of living anywhere bigger. You can find him chilling at his house — but please don’t.
Where to buy my novel:http://amzn.to/3m59knX
Twitter (or X, I guess): https://twitter.com/RCRodriguezbks
A book that pleasantly surprised you?
Robert J. Sawyer’s Illegal Alien. I love reading court dramas, but I wanted to find one that branched away from the mundane, Law and Order type—especially because that’s something I want to keep writing. Illegal Alien is about a being from another star system on trial, and it comes with all the cool physics and semi-hard sci-fi I’ve come to expect from Sawyer, but also with an unexpected familiarity with the United States’ court system. Super fun to read!
Coffee, tea, or cacao?
I can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t eat without a cup of coffee first. Black, right after I wake up and not a heartbeat later. It’s also a great mental lubricant for me; writing’s just a little easier with that jolt of caffeine. Someday it might kill me, or yellow my teeth, or keep me from growing taller—whatever the wive’s tales say—but it’s worth it.
Favorite hangover recovery recipe?
Two Ibuprofen, two TUMS (or cheaper, store brand substitute), and a bottle of water before you go to sleep. Repeat when you wake up. Simple, but it’s never failed me.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book, Graves: The Wicked Heart, during Novel November back in 2020. I was 23, in the middle of college, and stuck at home because of COVID—which, ironically, really helped me focus on my writing. It took me around 7 weeks, I think. I learned so much.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read as much as I can with the time I have—sci-fi, fantasy, nerd stuff. I play whatever videogames, a lot of Nintendo stuff lately (go buy Pikmin 4). Me and a couple of buds have a bookclub which we do every couple weeks. I love spending time with my family. Especially, I cuddle and watch good/terrible TV with my incredible girlfriend who I love to death :)
Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid?
Because I write sci-fi and fantasy, it can be easy to use magic/alien stuff to explain my way out of tough spots. I’ve read books where the magic doesn’t really have a strict set of rules, so the characters can just invent a solution on the spot—but just because these worlds don’t have the same rules as ours doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have rules at all, you know? It’s way more satisfying as a reader to be taught a system, then watch as that system is utilized in ways we hadn’t expected.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’ve been extremely supportive, which really validates what I do. If the people closest to you don’t take your writing seriously, it can be difficult for you to do the same.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written five books now, all at varying levels of completion but at least past the first draft. Three urban fantasies (all in the same series), an epic fantasy, and a sci-fi court drama. I’d say my favorite is the latter, as I’d always been desperate to write a court drama but thought it would be too difficult. It wasn’t easy, but it was probably the most fun I’ve had writing something. Hope I can publish it soon!
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Don’t lose momentum. The more consistently you’re thinking about a story, the better and more cohesive it will be. I try to write at least a little bit everyday, just to keep my head in the game.
A little trick I’ve learned: set a timer, for however long, and see how much you can write during that without going back and editing your words. It can help clear your head and it might just break that writer’s block you’ve been stuck with.
Write in the morning! I jump straight from bed to my desk (obviously after pouring a cuppa) and get started. That way, my brain is fresh.
Fake it ‘til you make it. If you think you’re a talented writer who can finish a book, you are and you will! Take criticism, grow where you can, but don’t lose confidence!
Do you like to create books for adults?
I do. My urban fantasy series is filled with gore and obscenities and raunchy—sometimes even crude—jokes. I think I’ve always enjoyed letting that side of me flourish. At the same time, I’ve had fun writing things that are a little more on the child-friendly side, or at least not so offensive. Doing so gives me constraints on certain aspects of writing, mostly humor. That’s an enjoyable challenge.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I loved reading, so I wanted to write books. It seemed so daunting, so it took me years, but I kept at it. It’s possible, kids! Just put pen to paper, fingers to keys, and let the rest happen.
What is the first book that made you cry?
That’s a tough one! The final book in The Wheel of Time was a punch to the gut, of course. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir was an emotional rollercoaster, mostly because his characters feel so personable. Replay by Ken Grimwood is like my favorite stand-alone novel. The way it messes with time and the relative shortness of the human lifespan always gets me.
But I guess the true answer would be Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It’s a children’s book, but man it hit home with my eight year-old self.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Waiting to write until the evening. My brain gets so clogged with the day’s troubles that I just can’t focus. Plus, I usually feel like doing something else—which is okay!
I’m also a major gardener, which can often lead to me writing myself into deep, deep corners, which I’ll then have to get myself out of by changing pivotal points throughout the entire novel. But it’s all worth it to skip outlining.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’ve got a friend that writes books, and he’s an invaluable resource as a workshopping partner—both because he has an educated opinion on where my novels fail and succeed, and because I get to learn from reading his stuff. It’s easier said than done, but I recommend finding someone who’s written a book or two when searching for someone to help polish up your story. Heavy readers are extremely helpful, too!
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
Heavy foreshadowing. I really like giving readers all the clues they need to solve the looming mystery throughout the text. I want them to be able to guess the ending if they’ve paid close enough attention, while also retaining enough complexity that it’s difficult to do so.
Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?
I have self published one book, Graves: The Wicked Heart. I enjoyed the process. It was satisfying to slowly stitch together this first draft into something I was proud to sell. Lately, I’ve been wanting to try out traditional publishing, mostly because doing it yourself can get pretty costly! Especially if you’re trying to release a lengthy novel.
What does literary success look like to you?
I’d like to be able to pay ends meet with money earned from my writing. I’m not looking to make it rich, I just want to write! I think you’re a success if you’ve finished a book, period—but writing full-time is my dream.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Try starting a booktube channel. It’s a lot of fun, and can get you some traction from people who enjoy the personality you put forth in your videos. Plus, it might motivate you to keep up with your reading, which will only make you a better writer. It’s an endless cycle of success.
What do you have coming next?
A book I’ve been working on for quite a while! A sequel to the novel I first published back in 2021, titled Graves: The Smith’s Sin. I’m just starting the actual publishing process, so I really hope to have it out on Amazon by the end of 2023. Or, more likely, the beginning of 2024.
If you’re into raunchy, fun urban fantasy a la the Evil Dead movies, give the first novel a read. I’m very proud of it. Hey, it also has an incredible audiobook, if that’s more your style!