Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of The Refuge, N. Ford, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.
About The Author
N. Ford spends most free time in the open air, usually barefooted and with readily available mango. An alumni of Taylor University and the University of Central Florida, N. Ford exists somewhere in between a midwesterner and beach bum, currently residing alongside the mountains of Tennessee. With the steady company of a giant dog and something to write on, anywhere will do. Defined by faith, fueled by tribe, and driven by purpose, N. Ford writes for all; and simultaneously, for just One.
You can connect with author Ford here:
Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.
I am a life-long learner who hopes to continue to learn new skills, have dynamic experiences, study other cultures, and continue in formal education. I need physical movement nearly all the time, and ideally outside. I love to be at the sea, or in the mountains, or exploring somewhere new. I start every day in a Bible and end every day with exercise. I like nothing more than to be with family and friends, but a day under a tree with my dog, my guitar, and a notebook is also a day well spent.
Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?
The entire idea for the book was formulated in 2015, and once I really got started in 2019, it felt like it wrote itself. Interestingly enough, the majority of the theming centers around war, unity, and race relations – subjects that became highly relevant in the wake of 2020, 2021, and 2022. It’s my great hope that the messages of unity and human value can seep into our current cultural events in impactful ways.
What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?
More than any other, the primary message of the novel is the value of human life. We humans represent a beautiful and dynamic amalgamation of shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities, capabilities, backgrounds, nationalities, experiences, etc. This story celebrates our differences while highlighting our similarities. We need each other. And everyone brings a unique value. That’s the primary message here.
Who is your favourite character in this book and why?
I read somewhere that as an author, there’s a part of you in every character. Knowing the truth of that, it’s hard to choose a favorite. I love Jude’s drive toward meaning and his desire to do something purposeful with his life. I admire Mae’s simple and immoveable nature, along with her love for her people. I desire to have Matthew’s curious and independent mind, and Faith’s courageous spirit. I relate to Jonathan’s heart and respect his iron will to do the right thing even though it hurts him deeply. I want to lead like Issachar, dream like Eden, and rejoice like Jackson.
What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?
For me, life is driven by faith. This project is no different. This story was placed on my heart to tell, and I did my best to tell it without letting my own voice get in the way.
How long did it take you to write this particular book?
I wrote the first words to this book on August 15, 2015. After receiving discouragement at the first try, I gave it a rest for a while. I had a few successive failures to launch over the next few years and finally dedicated myself to writing it with new strategies and tactics in place. That was in August of 2019. By August of 2020, the novel was complete, along with an outline for the rest of the trilogy. From the first words on a page to publication – it took 6 years and 9 months. Books two and three won’t take quite that long.
What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?
Ideally, I’d like to quit my grown-up job and write full time. I’d like to finish this trilogy, make it into a movie or a TV series, and then get to work on the ever-growing list of writing projects sitting unattended in the notes app on my phone.
Are you working on any other stories presently?
Other than Book Two of The Refuge Trilogy, no. There’s a long list awaiting my attention, but graduate school will need to end before I can give it the time it needs.
Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?
I will write in multiple genres. I chose this one to begin simply because I felt called to write this story first. There are many that will be published as nonfiction pieces, and hopefully more in the fiction realm as well.
When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?
A few years ago, I found an envelope my parents kept of papers I wrote in school. They all received high marks, were a mix of subjects, and came from several class years. Upon further investigation I discovered that my parents always knew I had a skill set for writing. It took me much longer to discover. I was one of those kids that had no clue what I wanted to do when I became an adult. I ended up in my university major by default, not by choice, and chose to make it work. Discovering my purpose and understanding what I wanted to do on this earth was a deep and difficult challenge for me. I think that’s why I so deeply relate to Jude’s search for purpose-driven work.
After an explosive time in my life in which I lost a job, a primary relationship, and had close family move away, I started using writing as a means of catharsis. That’s what ultimately led me to understand that writing is something I love, something that gives me energy and passion and meaning, and something I feel I can use to make a positive impact. More than all of that, though, it’s something I feel God created me to do, and I want to pursue it with all that I am.
What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?
This novel was written at a time when I was juggling a full-time job, graduate school, and multiple community service opportunities. It was highly challenging some days to achieve the ritual I committed to completing. Nevertheless, day after day I would work my job, do the tasks assigned from graduate school, and then force myself to walk to the coffee shops in my near vicinity to write until I couldn’t anymore. Sometimes this was no longer than twenty minutes. Sometimes it lasted for hours.
What I was able to identify that was crucial to my writing process was that I needed music playing in headphones (I chose tracks for this by Audiomachine, John Paesano, Ivan Torrent, Gustavo Santaolalla, etc.). I also identified that I had to be somewhere that was a dedicated space for writing. In my home, I had one chair for writing – I used it for no other purpose. I also selected several coffee shops or cafes that were my ‘writing spaces’. I didn’t socialize there or do any other work there – only writing. The psychological and physical separation of these places for writing helped me make progress day after day in ways that I don’t think would have been as successful otherwise.
How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?
My writing process starts with a pen and a notebook. Outlines turn into chapter synopses (still in pen and paper form), and once the chapter synopses are complete, I move to a laptop.
What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)
Frances J. Roberts is a long-lasting favorite author. She writes truth with beauty, poetry, and rhythm. It’s truly unique and distinctly beautiful. My favorite title by her is Come Away, My Beloved.
For gorgeous and descriptive fiction, Charles Martin is a go-to. When Crickets Cry among others are true works of art.
How do you deal with Writer’s Block?
I do something else. I walk away, go work out, spend time with family and friends. Play some music, work on something else. There’s a separation that must happen for me. I try not to let it bother me and try again the next day.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I would tell aspiring writers to do everything they can to not strive for a story. Let the story come to you. Let it call out to you instead of you striving to create something that you think may be unique or may sell. The more you can let your experience be about the story you were created to tell instead of the story you think you should tell, the better it will go for you.
Thank you, author Ford, for your insightful answers!
About the Book
In a world that has ever only known war, generations still swing their swords on whispers of conflict from centuries past.
In Physis, the law of the land is ‘every territory for itself.’ Lineage is everything; racial identification is paramount; and territory loyalty is the code by which one lives or dies. But when a few individuals decide the given system isn’t working, everything begins to change.
What will happen to the world when inherited authority is questioned; when standards of judgement are re-evaluated; and when independent thinkers redefine purpose for a new generation of leaders?
In The Refuge, by N. Ford, readers travel from the snowy mountain estates of The Diamond Isles to the clay arenas of warrior life in Agon. They sail the Physis Sea, chasing mystery and meaning, and swim in the clear pool at the bottom of the Western Bay. Readers will meet love, loss, and sacrifice anew, while rediscovering what purpose can do when it’s authentic and hard-won.
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