Monday, January 17, 2011

Ralph Horner Interview

[Anne] Thanks for joining me today, Ralph.  Please tell me about your latest book.

[Ralph] Tandem Tryst is a Time-travel, Mystery, Romance. Three years after Jeff’s young wife, Marcy dies, he finds an enchanted ring that takes him back to the World Columbian Exposition of 1893, one hundred years ago. On one of his visits he meets Melody Bishop who is the spitting image of his late wife. Marcy. Melody is Marcy’s great great grandmother and also her living soul in this time. Jeff feels he has a second chance with the love that was taken from him prematurely. During the time Melody spends with Jeff and gradually falls in love with him, they are continually stalked by a woman in various ethnic disguises, who tries to steal Jeff’s magic ring, even by murder.

[Anne] What inspired you to write this story?

[Ralph] I was mowing the grass and the idea came to me that what if my wife died, but through time-travel I found her duplicate in another time, before she was reincarnated. A person would be overwhelmed with seeing their loved one again. That was the main idea, then I gave the time-traveler a White City setting, and next added a mysterious woman who is trying to steal the enchanted ring.

[Anne] It’s interesting how our muses work :-). How did you go about researching your book?

[Ralph] I used the Chicago historical society, the internet, and books about the late 1800s and the Columbian Exposition. I also researched clothing, customs and speech patterns of the time. Maps of that world’s fair, showing every building and cultural area were also necessary. I was helped by photos taken from some of the buildings and also the rides, like the giant Ferris wheel. I even bought a diary written by a thirteen year old boy who went to the Exposition that summer with his father and a friend. There were some great descriptions in that.

[Anne] Do you have anything new in the works?

[Ralph] Yes, I’m finishing the Tandem Tryst sequel, Midnight Mist. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s say this story ends the saga of Jeff and Melody.

[Anne] What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

[Ralph] I’m a plotter. I always have an outline before I write a story. It changes as I go, but I have to have some idea where I’m going with a story.

[Anne] If you could be anyone of your characters, which one would you chose to be and why?

[Ralph] I’d be my main character, Jeff Voss. Because I’d love to time travel to the World Columbian Exposition.

[Anne] Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

[Ralph] Probably London England. I love the Dickens stories, and also Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The fog and the old world atmosphere would be a great place to write for a murder mystery.

[Anne] Oh, I would love to go to London some day! Okay, say you’ve just been informed that your latest release was a NY Times bestseller and Hollywood wants to turn it into a movie. What actors would you choose to play your main characters?

[Ralph] I would choose relatively unknown actors because I wouldn’t want overused stars that are know for other roles. I’d want viewers to enjoy the movie for the sake of the story line and the history of the White City.

[Anne] Name three things you can’t live without (excluding spouses and family because that’s a given).

[Ralph] My PC, video equipment, and fossil collection.

[Anne] What advice would you give to any aspiring writers out there?

[Ralph] Keep writing and working on your craft. As discouraging as it can be with rejections never give up trying to get published. Sometimes the first book you wrote won’t be the one that gets published, as in my case. I wrote three other novels before I got my fourth, Tandem Tryst, published.

[Anne] Where can we find you on the web?


[Anne] Where can we purchase your books?

[Ralph] From my publisher and on Amazon. The Chicago Architect Foundation, where they conduct the White City tours also carries my book and a couple of other specialty stores.

And here is Ralph’s Bio:

The first writing Ralph ever did was in grade school. He wrote a comic strip called ‘McDroodle and the Devil’. Once a week he’d show it to whoever was interested.

“It was about a nerdy family man who is constantly tempted by the devil and then gets into various adventures. My brother did the art work and I handled the story line. Other than that I always had story ideas in my head but I didn’t start to write novels until 1981.”

He was married in 1973 to his current wife, Toni and has two grown children, Angie and Randy and three grandchildren from Angie.

Taking night classes, he received his Computer Science Degree from Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL, in 1985.

He joined his first writers’ support group in the early nineties, and has been in one ever since. He now belongs to the South Side Scribes in Orland Park, IL where he’s been for about twelve years.

Since he was a kid he performed magic and some ventriloquism. In July 1991 he got the opportunity to train with a local clown agent, Clowns, Characters and More.

“By late October I did my first birthday party. In December I played Santa Claus for the first time. I couldn’t believe I was having fun and getting paid for it. Now I had a weekend job working for a talent agent while I was a computer programmer during the week.”

After 9/11 there was an economic slowdown in data processing and soon Ralph was working part-time jobs, not related to computers, just to get by. A couple of years later, with that industry getting even worse, he went into my own entertainment business, Always Clownin’. He also writes comedy bits for a couple of clubs and teaches balloon art, magic and humor at a local community college.

He has had various short stories published since 2002. In August 2007, ‘Pandora Spoxx’ was featured by Wild Cat Books in their monthly ‘Startling Stories’ Anthology. In June 2008, ‘Atalanta Alters the Tide of Alida’ was published in the ‘Heroes of Ancient Greece’ anthology by Night to Dawn Books. In March 2009 his first novel, Tandem Tryst was published by Wings Press.

Ralph can be contacted at


Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Wow, lots of possibilities in going into the past. I think the setting sounds very intriguing. Good luck with the book, Ralph.