Hey Miss Ruth! I’m so glad you are taking a little time out of your day to hang out with me. Let’s start with a few easy questions.
What do you drink when you’re writing? Pepsi is my drink of choice, although I’m trying not to drink as much. Otherwise, I’ll just have water.
Do you have any pets? No pets. I raised 3 kids, babysat probably 50 others over the years. I don’t need a pet too.
Beach or mountains? The beach is my favorite place to be, but I do enjoy the mountains as well.
PC or Mac? Definitely a PC.
What was the last book you read? I’m normally working on about 4-5 books at a time. One for school, one for devotions, one on my kindle, a real book, and an audiobook.
What author(s) has/have really influenced you? I don’t know if there was any one specific author that influenced me. I think just the idea that I could put words to paper and help readers escape to a new world once in a while, make them laugh or cry, was what influenced me the most.
How does your faith influence your writing? I write a lot of devotions, so my faith has a huge influence there. But even in my fiction writing, I want my characters to live for God and have a relationship with Him. I want to point others to the way God works in our lives, even in the smallest of details.
How did you come up with the title for your book (and what is the title)?
Lunch Ladies. I had a group of friends who would go out to lunch once a month. That’s where my premise came from. I tried thinking up a different title because I know what pops into people’s minds when they think lunch ladies – you know heavyset, hair nets, teeth are a maybe. But I couldn’t let go. My friends are my Lunch Ladies.
How quickly did you connect with your MC? Pretty quickly. I usually have book ideas stewing for a while before I begin. When ideas come to mind, I jot them down in a specific notebook so that when I’m ready to begin writing the book, I already have a lot of ideas. My characters are fairly well-developed in my mind before I begin writing.
Did any part of this story make you cry while you were writing it? Ummm…YES!
What part of writing this book did you struggle with? One of the characters was dealing with something and I didn’t really want to give specifics because they weren’t important. I wanted to make her struggle real, but I wanted to focus on God walking her through it instead of all the gory details.
What part of writing this book did you celebrate the most? The end! Isn’t that what all authors celebrate?
When a reader reaches the end of your book, what do you hope to leave them with? I hope they’ve laughed. I hope they’ve cried. I hope they have deepened their relationship with God in a new way.
An excerpt from Lunch Ladies:
“Oh, boy! I don’t mean to interrupt your sweet story, Angela, or break up this party, but I think I may need to get myself to the hospital!” Zena was holding her belly with both hands.
“Are you having contractions?” Angela was immediately by Zena’s side.
“Better than that,” Zena answered. “My water just broke.”
Suddenly, all of the ladies pushed their chairs back and stood up, some knocking their chairs over. They all started talking at once.
The waitress came over after hearing all the commotion. “Is everything okay?” she asked.
“Could we get checks quickly, please? Zena’s water broke.”
The manager had been in another part of the dining room and must have overheard what happened because he came over all excited. “Go! Go! Lunch is on us today.”
Angela was helping Zena get up. As they walked by the manager, Angela said, “Thank you. We’ll make it up to you.”
“You’re faithful regulars. There’s nothing to make up. We’re having a baby!” He seemed just as excited as everyone else.
“Are we all going to the hospital?” Mackenzie wondered.
“Of course we are,” Ryann said a little louder than she meant to.
“We can all fit in my van,” Zena said. Then she decided to add, “As long as someone else is willing to drive.” Zena tossed her purse to Mackenzie. “The keys are in there.”
Everyone piled into Zena’s fifteen-passenger van while Angela helped Zena into the front seat and the rest of them piled in the back.
“How do you even sit here?” Mackenzie asked as she looked at the front seat and its closeness to the steering wheel.
Zena looked at her in exasperation. “I’m a whole lot shorter than you are. I need to be able to reach the pedals.”
“But what about your big fat belly? How do you fit that in here?” Mackenzie was still standing outside of the van, gesturing to the minimal space between the seat and the steering wheel.
“Just get in the van and drive,” Angela hollered from one of the middle seats after settling Zena and herself.
Zena watched as Mackenzie wrestled with the seat to try get it to go back far enough so she would be comfortable driving. After about three contractions she had had enough. “Mackenzie, just get in the van and drive now!”
“Okay, okay. Don’t get your knickers in a knot.” Mackenzie struggled to get into the van with her long legs and the seat still too far forward.
“Take a left out of the parking lot,” Zena felt the need to give directions, but at the same time caught herself. “I’m sorry, Mackenzie. I’m so used to bossing kids around that I’m bossing you now.”
“That’s all right,” Mackenzie responded. “I do know how to get to the hospital, but if it helps you to give me directions, you go right ahead.”
Mack stepped on the gas pedal in the van lurched forward. Then she hit a speedbump and stomped on the brakes rather hard. The ladies in the back of the van all gasped and hung on for dear life.
“We’re never going to get there!” Paige whined from the back.
“I don’t really want to have this baby in the van,” Zena’s voice went up an octave from the beginning of her statement to the end.
“It sure is clean enough to,” Mercedes spoke up from the rear of the van.
“Yes, don’t you have like six kids? How come your van is so clean?” Paige added her two cents.
“Oooohhh!” Zena wailed in response. Then when the contraction subsided she said, “I’m OCD, and I passed that along to my kids. I worked hard to teach them that a mess isn’t good.”
She stopped abruptly as another contraction overtook her. She held her breath.
“These are pretty close together,” Ryann stated.
Mackenzie stepped on the gas a little too hard again, giving those in the back only minor whiplash. There were more gasps from the back.
“Sorry! I’m sitting too close to the pedals,” she apologized into the rearview mirror.
“Don’t worry about me!” Zena held up her hand. “I’m fine.” She was more than a little sarcastic.
“Yeah!” Paige shouted from the back of the van. “Don’t worry about me either, even though I have a tendency to get motion sickness.”
“Hold it in, Paige,” Zena was able to holler back between contractions. “Do not throw up in my van!”
“I’ll try not to.” A moment later, “I need some air. How do you open the windows back here?”
“You don’t.” Zena was able to spit out those two words in the middle of a contraction.
“I’m going to be sick!”
“Shut up!” The passengers in the back shouted at Paige in unison.
Zena couldn’t help but smile at the chorus of shouts. She was the one in labor, but apparently, Paige was getting on everyone else’s nerves as well.
Just as another contraction was doing its work, Mackenzie rounded a corner and screeched into the hospital parking lot. Everyone reached for the nearest handhold as she stepped on the brake a little harder than necessary.
Zena felt the need to push, especially after Mackenzie’s driving.
“I’ll get you a wheelchair,” Angela said as she gladly hopped out of the van first.
“I’ll go and notify them you’re here,” Ryann jumped out of the van next.
“I’m going to try and get out of here,” Mackenzie was struggling to get her tall frame out of the moved-up-way-too-far driver’s seat.
Zena waited as patiently as she could while the other ladies piled out of the car.
“I lost my shoe,” Paige shouted.
Mercedes found it and kicked it out of the van toward Paige, who was hopping on one foot. Zena watched Paige hop as the shoe went a little off course. It would have been almost comical if she wasn’t trying desperately to hold the baby in. Laughter would not have been good at that moment. Then again, neither was even the thought of jumping up and down.
When Angela came back with a wheelchair she asked, “Can you step down okay?”
“I’m afraid to,” Zena said.
“Is something wrong?” Angela wondered.
“I’m afraid if I move the baby is going to fall out.”
“Maybe if you didn’t have so many babies…” Paige began, but the immediate looks of the other ladies stopped her from finishing her sentence. That and Kayleigh’s punch to her arm. “Ow!”
“Help me, Mercy,” Angela demanded.
Together they carefully lifted Zena from the seat of the van to the seat of the wheelchair without a baby falling out.
A nurse came running out of the hospital followed by Ryann.
“How are we doing?” she asked.
“I’m squeezing my legs together so I can at least get inside the building.”
The nurse grabbed the wheelchair handles and began running toward the front door with all six of the other ladies running behind her. She then ran over a crack in the sidewalk that jolted Zena almost out of the wheelchair.
“Oh!” Zena said.
“Sorry,” said the nurse.
“That’s okay. I know how this all works. My friends and I could have delivered this baby in the van if I wanted to.”
When Ryann and Angela looked at her with questions all over their faces, Zena added, “I’m just kidding. I didn’t really want to. It would have made a mess,” she winked.
“I’m feeling a little woozy,” Paige said as she stopped running with the group. “I think it was Mack’s driving. I just need to sit down for a minute.”
Mackenzie scowled at Paige as she ran past.
Paige waved her away. “I’ll be okay.”
“I’ll stay with you,” Kayleigh said, leading Paige to a waiting room. “We’ll catch up to you ladies in a few minutes,” Zena heard her call.
“Don’t be long. This baby is coming!” Zena called back.
This final question will wrap up our interview:
What is your dream writing space and do you have it already? I love to write outside. It doesn’t really matter where. I think there’s something about the fresh air that inspires me or clears my mind or something.
Ruth O’Neil was born and raised in upstate New York and attended Houghton College. She and her high school sweetheart have been married since 1991 and reside in Virginia. She has been a freelance writer/editor for more than twenty years and has published hundreds of articles in dozens of publications. Besides freelancing, she has written two stand-alone novels in the What a Difference a Year Makes series (Come Eat at My Table and Belonging), numerous devotionals, and a couple of children’s picture books. She is the author of the Spiritual Insights from the Classics series, which are devotional companions to classic literature. Books in this series include devotional companions for Little Women, Wizard of Oz, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Charlotte’s Web, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Wind in the Willows, and The Prince and the Pauper.
Ruth also teaches Writer’s Forums to help want-to-be authors break into print with either freelancing or book publishing.
She is a veteran homeschool mom, teaching her kids at home for 20 years. Several years ago she began teaching writing classes at a local homeschool co-op. Here she now teaches younger writers to develop their own freelancing career, write their own novel, or create their own picture book. Teaching the next generation of writers is probably the most fun she’s ever had!
When she’s not writing or teaching, Ruth spends her time cooking for others, quilting, reading, scrapbooking, camping, and hiking with her family.
Where can we find you online?
Thank you for spending time with me today Ruth! It’s been a pleasure having you on the blog and getting to do this interview with you. Do you have any final words for our readers?
While Lunch Ladies is part of a series, you don’t have to read them in any specific order. All my books are standalones. Lunch Ladies is also on sale right now for only ¢.99.