This is the first interview we’ve done here on Pot Fiction, and it’s pretty damn exciting!
R.D. Ronald, an up and coming crime novelist, is the author of The Elephant Tree and The Zombie Room. We reviewed The Elephant Tree here. It’s a great read. When RD Ronald suggested that we talk some more, Pot Fiction jumped at the opportunity!
RW Tucker, Pot Fiction: You’ve mentioned that your own personal experiences influenced your writing. Many people turn their back on their past lives. Within the bounds of what you are comfortable talking about, of course, what made you want to put those experiences to paper?
R.D. Ronald: When I first went to prison I found the expected assortment of horrible individuals that anyone would expect to be in there. What did surprise me, though, were the number of decent people that had been the victim of horrendous circumstances they either reacted to, or took the only option left open to them. While I was inside I read and read and read, as you would expect, but while working my way through numbers of crime thrillers I began to find the plots somewhat tedious and predictable, and in no way reflective of the people I was surrounded by who had, and still were, living out their very own crime thrillers. I decided to put some ideas down on paper, much of it fiction, some very altered experiences I had lived through or heard of, and let it begin to take shape. I wanted the criminality to be reflected in as open a way as I could without vilifying or glamorising the experience. I had no idea how the readers would eventually take this on board, but I was writing the type of book I wanted to read, not seeking out commercial success by trying to please everyone. Through social media rather than backing from a big publisher I have been able to connect with like-minded souls and luckily for me they seem to love it, which has enabled me to carry on exploring my passion for writing.
PF: I just started The Zombie Room after reading The Elephant Tree. I notice that each person, no matter how honorable or dishonorable their actions, has some kernel of motivation driving them. What factors do you find carry people to lives on the black market?
RDR: Like I mentioned above, there are numerous types of people operating in that kind of world with many reasons for being there. There are your stereotypical thugs craving power and easy money, but there are also people who slip through the cracks of modern society and find themselves as low-level dealers quite by accident. Nice enough people who simply have no other way to make a living, unable to function in the everyday life most of us take for granted, either because of addiction issues, lack of education and social skills or even mental illness. Some people grow up in that environment and it is all they have ever known. It also happens that regular working people that dabble in low-level crime on the side who are caught and then imprisoned lose their jobs, so when they are released they no longer have an income source, coupled with a brand new criminal record which makes getting a job much harder, so they find themselves through lack of any other option being sucked into life as a full time criminal, and the cycle continues. And these are not just suppositions. I have met and talked to countless individuals at various stages of all of the variations I’ve listed here. You can spot the pattern a mile away.
PF: Your books are dark and full of brutal people. Violence seems almost inevitable. What drives people to violence, in your view?
RDR: For some people violence has always been and always will be a way of life. For others it is a potential they carry around as a resource to be used only in the most extreme circumstances. The last group is perhaps the most sad, and I say this after meeting dozens of people convicted of murder that fit into this group. The reactionists. These could be people who have never laid a hand on another human being in their whole lives, then one day – bam! Something happens, they react in the most extreme way and in a matter of seconds life as they knew it is over and someone is lying dead at their feet.
PF: Let’s go a little lighter. Indica or sativa?
RDR: Well, I have to point out that my cannabis days are behind my now, but once upon a time I was a big fan of both. Sativa I loved if partaking during the day, maybe a walk in the woods on along a beach, sun shining down. Awesome. Indica for a chilled evening in with friends. Watch a movie or get the Playstation out. Fun times.
PF: What’s ever been favorite part of agricultural activities, sanctioned or not? That is, are you a soil chemistry person, do you like pruning, maximizing your vegetables, etc? Maybe a synthesis? Tell me when you were happiest in the garden.
RDR: Again I hasten to add this was all in the past, but from starting out with the most basic of setups I enjoyed learning about the science of growing. Trying different growth mediums, different feeds, different lights. Comparing results with one or two close friends. I found it to be a very friendly, if very close-knit, community. There’s a lot more money involved these days but I’m sure those social groups still exist out there somewhere.
PF: What’s your current writing project, if any? Or, alternatively, do you want to hype anything new?
RDR: Current writing project is my third novel entitled A Darkness So Unkind. It’s pretty much finished but a long way from having a release date yet. I am about to start up a manuscript consultancy service which will be available to a limited number of fledgling writers to enable them to reach their full potential. I’m pretty excited about working with some new writers, and more information about this will be posted on my Twitter page – @RDRonaldauthor.
We want to thank RD Ronald for answering our questions, and wish him luck on his writing endeavors, whether in pot fiction or not!
If you or someone you know is a pot fiction author, get in touch with our staff.
Thanks for reading, as always.