Today, I’d like everyone to give a big welcome to Rich Voza who has finally made it on to the Thursday Throng. For those of you that don’t know Rich, he’s the author of Room 317, the subject of this weeks review; he’s also an ex-teacher who is now finishing off his third novel and starting on the journey to publishing heaven, getting an agent. His mantra at the moment seems to be ‘don’t give up’.
Room 317 is one of those books that just gets under your skin, you know the sort that gives you an itch you just have to scratch it. I read it for the first time back in the summer of 2012 and re-read a few weeks ago in preparation for this interview. During the first reading, I wanted to throw it down because I got so annoyed by the characters, they frustrated me because I cared about them. I ended up doing the reading equivalent of peeking out from behind a cushion. It took me two sittings to read it that first time. The story is edgy and raw. The pace is perfect.
Throughout the narrative the reader is aware that we are building up to some event that will create major change in the characters lives; Rich plays this perfectly, adding in elements when the reader needed to know them and not before. The ending was completely unexpected and it both shocked and pleased me; the contrast between the two halves were so well expressed. As a reader I’m now a fan and looking forward to much more of Rich’s work.
According to Amazon: “Somewhere in the middle of nowhere is Room 317. That’s where everything ends. Five people will walk in. One will walk out. One will limp out. One will be thrown out. Two will be carried out. The five of them come from many places. California, New Jersey, and a few places between. What brings them there is all very different. What gets them out is pretty much the same. There will be bullets, broken glass, and blood. All of them will be changed. Not all of them will see tomorrow.”
Nobody would likely know that I have written a lot of love poems and some very sensitive poetry aimed at demonstrating my feelings for several different women at some very important times in my life. My poetry is far different from my fiction.
What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?
The best review was from a reader who wanted to throw the book (Room 317) down (but couldn’t because it was on a Kindle) because the characters really got under her skin. But it was compelling enough that she finished it in two settings and eventually called it “brilliant.”
What did the worst review you ever had say about you and your work?
The worst review was about another book, “The Curse,” of which the reader said that they could not tell the characters apart because their names were too similar and their motivations unclear. Of course I disagree, but just because I disagree doesn’t mean that I’m correct and they were wrong. Keep in mind, it was a grandfather, father, and son with the same first name.
Are the names of your characters important to you?
Names are very important to me because I want my characters to seem like someone you’d meet on the street, a regular person whose name would not draw attention. I don’t like long, multi-syllabic and overly formal names. I like John and Jane kinds of names.
How did you choose a title for your book?
Great question that’s never easy. I chose the title “Room 317” because it is connected to the Bible passage John 3:17, thus the character’s name of John. That verse refers to Jesus being willing to sacrifice himself for others. And my character John is also willing to sacrifice himself for others. I was going to originally use 316, a more famous verse, but that’s more about not being afraid to go forward because you know God is behind you. But in this story, John doesn’t feel anyone behind him. If my translations are not perfectly accurate, I apologize to the Biblical scholars out there.
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
My biggest hazard is having the discipline to sit and write without heading to the tennis court or beach on such beautiful days like today. Sunny and 80.
Do you think there is any elitism attached to the different genres of books, both in the fiction and non-fiction worlds?
I think there is a self-created elitism but not an elitism that comes with the territory. I think some writers feel themselves above others because of what they’ve written. To put it in my terms: Literary fiction is like selling 1000 pages to 200 people. Genre fiction is like selling 200 pages to 1,000 people. Based on that, I’ll take genre fiction.
Have you ever written naked?
Naked? Yes. Drunk? No. I can’t write anything worth anything drunk.
What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?
Having faith and confidence in my ability.
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
Find people you can trust to read your work and also be willing to read their work. Be honest and be willing to make changes. Also, keep a blog and read other blogs. Write comments to their blogs and pay attention to the comments they leave you.
How do you remain sane while working?
To remain sane would require one to achieve saneness to begin with, so I may not be qualified to answer that.
Where do you find your inspiration?
In the faces of my children.
What is the book that you wished you had written?
Same as everyone else – “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
If you could commit the perfect murder where would you hide the body?
The scary part is that I’ve had this discussion before – at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. First, get the person drunk. Then toss the body off the top and the beating would cover any evidence of the murder. Plus, it would seem like they fell off if a blood test were done, if any blood were left in the body after the animals picked on it.
Where can I meet Rich online and find out about his books and writing?
Rich is a regular contributor to Friday Fictioneers and you’ll find all his own work on his website, handily titled ‘brainsnorts‘ where you’ll find his own unique blend of observation and humour. He also hangs out on Twitter and masquerades under the handle
brainsnorts. Finally you’ll be able to locate him on Goodreads, but I can’t be certain that’s not stalking 🙂
Why ‘The Thursday Throng’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.
If you would like to see all the Authors who have been featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/06/17/the-thursday-throng/