Q&A: Ronie Kendig (Raptor 6)
An action packed thriller with a touch of romance is just what Ronie Kendig cooked up in her latest military thriller. Raptor 6 (Shiloh Run Press) adds to Kendig’s library of award-winning series that have attracted a loyal following of fans. I, as an author, am impressed with Kendig’s ability to deliver realistic mind-blowing action, forcing you to burn through the pages quicker than the bullets flying from the muzzles of the terrorists’ machine guns you’re reading about.
Brock: Raptor 6 is not your typical romance novel, you incorporate combat, action, and other elements that usually take a back seat in a romance novel. Yet in Raptor 6 you've done a great job creating a balance of action, intrigue, and romance. Is it difficult to strike this balance?
Ronie: I confess this is tough for me, because my novels hover on a thin line between “true romance” and “true suspense.” I have readers who beg for more romance, but on the other end of the spectrum, I have those who are quite vocal in their opposition of a romance thread. For me, I’m a romantic. But I do not want a book of just romance—I want the action and adventure, too. I’m pretty sensitive when things swing too far to one side, so when I start to feel that barometer getting heavy on one side, I work to balance it. If I read through a section and there’s not enough romance or the romantic angle feels forgotten, I’ll tease it up a little. And to be fair, the level of romance also depends on the book itself, and the characters. For example, in Firethorn, the romance thread was pretty light because theirs was more of an intellectual romance. In Raptor, the romance is more in the form of my hero providing protection, the only thing he feels he has to offer.
Brock: Why have you chosen to right these combat romance thrillers?
Ronie: There’s a myriad of reasons, but ultimately, it boils down to two things: 1.) These type of stories are the ones I love to read and watch in a movie theater, whether it be Lone Survivor or Divergent (strong “military” element among Dauntless), and 2.) Passion—I have a passion for our military.
Brock: Why is the military close to your heart?
Ronie: It is close to my heart, and I cannot fully explain why, without saying it’s a purpose and passion the Lord has put on my heart. I grew up an Army brat and even after my dad retired, he took a job as a civilian contractor on a base, so I was around the military, or soldiers well into my early twenties. But really, in the beginning, it was the romanticized notion of our military heroes, those undaunted individuals, that drew me into writing. Then, one day about six or seven years ago, I was in a Sunday school class with my in-laws, and I heard a woman, who was married to a Navy SEAL, speak to the group. She asked for prayers for her husband’s salvation, but also for his anger, what I believe to be birthed out of PTSD. Hearing her request, watching her story unfold and a family destroyed by PTSD, I knew I could never again write a military story without showing the toll it takes on our military heroes.
Brock: Wow that sounds like a very key moment and a God assigned mission for you. What is the reaction from your readers?
Ronie: Those readers who’ve been with me from the beginning know what to expect from a Rapid-Fire Fiction (my brand) novel—intense action, raw characters, and real life. They’ve asked me to keep the edge to the novels, and they often thank me for writing “real life.”
Brock: What sort of research do you do for your series?
Ronie: Research has been ongoing since I started writing military stories, but more so with the Discarded Heroes series (I wrote the first one in late 2008 and early 2009). I subscribe to several online publications and follow many, many military and military advocate sites and Facebook pages, and my choices for reading and movie-watching are often military related, including watching documentaries on special operations command and subsequent fields. For Raptor, the involvement of cyber security was both convenient—my husband works in the industry—but also incredibly challenging since most of the information is still protected information. Though I had two sources with that security clearance, there was not a lot they could divulge without compromising themselves or our soldiers—something I would never ask of anyone. So, I did the best I could with the limited knowledge they could share.
Brock: Why did you choose to focus on a male protagonist in this series?
Ronie: This almost feels like a trick question, but I’m not 100% sure. The great irony is that, as an author, I am more comfortable writing a male character, but I’m also more intrigued in writing the male character. In the Discarded Heroes series, my protagonists were also male, and in one of the military working dog series, the first book was a male protagonist.
Brock: How many books are planned for this series?
Ronie: The Quiet Professionals is a three-book series that focuses on a Special Forces team known as Raptor (formerly identified in the A Breed Apart series as ODA452).
Brock: Can you give us a hint at the next book?
Ronie The next book in the series is Hawk, a story that will focus on Brian Bledsoe, who is challenged with the great dilemma of choosing who to save—his Green Beret brothers or a group of women and a child depending on him to save them from a brutal storm.
Brock: Are you working on the next book?
Ronie: Right now, I am working on a novel serialization with my publisher called Operation Zulu: Redemption. OZ:R will come to readers this summer in five installments, starting July 4,, 2014. This series focuses on a team of women who, five years ago, were the first all-female special operations team. After a deadly mistake, they are hiding from the enemy who sabotaged their mission.
Brock: What is your favorite genre to write for?
Ronie: Gah! Another trick question? I am torn between two genres—writing my military suspense/thrillers and speculative fiction, which I’ve been writing since before my first contract for my debut novel.
Brock: Where do you like to write?
Ronie: Where I write is not as important to me as being sure to have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or ear buds. I can write pretty much anywhere as long as I can audibly block out the rest of the world.
Brock: Are you a full time writer?
Ronie: While writing is my only career at this moment, I would say that homeschooling my teens keeps me from qualifying myself as a full-time writer. I have four more years of homeschooling, and I really want to make it the best for my kids.
Brock: How long does it usually take you to write a single book in the series?
Ronie: This varies greatly on what I’m writing and my deadlines, but in general, it takes me about 4 months to craft a solid draft. Unlike some writers, I do not write in terms of drafts, meaning I don’t create a wretched first draft, then clean it up in a second, and perfect in a third draft. Because I am easily discouraged and drained during an editing process, I work very hard to write what I want in a scene. I will not move on from a scene until I know it’s right. Each day/night I come to the writing table, so to speak, I will read back through the last chapter or two I’ve written and feel it out, make sure it’s right and moving in the correct direction. If it’s not, I fix it. But if I’m okay with it, I press on.
However, that said, this serialization project I’m working on right now is a very different beast—I’m writing 15,000 words a week and will have about 205,000 in three months. I’ve never done that, especially not with the content pretty much ready for print. In addition, I’m editing the previous episode and proofing an even earlier one—all in the same week. It’s a rigorous, borderline deadly pace for me, but I’m in love with the story and characters, so I’m making it happen.
Brock: Do you plot or outline the entire series before you begin writing, or do your books take on lives of their own? Or is there a combination?
Ronie: Again, this depends on the story. For my military novels, I start with a skeletal outline (maybe a page long) and then start writing with the main plot and character goals in mind. However, for the serialization project, my publisher required a detailed outline of each episode (at the time, there were 13 individual episodes). So, I have a thorough roadmap through that story and its characters, though it still demands some creativity and adjustments as I write. A year ago, I would have decried the detailed outline, and in fact, I whined a great deal about having to write that thing out, but now … I am grateful for how “easy” it has made getting the story, arcs, and characters on the page. At the same time, I’m not at the point where I would say I prefer to outline. It—and I—am still a work in progress.