Sunday, July 5, 2020

2020 Interview: Ruth Ochs Webster

I'm Ruth Webster. I write using my maiden name: Ruth Ochs Webster 
Retired National Board-Certified Teacher of Social Studies and Lang. Arts. Middle school grades.
Born and raised in Covington, KY, the Edge of the South.

Do you have any hobbies?

Besides writing? Playing guitar and singing at open mics/jams.
Jigsaw puzzles. Collecting coffee mugs (way out of control).

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Can’t possibly choose. Some favorites were Yosemite, Rome, Scotland, Banff, Quebec City, Maine.

If you were given a ticket to anywhere and spending money to indulge, where would you go?

Probably back to England and Germany, my ancestors’ stomping grounds.

Do you have pets?

They’re all in Heaven with my late husband. I’m not getting any new ones, animal or human.

What is your favorite color and what do you love about it?

The entire red family: pink through fire engine to maroon and purple.
They are firey yet smokey.

What was your favorite book as a child?


What is one thing about yourself you’d like to change or are trying to work on?

I’m eternally trying to lose those ten pounds.

What music genre/singer/band is your go-to for a bad day? For working? 

Grand movie instrumental soundtracks.

Do you re-read books? If so, is there one in particular?

The only books I reread are my own (over and over again) as I edit.

Are you an introvert, extravert, or ambivert?

I am an introvert who can pose as an extravert through sheer force of will when necessary.

Does pineapple go on pizza?

Why not.

How many places have you lived? If not native to western PA, what brought you here?

Covington, Kentucky; Syracuse, New York; Baltimore, Betterton, Annapolis, and Cumberland, Maryland (all over that state). Retired to Pittsburgh area upon retirement. Wanted to be near one of my two sons. The other choice was Seattle and that was too far from my friends and Kentucky family.

What was your first job?

Way back when? Delivering newspapers. Working in my uncle’s grocery store.
Upon graduating from high school: worked my way through college as a bookkeeper.

What is your favorite down time activity?

Making music.

Are you an outdoor type? Have a green thumb?

More or less. It’s getting harder to hike as I age, though I did go on a seniors’ hiking trip to Death Valley last fall.

If you could live inside a movie, which would you choose and which character would you be?

“Out of Africa”. The girl. She had Robert Redford.
Or “The Way We Were”. Same reason.

Are you the type to take a dare?

I am a very reasoned risk taker. 

Do you have a favorite motto or quote that applies to your own life?

Live a “terrifyingly earnest life”.    Ellen Key
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”   Jack London

What is one thing you’ve learned through experience that you’d love to pass along to others?

You don’t have to listen to the experts and do something because it’s the vogue, or someone says you have to. I pretty much don’t heed any writing advice. I’m old. I will write what I want and market it the way I want. If you don’t need x, y, or z to put food on the table why wear yourself out seeking constant outside validation? Do what you love. Someone will respond and that someone is enough. If there are a handful of someones, even better. 

What books, other than your own, would you highly recommend?

Any of the historical novels by our local author Kathleen Shoop. She’s good.
My current read is Chernow’s “Grant”. I tend to read Civil War non-fiction to supplement the research I do for my novels.

On to writing: what inspired you to start creating stories/non-fiction? How long ago?

As a fifth-grader, I wrote stories that were read to the first graders.
As a teenager, I was a teen reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer.
In college I was associate editor of the student newspaper.
While teaching, I wrote a newspaper column for seven years in the Cumberland (MD) Times-News.
I’ve written way too many grant proposals and curriculums.
Finally, in retirement I got serious about attempting book length manuscripts that could educate while entertaining.

How do you choose your settings (fiction) or topics (non-fiction)?

My novels are based on the actual lives of my ancestor Civil War soldiers, so the setting and basic plot elements are gleaned from that factual skeleton of time and place. I just flesh out the story.

Can you tell us a bit about your path to publication?

I was always a magazine/newspaper/literary journal type of writer. When I took on my Ancestral project, I decided to Indie publish through collaboration with Tree Shadow Press. By the time I was retired I was not interested in pursuing traditional publishing. I wanted complete control of my art. 

Finally, please tell us about your books and add your website so we can find you:

I intend to write six novels about the Civil War, all based on research. I glean information from the records of the National Archives, state repositories, historical newspapers, and genealogical documents. I volunteer at the Carnegie Library of Carnegie in their Civil War program. I also hold membership in historical groups. It all adds to my knowledge base.
My latest book, published in 2019 is “Cousins at War.” Prior to that, I wrote “Jesse: 53rd Kentucky” and “Henry: The Jersey Brigade.” My work in progress is “The Ramsey Legacy.”


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