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Author interview, part two and giveaway: Ilie Ruby

February 4, 2011

I was so excited when Ilie Ruby agreed to answer my questions, I kind of went overboard.  She was a good sport and took the time to answer all of my questions.   Since the interview ended up being long, I decided to divide it in two.  I featured the first part yesterday and offer its conclusion today.  By the way, Ilie is pronounced EYE-lee.

Ilie Ruby

The beautiful prose of your book reflects your background in poetry.  Which do you prefer writing?

I can’t choose!  Poems are the bones of my stories.  An integral part of the whole.  They create the architecture of my novels.

I’m excited about your Great Women Series – can you tell us more about that?

I’m glad you’re excited about it because I am, too. The Series features inspiring women who have overcome obstacles and realized their dreams. My hope is that it becomes a wisdom-keeper, a time capsule, a well from which women and girls can draw inspiration, especially for those who are isolated or struggling. I think we are all so very brave and so very scared at different times and in different places in our lives. It helps to share the journey. The women we feature are fabulous role models. We define “Great” as any woman who has worked through her own barriers and achieved “greatness” in whatever way she defines it. We just signed on to partner with the fabulous Girls Write Now, an inner city writing program for at-risk teenage girls. We’ll feature their top mentees as part of the Series. This will create a cross-generational component that will round out the series. We’re here:

On a more personal note, while visiting book groups and listening to women of all ages share their stories as they related to my characters, I had one predominant thought: “People should hear you. Your story is inspiring.” What struck me is that many women didn’t think that their stories mattered. I had to do something to remedy that. There is a fabulous documentary by Pamela Tanner Boll called Who Does She Think She Is? It addresses a certain part of the collective that questions the right or the chutzpah of female artists to live and work as they choose, and also work to improve things for others. The who does she think she is voice is pretty strong for some of us, many of us internalize it, but thankfully is very quiet for me now. I think, as women, we need to stamp out that voice and follow our inner guidance.

You had asked me about older child adoption once. As you know, I’m a mom to three kiddos from Africa. People ask why I went to Africa in the first place. There were many reasons, but mostly, this was something I was supposed to do in my life. I had always known I would do it. When you’re there, witnessing the lives of children, you do something. You have to. But this never comes from a place of pity. Never. These are incredible little people with enormous spirits to share. My children are my world. I feel extremely blessed.

I read that you’ve had success as an artist.  Do you still paint?  Is the creative process of painting similar to that of writing?

I can’t talk about myself as an artist without talking about my mother. She was an incredible talent and I wish she had had the confidence and encouragement to do all she wanted in her life. She taught me a lot about creativity. I grew up writing and painting, but I am also a bit of a synesthete. (My favorite French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire wrote of synesthetic experiences, as well). Several years ago, I starting selling prints and showing my work in different galleries. I was represented by a fine gallery in Tribecca. Painting is good for my soul and art shows are fabulous fun. But really, I paint because it refills my well. I mentioned being “creatively athletic”. I used to work double fisted, writing for a few hours, painting for a few hours. My creative process for both is indeed similar. Prepare the canvas, sketch out the landscape, layer on color, shadow, create texture, build in layers, flesh out corners, and articulate detail.

So many people seem to be down on our education system, yet I see so many bright young people today.  Can you share some of your teaching experiences?

A school is only as good as its teachers. And teachers are only as good as their fortitude and infrastructures. At twenty-six, I drove across the country from Boston to Los Angeles to teach 5th grade, leaving behind a man I was in love with at the time—it was on the heels of the Rodney King race riots, a hotbed of racial tension. We had few books, many of the students read at a 1st grade level, it was gang territory, I could go on. I was drawn to Long Beach to try and help out there. My students were amazing. This past December I did a reading in LA, and one of my former students picked us up at the airport. He spent the week with my family and me, and we talked for hours about life journeys. I hadn’t seen him in 18 years! He had a traumatic start with his family and is now a successful entrepreneur, a role model. He shared his memories of things I had told him, and lessons I had taught. He still kept the journals I gave him to write in and process what was going on. Seeing him survive the legacy of his family, hearing his words, all this meant the world to me. ~Ilie

Thanks again, to Ilie for taking the time to answer my questions.  Because of her generosity, I have one copy of THE LANGUAGE OF TREES (which I loved) to give away!  To enter to win  THE LANGUAGE OF TREES by Ilie Ruby, simply fill out this entry form.  Contest is open worldwide.  I will use to determine the winner. Contest ends at midnight EST Friday, February 18, 2011.   The winner will be announced on Saturday, February 19, 2011.  Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2011 7:02 am

    What a nice interview Kathy. What an amazing woman. I do hope to read this book soon.

  2. February 4, 2011 7:40 am

    Wonderful interview – questions as well as answers. How gratifying it must have been to spend time with a former student so many years after – few teachers get to see “what happened next” for their students.

  3. February 4, 2011 9:12 am

    Reading this second part of the interview today was so inspiring! Ilie sounds like an amazing woman, and also a very creative one. I think her background and success as a teacher is wonderful, and I would love to see one of her paintings. This was a really great set of interviews, Kathy. Thanks for sharing them!

  4. February 4, 2011 9:24 am

    This is beautiful; thanks for sharing.

  5. February 4, 2011 11:32 am

    What a wonderful interview, thanks! for sharing.

  6. February 4, 2011 11:49 am

    I wish we could find more people who were as comitted as you to the young generations of children in our education system. It is this very special attention that made your past student overcome the odds for a successful turn out. We can’t reach everyone as teachers but we can do our best to inspire them.
    Looking forward to reading The Language of Trees since getting to know you via Kathy.

  7. February 4, 2011 12:30 pm

    Thank you Ilie and Kathy for 2 days of terrific questions and answers! Ilie your name is beautiful and you are a very inspiring person with a kindred spirit! I think most little girls go through a time of wanting to be one of the crowd. Your story about roll call made me laugh.

    I’m looking forward to reading The Language of Trees for the fascinating story and the beautiful prose.
    I think your Great Women Series is a brilliant idea and a great way to pay tribute to amazing women.
    I really enjoyed this interview!
    ~ Amy

  8. February 4, 2011 12:47 pm

    Ms. Ruby sounds like such an interesting and incredible woman! Great interview questions — again.

  9. February 4, 2011 1:16 pm

    What a wonderful interview. She really does sounds like an amazing woman.

  10. February 4, 2011 1:25 pm

    Nice interview 🙂
    I just had to enter, I need something like this.

  11. February 4, 2011 1:53 pm

    Great interview — I loved her description about being “creatively athletic.” Is there anything this woman can’t do?
    p.s. Please don’t include me in the giveaway; I have way too many books already.

  12. February 4, 2011 2:00 pm

    Ilie is awesome, and this is a great interview!

  13. February 4, 2011 3:21 pm

    Loved the interview! This is a book I have been wanting to read!

  14. February 4, 2011 3:30 pm

    This is quite a wonderful and inspiring interview! Kathy, thank you for hosting this giveaway. 🙂

  15. February 4, 2011 3:56 pm

    Wonderful interview, Kathy! I’ve signed up, but I think I’ll have to make sure I get a copy of this, regardless. My 26-year-old quit his programming job and is now teaching HS math in inner-city Nashville, which sounds very much like the author’s experience (gangs, scary home life, kids who are way behind in their skills). He has said there are lots of challenges but he feels like he has a purpose that he lacked, before.

  16. February 4, 2011 4:09 pm

    The series sound fantastic. Thank you Kathy for introducing me to the author, I truly enjoyed the interview.

  17. Beth Hoffman permalink
    February 4, 2011 4:35 pm

    Wonderful … simply wonderful interview! Isn’t Ilie special? Love her.

  18. February 4, 2011 6:08 pm

    I am thrilled to death to see this interview, Kathy. What perfect questions and lovely answers by a lovely woman. Ilie is someone I truly admire and her work is marvelous!!

  19. February 4, 2011 9:06 pm

    Great interview, thank you both so much. Ilie you have three beautiful children. You’re one lucky woman. Thank you to for your wonderful book I really did love it.

  20. February 4, 2011 9:31 pm

    Clearly Ms. Ruby got my share of talent! So jealous that she is so multi-talented.

  21. February 4, 2011 9:57 pm

    P.S. I’ve added this great book giveaway to my blog’s sidebar. 🙂

  22. February 4, 2011 10:23 pm

    What an interesting life and worldview she has … I hope she has a memoir in her future.

  23. stacybuckeye permalink
    February 4, 2011 10:35 pm

    Great interview by both you and Ilie!

  24. February 5, 2011 6:42 am

    Awesome interview. I don’t even know what to comment, from the research to painting to teaching … And I’m curious about the next book and the Scottish tale.

  25. February 5, 2011 9:04 am

    Thank you all for your words! Your support and kindness is wonderful. And thank you to the ever-fabulous Kathy!

  26. February 5, 2011 10:04 am

    Love how personal this interview was!!!

  27. Stephanie permalink
    February 5, 2011 7:13 pm

    I’d love to win this!

  28. February 13, 2011 5:01 am

    I like the interview! My Chinese name is also pronounced the same way as EYE-lee.

  29. Janet permalink
    February 14, 2011 9:40 pm

    What a wonderful interview! I enjoyed it so much and now
    have a new book to look into getting. With such an awewsome author,
    how can I not read it? Thanks!

  30. January 5, 2013 8:50 pm

    she sounds so incredibly gifted in both spirit and talent! thank you for sharing this lovely author with us AND the great giveaway!

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