by Rami Ungar
Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he fell in love with the works of Anne Rice and Stephen King and, as he was getting too old to sneak up on people and shout “Boo!’ (not that that ever stopped him), he decided to merge his two loves and become a horror writer.
Can you, for those of you who don’t know already, tell us something about yourself and how you became an author?
My name is Rami Ungar, and I’m a horror novelist from Columbus, Ohio. My first short story was published in my senior year of high school, and I self-published four books in and after college. My latest novel, Rose, about a young woman turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems), is my first book with a publisher, Castrum Press.
As for how I became an author, I guess the appropriate answer is to say I did it one word at a time, until I got decent at putting those words together into a story. I like to think said stories are compelling and even scary at times, but I’ll let you decide on that.
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
As I said before, my novel Rose has come out. This has been a dream of mine for years, and I honestly wasn’t sure at times it would come true. I wrote this as a college thesis about five years ago, and I’ve swung between thinking “this is a brilliant novel” and “this is absolute bonkers garbage. I mean, a woman becoming a plant?” over the course of those five years. And during the numerous edits, it often seemed impossible.
But it’s out now, which just goes to show that hard work and persevering over doubt can lead to extraordinary things.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wish I remember. It just came to me one day in the middle of Science-Fiction and Fantasy literature class (yes, that was a class they taught at my school. I hope they’re still teaching it). It just popped into my head, the story of a woman in a Misery-like situation but with a supernatural twist. I brainstormed a bit, and when I decided to do a thesis project, this is what materialized.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in the book?
Of the four main characters, the two leads are Rose Taggert and Paris Kuyper. Rose is pretty practical about her situation. She’s shocked by it, obviously, but once that wears off her goal becomes to deal with it as best as she can.
I don’t want to give too much away about Paris, as he drives a lot of what happens in the novel. He’s a young man with a magic book who desires love and to be loved, and it’s with that book and that goal he turns Rose into a plant creature to save her life. Let’s just say he’s full of secrets, and they will change your perception of him as you continue to read the novel.
Did you learn anything from writing Rose?
Oh, I learned plenty from writing this book. It was a challenge in every draft. I actually had to start over a few times because the opening scenes were crap. And last year, I had to do extensive rewrites to fix major problems with the story. Even with the final draft, which I finished about a week before the book was due to be released, I was learning things. Like how badly I need a thesaurus.
All in all, though, I think it made me a better writer. And hopefully it’ll serve me well for the next book.
If Rose was made into a movie, who would play the lead?
I’ve only thought about who I want to play Paris’s father Mr. Kuyper, another major character in the book. That actor is Willem Dafoe. I modeled Mr. Kuyper on some of his performances, so I’d like to see him in the role.
What books are you working on next?
I’ve a couple of projects on the horizon. I have a novel partially inspired by Dante’s Inferno that a few friends are beta-reading for me. Once I have their feedback, I’ll edit the novel and see if my publisher is interested. And I’ve a Gothic horror novel I plan to write in November for National Novel Writing Month. That, and a bunch of short stories novelettes, and novellas in the works. Some of them will be terrible, but a few will hopefully turn out well.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished a book by one of my college professors, Joy by Erin McGraw, and a horror novel on audio book called The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn. Both I recommend. I’m also listening to a lecture series on Victorian England by Stephen Fry and tomorrow I’m starting a new sci-fi novel by an acquaintance of mine named Paul Falk. After that, a little Terry Pratchett and some more sci-fi, most likely.
What advice would you give new authors?
Write the stories you want to read. Constantly try new things. And don’t give up, because eventually all that struggle does lead to something.
What is a book everyone should read?
I’m not sure one exists. Perhaps everyone should read a book that hits home to them one important fact: that we’re all human and deserve a chance for life and love. It’s probably different for every person, but I’m sure one exists for everyone out there.
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