Character Interview with Cynthia Ruchti: The Author-Reader Connection

Posted June 22, 2023 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, Cynthia Ruchti / 6 Comments


Happy Thursday, reading friends! I’m delighted to share the blog today with one of my very favorite people, Cynthia Ruchti, to talk about one of my very favorite things… the unique author-reader connection in our bookish community!


Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events/retreats and writers’ conferences/workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.” Her books have received recognition from RT Reviewers’ Choice Book of the Year, PW Starred Reviews, Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, Golden Scroll Awards and Novel of the Year, Readers’ Choice Awards, The Carol Award, two Christy finalists, and more. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, and is part of the worship team at her church. She’s also a Senior Literary Agent with Books & Such Literary Management. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.


the marvelous author-reader connection

by Carrie Schmidt & Cynthia Ruchti

“Reader, I married him.”

Wait. Wrong story.

“Reader,  I fan-girled over that author… and then she fan-girled over me!”

Getting to meet one’s favorite authors is a powerful thing. After all, they have created worlds and characters that have so captured your heart as to show up in everyday conversation and sometimes – if we’re being honest – in our prayers while we’re reading. They may have even, to quote an Andrew Peterson song, stood between your heart and Satan’s knife with a story so compelling that it begins the work of healing something broken inside you.

And then this happens: You zero in on your fave authors across the room, get up the nerve to approach them to properly gush over their books and – wonder of wonders! – they squeal your name before you can squeak out anything coherent. What?!? Cloud nine has nothing on where your heart just soared.

And, according to Cynthia Ruchti, I just described what it feels like for an author to meet a reader who knows their stories, loves the characters as much as the author does, and CHOSE to spend time in a novel she wrote! Talk about gushing! All the feels. All of them. That’s what an author experiences when given the opportunity to meet readers face to face.

 
Carrie & Cynthia, The Christy Award Gala, 2017 & 2022, respectively

Recently, Cynthia and I fictitiously ran into a reader – we’ll call her Jane Aire – who had some questions about the reader-author experience. Questions we were happy to answer!

Jane: Ok, so, how important are readers to authors? Other than just someone who buys their books? Isn’t that really all they care about?

Cynthia: Purchasing is lovely. Truly. But readers may not realize that a reader connecting with a story is even higher on an author’s list of priorities. Of readers like you, Jane, it’s the pinnacle of the author experience to have a reader feel immersed in the story, or to have a reader comment to someone (or to the whole world, even better) how the novel moved them. That’s our task, really—to touch the reader’s emotions. And it makes the reading process a group activity, if you will. It’s almost a conversation, though we’re not in the same room. The book speaks. The reader responds. We authors may or may not “hear” the response (except in a face to face encounter or through an online comment or review), but we have to believe it’s happening or we would keep the stories to ourselves. Carrie, you’ve seen many sides of this activity of writing and reading (and talking about) books. You’ve watched authors get passionate about their appreciation for readers. What are the kinds of things you notice in that equation that (author + story) – readers = bad math, but author + story + readers = a perfect trilogy!

Carrie: Amanda Dykes told me last year that what a reader takes from and brings to a book “makes the story come alive in a magical way that nothing else can even come close to replicating… Without them, the story equation is incomplete.” Which is exactly what you’re saying too, Cynthia. And when the unspoken conversation becomes spoken? When author meets story meets readers, a community is formed like none other. I’ve watched this shared love of story – of specific stories and just story in general – give authors a much needed boost of encouragement to keep going… to keep writing that next story. And I’ve seen readers make those personal connections with authors and become that author’s champion for life. Without the reader, the story is rarely seen. Without the author, the story is never seen. So not only do those connections give the story life, they mean that the reader and author are being seen as well.

 
Carrie & Toni Shiloh at CFRR 2019 / Carrie & Shelley Shepard Gray at RTCon 2016

JANE: I do love reading, and I have several favorite authors. What are some ways I can show my appreciation for their books without, you know, going all Misery on them?

Cynthia: Ah, the Misery movie! Now, there was fan-girl to the extreme. Love your heart, Jane. You want to encourage authors. And we never run out of our need for it, no matter how many books we’ve written. Yes, it tells us something is resonating, but beyond that, it tells other potential readers that it’s a book worth their time. Most authors would start by saying, “Thank you for caring!” Then they might list a few simple actions that make a far larger impression than the reader might imagine. Following the author on social media platforms allows us to keep making connections. Signing up for an author’s newsletter, and actually reading it, has such a strong impact that publishers are turning to the number of newsletter subscribers to see if they can offer an author another contract! That’s how important it is. Telling others what you liked about the book or the author’s approach to the topic through your social media connections goes a long way in helping readers find new authors and new books to read. (Even an older book is a new book if someone hasn’t read it yet.) Following the author on their author page on Amazon or Goodreads, and following on Bookbub are places a reader might not realize is valuable…and beneficial for the reader, too. Carrie, you’re one of the go-to people on writing a helpful review and finding creative ways to “talk up” books. What are your thoughts?

Carrie: I hear from a lot of readers that they are really intimidated at the thought of writing a review but honestly it can be super simple. It doesn’t have to be flowery or verbose like in a professional blog. Just say what you liked about it! Did you enjoy the characters? Did you feel like you were a part of the setting? Did you think any scenes were funny or meaningful or (as popular around here) swoony? Did you like how the author worded things? Put a quote in there! Four or five sentences is enough, and it means so much to the author – and to other readers! Another fun thing to do is share about the books on social media. Do a throwback Thursday post of a fave book you’ve loved for years and then include a pic of their newest release too! If, unlike me, you’re visually creative, take pretty pics of the books you buy or check out from the library and post them to Instagram! Join a book club – or start one!

 
Carrie with Denise Hunter & Jen Turano, RTCon 2016
Carrie with Todd Johnson, Jaime Jo Wright & Laurie Tomlinson, Nashville 2022

JANE: I’ve never been to a reader-author event before, and I’m actually pretty introverted. All those people in one room… all the talking … I’m kinda intimidated. Why should I go?

Cynthia: Did you know that the majority of authors are introverted, too? We often let our characters do the talking for us. 🙂 You will be among friends just because you cared to show up, and because you read…to your heart’s content. So do we. Most authors at a reader-author event could sit on either side of the table. But you, the readers, are the people we’ve so longed to get to know better.

Carrie: All those people in one room are talking about BOOKS, dearest Jane!! I know you love to read. And maybe no one at home wants to talk about books with you. Well, a reader-author event is the perfect thing for you because EVERYBODY in that room wants to talk about books! You have found your people, Jane!!

 

And that, dear readers, brings us to an upcoming opportunity for you to gush over your fave authors – and for them to gush over you!

You are Invited

ACFW Storyfest
August 24-26, 2023

Hyatt Regency at the Arch, St. Louis

When hundreds of authors gather for their annual ACFW conference in August, readers are invited to participate in their own event on the same premises. Storyfest will present a full program of meet & greet or meals with authors, casual conversation, games, panels, swag bags of story-related treasures, and the opportunity to hear from the heart of readers’ favorite authors.

Per reader requests, the ACFW Storyfest team is also including reader-only workshops to help answer reader questions and gain reader feedback. The ACFW bookstore will also be open to readers. Last year’s attendees recommend bringing extra luggage for the book and swag haul.

see the full list of participating authors HERE


What about you? Have you ever been to an author-reader event where you could connect with your fave authors? Who are some authors you’d love to meet?

Tags: , , ,

6 responses to “Character Interview with Cynthia Ruchti: The Author-Reader Connection

  1. Lelia “Lucy” Reynolds

    I’ve never been and I’ve never met an author. I would be so excited I wouldn’t know what to say.

    • the first time I met Becky Wade, my mind went blank of all words LOL. I quickly recovered though and properly fangirled – i’m sure you would too!! 🙂

    • Cynthia Ruchti

      You could always say, “Hi! I love books, too!” And then the conversation would take off on its own from there! 🙂

  2. Carrie, are you going to be at Storyfest? I’ll be at ACFW and would love to meet you!

    When I met Cynthia Ruchti and Sarah Sundin for the first time, both of them acted like it was the highlight of their day to meet *me* instead of the other way around. Such special people!

Leave a Reply