AFTER THE SHOT DROPS by Randy Ribay
I met Randy Ribay at an author event, and as soon as he mentioned his new book, AFTER THE SHOT DROPS, I knew I had to spread word about it. This book would be a great selection for both public and school libraries. Have a look:
Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir feels betrayed. While Bunny tries to fit in with his new, privileged peers, Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can’t help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble.
When Wallace makes a bet against Bunny, Nasir is faced with an impossible decision—maybe a dangerous one.
In addition to writing books, you also teach high school English. In what ways, if any, do you find balance between your day job and your author life?
I write almost every weekday early in the morning before I go to school. Though I spend a lot of time throughout the day thinking about whichever story is my current project, I generally don’t write again until the next morning (unless I need to meet a deadline!). So for me, it’s a pretty easy delineation. Though, I often use what I learn about writing to improve my teaching. For example, the way I give feedback for my students’ writing is meant to mimic the way I receive feedback from my editor.
I know what you mean–I give the same kinds of tips to the students I work with at UC Davis. Regarding AFTER THE SHOT DROPS, I’m intrigued by the ethical dilemmas that Nasir faces. What about Nasir’s journey did you find most rewarding to write about?
I always enjoy writing my characters’ emotional journeys because I get to experience it with them. In most cases, I like my characters to change in some meaningful way from beginning to end, and I usually start out the first draft knowing Point A and Point B. However, I don’t know how the character gets from one place to the other, and I see part of the challenge of writing is figuring out how they shift in a believable way. Without getting too spoiler-y, Nasir starts out the story feeling hurt and betrayed, left behind by Bunny’s decision to switch schools. By the end of the story, I (hope) readers see how he gains some empathy for Bunny’s situation.
I’ll bet they will! AFTER THE SHOT DROPS is also told from alternating perspectives. What was the most challenging aspect of writing in this kind of format?
I can’t remember where I heard it from, but someone once said that if you’re writing a book with multiple POVs, then your aim should be that the reader can read the first few sentences of any section and know who the POV is without looking at the chapter/section heading. Of course, the challenging part is figuring out how to differentiate them enough in a way that doesn’t feel gimmicky or superficial (e.g. This POV talks like a robot and this one like a cowboy!). For me, that meant delving into each characters’ emotional core as well as intentionally using patterns in syntax or vocabulary.
Sounds like great advice to help with character development. What are some of your current projects?
Currently, I have a YA contemporary manuscript on submission. I also have a YA dark fantasy that’s been sitting on the back burner in need of revisions for quite a while. I also have a secret project I’m working on for fun!