I'm originally from Hartford CT but I've also lived in Philadelphia and London; I currently live in Virginia. I graduated from LaSalle University in Philadelphia with an Accounting major and an English minor. I've worked as a tax accountant and tax appellate officer for over 25 years. For the last 3 years of my career, part of the duties of my job as an appellate officer included technical writing. Currently, I work as a full-time writer however I also offer tax consulting services. I completed my first two books; "Homecoming" in early 2012 and the second "Measure of A Man" in the fall of 2012.
2. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That's a really good question. Honestly, about two ot three weeks ago, and I am completely serious. I was on the phone with a friend who is a really wonderful writer who complimented me and told me I was a great writer. I told him, "You know, I am going to accept that finally...thank you". I have written all my life and usually described myself as a person who "also writes" but lately, I have actually accepted the title "writer".
3. What inspired you to write your first book?
I took an impromptu vacation to New Orleans with close friends to see Sade in concert. The trip was wild and crazy but it was also one of those times when you realized you were experiencing something magical. I mean everything went wrong, from delayed flights to lost concert tickets but it all turned out perfectly and if it didn't... we just ordered more drinks ! We had an absolute ball and we all said that someone needed to write a story about it, so I did and "Homecoming" was the result. Of course. the story and location changed but the spirit of friendship, reunion and love is as much in the book as it was with us on that trip.
4. What books have influenced your life most?
That is a really difficult question, I can't think of a specific book so I'll just say anything that I can learn something new from.
5. What writer would you consider a mentor?
Toni Morrison is my favorite writer however, I don't know if I will ever be able to write at her level, I love the way her words are almost musical; she reinvents the language. But honestly, I think that each writer's voice and journey is so distinctive there is really no one writer whose life or writing I would look to to define my own. Hopefully. I am doing something original in my work and it has its own definition and influence.
6. What book are you reading now?
I am reading "Casting the First Stone" by Kimberla Lawson Roby.
7. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Spend time with my daughter (when I can catch up with her) , talk, see the sun, shop, travel, entertain, attend outdoor concerts, exercise. Writing is very solitary, which I love but I am also a social animal so I need to balance the time I spend alone with spending time with people that I love and doing the things that keep me connected to the world.
8. Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Love that question ! You know when I write, everything becomes fodder for my work. A conversation, a scene on the street. Ideas for my books happen constantly, everything has a story, two women having tea, a group of friends laughing in a store; what are their lives like, how long have they known each other and where are they on their way to or from ? My grandfather always told me I was nosey, I prefer curious - stories are everywhere.
9. What new author has grasped your interest? Trick question right ?
Me, of course ! No, I don't mean that in an arrogant way, but when I write, I don't read other authors because they influence my work, like I said, everything does when you're writing because you are so open. And because I have written two book in the last 10 months and am starting on the third soon I have very little time in between to read new authors. I've only read a few books these last few months by more established writers to build my craft.
10. If you couldn't be an author, what would your ideal career be?
Filmmaking but that's coming up so I would have to say a restrauranteur.
11. What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
Any chapter that involved Jackson, nicknamed Junie, in the second novel, "Measure of A Man". I found so much freedom and redemption in writing him. I was very connected to his struggle, his guilt and his artistry.
12. Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
Like I said, I wanted to capture a moment in "Homecoming" but the story changed so I just followed it. "Measure of A Man" came from a need to tell the story from the men's perspectives, from the male characters' experiences. I just want a way to express what I see, to explore the causes and results of what we experience in our lives.
13. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I have written two books that are part of a trilogy; "Homecoming" and "Measure of A Man". the final book, entitled "All to You", is the final installment. This book will complete the story of the characters in both of the two preceding novels.
14. How do you market your book(s)?
Book signings, my website(www.hdeanragland.com) , Amazon, social media, reaching out to bookclubs, blogs, book reviewers, newspapers and radio.
15. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Yes ! At every one of my signings, there are always people in the audience who also want to write. Everyone has a story to tell and you never know what form that story will take, be it a novel, a documentary, a video diary or a poem but sooner or later you have to write. So sit down and begin ! My daughter laughs at me because I love the internet; but it is the great equalizer. Information or people that in previous times you had to network or research to find you can just google... if you need better writing , computer, editing, publishing or marketing skills; it's all out there. So, if its your dream, get out of your own way and go for it !