IHS: Welcome, Ruth! Thank you for being with us today. I’m really excited to have you here! Tell our followers who you are, what city you're from.
Ruth Webster: Glad to be here! I'm Ruth O Webster. I now live in Pittsburgh.
IHS: Pittsburgh. Okay, Great! Where are you from originally?
Ruth Webster: I was born and raised in the same town as my character just so you know, it’s Covington, Kentucky. So I'm a Kentucky girl. It's the very most Northern city in Kentucky on the Ohio River just across which is spitting distance of
Cincinnati, Ohio. Just across the river.
HS: The title of the book that you just produced with us is Jesse. What's the full name of the book?
Ruth Webster: The full name of the book is: Jesse: 53rd Kentucky. That was the regiment that he was in during the Civil War and that's why I named it that.
IHS: And what's the next book that you have coming?
Ruth Webster: The next book I have coming to audio is actually the first book I wrote and that is called: Henry The Jersey Brigade and again it's named after the regiment that he fought with during the Civil War. Both books are based on the lives of real soldiers.
IHS: Very good. My mother in law actually lives in Louisville, Kentucky.
Ruth Webster: Louisville is also on the river right across from Indiana. And that's what makes Kentucky stories so compelling during the Civil War. Because like Jesse and like the people I'm writing about right now, they could touch both north and south and really had to delve into their psyches to decide who to support. It was very, very difficult on people in Kentucky. That wasn't a given. South or North either you're just in this limbo no man's land.
IHS: And in some case, brother against brother---
Ruth Webster: Yes it makes for good stories.
IHS: Yes. Right. Well, what was your favorite book part about listening to your book come to life with your narrator?
Ruth Webster: My favorite part? It has to be that it was read so well by a man. As a woman writing about men, it validated me in some way because authors often write about the opposite sex. Men have forever written stories that have women in them as main characters and women have written about men. But there's something about writing about the military you can be you know, what do you know about war? As a woman, you may be asked: What do you know about the military? But I always thought I knew as much as any man who did not experience it first. And none of us who are sitting here have experienced the Civil War firsthand. And having Jacob work with me through the audiobook process, with kind of a man's - don't know what you'd call it - outlook or expression - phrasing to my words and bringing them to life and it just fell so legitimizing. I really wanted a guy and a younger guy.
IHS: Actually, it makes a lot of sense. It was told in the first person.
IHS: Is your primary business writing?
Ruth Webster: My primary business now is being retired! For most of my adult life, I was a teacher and I taught middle school kids. And I taught US history and I taught language arts. So this is a given for me. And I used to tell my students, when they would turn up their nose at History, that it’s really just a story. The word “story” is in “history.” No matter what we talk about whether it's American Revolution or Colonial days whatever it is, you have ancestors, great, great, great, grandparents living that. Where were they? What were they doing? It's a story. And that whole theme is what I still do. I just love digging into genealogy and finding out who my people were, where they were, and what they were doing. And that's how these books were born.
IHS: Many authors are not naturally audiobook listeners are you an audiobook listener and have you ever listened to an audiobook before your very own was created?
Ruth Webster: No, I never listened to one before. To me, it's kind of a new genre. You know, I'm old school. I can't even really get into e-books. I have some but I still like the whole book itself. I like to turn the pages and flip back. And that was one of the things that I was interested in this process because I was like--- you know if I was writing just for audio books I might have said that differently because listening to something and seeing it in print isn't exactly the same. I also heard that it is a very underserved market and also I know some people have asked me for the book in audiobook format. And I'm thinking... well if they asked me for it, I shouldn't be saying there was nothing to offer.
IHS: Very good. Well, you're absolutely right. It is an underserved market. Statistics show that only five percent of books are ever made into audiobooks, but the market growth for audiobooks is very high, year over year.
Ruth Webster: It's exciting to me. My girlfriend is an avid audiobook reader. She loves them and she was telling me they're wonderful for when you're working in the garden, or taking a walk. Places where you might not normally be reading. And I know people like them for in the car. I've enjoyed the process so much and I'm so excited about it. I'm writing right now the third book in this series and I’ve already decided I'm going to do an audiobook soon as I get it done.
IHS: Okay. Next question. When you were listening to your narrator auditions, what was it like to hear your book suddenly get a voice?
Ruth Webster: Oh man. Those additions were so hard. Good hard! So I had auditions from Jim, Heath and Jacob and some others. Jim could do the most wonderful sound effects. One of the others was smokey, sexy, and soft-voiced. But then there was Jacob who I chose. I wished I could have taken parts of Jim and the other one, as well as some parts of Jacob and made them read different characters.
IHS: So, what is your dream for your future that comes from this book and the audiobook? What do you see as if you've now been opened to every possibility but would be the best possibility for you?
Ruth Webster: I am slowly building an audience. You know how you do that on Facebook. And my print version of Jesse and Henry are in some libraries and I have just recently gotten my first fan mail. One gentleman who had bought the book from me at a book festival, took it home to Massachusetts, by Harvard of all places, and stuck it in one of those little library boxes that they have. He said: "This does not belong on my shelf, I want other people to read it". And he went back later and saw that it was gone. He wrote me this lovely letter. It's powerful to be doing this in my retirement.
IHS: That's great, that's really great. Finally what advice would you give authors who are thinking about doing an audiobook?
Ruth Webster: I think what stops them is the price. I just think sometimes you get what you pay for. I don't want to have an audiobook done cheaply. At the book festival was passed on a card by some narrator. I have friends who are narrators. And I just don't want to do that. Because what I do best is write stories and I'd rather pick people who are artists in other aspects of it to do what they do best. I know it's worth the money.
IHS: Very good advice.
Ruth Webster: You know it's like anything else. If I took that same amount of money and spent it on lattes, it would be gone. So it's just a matter of what you want to spend your money on. You know an audiobook is well worth it. Any of these costs that we put into our books, we would spend money on other things without blinking an eye. I would definitely recommend I’m Hearing Stories. It has been a great experience!
IHS: Thank you for that! Okay, let’s get to the juicy stuff. How about giving us your Top 10!
Ruth Webster’s Top Ten Things I Still Want to Do Before I Die
Finish the Civil War series. I am currently writing Book 3—out of 6.
Write historical novels about the Revolutionary War and the Kentucky Tobacco Wars.
Speak at a writers’ conference.
Promote my books by singing and picking Civil War tunes on You Tube.
Sing over a You Tube trailer promoting my books.
Travel to the birthplaces of my ancestors, just to breathe the air.
Vacation at a dude ranch to learn more about horses.
Be a guest speaker in a U.S. History class, and have the students write stories starring their ancestors.
Travel to every state in the Union—four more to go.
Be willing to dare—always.
IHS: Thank you! And how can our followers learn more about you?
My website is: www.ruthochswebster.com
Social media: Facebook.com/ruthochswebsterauthor
Okay, folks, there you have it! Ruth O Webster, history buff and author of Jesse: 53rd Kentucky. Available now on Audible.
You can also check out the trailer here: