Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I began writing very early. Spent the summer I was 13 knocking out 60 pages of what must’ve been a truly horrible historical romance. I was a bookworm, and wasn’t allowed to watch much television, so writing gave me something to do over vacation. Then I discovered I couldn’t stop – the ideas just kept swirling around in my head. Three years ago I finally mustered the motivation to finish my book, and now I’m writing my fourth.
Q: Who is your favorite author and why?
A: Hate to be a cliché, but I go with Nora Roberts every time. Her characters sound in my head like real people, and they behave like my friends and I would if put in those situations. She flat out writes the most believable dialogue and characters of anyone out there.
Q: What comes first: the plot or the characters?
A: I usually start with a one sentence idea for a plot. Then I immediately worry how to stretch it into 95,000 words! I find I can’t plot very well until I have character names–I don’t have to know much about them, but I do get quite a bit of their personality from their names. After that, the plot and characterization roll out together.
Q: How do you come up with the titles to your books?
A: Blood, sweat and tears. My first book I titledMissing,which I found a way to work beautifully into the last sentence–it was a work of literary art, if I do say so myself. Then my publisher nixed it, and I spent an entire week coming up with titles that sounded like bad soap operas (Palmetto Passion, Sizzling Secrets, Magnolias & Murder). I couldn’t understand how I was able to churn out 96,000 words of a novel, and not be able to come up with a 2-3 word title. We settled on Carolina Heat.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
A: I guess as a romance author I shouldn't admit this, but love scenes are brutal to craft. You can only say he stroked such and such body part so many times, so many ways. The actual writing becomes very clinical and leaches all the sexiness out of it for me. I can grit my teeth through make out scenes, but when it comes to full blown sex, my requirements are a single white Russian (nope, no other drink will do) and Pink Martini on the cd player.
Q: What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
A: After years as an actress, my creative juices kick into high gear after 6 pm. I do my plotting during the day–well, whenever the ideas strike, which is often either when I’m at the gym or the symphony, oddly enough. But the bulk of my writing takes place between sunset and midnight.
Q: What books have most influenced your life most?
A: Not only am I a bookworm, but I’m also a speed reader. I spent about twenty years going through a minimum of 7-8 books a week (that number has diminished now that I spend my evenings writing). With that many books under my belt, it is hard to point to just one or two. However, I can honestly say that every single book I’ve ever read influences my writing–whether it is learning the good, or recognizing the bad. I can tell you the first full blown adult romance I read (hiding in a closet) was Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss–classic!
Q: What series of words would best characterize your writing style or tone?
A: Smart & witty banter, passionate, descriptive, dialogue driven
Q: How does this passion translate in your story?
A: Physical passion, although necessary and fun (and included, I promise), isn’t enough to fill a 300 page book. The characters have to be passionate about something, in order to make them interesting enough for the reader to care about. Career, family, hobby–their passion has to leap off the page, and thus their passion for each other is easier to ignite.
Q: How important is a happy-ever-after in your writing?
A: A happy ending is non-negotiable in my world. I won’t even go see a sad movie. Real life is hard enough. People read to escape and be entertained, so it is my job to leave them with a smile on their face.
Q: What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
A: Two key pieces of advice leap to mind. Treat writing as a job. Set yourself weekly goals, and carve out time that is sacred and untouchable. The other big piece of advice would be to join a critique group. This is important for all writers, but especially invaluable for new writers, who simply aren’t aware of some conventions (such as no head hopping), and might not realize that going an entire page without a dialogue tag isn’t a good idea.
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