Tag-Archive for » interviews with authors «

Interview with author, Madeline Hunter

Madeline Hunter is a bestselling author of more than thirty historical romances. She is a two-time RITA winner. Her books have been on the NY Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller list.  Over six million of her books are in print, and have been translated into fourteen languages. A Ph.D. in Art History, she was, for many years, a professor at an eastern university. She lives in western Pennsylvania, near her two sons.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

MH. About ten years ago some renovations in my home allowed me to create an office just for my writing. It is right off the family room and has a lot of light. My desk is a long, deep ledge along one wall. I am a stacker, so that desk is usually a total mess. I know where everything is, though! And when I organize, I lose stuff so I don’t do that too often (this is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
I suppose if I had a dream work space, it would be a small separate building, or perhaps an elegant office that resembles an English country library from the 19th century, full of books and wood and a desk that isn’t so big that it gets covered in my stacks. Can I have regular office staff to keep it all looking gorgeous too?

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MH. Coffee, then more coffee. Silence. Preferably no one else in the house and certainly not moving around and DEFINITELY not popping in to chat.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

MH. I am a traveler. I have been to five continents, and more cities than I can count. Travel really invigorates me and fills the well that I draw on for my writing.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

Available April 27th

MH. I start with either legal pad/pen or computer. In either case, I am just throwing down ideas to flesh out the germ of a notion I have for a book. It is very messy and barely understandable to anyone else except me. I keep doing this, honing the story idea, making sure the characters work for me, and ensuring there is enough story to carry a novel. Eventually I start writing a synopsis and try to synthesize all of that into the actual plot story line. The synopsis goes through more drafts until it is in final form. The synopsis is not an outline. It is the who, what, why of the book, but not necessarily the how.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

MH. Yes, but it has shifted around. I started out a night writer, then became a morning writer, and am currently an early afternoon writer. I have no idea why the times have changed. Ideally I’d be a morning writer because when it gets pushed off, it may not happen at all.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MH. Sit in the chair and just start with one sentence. The rest will follow. Now, that sounds so sensible, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it is the actual sitting and doing it that is the problem. If you have a publisher and write to contract, that contract really helps because no work, no pay. However, if you are not beholden to anyone but yourself, problems can develop. I think every writer who starts a project should create deadlines and commit to them. Make them realistic, but non-negotiable once they are set. When I was starting, before I was published, I forced myself to finish a book every eight months. I had a goal and found the time to get it done. It is harder to procrastinate when you see your goal slipping away.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

MH. Wow, this is a big subject. I have had characters come to me in many ways. I have had them walk into other books and start being so dynamic and interesting that I knew I had to do a book just for them. I have had visions of characters and ended up figuring out a story so I could learn more about them. And I learn about them as I write them. I am a big believer that character development is just that—they develop as the story unfolds. The reader learns about them pretty much the same way I did. It is important to me that my characters be distinctive. I don’t want all of my heroes to be cut of the same cloth, for example. It is tempting, when you have a really cool character, to use clones of him again and again. Eventually the readers recognize that is happening, however.

Join us for the conclusion to this Interview ~ January 23rd
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Interview with Lauren Willig, author of Band of Sisters (conclusion)

Excerpt from my upcoming review of Band of Sisters: “This is an exceptional, sweeping saga about a group of women, all alumni of Smith College, who volunteered to go to Europe to assist the ravaged French villagers during World War I.  What is extraordinary is if an event happened in this book, it happened in real life….” 

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

LW. My first serious stab at publication was in third grade, with a mystery novel called “The Night the Clock Struck Death”, featuring twin girl detectives (because if one girl detective was good, two had to be even better, right?). That manuscript came back to me with a rejection slip, as did the one after that (a Victoria Holt knock-off called “The Chateau Secret”, written in sixth grade), but religiously read my Writer’s Digest magazines, attended writer summer camp at UVA as a high schooler, and kept on at it. I signed my first publishing contract in 2003— seventeen years after that first rejection letter.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

LW. No. Perhaps that’s wishful thinking, but there’s power in an actual object, in the feel of the paper in your hands. Children learn to read on paper books. It’s still the default mode—even if I do spend most of my time reading on Kindle these days as I sit in the dark next to my small children’s beds, waiting for them to fall asleep.

Q. What makes a writer great?

LW. Every reader will have a different answer to that. For me, it’s something to do with voice and characterization, with that magical mix of word craft and an intuitive understanding of human nature, which makes the words themselves fall away as the real, living, breathing, believable people appear before you, telling you their stories, sweeping you into their lives.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

LW. It involves a great deal of coffee. A very great deal of coffee.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

LW. I spent most of my childhood living in other centuries. I went jaunting off on the crusades with Eleanor of Aquitaine as a Lower Schooler through E.L. Konigsburg’s A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, and took off through late Victorian London every Sunday night with Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes on Mystery. I looked for Robin Hood and his Merry Men around every tree in Central Park and spent a great deal of time as a Victorian governess in gothic mansions via the oeuvre of Victoria Holt. So my real life, my life as a child in Manhattan—and an adult in Manhattan!—with some digressions to institutions of learning in between has very little to do with my writing. Although I did mine my experiences as a grad student in London for the Pink Carnation books and as a junior associate at a New York law firm for my first stand alone novel, The Ashford Affair.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

LW. With an early rising preschooler, a night owl first grader, two books due this year, and a pandemic, down time feels like a quaint and charming concept I may once have read about in a book. When I can, I try to grab a few minutes with a jigsaw puzzle (I find jigsaw puzzles terribly soothing); I do a great deal of baking with the preschooler (which may explain why most of my baked goods come out shaped like dinosaurs); and I relish my reading-in-the-dark time as I sit by the first grader’s bedside, waiting and waiting for her to fall asleep.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

LW. All the time! I’ve always been a cross-genre reader—no one could figure out what genre the first Pink Carnation book was meant to be when it came out back in 2005!—and I love writing as broadly as I read. I’ve had a half-finished contemporary rom com sitting on my computer for years, waiting for the time to finish it, and I’ve always wanted to write a mystery or mystery series, either historical or contemporary. Maybe one of these days….

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

LW. I haven’t regretted any of the books I’ve written, only the books I haven’t written. So when it comes to the question, should I write it? The answer is always: write it!

Thanks so much for having me here, Trisha! To learn more about me or any of my books, just pop over to my website, www.laurenwillig.com, or to my Facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/LaurenWillig/. Or you can find me on Instagram (@laurenwillig) and see all those dino shaped cakes my preschooler makes me bake!

Did you miss the beginning of this wonderful Interview?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

Interview with Author, Lauren Willig (part 2)

Future writer

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

LW. There’s something to be said for the famous Nora Roberts dictum: “butt in chair”. But I do believe there’s something to be said for productive procrastination. Are you procrastinating because you just don’t wanna? (Trust me, there are days when all of just don’t wanna.) Or are you procrastinating because there’s something wrong with the story and your subconscious mind needs some time to worry away at it? What I usually do is try to power through (aka butt in chair, coffee in hand), but if powering through doesn’t get me anywhere, then it probably means that there’s something fundamentally off and the best possible thing I can do is go browse through the clearance racks at T.J. Maxx, call my college roommate, or buy pumpkin themed goodies at Trader Joe’s. Giving yourself license to not think about the book and do something else entirely can give you the room to make sense of what’s not working. I’ll be on the Trader Joe’s checkout line or a in a dressing room and have that “aha!” moment when I’ll realize that the reason I’ve been stuck for a week is because I have the scene in the wrong viewpoint, or the scene doesn’t need to exist, or I’m trying to shoehorn my characters into doing something that works for the plot but isn’t true to their character. So… procrastination ain’t all bad. Just watch out for the just don’t wannas.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

LW. Baroness Orczy, the writer of The Scarlet Pimpernel, said that Sir Percy Blakeney walked up to her one day at a London Tube stop. I’ve never had a character accost me on the subway, but they do tend to pop up in all sorts of strange places. Generally, mine jump out at me from whatever historical source I’m reading. For example, my upcoming book, Band of Sisters, came about because I was researching Christmas customs in Picardy during World War I (for a different book) and stumbled on a memoir by a Smith alum, talking about throwing Christmas parties for French villagers in the Somme in 1917. I thought “what on earth is a group of Smithies doing on the front lines in World War I?” And that was that.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

LW. I was six years old. As I saw it at the time, my choices were ballerina, princess, or novelist, but since I can’t dance to save my life and no-one was considerate enough to offer me a hereditary principality, I was really left with no other option but to focus on fiction. So I told my first grade classmates I was going to write books. And I did. I was rather disappointed when my first novel was rejected by Simon and Schuster when I was nine, but I stuck the manuscript in a drawer and kept on at it.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

LW. A little from Column A… a little from Column B…. It’s the old chicken and egg question. For me, the two tend to be bound up together. The characters are shaped by the situation and the situation is formed by the characters. I write historical fiction, so there’s the added layer of characters being shaped by their times.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

LW. I read recently about a state called “flow”, where there is nothing but you and the task. And that pretty much sums it up. On a good day, the world around me falls away and there’s nothing but me and the characters. I come to at some point to realize that hours have passed and my coffee’s all gone. Those are the best sort of writing days (aside from the whole disappearing coffee bit).

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

A. Right now I’m working on a prequel to my upcoming book, BAND OF SISTERS. (Release date in March; don’t miss my review of this fine book.) BAND OF SISTERS is about the Smith College Relief Unit, a group of Smith College alumnae who charged off to France at the height of World War I to bring humanitarian aid to French villagers on the front lines. While I was writing it, I became fascinated by the charismatic and eccentric founder of the Unit, a ground breaking archeologist who periodically dropped everything—her career, her children—to bring aid in war zones. The real life founder of the Smith Unit had gotten herself tangled, right out of Smith, in both the Greco-Turkish War and the Spanish American War and wound up being decorated by Queen Olga of Greece for her contributions war nursing. I wanted to know what she’d seen in Greece that made her plunge into the Spanish American War with the Red Cross—and what it was that turned her into a lifelong pacifist and humanitarian. I decided to go back and write her story, as a young woman just out of Smith, fighting to be allowed to excavate as an archaeologist with the boys and finding herself on the front lines of a war. That book doesn’t have a title yet (other than my working title, Smith II: The ReSmithening) but it’s slated to appear on shelves in spring of 2022, a year after BAND OF SISTERS.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

Next week will feature the conclusion to this wonderful interview. Don’t Miss It!
Did you miss Part I?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Interview with award winning Author, Lauren Willig

TS.  Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty works of historical fiction, including Band of Sisters, The Summer Country, The English Wife.  An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband, two young children, and vast quantities of coffee.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  (your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

LW. I’m a lifelong New Yorker, so the idea of having a special space to write in is like science fiction to me—something fantastical one reads about in books.
For the duration with the pandemic this is the very messy desk I work at now that I’m at home —it’s an ancient roll top I’ve had since grad school and will probably collapse on me once of these days. Or I’ll collapse on it. You never know. Before quarantine, I was that person in Starbucks glaring fiercely at anyone else trying to lay claim to my favorite table and tip-tapping away as a nurse one caramel macchiato for three hours straight. I love working at Starbucks. Not only do they provide you with caffeine, but Starbucks baristas are the nicest people on earth. I am so grateful to my local crew for always asking about the book and never laughing when I manage to coat myself in coffee because I’m thinking of something else and don’t realize the cup is turned the wrong way. It was an utter wrench when the pandemic shut down New York in mid-March and I had to retreat to my own desk and a hastily purchased Nespresso machine. But I’ll be back, Starbucks! I swear!

This is me and my favorite pink topsiders and my favorite table in my favorite Starbucks. ——>

 

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

LW. After I turn widdershins four times around the table, reciting ancient runes and performing Ye Olde Dance of the Chykkene…. No, not really. There must be caffeine, but that’s about it. Did I mention the caffeine?

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

LW. People always seem fascinated by the fact that I don’t know how to drive. I’ve been the proud possessor of multiple expired learners’ permits over the years, but I never actually seem to get past the paper test to the bit where you sit behind a wheel and actually, you know, make the car go. Which, since I have no sense of direction and tend to be easily distracted, may actually be better for everyone.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

LW. Every book starts with the research immersion phase, where I read, read, and read some more. No note-taking, just reading and absorbing. After a few months of immersing myself in the historical background, I get out the loose leaf paper and my ancient Scottish National Portrait Gallery clipboard and scrawl notes to myself: character notes, rough stabs at outlining the first few chapters, scraps of dialogue. And then I pack up my trusty little laptop, haul myself off to Starbucks, swig my caramel macchiato, and totally ignore everything I wrote on those pieces of paper as the characters take over.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

LW. My most productive writing hours have always been between roughly ten and three. For the past few years, my writing time has been largely bounded by my first my daughter’s and now my son’s preschool schedules. The preschool is a three hour a day program, so I drop off the child in question, sprint the five blocks to the nearest Starbucks, park myself at the first available table, and write like crazy before realizing it’s five minutes to pick-up, packing up, and sprinting off to be the last mom on the pick-up line. Again.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

Join us for Part 2 of this funny and insightful interview. 

Coming soon: My review of Band of Sisters, a far reaching saga of a band of Smith College women who volunteer behind ‘the front lines’ during WWI. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Interview with author, Ella Quinn (part 2)

TS.  Expat and author now living in Germany, Ella Quinn is one of my favorite authors. Good solid stories, with plenty of story plot twists, and wonderful protagonists.  I love escaping with a Quinn historic (Regency) romance. After reading (in our interview) she cruised the Caribbean and North America, she then completed a transatlantic crossing from St. Martin to Southern Europe (Lagos, Portugal) aboard her beloved, Silver Penny (Yikes!)..well…my admiration knows no bounds. I’m an old ex-sailor and the thought of crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat terrifies the hair right off my head!  Taking a knockdown, while under spinnaker was enough terror to last me forever.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

The cockpit of Ella’s catamaran, the Silver Penny (where she writes)

EQ. My characters discover me! It started with my first book. I’ve followed my characters ever since. They literally come up and introduce themselves to me.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

EQ. I should say that I never in my life expected to write fiction. But I was 58, tired of practicing law, and looking for something else to do. Suddenly, I had a video playing in my head about an angry Regency lady, and I had to write it down. One month later I had a finished book, The Seduction of Lady Phoebe, and had to figure out what to do with it.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

EQ. Definitely the characters.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Ella with her hound, Lillibet

EQ. I do. There are times that I can write for hours and never get up.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

EQ. I’m starting a new Trevor novella for a multi-author box-set that will release next summer. My Trevor series is about a horrible old duke who wants to control the lives of his children. This mainly consists of arranging matches that are good for the dukedom, but not for them. So, all the books are about his kids finding their love and their own spouses with help from friends and other family members.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

EQ.  When I first started to write. I’m very goal oriented. When I finished my first book, I knew I wanted to be traditionally published. I was very fortunate. Eight months after I started writing I had an excellent agent, and eight months after that I got my first contract. A friend who had been in publishing for years told me it would take 5 years to get published. I decided I didn’t have that amount of time. Fortunately, the month before my 60th birthday my first book released.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

EQ. I don’t think so. Young people like paper books. If nothing else does, that will save the industry. On the other hand, most of my readers read in paper. It sometimes depends on the genre.

Q. What makes a writer great?

EQ. The ability to tell a compelling story that readers love.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

Ella and hubby at TransAtlantic Yachting awards

EQ. It depends on the book. I’ve had books that I can write straight through from beginning to end, and books that I’ve skipped around writing scenes. For me it depends on how cooperative my characters are being. Twice I’ve had books where I’ve had to write the end before my heroine would tell me her story. She had to know she’d get a happy ending.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

EQ. I’ve done a lot of things in my life. Most of which dealt with people. Men read my books because they say I nail male POV (point of view). That’s probably because I was the first woman assigned to an Army Special Forces battalion, and I’ve been around Alpha males all my adult life. My husband is retired SF. I practiced family law for 20 years. That gave me a lot of insight into the problems people have. I’m a mom. I don’t think anything more needs to be said about that. I’ve traveled most of my life so I easily understand different cultures, which is what the Regency is. And I’m a researcher.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

EQ. I read a lot, but I’m not a restful person. I bike and walk. I like to travel and see new things or visit places I love. During the winter I spend about 4 weeks skiing. In summer I’m on the boat when I can be. I also paddleboard.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

Winnie, helping with the writing

EQ. No. I’m happy writing Regencies. Although, at some point, I’ll have to write early Victorian.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

EQ. Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s important to be able to take risks. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Interview with author, George WB Scott (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

GS. I’ve always written, since elementary school. I won a contest in junior high school, and have always gotten good feedback from school writing. In ninth grade I showed a girl a story I wrote for another class, and she told me I wrote well. That made a big impression.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

GS. For “I Jonathan” I have always had the idea of a man out of place, seeing a culture with “new eyes.” I built a story around the historical events, and developed people, some based on historical figures, who would act the parts. One example of a history-based character is the captain of the blockade runner. He’s based on a real person.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

GS. Oh, yes. When I can work without interruption, I’m totally in the scene. My wife makes me eat.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

GS. Yes, I’m working on a story about the Christianization of the Slavic people in Bohemia. History is pretty sketchy in that period, so the research is more based on culture, legends and traditions. It’s another clash of civilizations.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

GS. I had no direction when I went to college, and dropped out after one semester. Then I worked jobs in kitchens and landscaping for six years. One day I found myself literally digging a ditch, and realized I needed to focus. I went back to college and got a degree, and concentrated on my work, first in television news.
One job I had later involved driving a lot in the country where I listened to a station that played Country music from back in the 1950s and 1960s. This was the inspiration for a screenplay, “Big Sky Country,” written in 2001, and since then I’ve accepted that writing is something I need to do.
When my wife and I visited Charleston in 2000, I was inspired to try to build a story around what I learned about the war, and to go deeper into the “why” of the people who lived there then. I also wrote a childhood memoir in 2004, “Growing Up in Eden.”

George in the Low Country

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

GS. I think paper books will always be around. There is something tactile that is part of my reading experience. People growing up with portable electronic screens may be more comfortable with them, but I believe the printed page will always endure.

Q. What makes a writer great?

GS. I don’t know. Many of my favorite writers are not considered “great” by some, and I have no doubt that there are many, many great writers who never get published, and so will ever remain unknown.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

GS. It’s a thing you can hold. I can pick up a volume of my work and feel the weight of it, the sum of many hundreds of hours of work. But what it really means to me is a vehicle to convey ideas in a substantial form, one that takes hours to explore, and hopefully leaves the reader interested in the subjects it touches.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

GS. I could write nothing without my life experiences. Some people will like my work, and others who lived very different lives may not. A book can be a bridge of one’s experience to another.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

GS. We garden when we can. We ride bikes. I like to travel, to experience new places and learn their histories. And I like movies, though in 2020 I experience them at home instead of at a theater. Hopefully that will change soon.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

GS. My screenplay was Science Fiction, and I liked that. I’ve got a mystery in mind for another year, and also a series for younger readers.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

GS. Be kinder, and forgive yourself.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, February: Mike Lupica 
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Interview with Carolyn Brown (part 3)

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

CB. No book is a proposal that one of my publisher’s has bought, and now it’s time to drag my writing chair over to the computer, talk to my characters and begin to write. Finished book is saying goodbye to those characters and beginning all over again.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

CB. Everything, I see, taste, feel, get emotional about, has affected my writing. Add everything I hear or every experience—being raised by a single mother and a blind grandmother, having a step-father, nine step mothers, siblings, half brothers and sisters and a multitude of step brothers and sisters, raising three children, being married more than fifty years. It all plays a part in my writing.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

CB. What is this down time that you speak of? In all seriousness I love to spend time with my family or just have coffee with Mr. B in the middle of each morning.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

The walls of my office. I frame most of my covers. The shadow boxes in black are the books that have sold more than 100,000 copies.

One of my favorites.

CB. I love writing cowboys and women’s fiction. I live by the rule if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is working for me. When it ceases to work, I’ll move on.

 

 

 

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

CB. This, too, shall pass. Disappointments and grief pass. Excitement and victories pass. Love and understanding help soften the pain of one and double the joy of the latter.

CB. Thank you for inviting me to Writer at Play and letting me prop my feet up and visit for a while. Happy Reading to everyone!

 

Did you miss part I of this charming interview?
You can visit Carolyn at www.carolynbrownbooks.com.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with author, Carolyn Brown (part 2)

Q. What first inspired you to write?

CB. I’ve loved to tell stories since I was a little girl. My folks separated when I was four years old and my mother, sister and brother (who were younger than me) came from California to Oklahoma to live with my blind grandmother. We didn’t have many toys so I made up stories to keep my younger siblings entertained.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

CB. The characters. They create the stories with their situations. I just listen to them tell me what to write next. Shhhh….don’t tell anyone that I have voices in my head! (TS. You’re in good company!)

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

CB. Oh, yes, ma’am. I get so involved with the story and my character’s emotions that I forget about time. Whatever my characters feel, I feel. When they are angry, I’m upset, when they are laughing, I’m giggling. If I don’t have the emotions they do, how could I ever describe them.

Carolyn with hubby, Mr. B.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

CB. I’m just starting a brand-new women’s fiction entitled The Hope Chest. It’s set in Blossom, Texas and is the story of three cousins, two women and a man, who have inherited a small house from their grandmother.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

CB. When my third child was born and wouldn’t sleep at night, I sharpened a few pencils, got out a spiral notebook and began to write a story that Mr. B and I had been talking about for five years. That book had everything in the world wrong with it, but I was writing…and after too many edits to count…40 years late I sold it with the title The Lilac Bouquet.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

CB. No, I don’t. There are too many readers out there who like to hold a book in their hands and who love to see them on their bookcases.

Q. What makes a writer great?

CB. Keepin’ on even when the goin’ gets tough. Don’t give up and keep writing.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

CB. No book is a proposal that one of my publisher’s has bought, and now it’s time to drag my writing chair over to the computer, talk to my characters and begin to write. Finished book is saying goodbye to those characters and beginning all over again.

Framed book covers by Carolyn

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

CB. Everything, I see, taste, feel, get emotional about, has affected my writing. Add everything I hear or every experience—being raised by a single mother and a blind grandmother, having a step-father, nine step mothers, siblings, half brothers and sisters and a multitude of step brothers and sisters, raising three children, being married more than fifty years. It all plays a part in my writing.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

CB. What is this down time that you speak of? In all seriousness I love to spend time with my family or just have coffee with Mr. B in the middle of each morning.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

CB. I love writing cowboys and women’s fiction. I live by the rule if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is working for me. When it ceases to work, I’ll move on.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

CB. This, too, shall pass. Disappointments and grief pass. Excitement and victories pass. Love and understanding help soften the pain of one and double the joy of the latter.

CB. Thank you for inviting me to Writer at Play and letting me prop my feet up and visit for a while. Happy Reading to everyone!

 

Did you miss part I of this charming interview?
You can visit Carolyn at www.carolynbrownbooks.com.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Author, Carolyn Brown

Carolyn and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, as well as what they’re doing and when—and they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. When she’s not writing, Carolyn likes to plot new stories in her backyard with her tom cat, Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, who protects the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders. Carolyn Brown is the author of more than 100 novels. She’s a recipient of the Bookseller’s Best Award, and the prestigious Montlake Diamond Award, and also a three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award. Brown has been published for more than 20 years, and her books have been translated into 19 foreign languages. Many are available in audio format. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

CB. I have my own little office in my house. I only have to walk across the hallway from my bedroom to go to work each morning. My husband, Mr. B, built a wall hung desk for me to clutter up with notebooks, calendars, etc. I try to clean it off each time I finish a book. Note that I said, “I try”…most of the time I end one book, and the very next morning I open up a file for the next one.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

CB. I do like my pajama pants, but I don’t have a favorite pair. Nothing special, really…just that I get something down on paper (computer) each day.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

CB. I didn’t get a toe in the door of a publishing company until I was forty nine years old. I’d been trying to get someone to look at my work for twenty five years before I finally got a break. Someone asked me about that time what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I simply asked them, “Do I have to decide today?” The next week I got the call from an editor who said she wanted to buy both the books I had sent to her.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

CB. I use the computer to write. My thought process goes from brain to fingertips, but I use a notebook, spiral or composition either one, to make notes. I use one of those little inexpensive recipe boxes when I’m writing series. Each character, included dogs, horses and donkeys get their own index card, so I can keep up with age, eye color, height and all the information about that character for later books in the series.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

CB. I usually write from eight to fourteen hours a day, beginning in the morning and keeping at it until I finish my daily word count.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

CB. Write! Don’t Whine! Whining about my muse has left me, I have a block and I can’t write today so I’m going shopping or I’m going to lay out on the beach won’t work. If you want to be a writer, you have to be disciplined. Write something every day even if it’s crap. As Nora Roberts says, “You can fix crap. You can’t fix nothing.”

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

CB. Any and everywhere. Mr. B and I were in a little café having a burger when we were on a research trip. A lady came in with a bunch of kids. They were all from a group home for foster kids, and one little guy sat over by himself and didn’t talk with the others. That little fellow became an autistic child in one of my next books.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Tune in next Friday for the conclusion to this charming interview.
You can visit Carolyn at www.carolynbrownbooks.com.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY. July: Guest Blogger Desiree Villena, August: Carolyn Brown
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Interview with Writer for Tom Clancy, Mike Maden (Conclusion)

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MM. The first lie every writer tells themselves is this: I don’t have the time to write. The second lie is this: I can’t write. Here’s the truth: writers always write. Are you a writer? But you’re not writing? Then ask yourself this: why aren’t you writing? What are you trying to avoid by not writing? I promise you the answer is going to be some variation of abject fear. Fear of failing as a writer, of falling short of our ideal of good writing, of disappointing others, etc. In other words, it’s all about self-preservation or to be more blunt: death. Death of my ideal self, death of my status in the world as “a great writer;” some painful, shameful, hateful permutation of emotional and/or psychological destruction. Don’t believe it! Don’t define your sense of self in the world through writing. Rather, your writing is defined by your sense of self. You are not your writing. Your writing is you.

Here is the irony (and I’m stealing this from the best): if you seek to save your writer’s “life” by not doing the work in order to protect yourself, you’re going to lose the very life you’re trying to save. More simply, not writing is the death of your career. Everything you think you’re avoiding by not writing is actually going to occur when you don’t write—so write! Here’s one more tip (also stolen, in this case, from Hemingway): the first draft is always (rhymes with) “spit” so you’re only job is to “spit” out your first draft—the complete and entire first draft—and then you can fix anything later in edit, i.e., “all writing is rewriting.” If Hemingway thought his first draft was “spit” then I’m in pretty good company and so are you. I spend most of my time spitting—from an outline.

If that’s still not enough, attack the problem from the other direction. Forget yourself and simply obey the work.

Slovenia ~~ the river below the narrow trail

If you say you’re a writer then you’ve made a commitment to a “vocation” in the oldest sense of the term. Writing (truth telling, either fiction or non-fiction) is holy work; “holy” as in set apart for service. Whether or not you are religious, you committed yourself to the priesthood of Art once you said, “I am a writer.” What follows is both necessary and clear. You must recover and practice with earnest devotion the disciplines of the disciple—a follower, a student, a servant of the Work. Faith—the evidence of things hoped for, like a completed manuscript when you’re staring at the first blank page—and Love of the word are the first two hallmarks of the writer/disciple. Commitment, sacrifice, suffering…the list of the qualities of the true disciple are well known or easily discovered (e.g., the Gospels or whatever you prefer). In other words, writing is not about “you” it’s about answering the call, to saying “yes” when summoned and exerting inexhaustible effort toward the completion of the task, denying self and even other people and all other things that distract or dissuade you from your mission. “Not my will, but Thine.” If you happen to be a person of true religious faith, then your discipleship is twofold: obedience to the One who calls and fulfilling that call through the faithful exercise of the gift that the One has given you.

If all of that is too abstract then here’s the most practical advice I can give you: do yourself a favor and purchase a copy of Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art. Study it, memorize it. Let it be your missal. Then get your derriere in the chair—and write!

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

MM. Characters are all that matter. Situations, scenes, plots, actions…it all comes out of character choices, character collisions, character flaws, character construction.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MM. I start with a solid outline so I always have those touch points that keep me on the path from A to Z. But if I’m really writing—really doing it the way it’s meant to be done—I get completely carried away in the moment, plunging headlong into the river, carried along by the surging rapids.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

MM. Yes. Can’t. Top secret. But it’s gonna be awesome and my first collaborative effort. News coming soon.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MM. I’ve always written seriously beginning with my academic, non-fiction writing. What surprised me was to find out I was actually a writer. Yes, I could write. But I never thought of myself as a writer because of the mystery that surrounded that term. I was forty years old before I gave myself permission to call myself one. And what really surprised me was that I could write fiction. I was utterly stunned to discover I could write a screenplay but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I could never write a novel. Until I did. But one novel was it. Finito. No way could I do another even though I’d just signed a two-book deal. I knew I couldn’t write the sequel. Until I did. And another two-book contract showed up. And then I knew the game was up. My publisher would finally realize their big mistake. Until I finished those up too. And then…well, I think you get the idea. A serious writer writes. And writes. And writes. It’s hard work. Really hard. And it only gets harder—but only if you’re doing it right.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

MM. Absolutely not. They may become rare or expensive but they will never disappear. For people of a certain age, ahem, me, the tactile nature of the printed page never ceases to amaze or comfort.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MM. All writers are great but only if they write. The act of writing—of completing the work—is an act of obedience unto the Muse. It is our offering on the altar. The mere doing of it is its own reward. Whether or not the work will be judged as “great” by history or the literati or the New York Times bestseller list is completely outside the control of the writer. We can’t choose to be “great” but we can choose to do the work. Tell the truth, be yourself (i.e., original) and do the work—the rest will follow whether you like the outcome or not.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MM. Get a bucket. Fill it with kerosene. Carry it to the top of a ten-story building. Stick your head in the bucket. Light your head on fire. Throw yourself off the roof. Hit the pavement. Douse the flames. Type, “end of chapter one.” Do it again. Sixty-five more times. Now you know what it feels like to go from “no book” to “finished book.” Easy as pie. Or as some wag said, just open up a vein and bleed onto the page.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MM. Everything. You write out of your life.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

MM. Reading. Watching the best film and television I can. Hanging out with my best friend (my wife). Exercise. Golf. Guns. Hiking.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

MM. I wish I was smart enough to write science fiction.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MM. General life lesson: “Discipline Equals Freedom.” (Jocko Willink)
General writing life lesson: “The bad news is, the Problem is Hell. The good news is, it’s just a problem. The Problem is not us. The PROBLEM is the problem. Work the Problem.” (Steven Pressfield)

PS. (from Mike Maden)  My Clancy novel ENEMY CONTACT was set in Poland. Amazing history, culture, people…and food. We love travel and learning new things but unfortunately it also means encountering the human condition in its worst permutation. Auschwitz is one such place and of all of the things that wounded me in that terrible place nothing grabbed me more than this moment. Those red shoes took me to a very dark moment. I could just see a young woman picking them out of the shop window one bright sunny morning, so happy and proud of them…having no idea where they would one day take her.

Did you miss Part I and Part 2 of this fascinating interview?

Book Review of Firing Point

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Olivia Hawker, April: Dan Sofer, May:  Joram Piatigorsky, June: Mike Maden writing for TOM CLANCY
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!