RC. I begin with a vague idea of who they are but I have to write about them, put them in scenes, watch them interact with other characters for at least 100 pages before they become real to me. Sometimes it’s longer. Once I know them I can go back and revise and rewrite. I love revision. When the editor says it looks great and we can move right to the line edit and make changes there, I’m almost disappointed! I love weighing the pros and cons of each suggestion in the revision letter; I love taking that first draft (which is never a real first draft but usually a tenth draft!) and making it better.
Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?
RC. Reading. That feeling of not being able to close my eyes on a good book was so awesome I wondered if it would be even more awesome if I were creating the book. It was. I thought about the story while I was falling asleep and woke up anxious to get back to it.
RC. Always the characters. The town is not only harder to envision, it has to play the best possible supporting role. With Virgin River not only did I visit the actual place – Humboldt County in Northern CA – but I realized very quickly that the best town to support my story would have to be rugged. Not cute, not quaint but rough, rural, remote – a place that would demand something of the characters. When I was there researching a local said to me, “If you last here for three years you’ll never leave.” What does that say about a place? It’s not an easy place and it’s worth the effort.
Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?
RC. Oh yeah, embarrassingly so. Once I forgot a speaking engagement. At least it was local and at least I’d already showered and dressed. I got a phone call asking me if I was coming! I threw on better clothes and shot out the door! I was twenty minutes late, but I made it! I’d been in Virgin River and lost all sense of time and place.
Q. Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment?
RC. You mean I have a muse? Really? Whoever it is, she’s slacking. I have to rely on myself and my discipline combined with my love of storytelling. Some days are harder than others.
Q. When did you begin to write seriously?
RC. Forty years ago. I was very nearly a kid. I was, in fact, a very young Air Force wife with two babies and no car, the closest thing to a shut-in. I’d never imagined I’d aspire to writing novels and was probably too dumb to know it’s an overwhelming goal. I sold my first book in 1978 and I was only twenty-seven years old. When the agent called me and said we’d had an offer from Little, Brown I said, “Little Who?” I knew nothing. I just knew I wanted to write this story. It was only my third completed manuscript but it was historical romance at a time when historical romance was hot.
Q. How long after that were you published?
RC. I think it was only three years after I began. It took longer to write books then – we didn’t have computers. There was no Google – I had to go to the library, babies in tow, and research. I wrote my first several books on a typewriter and being young and poor, it seemed to cost the earth.
Q. What makes a writer great?
RC. It’s unknown, actually. It’s a kind of magic that happens between the book and the reader. It’s unpredictable and undefinable. In fact there are many great writers who are completely overlooked and many terrible writers who, for whatever reason, rise to bestsellerdom and fame. And you might not know if you’ve achieved that magic that has readers talking (and talking and talking) for quite a while after the books have been published. No matter how hard we work or how much PR and advertising we do, at the end of the day it boils down to word of mouth. It always does. It’s readers telling other readers who tell other readers. You might be able to trick them into buying the book with a lot of press or chatter, but you won’t twice and you won’t for long. Readers, who we don’t really know, have to have that amazing emotional connection and response – and then they won’t shut up.
Q…..and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?
Tune in for Part 3 of this wonderful Interview July 30th ~~~ Did you miss Part 1? Click here
DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with best-selling AUTHORS! A long awaited interview with Kathleen Grissom (The Kitchen House) Michael Saad, Canadian author, was June’s author. Robyn Carr is July’s author. Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!