Grace Burrowes, best selling author ~~ Interview (part 2)

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

GB. If I’m lucky, I hear them. I hear them grousing about their life situation, or wishing on a star. What I’m after with a character is an understanding of their defining trauma or wound (neglect can hurt like heck without qualifying as a trauma, though it IS a trauma), because then I know how to build them that cave they most fear to enter, wherein their treasure will lie. When a book is really singing to me, I’m usually writing about one of my defining traumas, though I often don’t realize that until the manuscript is done and edited.

My brother Dick once gave me some great advice for how to build a character arc: Make the character choose between the competing demands of honor. The lady or the tiger is interesting, because either door leads to death for the person choosing, but add dishonor to those stakes, and you have the makings of quite a yarn.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

GB. I have always loved to write, even before I could write cursive. I’ve also always loved to read, and romance novels, which are a lot more complicated than they look (when done right), were my fiction of choice. In the courtroom I see a lot of miserable-ever-after endings, and that creates a need for somewhere that I can make life happily-ever-after. When my daughter moved out, I had time, emotional breathing room, and an unsatisfied creative urge all coming together. The books blossomed, and I feel like I’ve found the thing I love to do so much, I lose track of time and self when I’m doing it.

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

  1. False dichotomy. Characters are always in a situation of some sort, even if it’s just dragging around baggage in a white room. Situations always affect people, and are generally created by people. My books land all over the continuum between these two approaches to hatching a story, and genre to some extent will dictate the situation and the characters. If you’re writing mysteries, somebody or something has disappeared, and somebody will try to solve the puzzle. If you’re writing romance, two lives intersect and attraction springs up, despite obstacles.

Given that romance is heavily character driven, I’d probably lean more character than situation.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

GB. On a good day, yes. It took me a long time to realize that when some distance runners talk about being in the “zone,” they mean they’re having to sweat and puff and strain their joints to end up where I am when the writing goes well. I lose track of time, and I also lose track of me. I am writing, and the relief of that, of losing an ego-connection to the task, is marvelous. Many days, the activity remains more conscious and laborious, but I love those days too.

Grace riding Delray, 'the wonder pony'
Grace riding Delray, ‘the wonder pony’

Q. Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment?

GB. I’m not sure what a muse is. I love to write and that’s just there, I don’t have to invoke an intermediary or carry around a spirit guide, at least not now, but if that approach will result in joyous work for an author, then more power to them (and their muse).

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

GB. My December release is, “The Trouble With Dukes,” which is the tale of Hamish MacHugh, a veteran of the Napoleonic wars who gained atrouble_450x2-1 reputation for ferocious violence on the battlefield. A dukedom has been slung around his neck, and he’s forced into proximity with the very people who most value gentility and refinement. Hamish is in truth a peaceful soul who got caught in a Ferdinand the Bull moment (he’s not half so barbaric as his reputation implies), and he catches the attention of Megan Windham, a spinster-in-training with bad eyesight. How these two mis-perceived people work out their happily ever after made for a fun, warm-hearted romance.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

GB. I don’t write seriously. I write joyously. When I can no longer write joyously, I’ll move on to some other endeavor. I began to write in quantity when my daughter left home about ten years ago. I don’t have a TV—never have—and I’m not house or yard proud. The writing got hold of me and hasn’t let go. I threw my hat in the publication ring when I got tired of family members asking, “When are you going to get that stuff published?”

At that point, I had more than twenty completed manuscripts, which was enough to get me a second look from an editor, and eventually a contract. Some aspects of being published aren’t so fun—one star reviews, loss of creative control (for trad pub titles), contract negotiations—but the writing has remained my lodestar. On the worst day, if I can open up the Work in Progress, I know it will take me to a place I love to be if I just give it a chance.

Compared to being a child welfare attorney, writing will never be a serious undertaking for me.

Q. How long after that were you published?

GB. I had a publishing contract within about six months of my first pitch.

Q. As a fan, I noticed that you are published by a traditional publisher and have self-published some of your romances as well. Can you give other writers some tips about that……..

Don’t miss the conclusion to this fascinating interview, November 26th
Part I: click here

MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October Author, Lisa Jackson.  November will be best selling author, Grace Burrowes and in December, Reed Farrel Coleman, contributing writer for Robert B. Parker series

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