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Conclusion: Interview with Regency Author, Jennie Goutet

Author, Jennie Goutet

Q. What makes a writer great?

JG. There is natural talent, of course. But I think what makes a writer great is being able to handle critique and to incorporate the good critiques into future works – to constantly learn and grow in the craft.

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

JG. I get a rough idea and write a few chapters that I love. Then I crash and don’t know what to do next so I call my development editor and we talk through the ideas. I write a really skeletal first draft and hate it. Then read through and think it’s not quite so bad. I get my critique partners to have a look and take their advice. I edit again then send it to the developmental editor in completed form (or at least at 80%). I edit again on the computer then on paper and send it to the line editor. I edit again with her changes and do text to voice to catch repeats or strange wording. Then I read it on my kindle to see it as a reader would before sending it to the proof editor. In the final stages, I send it to early readers who catch all the typos and other mistakes no one else caught. Then it’s ready to go out.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JG. I’ve lived in a lot of places. I’m curious about human nature. I observe. I’ve suffered from the darker things like grief and depression. I’ve known wild joy and adventure. I think my characters come to life from what I’ve experienced.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

JG. This is a weakness of mine. I do not have down time. I work all day on writing or the other aspects of the business (marketing, social media, production, translation, audio), then make dinner and listen to my teens talk about their day. On the weekend I’m doing ministry stuff. (We serve the teen ministry). I know this is just a phase, though – these teen years – so I’m okay with it. I really enjoy reading in bed at night. And we go away a few times a year, which is great. Sometimes I take a walk by the Seine river, or visit a friend, or go into Paris, but there is no regular downtime.

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

JG. I’ve written contemporary romance. A Noble Affair was my first novel and it’s not the finest in terms of literature but it was good practice for a full-length fiction work. And A Sweetheart in Paris is a decent book, I think, but it hasn’t attracted much attention. I’ve written a memoir as well, Stars Upside Down. I think if I were to switch genres I wouldn’t stray far. Georgian or Victorian as opposed to Regency. But I really love what I write.

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

A. Well, this won’t be relatable to everyone, but my main life’s lesson is that when I draw my last breath my books won’t matter. Only my relationship to God will. So I need to make sure that success doesn’t go to my head and that failure doesn’t destroy me. I am just God’s kid, and He’ll make sure I have all I need.

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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Interview with France based author, Jennie Goutet (part 2)

The summer Alps

Q. What does it feel like to be an American writer, living in France, writing in an English, historic romance genre. (Special challenges? Funny stories?)

JG. I can usually forget about where I live when writing my Regency England books. But it can be tricky when translating the books, especially when the Napoleonic wars are portrayed. My latest book was set in Waterloo and we all know how that turned out for the French. I’ll be putting a disclaimer in the front and the back of the book for that one. (Oui, oui, I love my adopted country). Otherwise, I think it helps for the historical details. I have a much easier time getting to the French chateaux, but they can easily inspire me much in the same way the English ones would were I able to visit them.

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

JG. Sometimes I start out with a good idea of the character and who he or she is. At other times, I discover my character as I go. He or she takes control of the story and runs off with it in an unexpected direction.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

This blogger is a big fan!

JG. I had tried writing when I was younger. A handwritten book in the 8th grade, 10 chapters of a book that went nowhere when we were living in Africa, a fantasy book that I mapped out and abandoned. It was finally the freedom of writing for the sake of writing on my blog that allowed me to see how much I enjoyed written expression, and it was my memoir that allowed me to see that I could finish a book. From there I wanted to keep writing books but I had already told my own story. It was time to tell someone else’s.

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

JG. It truly depends on the book. I might start with Character: ‘I want to tell the story of a woman who keeps her poise when faced with a series of difficult situations’ (A Fall from Grace); or Situation: ‘I want to tell the story of an arranged marriage where the bride is furious to be sold off and the husband is feeling sheepish about having arranged it’ (His Disinclined Bride); or it could be that I know the character from previous books and tackle Both: ‘I want to put shy, retiring Phoebe with her unrequited love through the fires of Brussels in 1815, which will show her just how strong she is.’ (A Daring Proposal). It just depends.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

JG. I should say yes. That is what a proper writer is supposed to say. But no, not always. Sometimes it’s just a job and I have to get the word count in. Fortunately (for the reader, I suppose) there will always come a point when I am fully invested. But in terms of proportion of time spent getting lost, it’s a little less like first dates / falling in love and more like married for 25 years and still grateful – if that makes sense. Even if a lot of the writing feels like work, I do love it.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

a trip to Rouen

JG. Right now I’m in the process of launching two season finales. A Daring Proposal is just released in the Memorable Proposals series. This is the one about Waterloo. And The Sport of Matchmaking is set to come out in May. This one is the last of the Clavering Chronicles series, and it’s fun and light in tone. There is a pretty strong contrast to A Daring Proposal, which is more about the deeper emotions. So now it’s time to start something new. I am in the process of thinking about a series. I’m working out the setting, the characters, the covers and the names, but it’s too early in the process to say anything because it might yet change.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JG. I was a regular and invested blogger for years, but those were always short posts rather than the longer works. I published my memoir at the end of 1813 (Oh my gosh. That is how much of a Regency writer I am – I literally wrote that date instead of the 21st century) in 2013 and I have not looked back since.

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

JG. I’m not sure. If we increase bamboo production and start to use that instead, and start to reduce battery-operated small appliances … maybe we’ll keep paper? Unless the e-readers all become solar charged? I do think that the trend will be based more on the needs of the environment rather than readers’ preferences.

Did you miss Part 1 of our interview?
Join us for the conclusion next week. 

Did you miss my REVIEW of this author’s book?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
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Interview with author, Mimi Matthews (conclusion)

Mimi with her horse, Centelleo

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

MM. Both. The ideas for my novels usually start with a single disconnected scene. I imagine the characters in a specific situation. That scene helps me to understand them and their motivations, but it also helps me to understand the goal of my story as a whole.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MM. At the best of times, yes, when the words are flowing and the story is unfolding without too much mental anguish on my part. It’s one of the primary reasons I write. Because of my spine injury, I suffer a lot from pain. When I’m lost in a story, I can forget the pain, at least temporarily. For that reason alone, writing is incredibly therapeutic for me.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

MM. I’m really excited about my upcoming January release, The Siren of Sussex. Set in Victorian London, it features Ahmad Malik, the half-Indian tailor from my Parish Orphans of Devon series, and Evelyn Maltravers, a bluestocking equestrienne who hires him to make her daring riding habits. Siren is the first in a new series I’m writing for Berkley/Penguin Random House. It will be out on January 11th.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MM. I wrote my first novel at thirteen. At eighteen, that novel got me my first literary agent. That novel didn’t sell, nor did the next one I wrote. After that, I took a very long break from writing fiction while I went to college and law school, traveled a bit, and did some other exciting things. It was only my spine injury that brought me back to writing fiction again.

Jet trying to find the delete button

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

MM. Gosh, I hope not. I love the look, feel, and smell of books—both old books and new ones.

Q. What makes a writer great?

MM. I love an author who can tell a compelling story that grabs hold of you from the start and won’t let you go. Beautiful prose is a bonus.

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

MM. For me, the process involves lots of work and lots of writerly angst. It usually starts with me loving my characters and ends with me being sick to death of them. Seriously, by the time a book is finished, I’ve reread it so many times I can’t take it anymore. Hopefully, all those rereads and revisions result in a polished story that my readers are going to love.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

MM. My own experience with a life altering injury has a huge impact on the stories I tell. I write a lot about people who are experiencing similar life altering circumstances—a devastating loss, a debilitating physical injury, or a change in fortune. My characters have to work through these situations, to adapt and grow in order to ultimately find happiness again.

Stella

Q. What’s your down time look like?

MM. I’m terrible at down time. My laptop is often open on my lap, even when my family is watching a movie. Shutting off technology and learning to relax is something I’m struggling to get better at.

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

A. Yes! I recently indulged the urge to write a Victorian gothic vampire novel. I had so much fun. Not sure I’d do it again, but I loved that I could—and that some of my readers even enjoyed it.

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

MM. Be kind, both to other people and to yourself.

Did you miss Part I of our interview with Mimi Matthews?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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Interview with author, Susanne O’Leary (conclusion)

Pebbles is a rescue dog, golden retriever/collie mix

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

SO. Often. I can sit at an airport with my laptop and write, lost in the story—aka ‘the zone.’ Very irritating for anyone who tries to talk to me.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

New Release

SO. I am currently working on part 10 in the Sandy Cove series, or maybe I should call it part 4 in the Starlight Cottages series, which is a series within a series,

set in a coastguard station just outside the fictional village of Sandy Cove. The Lost Promise of Ireland, book 9 (Starlight Cottage #3) will be published in mid-December this year.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

SO. When I started writing fiction.

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

SO. No. I think we’ll always have both. A lot of readers love to hold a ‘real’ book in their hand.

Q. What makes a writer great?

SO. A great writer is someone who can pull the reader into the story from the very first page and hold his/her attention right through to the end.

Work space in Tipperary

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

SO. It’s quite a long, complicated process. First, I write the first draft from start to finish, then I go over it and chop and change quite a bit before I send it to my editor. After that there are four different rounds of edits: structural, line edit, copy edit and proofreading. The final stage is checking through the different formats, Kindle, e-book and PDF (for paperback). In all, three different editors work on the book. All this can take up to two months before publication.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

SO. Mostly in the settings (I have lived in quite a few different countries and travelled a lot) and things that have happened to me through my life that have touched my heart and my emotions. Love, tragedies, illness and so on.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

SO. If you mean what I do to relax, it’s mostly about the outdoors. I love hiking in the beautiful mountains of Ireland, or walking on the beaches. I also like yoga or any other kind of workout.

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

Friendly horse on my walk

SO. I have co-written four detective stories and also written two historical novels based on the lives of my great-aunt and her daughter who had fascinating lives.

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

SO. Count your blessings. And carpe diem.

Did you miss Part 1 of this fascinating Interview?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews
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Author Interview with Susanne O’Leary

Swedish by birth and Irish by marriage, Susanne O’Leary is the author of 35 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written four crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. She’s been the wife of a diplomat (still married to the same man, now retired), a fitness teacher and a translator. Susanne now writes full-time from either of two locations, a big old house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties (including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks), or keeping fit in the local gym, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months or so.

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

SO. I usually write in my little office in our house in County Tipperary, with views of the green hills and mountains. When I’m in Kerry, I write sitting in an IKEA chair by the fire, looking at the ocean when I take a break.

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.?

Work space in Tipperary

SO. I always write in my pajamas and sheepskin slippers, tea in my favourite blue mug with a slice of toast with marmalade that I

nibble on while I read through what I wrote yesterday. Then I write new material for an hour or two, and then I do some yoga (still in my pyjamas) before I get dressed.

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

SO. My real first name is Karin. Susanne is my middle name.

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

SO. Always on the keyboard on my good old Lenovo laptop.

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

SO. Early in the morning is my best and brightest time to write!

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

SO. Make a particular time each day your writing hour. If you stick to that, it’ll be easier to get going.

One of the Interviewer’s favs

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

SO. That’s an interesting question. My books always start with a

situation, then I put the characters into that, and then they become stronger and stronger right through the first draft. Then I go back to the beginning and flesh them out, because now I really know them.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

Starting the day with an ocean swim

SO. I started my writing career by writing non-fiction and wrote two books about health and fitness (I am a trained fitness teacher). While writing these books, I discovered how much I loved the actual writing process. My then editor gave me the idea to write a fun novel based on my experiences as a diplomat’s wife. This became my debut novel, ‘Diplomatic Incidents’ (now also an e-book with the title Duty Free‘).

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

SO. Usually the situation.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

 

Part two of this wonderful Interview will be posted Nov. 6th
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

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Interview with writer, Veronica Henry (conclusion)

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

VH. I sure hope not! I think books make a home, and are a big part of us. You can tell a person by the books they have on their shelves. They make wonderful gifts too. My books are my most treasured possessions. I don’t feel so emotional about my Kindle!

Q. What makes a writer great?

VH. If they can make you laugh and cry. And if you recognize the characters in the book, even if they are from two hundred years ago.

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

VH. I write a book a year, so ideally it would be two months brainstorming and researching, six months for a first draft, two months for a second draft and then the rest of the time finessing. But it’s quite a fluid process. The most intense period is the second draft -that’s when the book really falls into place but it’s emotionally draining and you need to really concentrate to get the most out of your material.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Dinner party at sunset

VH. I live by the sea, so I spend a lot of time at the beach. Either walking the dog, or swimming (I swam all the way through winter without a wetsuit!) or hanging out with my friends with a picnic and a bottle of wine as the sun goes down. I love to cook, so I love to have the time to make a really special dinner. We have a great fishmonger near us, so right now it’s all about the crab and the lobster. I’ve just made a white chocolate and raspberry cake – it’s in the oven!

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

VH. I’ve spent a long time building up a career in my genre so it would be crazy to just switch – although I know a lot of authors who have gone over to crime or thrillers recently. I like people to feel good when they finish reading my books, so I’m going to stick with it!!

Veronica cooks to relax

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

VH. Everything comes back into fashion eventually!

Did you miss Part 1?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monohan.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

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Interview with Author, Veronica Henry (part 2)

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

VH. It’s a bit like going to a party. You meet the host, and then they introduce you to all their friends. You see someone on the sidelines and think ‘Oooh they look interesting’, and then go over and have a chat. Quite often the people who seem interesting to start with turn out to be rather dull, and the quiet ones are the ones with hidden depths.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

VH. I was a total bookworm, as my father was in the army so we moved every two years, and books were my constant. And my favourite character was Jo March from Little Women. So I always loved creative writing at school. But working on the Archers was the first time I realized that everyone needs an escape in their life, to get away from reality, and that made me fall in love with storytelling and view it as a career.

One of this Interviewer’s favorites

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

VH. Usually the characters in a particular setting – I love to set my books somewhere my reader would like to be – and then I start asking myself where they are in their life. What dilemmas do they have? What would they like to change about their lives? What has just happened to them that has upset the apple cart and what are the consequences? And I ask myself where I’d like them to be – metaphorically – by the end of the book.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

VH. It goes in phases, but quite often I act out what I am imagining to myself, much to my children’s amusement. Or walking along the beach muttering away to myself, like The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I just need a black cape with a hood!

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

Henry’s view from her window

VH. My next book is called The Impulse Purchase about a 70 year old woman who buys the pub in the village she grew up in, on impulse. Her daughter and granddaughter join her to run it, and they turn it around – and change their lives in the process. It was such fun to write, especially the family dynamics. And the food!

Wonderful series

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

VH. When I became a TV script editor. I often had to rewrite parts of the scripts – often for logistical reasons – and wrote the storylines too. TV is a very hungry beast and uses up a lot of material so you have to be prolific.
                                                           *********

The conclusion August 27th
Did you miss the beginning segments of this wonderful Interview?
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Interview with British Author, Veronica Henry

As an army child, Veronica went to eight different schools, including the Royal School Bath, where she learnt Latin, how to make rock buns and how to take her bra off without getting undressed. She went on to study Classics at Bristol University, followed by a bi-lingual secretarial course – a surprisingly useful combination. Veronica started her career as a secretary on The Archers, a long running radio drama, typing scripts, then moved on to television and became a script writer. When she had her first child she jumped over the fence and became a script writer, then turned to writing novels in 2002, “as books were always my first love.”

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.

VH. Now two of my children have left home I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office space. I have a huge desk to spread out all my papers and research and the books I’m reading. There are inevitably piles of paperwork and proofs to read and one day I will sort it all out so it is calm and organized! It has a sea view, which is great, and is very light and airy. I have to work in silence – no music, even though music is a big part of my life.

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.)

VH. The most important thing is to make sure my hair is tied up – with anything!! I can’t stand it falling into my face while I work. I have my

dog, Zelda, named after Zelda Fitzgerald, on a sheepskin rug under the desk.

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

VH. I went to school in the States for three years and had the accent to prove it! It’s faded now but I still say ‘gas’ and ‘trash’ instead of ‘petrol’ and ‘rubbish’

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

New Release

VH. I  love making notes with a black pen and a narrow feint notebook at the beginning of the process – somehow it makes me think more creatively. But then I work straight into the computer. I don’t use a special app but have recently discovered the navigation pane which really helps knowing where I am in the document.

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

VH. I’m a lark and prefer to get straight on with writing first thing, after I’ve walked the dog. My energy dips after lunch, so that’s when I go over what I’ve already written or do some light reading! I cannot work in the evening to save my life.

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

VH. Just grasp the nettle, I’m afraid. The fear is worse than the reality. We all do it, but I can’t afford to procrastinate too much. I view writing as a business. Most other professions don’t have the luxury of procrastination. Imagine your dentist faffing about before getting on with your check up!

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

Join Us For Part 2 of this Wonderful Interview
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

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

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

 

Author Don Bentley, Interview (conclusion)

Q. What makes a writer great?

DB. I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer that question, so I’m going to quote my fantastic editor, Tom Colgan, instead. Tom once told me that the difference between a good writer and a great writer is that a great writer is not content to write the same book twice. According to Tom, a great writer will always push himself to do something different and bigger each time they write, and I think that’s true.

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

DB. I try to write my first draft as quickly as possible, but it inevitably takes longer than I want. In an effort to make the process more streamlined, I keep each POV as a separate word file until I’m completely done with the first draft as I’ve found this saves me quite a few headaches when I invariably move scenes around or cut them completely. Once the first draft is complete, I write out each scene on index cards and then arrange them using the Save the Cat beats as organizing tools. This is my first look at the completed novel, and I’ve found it’s a great way to ensure that I’ve hit the inflection points necessary for each Act in the Three Act structure. Once I’ve satisfied with the story’s layout, I’ll go back and begin editing in earnest. In my first pass or two, I’m concentrating mainly on plot weakness or other structural errors. In my final edits I focus more on language and the narrative flow.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

DB. As a former Army Apache helicopter pilot and FBI Special Agent, I’ve been lucky enough to do some pretty interesting things. Since I write espionage/military thrillers, I draw extensively from both my background and the incredible people I’ve had the fortune of meeting and befriending. During a radio interview for WITHOUT SANCTION, my first Matt Drake thriller, the interviewer asked me if I was Matt Drake. I assured her that I was not, but I also told her that I’d stood in the same room with Matt a time or two. Once you’ve had the pleasure of spending time in the company of heroes, you can’t help but come away a different person.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

DB. That’s a tough one right now. I’m in the middle of transitioning from working a day job to writing full time, but until then, I work every single day. It’s a bit of a slog, but I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be writing a book in two different series. When I’m not working, I love to workout, go to concerts with my wife, and hang out with my kids.

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

DB. I’m a huge fantasy fan, particularly epic and urban. The first two novels I attempted to write were both fantasy, and I still dabble in that genre from time to time. If my schedule ever allows, I’d love to take another shot at writing my take on urban fantasy.

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

DB. To progress as a writer, you have to do two things: get better at your craft and refuse to give up.

Did my readers miss the other parts of this wonderful INTERVIEW with Don Bentley
BTW:  Thank you for your service to our country, Don, and Happy Independence Day!!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
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Interview with author, Don Bentley, writing for Tom Clancy (part 2)

Don’s flying days

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

DB. Writing a book on spec is incredibly intimidating, especially when you have no idea whether or not it’s going to sell. This combined with the fact that writing progress on a book can seem so incremental as compared to say a short story can make it really easy to procrastinate. After all, if no one’s clamoring for your book, and it takes forever to write, it’s easy to come up with a thousand better ways to spend your time. With that in mind, I’ve found it helpful to give myself a deadline and then make a plan to meet it. For me, that works best if I put my engineering skills to use by mapping out a word count strategy and then tracking it in excel. Every week I compare the word count I was supposed to hit with what I actually wrote, and I also plot the cumulative progress on a line graph so I have a visual representation of where I am versus where I’m supposed to be. I’ve found that the terror that accompanies knowing that you’re exactly 4,326 words behind schedule is a great anecdote for procrastination!

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

A. That’s a great question! I write more organically, so many of my secondary characters come out in the first draft when I get to a scene and realize that I need another character for one reason or another. Often times a character I think will only have a cameo ends up showing up again in later scenes. After I finish my first draft, I further flesh out my characters during revisions and this is when they become real. I think the treatment of secondary characters is one of the things that separates good writers from great ones. For instance, if you pick up a Daniel Silva book, you’ll find that he doesn’t have any “throw away” characters. Even if they only share the stage for a single scene, each one of his characters is elaborately and realistically drawn.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

A cold beer and a warm cat……

DB. I’ve been telling myself stories for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories were of listening to my mom read me a book, or watching a tv show or movie, and thinking how the story could have ended differently. When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I started writing what would now be known as “fan fiction” for Star Trek. Writing was always my favorite subject in school, and I attempted to write my first novel in high school. It didn’t go very far, and I think this was because like most amateur writers, I didn’t yet understand the a novel’s structure. I could write a scene, but figuring out what to do next confounded me. In my late twenties I finally got serious about writing and took some excellent online classes from Writer’s Digest. These gave me a foundational understanding that allowed me to finish my first novel sometime in my early thirties. This novel didn’t sell, and neither did the two that came after it, but each book that didn’t sell taught me something different about the writing process. I guess to answer your question, I never really felt inspired to write. The desire to tell stories is just part of who I am.

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

DB. Secondary character usually come as I’m writing, but primary characters always come first ,even before the situation. New York Times Best Selling author Brad Taylor is one of my friends, and I pick his brain for writing advice every chance I get. He once told me that characters are what bring readers back from book to book, and I believe that’s true. You can have the most unique story idea in the world, but without a cast of characters that a reader enjoys enough to spend three hundred plus pages and hours of their lives getting to know, you won’t have a successful book. As I mentioned before, Daniel Silva does a superb job with characterization, so much so that reading his books feel like coming home. He’s one of the few authors that I will reread time and time again because I miss hanging out with the people he’s created. That’s how I want readers to feel about my books.

Did you miss part 1 of our Interview with Don?

Check out part 3 of this fascinating interview with Don Bentley, July 2nd
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, July: Veronica Henry.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK