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Interview with author, Jay Hartlove (conclusion)

Jay Hartlove, no whiskers

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

JH. I tend to turn victims into heroes in my stories. My abusive upbringing influenced this. Having friendships implode and watching people die has given me the perspective to talk about loss. Being lucky enough to fall deeply in love more than once in my life has taught me how to talk about love and heartbreak. Having raised two children has refreshed my memories of childhood. Having both of them turn out gay has opened my eyes to prejudice.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

JH. I’m something of an accomplishment junkie. I don’t really have downtime. I travel on my vacations. Evenings out mean movies or theater. When I’m not writing or running my household, my day job is consulting on compliance for banks. Troubleshooting and problem solving for The Man turns at night into troubleshooting and problem-solving in my stories. I love what I do. I don’t need time away from it.

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

Costume design. Conference of Sentient Beings that won Best in Show at Worldcon 2002

JH. When I was working on the third and final installment of the supernatural thriller Goddess Rising trilogy, I was so worried I would fail to wrap up all the threads I had started in the series, and I would fail to deliver a truly satisfying ending to it all, I worked myself into a panic. I had to take a break. I had to get out of my head. So I built a writing exercise for myself. I was going to try a seat-of-the-pants, no outline story, and it would be in a completely different genre, fantasy romance. I was also going to force myself not to outline by publishing it online a chapter at a time, so I could not go back and change anything. The story I wrote was the first draft of Mermaid Steel. I got to the end, and to my surprise, the story worked! My readers loved it. So I went back and added in all the things I had thought of during the writing, and it went from 60,000 to 72,000 words. I cleaned it up and sold it to my publisher. I then went back and looked at what I had to do to finish Goddess Rising. With fresh eyes, my path was clear. Critics have said the book completes the series better than they expected. One said it ends not with a bang but a boom. I also learned a lot about how to tell a romance. The next book I am working on, The Dove and the Crow, has a big romantic thread.

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

JH. Trust that you will never run out of ideas and will never paint yourself into a corner where you cannot find a solution (even if it is a start-over). A blank page is the most formidable adversary. Just write. Fixing it later is so much easier. Write what you know, but only research as far as you need to tell your story. Write about what you want to write about. Chasing a market trend will a) date your work into obsolescence and b) force you to write about something without your heart, which will show. Writing what you care about will show, and your readers will see this and love your work for it.

Did you miss the beginning of this beautiful interview with Jay?
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Interview with author, playwright Jay Hartlove (part 3)

San Francisco Literary Speakeasy events at Martuni’s bar

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

JH. I am working on a couple of things. I collect ideas over time and fit them into projects as appropriate. I always have a couple of projects simmering on back burners. My big love right now is a High Fantasy called The Dove and the Crow. My first novel, the learning exercise that shall never see the light of day, was a High Fantasy. I love those when they are done right, with genuinely original world building and dramatic situations. I have been collecting bits for this one for a couple of years and I am now up to a 25 page outline. I am also breathing new life back into a musical show I wrote but then abandoned. The rewrite is going slow but I love the piece too much to let it die.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JH. For years I wrote because I had ideas I wanted to explore and share. In my mid-thirties I realized that if I as going to spend years of my free time writing a book, then it really ought to be about something. Big themes became important to me. Goddess Chosen is about Revenge and Redemption. Goddess Daughter is about Loss and Forgiveness. Goddess Rising is about Justice. Mermaid Steel is about Cultural Erasure. The Insane God is about Accepting Change. I spent a while exploring the nature of evil. Lately I am exploring why people fall in love.

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

JH. No. Maybe down the road, when technology is wet-wired into us and we can experience books in a virtual space. But eReaders are not going to replace paper books. eReaders are really convenient, and can store many books at a time. But anyone who grew up holding a book in their hands will always get a more fulfilling experience with a paper volume. The cover holding the pages just makes such a satisfying package. At least that’s my admittedly old person view.

Q. What makes a writer great?

JH. You have to love writing to get good at it. You have to see tens of thousands of your own words before you can hear your voice on paper. You have to be willing to admit your mistakes and shortcomings and to go back and learn and try again. A great writer is like any great artist. If you can say what you wanted to say, and have no second thoughts, no regrets, no further edits, in other words, convey completely what you were trying to say, then you have created what you set out to create. If you have developed the skills to convey your message, then you are an artist. The audience may love it or hate it, but if you gave them what you meant to give them, then you have done your job.

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

 

Best in Show at the 1985 San Diego ComicCon

JH. I write in iterative drafts. I will get an idea and jot it down in a three-page synopsis. If it resonates with me, I will add to it and start to fill in details. This will grow to a ten-page synopsis. If that catches fire, I will structure it into a sequence of events and really start engineering my characters. By the time it is a 20-page outline, I am usually excited enough to start writing prose. That’s where I am now with The Dove and the Crow. It is also around this time I figure out what the book is really about and why I am excited to write it. This becomes the book blurb and the touchstone I will use to get through writer’s block and procrastination. Although I follow my outline so as to tell a cohesive story, I allow my characters to take me on alternate paths if that’s what’s right for them. So I am not a strict outliner and I am not a seat-of-the-pants writer, I am somewhere on a spectrum. I will often stop just before the final conflict

Jay as Dr. Anton Phibes from the “Abominable Dr. Phibes” winning Best Recreation at CostumeCon 8 in 1990

resolution and look back at what has transpired so far. I want to make sure I’ve wrapped up all my loose ends and that I am headed toward a resolution that will satisfy what the reader expects based on the trajectory of the story. Once I finish the draft, I will put it down for a week or more before tackling Round Two. Neil Gaiman put it brilliantly. “The second draft is where you make it look like you knew what you were trying to say all along.” Round Three is where I put in all the new details I’ve thought of since I started the project. At that point I ask myself if I have said everything I ever wanted to say in this story. If the answer is Yes, then I am done.

Did you miss Part 1 and 2 of this excellent interview? Click here

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Interview with Writer, Jay Hartlove (part 2)

Jay.Rabbit.Cat

TS. While an entertaining interview, this one is also instructional, without being ‘preachy’.  Jay is a writer’s writer.  This is such a worthwhile read for other writers! 

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

JH. When I started writing in the 1980s before laptop computers, I hand wrote everything in spiral bound notebooks on commuter trains and lunch hours. Then I would edit as I typed the text into my computer at home. I wrote two novels that way. The first was an embarrassing lesson in how not to write a book. The second one eventually became my highly successful Goddess Chosen thriller. I still carry a small notebook whenever I think I might have downtime to jot ideas. I do most of my productive work at home late at night, so I just type directly.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

JH. I wrote, produced, and directed my original musical sequel to Snow White in 2018. The Mirror’s Revenge ran for three weeks in the San Francisco Bay Area and got rave reviews. I loved the collaboration with the composers, the musicians, and mostly the actors. When they occupied the characters, they started seeing things I had missed, even though I had worked on the script for ten years. I try to write from inside the characters’ heads, but myactors brought a whole new level of insight. They really brought the story to life. I loved that so much, I am working on another show. I learned my lesson of not trying to do everything myself, but I will definitely be putting on another show.

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

JH. Remember what got you excited about writing your story in the first place. Try to write a sentence that captures that spark, that thing that makes this story different and special. Such a phrase often makes an excellent cover blurb. Blurbs should not tell the plot, but rather tell why this story is exceptional. Your original inspiration was strong enough to make you drop everything else and write this story. Keep that inspiration at hand throughout the writing.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters? What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

JH. I write largely in science fiction and fantasy, so I almost always start with the “What if?” proposition. That means I know what will happen in the story first. As soon as I see that much, I move to ask who would be the best person to tell this story, or for this story to happen to. I do a lot of reverse engineering to design characters who have the right background, the right opinions, the right fears and motivations to tell this story. No matter what you do with a character, their actions and reactions must seem completely in character to the reader. Otherwise the reader sees the heavy hand of the author moving things into place. The only way to ensure that believability is to engineer the characters to have all the qualities they will need as the story unfolds.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JH. I was lucky enough to have grade school teachers who fed my imagination. I grew up on books like “A Wrinkle in Time” and the Danny Dunn mysteries. Star Trek was just coming on the air when I was nine years old. Middle school was Frank Herbert and C.S. Lewis. High school was Heinlein and Clarke. I became a huge science fiction movie fan. I skipped my older brother’s high school graduation to see “The Andromeda Strain.” I scored off the charts for language aptitude. My parents pushed me into a science education, but as soon as I was out of college I started writing science fiction. In 1980 I self-produced Supergame, one of the first table-top role playing games to use comic book superheroes. By 1985 I had finished the first draft of a sword-and-sandal fantasy novel. And the rest is history.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

JH. I joke that my muse is called “Eleven.” After I finish the evening’s affairs, and my family have all retreated to their own corners to wind down, I sit down to write, usually around eleven o’clock. If she doesn’t show up, and I can’t get into the flow, then I go to bed and get some sleep. If Eleven does show up, and I get into the zone, I will write obliviously until I pass out on the keyboard around 2 or 3 am. So if I have a good night writing, I have a bad day at work the next day.
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Join us next week for part 3 of this wonderful Interview.

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Interview with Fantasy/Thriller author, Jay Hartlove

Jay Hartlove is the multiple award-winning author of the urban fantasy Goddess Rising Trilogy (Goddess Chosen, Goddess Daughter, Goddess Rising), the fantasy romance Mermaid Steel, and the science fiction thriller The Insane God. He is also the playwright, director and producer of The Mirror’s Revenge, the musical sequel to the Snow White fable, which had its theatrical run in the San Francisco Bay Area In August 2018 to rave reviews.
“I love to take stories where the reader does not expect, with sympathetic villains, heroes with very dark pasts, and lots of plot twists.  I turn victims into heroes.”

He is often compared by critics to Michael Crichton. Goddess Chosen (under its original title The Chosen) was endorsed by horror master John Shirley. The Insane God was endorsed by science fiction master David Brin. Jay was selected as one of the “50 Authors You Should Be Reading” by The Authors Show. He is a former competitive costumer, having won Best in Show at both San Diego ComicCon and WorldCon. You can read more about Jay’s creative adventures, including much of the research he put into his books, at www.jaywrites.com.

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.

JH. I do most of my writing in my home office, surrounded by my favorite bits of inspiration. There are awards, sculptures, paintings, and theatrical props. My window faces my back deck and garden, which is very green and calming. I collect ideas all the time, so I often have a notebook with me. I am a firm believer that thinking about your writing is writing. You write what you know, and any decisions you make about a story adds to the knowledge you will draw from to write the story.

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

JH. I don’t have any rituals other than getting back into my characters’ headspace. If I have done my job, I the writer disappear when the reader reads the words. It really is the characters’ story. It’s told through their eyes, their emotions, their reactions. I know where I want the story to go, but to put words to paper, I need to let the characters speak. I know I’m in the zone to keep building the story once I can hear them. In theatrical terms, I Method Act. I get inside their heads and let them speak.

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

JH. I was a big time coplayer thirty years ago, before it was called Cosplay. I spent most of my creativity in my twenties building costumes, mostly for shows at conventions. I was part of different teams that won Best in Show at both San Diego Comic Con, and at the World Science Fiction Convention. I taught myself sculpture and fabrication, with which I built a lot of costume armor. I still use those DIY skills to repair and build things. To promote my fantasy romance Mermaid Steel, I scratch built a life-sized model of my heroine mermaid Chielle Mmava (waist up) which I set up in a chair behind signing tables. The model is accurate to the description of her dolphin people in the book. She is my “booth babe” at shows now.

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

JH. When I started writing in the 1980s before laptop computers, I hand wrote everything in spiral bound notebooks on commuter trains and lunch hours…..

Join us next week for Part II of this fascinating Interview.
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Author, Donna Ashcroft shares with us (conclusion)

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

DA. No, I don’t think so. While digital books are usually cheaper and easier to store and buy, I think a lot of people still enjoy the way a paper book smells and feels. It’s more of an emotional experience. I receive a lot of messages from readers who want to know how to get hold of my books in physical form.

Daisy–the old lady

Q. What makes a writer great?

DA. For me anyone who can transport me from everyday life into a different world and make me lose myself is a great writer. Bringing people and situations to life on the page is a kind of magic.

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

One of this blogger’s favs

DA. I begin my novel by brainstorming the types of people I want in my story, what do they want, conflicts they might encounter and what do they need to learn?

Then I come up with a ‘hook’ or something that will draw readers in. I create ‘books’ of information about my stories which include pictures of my characters, location photographs (I find this helps me to really picture my setting and helps to make it real). I use a website call Pacemaker to plan my writing schedule ie when the deadline is, how many words I need to write each day to get the first draft completed on time. I generally write my first draft in three months, once I’m happy with it I deliver it to my editor.

Usually after a week I receive structural edits. These involve adding scenes/removing scenes/deepening conflict and addressing anything my editor things doesn’t work in the story. This tends to be the most major part of the editorial process. Sometimes my edits take a few days, but they can take up to a month. It all depends on how much work the book needs. After the structural edits are okay’d I work on line edits, then copy edits and then a proof read. The final stage of the process involves me reading through the final files before the book is created. Publication day is the end of the process – this involves promotion on social media, in newsletters and thanking people for support. I tend to end the day with a glass of something fizzy!

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

DA. Because my books are character driven, I think everyone I meet or speak to and everything that has happened to me influences my writing. I tap into

Dylan

experiences when I’m dealing with heartbreak or conflict in my novels. It’s not always the exact same experience, but the feelings are the same.

Q. Do you have children? If yes, how do you carve out ‘writing time’? 

DA. This is how I keep my two lovely teenagers from disturbing me mid flow (in truth: it doesn’t work and they still barge in). Seriously, I wouldn’t be without them. I can get a bit obsessive about my writing and end up stuck at my desk for hours so it does me good to have some company and distraction!

Q. What’s your down time look like?

DA. I read a lot, enjoy swimming, walking and classes at my local gym. I love networking with other writers and spending time with family and friends.

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

DA. I love romance and don’t plan to change to another genre.

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

DA. If you want something in life, behave as if you already have it.
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Did you miss the beginning of this Interview?
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Coming soon!  August: Author, Jay Hartlove

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Interview with UK author, Donna Ashcroft (part 2)

My walking pal, Jules

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

DA. I need to know my characters before I start writing. I start by working out who they are and what their internal issues are, i.e. what is their wound? What needs to happen in the novel for that wound to be overcome or healed. I then spend time finding pictures of my characters on Google and adding in details like eye colour, hair colour, age, upbringing. While I discover my characters as I write, I need a fair amount of detail before I get started so they can become real in my mind. Sometimes news stories, novels or movies will help to inspire a character, especially if I admire or identify with particular personality traits.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

DA. I was a huge reader when I was younger and started writing books when I was around twelve. I don’t know what originally inspired me, but I was good at writing and enjoyed escaping into stories and creating my own worlds.

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

DA. For me characters usually come first.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

DA. When things are going well, I get completely lost. I often feel like the words are coming out of my fingers rather than my brain – that’s when my subconscious takes over and almost writes for me. I love those moments but it’s not always like that!

New books are born here. “Book Planning Books”.

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

DA. I’m working on my summer book for 2023 at the moment and I’m about 30K words in so I’ve a way to go yet. Recently my 2022 summer novel The
Little Cornish House was published and my first novel Summer at the Castle Café was published by Sphere into paperback. My pitch for The Little Cornish House is it’s The Great Pottery Thrown Down meets The Murder Club (only without any murders).

Thirty-year-old Ruby’s life is safe and predictable: no dramas, no complications, no men. And that’s just the way she likes it – there’s no way she wants to get her heart broken again. But her whole life is turned upside down when her grandmother calls to say she’s in danger of losing her beloved little Cornish House by the sea. She needs Ruby to come back to Cornwall and save the day…You’ll find everything in this summer romance – from a gorgeous hero and heroine, to a whole host of quirky characters, pottery, cake and real ale-

One of my favs

not to mention a mystery, twists, turns and romances crossing the generations.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

DA. In 2017 I was awarded the Katie Fforde Bursary. This was a huge honour, not only to be selected as one of Katie’s promising writers, but also because all of the authors up until that point had gained a publishing deal within a couple of years. I’d been writing on top of my day job for a few years by then, but having Katie’s endorsement, and knowing I didn’t want to let her down, I went down to four days a week at work and decided to treat my writing more like a proper day job. In 2018 I was offered my first publishing contract. I think I had to make the ‘decision’ to take

getting published seriously before this would happen.
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Join us next week for the conclusion of our Interview with Donna Ashcroft 

Did you miss part 1 of our chat with Donna?
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Coming soon!  August: Jay Hartlove

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Interview with author, Donna Ashcroft

Donna Ashcroft declared she would be an author at the age of twelve and used to write voraciously. During her career, Donna worked in publishing, online retail and as a freelance copywriter until she started her family.  She had two children and finally decided she’d reached her “now or never” time. She joined the Romantic Novelists Association and started to write seriously in 2016. In 2018 (after penning a number of novels) she was offered a publishing contract by Bookouture and has been with them ever since. Her debut novel, Summer in the Castle Café was shortlisted for the RNA Debut Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2019.

She says, “I love a happy ending and am never more content than when I’m escaping into a romance novel or movie. When I’m not reading or writing I’m probably swimming, or negotiating with my OH or teenagers about who is doing the washing up.”

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.

DA. I work in my spare room. It’s a small space so we had to take the bed down and I have the headboards along one wall! I’ve tried to make it into a lovely space with a heart banner, plants and pictures of my novels. When the sun is shining though I love working outside in the garden. My ‘dream’ workspace would probably involve a pool and somewhere I can shelter from the sun but take a dip whenever I wanted to.

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.)

DA. In the mornings I have to have coffee (multiple) and can’t start work without a caffeine hit. I also always have water on the go and drink plenty as the day progresses. I have hand cream on my desk as it’s good to just take a little time out sometimes to have a mindful moment as I’m applying it.

My office

Other must haves include pens, pretty notebooks and post it notes which I make notes on all the time! I also have a ball instead of a chair for when I’m working in an attempt to look after my back.

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

DA. I’ve been training to do a 1.4km open water swim since March – the swim is this weekend and I’m terrified but I always think it’s important to try  new challenges. I’m a qualified life coach and NLP Practitioner. I don’t practice but I think the learning experience was useful to understanding behaviour in both myself and others.

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

A daily walk with my friend’s dog Tiggy

DA. I usually like to make notes on a pretty notepad when I’m brainstorming but I then hop straight onto the keyboard.

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

DA. I’m a full-time writer so I write between 8am and 6pm on weekdays and sometimes I work in the mornings on weekends. I take regular breaks to refresh my mind and body.

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

Heart banner in my office

DA. Treat writing like a profession. You can’t wait for your muse, you just have to get on with it. Often I’ve spent a day writing chapters I think are awful, but then I often discover a nugget in there that’s worth keeping. Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration with a little talent thrown in.

 

Join us next week for Part 2 of this Interview
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Coming soon! July’s author interview with Donna Ashcroft.

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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?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

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

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK