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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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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy~Interview (part 3)

Don Bentley

Tom Clancy

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

DB. There are times when the words seem to fly from my keyboard onto the screen, but if I’m being honest, these instances are few and far between. Writing is work. Hard work. And while I enjoy writing, there are certainly aspects of it that I detest. First drafts are especially hard and, and are most often the times when I berate myself for not choosing an easier profession. Like rocket science! But writing also has some magical phases like writing the second draft. For me, that’s when the story comes alive as you untangle the narrative, build on themes you didn’t even realize you were there, and give that secondary character the starring role they deserve. This is when writing becomes fun, but to get there, you have to slog through the tediousness of the first draft.

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

DB. Yes to both! TARGET ACQUIRED, my first entry in the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, Junior series comes out on 8 June 2021. I read my first Tom Clancy book when I was thirteen or fourteen, and he was my introduction to the military thriller genre. The notion that, thirty years later, I get to write in the universe he created really is incredible. In addition to my Tom Clancy book, I have my own thriller series starring Defense Intelligence Agency case officer, Matt Drake. I’m currently writing HOSTILE INTENT which is the third book in this series. It will be released in May 2022.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

DB. I decided to take my writing seriously in late 2001 when I signed up for a series of online classes from Writer’s Digest Magazine. These classes helped provide a foundational understanding of the process of crafting a novel which I was sorely lacking. I then went on to write two more novels, each of which was strong enough to garner an agent, but not good enough to sell to a publisher. I then decided I must still have more to learn about my craft before I could be commercially successful, so I enrolled in the Seton Hill MFA program. This is a low residency program unabashedly geared toward writers who want to sell commercially viable genre fiction. I wrote my third novel as part of this program, but this one didn’t sell either. About this time, I was starting to wonder whether or not I was ever going to make it as a writer. Thankfully, I had the great fortune to meet Nick Petrie, author of the Peter Ash series, at the ThrillerFest writing conference in New York. Nick was kind enough to listen to my tale of woe, but he did more than listen. After sharing that he also wrote three books that didn’t sell before writing his fourth that did, he told me to go home, quit sulking, and write my fourth book. So I did. That book became WITHOUT SANCTION which my agent, Barbara Poelle, sold in a two book deal in 2018. Fast forward three years, and I’m now writing my third book in that series as well as poking around in the Tom Clancy Universe. To quote Nick, I guess the moral of the story is quit sulking and write your book!

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

DB. I don’t. I think there’s something tactile about paper books that people love.

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2 of our Interview with Don?
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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.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

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

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

 

Interview with author, Don Bentley, writing as Tom Clancy

Don Bentley is the author of the Matt Drake thriller series including WITHOUT SANCTION, THE OUTSIDE MAN, and two forth coming titles, as well as Tom Clancy’s TARGET ACQUIRED, a Jack Ryan, Jr. novel. Don spent a decade as an Army Apache helicopter pilot including a combat deployment to Afghanistan as an Air Cavalry Troop Commander. Following his time in the military, Don worked as an FBI special agent and was a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team member. 

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.

DB. I’m lucky enough to have a spare bedroom that doubles as my home officer. It’s filled with memorabilia from my days in the Army and the FBI and is a really fun place to work. Hanging on the wall above my computer monitor is the framed acceptance letter for the first short story I ever sold back in 2001. I have to say that never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be writing a Tom Clancy novel twenty years later!

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.)

DB. Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! I also take a ton of research and plot notes while I write. One of my friends gave me a leather bound portable notebook from Saddleback Leather Company as a gift at the book launch party for WITHOUT SANCTION, the first book in my Matt Drake series. I absolutely love it. I can take it with me anywhere, the leather exterior wraps around replaceable notebooks, and I use a different notebook for each novel. As far as writing tools go, the Pilot G-2 #10 is the best pen every created. Period!

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

DB. My wife and I are high school sweethearts, and we’ve moved 16 times in the 23 years we’ve been married. We spent about half of my 10 years in the Army living overseas, and we traveled extensively. She and I dove on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and our kids have been sled riding in the foothills of the Alps in Austria. Our life really has been an adventure, and I’m so grateful I get to spend it with her.

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

DB. I usually begin with a sense of terror that another book is due, and I don’t feel prepared to write it. But I don’t think that’s what you were asking! Before I start writing, I normally take a lot of notes in the notebook I mentioned before or a yellow legal pad. I wrote down things like plot summaries, questions I have, motivations, important research tidbits, etc. Then I hit the keyboard. Many of my books have multiple POVs and I keep each of these as separate word files until I’m done with the first draft and ready to figure out the scene sequence. I usually try to start a writing session with an overview of where the scene needs to go with a focus on goal, motivation, and conflict. Then it’s time to pound the keyboard!

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

DB. Until very recently I was still working a day job in addition to writing. Because of this, I had to be very intentional about my writing time. On weekdays, I would get up at five and write for an hour or so before work and then again for an hour or so at the end of the day before bed. On the weekends, I would spend most of each day Saturday and Sunday writing. Now that I’ve transitioned into writing full time, I still do two writing sessions a day but they are now morning and then early afternoon after my workout. I’ve found that it feels less intimidating to break my daily word goal into two more easily achieved chunks rather than trying to crank them all out in one sitting.

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

Enjoy Part 2 of this Interview  June 25th

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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.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

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

BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

Interview with Jenny Colgan, Writer (part 3)

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

JC. Yup, I have a full slate. I am working on a new Mure book for next summer, An Island Wedding, then coming out in June 2021 is Sunrise, a new Little Beach Street Bakery novel. And in October A Christmas Bookshop is coming out, which is set in Edinburgh and I really hope people are going to love it. We had so much snow in Edinburgh this winter and it just looked gorgeous so I wrote throughout the winter. And if we can pop it into the schedule, there’s a fourth boarding school book ready to go.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JC. I have always written seriously. Seven-ish or so?

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

JC. No, but I am quite old. I think everything shook down; some people, like me, adore their kindles and the flexibility of carrying a library at your fingertips, some people tried it and went straight back to paper books. So it’s kind of balanced out.

Find the Dog!

Q. What makes a writer great?

JC. Well, I would consider myself a very decent writer, as are most professionals. There are barely any greats. The ones that are… I suppose they somehow touch on something in the human condition that is common to all of us, that immediately helps us understand the state of being human better.

Fairy tale home

I would say A Tale of Two Cities teaches us more about the ability of a human being to sacrifice themselves for others better, and certainly more entertainingly, than any science course, psychology textbook, survey or questionnaire ever devised. Pride and Prejudice has the plot of Cinderella yet somehow, at its essence, cracks the nut of what it is to fall in love better than anything else ever has. CS Lewis presented a world of wonder, of awe, to countless millions of children. To find inside one writer an entire world is an extraordinary- and crushingly rare.

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

JC. Two hundred cups of coffee.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JC. Oh, hugely. The Mure novels came out of me having to move back to Scotland when my mother was dying; you can really

Another fav of mine…and it’s a trilogy!

see it in the first one. I started writing lots of children in my books when I had my own children and realised that people often write children very badly, make them sassy little know it alls, rather than the adorably curious drunks most small kids behave like all the time.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Princess daughter

JC. Piano playing, reading watching Buffy with my two youngest- we’re going through everything, we did Lost through lockdown, and Merlin, but Buffy is the big obsession at the moment. My husband is a mean bb-quer. We have been locked down for so long though, I cannot wait to reclaim all the stuff I used to love- I absolutely adore a party, a book festival, a big get together of friends and writers, travelling to new places. All of that stuff. I like most things.

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

JC. I do, I write sci fi as Jenny T. Colgan. I don’t really believe in genre but it helps publishers know where to put you.

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

Nobody is ever thinking about you, they’re obsessing about their own shit, like ALL DAY. So get on and do whatever the hell it is you want to do, nobody gives a rat’s ass.

Did you miss the beginning of this 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.
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Interview with author, Jenny Colgan (part 2)

TS.  As my readers know, I am (1) a voracious reader and (2) always looking for new (to me) authors. My first exposure to Jenny was
The Cafe by the Sea. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t certain that I would continue to buy her books. So quirky; I hadn’t before  heard this particular ‘voice’ in an author.  15 books (and counting) later, I admit to being a girl-fan.  I love her stories! The characters are real people trying to stumble through life, as we all are, as best we can. So imagine my joy when this prolific and busy author agreed to be interviewed. And she was so generous with her answers! 

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

JC. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. Lots of people think they’d like to be writers, but then just can’t get it done, and you know what, that’s fine, that’s okay, go do something else, don’t make yourself miserable. I wanted to be a stand up comedian, but I hated every single second of being onstage, and I realized I just wanted to call myself a stand up, I didn’t actually want to do the work. That’s fine. There’s plenty of books out there already, there’s absolutely no need to do it if you don’t want to, so find something else fun to do.

If you really want to, you’ll set your wordcount in your head, even if it’s only 500 words a day, and you’ll do it. Somehow. They never have to be your best words, they don’t even have to be any good. All that kind of stuff you fix in the edit. Your first draft you just have to find the momentum to get 1000 words down every day for 80 days, then look at what you have at the end.

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

Husband, Andrew

JC. All over the place. Sometimes bits and pieces of people I’ve met, sometimes I just start them off and see. I’m writing a character now who is very beautiful. I wanted them to be difficult and impossible, but actually that didn’t work at all.

What turned out to be much more interesting are normal people’s reactions to someone who is extremely beautiful. It isn’t her fault at all; other people just become really weird around her when she’s in the room, and her experience of life is different from most people’s. So, they develop as you go. I worked with a scientist last year- I don’t usually meet a lot of scientists in my line of work- and he never said anything unless he knew it was absolutely a fact, the case. You could see the gears working in his brain every time he was asked for an opinion on anything. And I thought, that’s interesting, and wrote a character (who isn’t based on my colleague at all) who has that kind of rigorous thought process.

Q. What tools do you begin with? (from last week)

Sketch of Mure

JC. Sometimes I like to sketch my characters to get a view for what they look like and what they’re doing. If I’m a bit stuck, I’ll start drawing…..

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JC. Oh I was just a massive bookworm. Writing books is the closest you get to reading books your entire life. I write the kind of books I absolutely love reading and if I can’t find a book I want- eg a series for adults set amongst teachers in a boarding school- I just go write it myself.

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

JC. The situation, generally. ‘What if you were a refugee and posted to a remote Scottish island?’ ‘What if you lost everything and could only get a really lowly job in a bakery?’ ‘What if you met an alien?’. Things I think might be interesting.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Another favorite

JC. Yeah, sometimes. Generally near the end of something. Not always, and it doesn’t have a huge effect on the work, really, I mean I don’t think the reader could tell the points where I’ve got very obsessed with it, but sometimes I get completely wrapped up in them and can’t think about anything else. My husband can always tell. 🙂

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

Did you miss Part 1 of this in-depth interview?

Don’t Miss part 3 of this spectacular Interview with Jenny. Coming May 21st. 
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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.
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Lee Matthew Goldberg, Sci-fi author (part 3)

Q. What makes a writer great?

LMG. Talent, obviously, but dedication is really important too. And always striving to get better and build your craft. Be your harshest critic and learn from your rejections. There will be a ton of rejection, but it’s all there to make you better.

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

LMG. It’s all over the place, depending on the book. Some books have taken me a decade to finish, some two months. Orange City, for example, took many years of putting it down and picking it back up. It was originally a short s

Las Vegas with friends

tory I wrote in college, then a screenplay, then a different short story, and finally a novel. Science fiction is the hardest to write, at least for me, because you are creating an entirely new world. It took that many years to build up that world.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

A. Always. You bring reality into your work, but I tend to write really out there things, so a lot is fiction. I try not to put people I know into my work, but sometimes it happens. I’m influenced a lot from other books and films, art and music, so the amount of influences that go into each novel are hard to pinpoint.

Morocco

Q. What’s your down time look like?

LMG. Like I said, I travel, go out to eat, movies, concerts, museums, sports.

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

LMG. Yup. I’m a thriller writer first, but have a Sci-Fi and a YA series out this year so I’m always pushing myself to try something different. But all of my books have some type of thriller elements to them because thrillers are all about moving the plot forward and that’s important in all genres.

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

A. Rejection is necessary and only makes you a better writer. Learn to take in, shrug it off, and not let it get you down. Every great writer has been rejected plenty, it’s par for the course.

Did you miss the first part of this exciting interview? 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

Interview with Lee Matthew Goldberg, author (part 2)

Yankee Stadium with friends….the good old days…packed seats

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

LMG. When I went for my MFA at the New School. It was the first time I really starting thinking of it as a career. I had written a few books before that still needed a lot of work, and even sent one out to a few agents, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. My MFA program really helped shape me as a writer, and then afterwards when I got an agent, he was a great mentor in honing my craft. About a dozen years later, he’s still my agent.

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

LMG. Nope, never. People will always want physical copies, but there will definitely be less. Personally, I’ll read on Kindle but I prefer a book a lot more. I can read e-books on like a plane, that’s about it. Physical books have a smell to them, you carry them with you, you make notes in the margins. I know you can do that with e-books but it’s not the same. I still have my high school copy of The Great Gatsby with all my notes from when I was teenager. It’s a treasure. That wouldn’t be possible with an e-book.

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

LMG.  Depends. Sometimes the character comes first, sometimes the idea. Sometimes I’ll hear a song and that inspires the book like with my last novel The Ancestor. I heard a song called “The Ancestor,” and the first line was “Go on bury me.” It was wintertime and I just pictured a man buried in ice who wakes up from it after a hundred years. The rest of the book began to unravel from that image.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

LMG. I’ve always been a writer since I was a little kid. I used to make up stories about my dog getting into crazy situations, so this was always the career I was meant to have. I think that there are people who are just born writers. When I’m not working on a project, I get a little depressed, so I have to write. It’s a part of me. And it’s always been liked that.

Two Lees at book signing with Charlaine Harris

Lee and……Lee

TS: What are the chances that two gentlemen are named Lee Goldberg, both authors, and I interviewed the first one six years ago. And they, one from L.A. and one from NYC met and became acquainted at a couple of book signings? Too weird and wonderful.

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

LMG. Depends. Usually they start to emerge in tandem.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

LMG. That’s when I know I’m really writing something great. I’ll leave my body for a few hours and forget what I’ve written. Then I’ll spiral back down. I’ve heard Stephen King describe a similar thing. I don’t know where I go, but I go somewhere. It’s the same when I’m reading a book I’m really into, I’ll lose time in the best way.

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

LMG. I’m always working on something. I have a YA series coming out, so I’m working on the idea for the third book. The first two have been written. And I have a screenplay project as well based off of my books that I’m working on with a production company. I’m very excited about that, since it’s been about three years in the making. I also have a few ideas for books I want to write. One takes place in the 1950s and would be a Jewish Mad Men. The perspective of a Jewish man breaking into the ad world then and the different kinds of anti-Semitism he faced. I was inspired after watching the HBO show The Plot Against America.

Q. I understand that you are about to release ORANGE CITY, an exciting sci-fi novel. Tell us about it.

LMG. Imagine a secret, hidden City that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the City forever. You can never leave. Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the Man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.

Did you miss Part 1 of our interview?

Don’t Miss Part 3 of this Interview ~~ June 19th
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

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

 

Interview with Sci-fi Author, Lee Matthew Goldberg

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in many other publications.  He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.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.

LMG. When the weather is nice, I normally write at a tree in Central Park. I’ve written all my books there. It helps me to be in fresh air and around nature, especially living in NYC. So, usually I’m there from April through November. My dream work space would be having my own backyard or even a terrace to write. If we’re already fantasizing, a terrace overlooking Central Park would be pretty great. I’ll have to sell a lot more books to get that, though.

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.)

LMG. Not really. I try to put away my phone so I won’t be distracted. And I write best when I’m in nature. All I need is my laptop. Sometimes I listen to music, but not as much as I used to. Living in New York, the energy of the city really inspires me, but I also need the quiet of nature. I’ll sit on the grass, take off my socks and shoes, and usually spend most afternoons writing that way.

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

LMG. I love to travel. It helps inspire me. This past year has been difficult without traveling, so I’ve had to find inspiration in other ways. Oftentimes, I work travel into my writing. A book I was working on took place in the jungles of the Amazon so I traveled there once for research. It helped immensely because it would’ve been very hard to write about the jungle without experiencing it firsthand: the sounds, the smells, the feel. It would’ve come off phony to me. Part of another one of my books took place in Morocco, so I went there as well.

Release date: March 16th

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

LMG. Sometimes I outline first, but usually on the computer too. Once I have a chapter outline set up, I begin. Although, the book has likely marinated in my head for a while by then. It could be in my head for years before I start writing. With very early ideas I used to jot them down in a notepad, or sometimes I would even call my voicemail if I was out and had a great idea. Now I use the Notepad app, which makes it so much easier to jot down ideas.

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

LMG. I’m best in the afternoons, so 1pm – 5pm is my ideal writing time. I’ll edit what I wrote the day before in the mornings and sometimes at night. Again, since I work outside a lot it’s usually the best time to catch the light.

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

LMG. Set a work schedule that works for you. Try to find inspiration. Don’t force it too much if it’s not there. Resist your phone and going online. Find a space that you can be the most productive. Also, it’s important to find people in your life that can give you honest feedback. Early on in my career before I was really published, it meant so much to have friends and other writers give notes. Sometimes people you know who are just good readers can give the best advice. My parents were always very supportive in my writing growing up so I had them read drafts of early works.

Join us for Part II of this insightful Interview
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

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

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
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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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?
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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!