Interview ~~ Grace Burrowes, Author (conclusion)

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

GB. I’m actually onto my second trade house. I started with Sourcebooks and now write for Grand Central/Forever, in addition to my indie titles. I hesitated to indie publish because I’d heard it was, “so much work,” and all I wanted to do was write. I just kept feeding manuscripts down the trad pub chute, and I kick myself for that. Good career decisions are made based on good information, and “everybody says,” is not as useful what I say about my own experiences. I find trad pubbing a lot of work, in part because I don’t control the schedule, I don’t control development of the cover and meta data, I don’t control pricing or PR. I’m at the mercy of the trad house’s schedule, process, and agenda, and to some extent, their editorial preferences.

With indie publishing, there’s start up effort—setting up accounts, and rounding up a team to do editing, proofreading, covers, and virtual assistance. The reward though, in terms of creative, scheduling, editorial and financial control is enormous. I’m very fortunate to have worked with trad houses who are supportive of hybrid authors, but then, I couldn’t see signing a contract with a house that wasn’t.

Q. What makes a writer great?

grace-at-eilean-donan-1GB. The people whose company I treasure most work hard at being kind and telling the truth (both). They laugh a lot, love ferociously, listenGrace - age 8 respectfully, and take risks in the name of love. Great writing touches the heart and makes a lasting impression. As for a great writer… I’ll have to think on this. Generosity of spirit and humility come to mind, but so do passion and fierce, unapologetic ability.

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

GB. I wake up one morning and roll around in bed waiting for a thought to coalesce that I can build a scene on. Could be a line of dialogue, could be a letter, could be a guy grousing to his horse about the burdens of bachelorhood. When I get something that leans toward dialogue or an opening hook (or I have to pee), I get out of bed and turn on the computer.

A scene emerges, and in that scene, I find a character, usually the hero of a romance novel. He has Troubles. I lurk in his hedges and ride pillion behind him, and scribble down any scenes he’ll give me. He also has a heroine intent on her own story, and she gets the same treatment from me. I haunt my characters until I can pry a story loose from them.

I write the opening scenes and the meet, launch the character arcs, introduce a few secondary characters, and then the begging begins. I crawl around on all fours, searching, searching, for an external conflict. To quote the brilliant and humble Joanna Bourne, “Liking, attraction, and respect pull them together. Something real, substantial, and interesting must push them apart.”

jack-683x1024If the universe is kind, the external conflict reveals itself in a flash of insight—the universe is seldom kind. I impose on friends, I talk to myself, I toss away scenes, I mutter profanities and plan trips to Scotland, and eventually, I will see the tail of an external conflict peeking out at me from under a pile of clean laundry.

By then, I’ve often gotten a handle on the main characters’ defining traumas, and that sheds light on how to write the big black moment.

Creating a rough draft usually takes from eight to ten weeks, and then it’s on to polishing, polishing, polishing. I’m awful about talking heads/white room syndrome, echoes, oh, my sins are legion…. At some point, the manuscript has to go into cold storage while I work on other stuff, then it gets another buffing and goes into production.

I try to keep at least two, more often three projects going at once, so that if any one of them needs a rest, I can forge ahead on the others. I am happier working like this, and it seems to result in the most progress overall.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

GB. That’s a big question. My life experiences include being the sixth out of seven children in an academic family. I had to learn to use words early and well if I wanted to be noticed. I also had to learn to entertain myself, hence books and imaginative play. I’m a child welfare attorney, single mom, horse girl, animal lover, former musician, and I have a master’s degree in conflict transformation. It all goes in the pot, as does my belief in the power of loving and being loved.

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

GB. I’m toying with a historical mystery series, mostly because I love to read them.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

G.B. One of the quotes I keep handy, because our business can be very unfair and daunting, is from Stephen King: “If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.” Words to write by! 
Did you miss Part I, II of this wonderful Interview? Click here

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

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