Wednesday, July 11, 2012
When did you first know you were going to write professionally?
I had an inkling that I wanted to write professionally back in the early 80s, even though I was employed part-time then as a R.N. My three-year-old son had just been diagnosed with Legg-Perthes Disease (a non–congenital hip condition). I’d kept a journal throughout the entire ordeal, which eventually ended in major orthopedic surgery for him. Later I composed excerpts from the journal into an article and submitted it to a column in Redbook, naively thinking I’d get it published. I didn’t, of course—but that led to my deciding to turn to another journal instead for inspiration—the journal I’d kept during high school. I started writing YA romance and after finding a professional critique group, attending writers’ conferences, and a lot of hard work, my books started being published.
That's an interesting path. You turned a frightening experience into a creative journey. Good for you! What part of writing do you find the most satisfying?
I love it when an idea or inspiration seems to hit me from out of nowhere and it just “clicks,” or when a scene comes together in an unexpected way. That’s always an ah-ha moment for me!
Ah, yes - inspiration - the ultimate high! What part do you find most difficult?
Time management has always been the most difficult part of my writing. When my children were growing up, there were always family obligations, of course. And now that I’m teaching writing for a long-distance learning program, spending a great deal of time promoting my books, and selling on a fairly regular basis for True Story magazine, I often feel my writing is a juggling act.
That's a common problem for a lot of writers, especially women writers. Congratulations for having mastered the juggling act. What comes first for you? Characters? Story? Setting?
Often a combination of these. For instance, when my family and I were on vacation on an island off Vancouver Island several years ago, we stayed at a seaside lodge with a dock and a marina. The seascape was remote and pristine—a great setting, I thought, for a romantic intrigue story. Also, on several mornings, I noticed a good-looking guy emerge from his sailboat that was docked on the bay and saunter up the hill to the resort. It soon became apparent he was living on his sailboat. I figured he’d serve as a mysterious hero who had fled to the island for any number of intriguing reasons. In that instance, a combination of setting and characters sparked what was eventually to become The Fisherman’s Daughter.
That combination of elements must be one of the reasons your books read so effortlessly. Are your books based on personal experiences or are they completely fiction?
While all of my books are fictious, little bits of “me” shine through from time-to-time. For instance, back in the case of my first published YA romance, Merry Christmas, Marcie, Marcie played the violin, and so did I many moons ago. And while as a child, I loved going with my dad to see the circus, I was never in love with a circus performer. Also, you’ll see my love for cats portrayed in several of my novels. I’ve been a cat-lover ever since (according to my parents), I was old enough to crawl and scooted across the living room floor to pet the family cat. Finally, the “Star Parties” I’ve portrayed in more than one of my books was born from personal experience.
Do you do a lot or research?
That depends on the individual novel, of course. But yes, many of them have required extensive research, everything from interviewing veterinarians, police officers, zoo keepers, State forestry managers to talking with a former circus clown that trained at the Ringling Brothers Clown School in Florida!
I think the best way to give you an idea about this story (and hopefully whet your appetite to read it!) is to share the blurb: Psychology professor Vanessa Paris receives word that her father has disappeared from his fishing boat in Puget Sound and rushes to her childhood home in the San Juan Islands to try to help find him. Tragedy has been no stranger to Vanessa--years ago her mother died and more recently, her brother. The possibility of losing her father now is almost too much to bear.
But when Vanessa arrives at the family owned tourist lodge, she meets Lowell Maxwell, who offers to help her search for her father. Back in high school, Vanessa harbored a secret, unrequited crush on Lowell. Now, he's a tough, jaded cop on leave from L.A., working for her father as a carpenter on a temporary basis, and even more dangerously appealing.
Monday, July 9, 2012
by Carolyn Brown
The RWA Conference is just around the corner and that means the RITA reception is coming up. I’ve got shoes that make my feet look semi-skinny. There’s not a dress in the world that can accomplish that feat but I do have one. I promise I won't embarrass the Avalon authors by wearing bibbed overalls and my gray hair in dog ears.
The schedule for all the RITA stuff arrived via email this past week. It says that I should have a two minute speech prepared in case they call my name to come up there and get the statue for the winning Inspirational Book! My first thought was, Good lord, I’d have to tell everything I know about all my neighbors, friends and enemies if I was expected to talk for two whole minutes. My second was, Good lord, I’ll have to speed up this slow Texas drawl to even thank Ellen, my fans and fellow authors, Husband and especially Lia for going to battle for me to keep the title. The Ladies’ Room—Ellen protested that the title was a bathroom and Avalon is, after all, a wholesome publisher.
I can not explain how excited I am about this honor, folks. And I do appreciate all your support and virtual pats on the back since the announcement was made. Special thanks to Shirley Marks for the awesome roses the day the RITA’s were announced.