Welcome Ms. Rock to Love Romances and More, thank you for joining us.
Hi there! Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to visit.
Did you always want to become a writer?
Well, no. It never occurred to me to become a writer when I was younger since that seemed on par with being a rock star! It just didn’t seem like something the average person aspired to. But as I grew up, I realized that real people became writers and that I could, too.
What is the most, and the least interesting fact about writing?
The most interesting fact about writing might be that it can take you to new worlds and totally transport you—just like reading can. The least interesting thing about writing is the endless amount of editing and fine tuning that a polished manuscript requires.
How did you celebrate your first release? What was it like to see your book in a bookstore? Do you have a special ritual for celebrating a book release?
I can’t describe how magical that first sale is! I floated on air from the day the call came to the day I saw my book on the shelves. That was celebration enough. My husband did send me flowers though, which was a wonderful bonus. Seeing the cover art for the first time is just as exciting as seeing it in stores. The day the cover art arrives is always very special and makes a book feel real to me. I don’t have any rituals for when my books come out, but I’m always very happy and I always make sure to spread the word online so that readers know when I have a new book.
How did your family react to fact that you write romance novels? Have your family read your book?
My family is very proud. In fact, when my dad sees anyone reading a romance novel, he usually manages to strike up a conversation so that he can mention his daughter is a romance author. My mother reads all my books.
Most authors are also avid readers. Is this the case with you? If so, who are some of your favorites? Have any influenced your writing?
I love to read and always have. I blame Nancy Drew for my poor eyesight, since I spent many nights reading long after my mom turned the lights out, a flashlight in my hand. Today, some of my favorite authors include Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Teresa Medeiros, and Judith Ivory. I would say the writer with the biggest influence on my writing was Elizabeth Lowell, simply because reading one of her books made me decide I wanted to write a romance.
Do you feel each of your characters live with you as you write? Do their lives sometimes take over a part of your life? Can you name an example? Do you have living role models for your characters?
My characters definitely move in with me while I’m working on their stories. The most persistent ones were the heroines from the Single in South Beach series I wrote and I believe that’s because there were six books in the series so I revisited their world so often they felt like real friends. I don’t model my characters off real life people, but I do take snippets of real people—a habit, a backstory, a special hobby—and piece those characteristics together to make up my characters.
What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
A real world I can fall right into and characters that intrigue me. Beyond that, I don’t mind a fast or slow pace, or lots of other variables. With the compelling world and interesting characters, I’m hooked.
Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
I’ve written so many characters that it’s hard to say. I can say that one of my favorites to write this year was Wulf Geirsson in The Captive. His personality was so apparent to me—very literal, very he-man warrior. I always knew what he would say and how he would react, which is a wonderful trait to have from a writerly perspective. One of my more challenging characters to write would be any continuity character that wasn’t someone of my own creation. I am always more tentative when I write other peoples’ characters into my stories as I want to be true to their nature and that’s tricky when you didn’t dream them up initially.
Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
My writing is more character driven, but I try to balance that tendency out by doing a lot of advance plotting and then questioning myself on the plot much more than I question the characters. I think it’s very natural to let one drive the other… both ways can work very well!
Where do you get the inspirations for your books?
I find inspiration virtually everywhere, from watching couples shop in the supermarket and seeing the way they interact, to hearing about a celebrity break up and trying to imagine what those personalities would be like if they didn’t live in the Hollywood pressure cooker. I’m always thinking about stories.
Do you find it difficult at times to write love scenes?
No. I enjoy writing love scenes as much as any other scene in my book. When I write a romance, I enjoy their special moments!
Do you have a problem with deadlines and have you ever suffered a writers block?
Deadlines instill a healthy sense of do-or-die as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know that I would be half so productive without them, so I respect their value. Writers’ block, on the other hand, I refuse to acknowledge. Whenever I’m having trouble writing, I force myself to write something about my book—even if it’s just an email to a friend explaining my plot problem. By the time I’m done, I’ve usually got some more ideas and my work flows again.
Do you prefer stand-alone books or series (As a reader or a writer) ?
As a reader, I think both have a place—sometimes I want a quick fix without the commitment of a series. Other times, I want to immerse myself in a world for weeks! Therefore, I like writing both as a writer.
If you could change places with one character from your book, who would it be and why?
Hmm... I really fell for my baseball heroes in the Blaze Encounters Sliding Into Home. I would trade place with any of their heroines!
What is your favorite book from the books that you have written so far? Who are your favorite hero and heroine, and why?
It’s a flaw of mine that I can’t choose a favorite of anything—not a food, a song, a painting, anything! My favorites always depend on the mood I’m in. I’ve always had fond memories of my Harlequin Temptation, One Naughty Night because Renzo and Esme were such a fun couple. Actually, I love the Wrong Bed premise for any book and will be releasing another Wrong Bed story this summer with Double Play (Blaze 8/09).
Would you like to give another genre a try?
Always. I love to try new things.
Which book was the hardest to write and which the easiest?
There’s no such thing as an easy book to write, but I recall that “Hidden Obsession” my time travel story for Blaze, went really well because I always knew what would happen next and what the characters would say. That was a great experience. As for the hardest book to write—I have blocked it from my mind.
If you could choose one of your books for a movie, which one would it be and who would you cast?
I would choose one of my books with a suspense thread for a film since that gives a lot of nice action for the big screen. Up Close and Personal might be a good choice, with an ex SEAL hero... maybe Matt Damon in that role? For my heroine, I’d like to see Rachel McAdams.
What do you feel is the most important aspect a new author should remember when writing/creating their own stories? Any advice for aspiring authors?
Personally, I think it’s important to remember that ease in writing comes with time and practice. Believe in yourself and keep putting words on paper! The process gets easier as you dig in and work hard at it.
Have you ever been nervous over reader reaction when a new book come out? How much does reader response mean to you over your books? What do you hope readers get from your books after they read them?
I never feel at ease about a book until readers have it in their hands and say they like it! That’s the best affirmation and the only one that truly matters. I hope that readers stay up late to read my stories because they can’t put them down and I hope my stories give them the sense of having completely escaped from their day to day world.
What season is your favorite and why?
I love the fall for the gorgeous colors, the focus on work and school (both as a professor and formerly as a student, I’ve always looked forward to the start of classes) and the return of football.
What would we find on your bookcase if we looked? What is one of your favorite authors?
My bookshelves are stuffed full, and I have lots of bookcases! I keep a lot of reference material on the Middle Ages, lots of books on writing, and of course, tons of romance. Susan Elizabeth Phillips has a prominent spot on my shelves as well as my friend and critique partner Catherine Mann.
What was the last book you read (e or print) and did you like it?
I recently read Carla Kelly’s The Surgeon’s Lady and loved it.
What makes a good book to you?
Memorable characters that stay with me—characters I can’t forget.
How does reader feedback matter to you?
It matters for so many reasons! I want to know what readers like and don’t like so that I can ensure I’m delivering their favorite kinds of stories. Also, I enjoy sharing feedback with my editors so they can see the kinds of things that readers love, too. If a reader has taken time to write to me about a story, I consider it the best of compliments.
If you could travel through time to visit a special time period or famous person, what or who would it be and why?
I’d want to travel to the Middle Ages and I’d love to meet Eleanor of Aquitaine. In fact, if could be a fly on the wall at her Court of Love at Poitiers (depicted in my book The Knight’s Courtship), I’d be most happy!
What character out of all your books is the closest to your personality?
I actively wrote characters that were close in personality to mine and my husband’s with Tall, Dark and Daring (Harlequin Temptation 10/02). Tessa was a Virgo and her personality mirrored mine. Risk taking Mitch was an Aries and mirrored my husband’s gung-ho personality. Even their names are takeoffs of our middle names. I thought it would be fun to write and it was! The characters weren’t in situations that were at all real to life, but it was definitely our personalities projected onto Tessa and Mitch.
What is your favorite movie of all time? The one where you can watch it and still get affected at the same spots each and every time?
I’d have to put Sense and Sensibility (the Ang Lee version) at the top of my list along with A Room with a View. Both are so well acted, full of great characters and gorgeous settings. Plus, the stories are romantic and fun.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 things would you have with you?
Is sunscreen a given??
What is your favorite way to relax after a hard day working and writing?
Sitting on the porch swing with my husband, chatting about our kids. We also have an outdoor hot tub and I love to hop in there at night and star gaze.
Do you listen to music while you are writing and if so what music is it?
I frequently listen to anything by Loreena McKennitt. I play her all the time while I’m writing. If not Loreena, I’ve got on something classical. My collection of Chopin’s work gets a lot of play.
Big congrats to your latest release, The Captive, can you please tell us something about the book?
With pleasure! The Captive is a Blaze Historical. The Blaze Historical program has included stories by Hope Tarr, Betina Krahn, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Jade Lee and more. I’m so excited to be in such fabulous company! My Viking story set in 885 A.D....
Women should be sweet, mild mannered…docile. Unfortunately, Lady Gwendolyn, a rich Saxon widow, is none of those things.
And Viking warrior Wulf Geirsson wants her desperately! One glimpse of the brazen beauty scrambling over the castle ramparts, and he knows he has to have her. Especially when she takes a tumble and lands at his feet.
But Wulf quickly finds that taking Gwendolyn and keeping her are two different things. And once she decides to engage in a seductive assault of her own, he's the one captivated….
Are you working on anything right now, and can you tell us a teaser about these projects?
I’ve got lots of projects in the works for 2010, including a Harlequin Historical “Undone” called “The Virgin’s Pursuit” that will be available in June. It’s a sexy Scots medieval about an exiled noblewoman determined to have a baby. Then in August, I’ve got a Wrong Bed Blaze coming out called Double Play. It’s set in the same baseball world as Sliding into Home, but it’s the story of the Boston Aces’ manager. I’ve adored the “Wrong Bed” miniseries ever since it began in the Harlequin Temptation line. In fact, two of my three RITA finalist books were “Wrong Beds,” so the line holds a special place in my heart! I hope readers will enjoy Double Play when it arrives in stores this summer.
Danny, thanks so much to you and Loveromances and More for having me! It’s been a treat to visit!
Giveaway: One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of THE CAPTIVE. So stop by and say hello