Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Interview with Diane O'Key

Welcome to the Love Romances & More Reviews blog, Diane. Please make yourself at home and relax with us.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Dawn.

To get us started can you tell us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
My agent is currently shopping a short, sassy-sweet contemporary romance set in the NC Blue Ridge Mountains.   I’m reworking another 11th Century English-set romance (major alpha hero) and hoping to complete its companion story  (beta/alpha hero, Druid heroine) sometime within the next decade LOL

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
Much too long. I’m not fast, and life’s more complicated right now…as I’m sure it is for a lot of us… than I’d like it to be. But to answer your question: long single title, edited and re-re-edited <g>, about a year.

What is your writing routine once you start a book?
Wish I had one. Actually, once I get into the story, I try to write 3-4 hours a day. Not always possible, but as they say, the only way to get it done is to put your butt in the chair and write! I often leave a scene half-finished, go back to it the next day and read it through. Edit, add, delete, then continue on. It gives me a ‘starting point’ from which to move forward.

Among your own books, have you a favorite?  A favorite character that you enjoy writing or reading about?
Cort, my hero in CHERISH THE KNIGHT, grabbed me instantly. As soon as we ‘met,’ I loved him. What can I say? Something about Viking men and Norse mythology that fascinates me J

Which of your books has been the easiest to write?  The hardest?  The most fun? 
Easiest: Beyond Words, the short contemporary currently with my agent. Contemporaries are so much easier to write, at least for me. Less research, and dialogue and word choices/phrases flow because you don’t have to worry about mistakes in word usage or anachronisms. If you want to say, “Kick butt,” you can. Doesn’t work in historicals...

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
Characters. Absolutely characters! My stories and those I generally love are character-driven. While I know general locale and time period, everything flows from my characters. In CHERISH THE KNIGHT, Cort literally popped into my head, full-blown. I instantly knew his first name. His last name came later…and for good reason. Sorry, to tell why would be a spoiler.  But the moment he appeared, I thought, “Well, aren’t you pretty?” <g> Then the heroine, Alexis, entered…and we were off and running. J

What part of a book has been the easiest to write?  The hardest?
Once the characters click, dialogue comes fairly easily most of the time. I do try to make sure it moves the plot, sets the tone for the characters’ relationships and conflicts, balances light or dry humor with poignancy, sexual tension, tenderness, or confrontation.
The hardest is layering in all the necessary description and detail without bogging down the storyline or action. The balance of backstory…just enough…with the present, while keeping the reader engaged.

What are the elements of a great romance for you?
Oh, wow. You’re making me think LOL. A lot, for me, depends—surprise--on the characters. I don’t have to ‘like’ them right off as long as I understand what motivates them. But they have to make me care, to want to learn more about them. Sometimes I like gentle, sensitive—males, especially; sometimes I like hard, edgy. All subgenres of romance appeal to me.
Plot and conflicts are either one of my pet peeves or my greatest pleasures. Give me original, fresh, unique, unexpected. Twists and turns. Make me laugh, cry, sigh. Other than poor writing, nothing has me closing a book faster than the same-old same-old. Or a conflict that could be resolved simply by talking out the problem or misunderstanding.
A great romance needs to suck me in emotionally, not just on a sexual level. I want story and substance, a tug-at-my-heart emotional connection. Angst and flaws, justifiable mistrust and/or anger, and vulnerabilities. Love needs to ‘grow,’ not hit me over the head. Be realistic, overcome obstacles, accept imperfections. And, of course, the HEA (Happily Ever After) is a given.

What is the hardest/the easiest part of writing for you?
The hardest is finding time, balancing the demands of social media and promotion with uninterrupted writing time.
The easiest is losing myself in ‘my world,’ living and breathing my characters’ thoughts, actions, and emotions. 

Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
They hijack me! More often than not, anyway. I hear them talking, saying things I never planned. And that often adds an element I hadn’t expected or takes me in a direction I hadn’t anticipated—which can be frustrating or fun. Sometimes, I have to rein them in; sometimes, I let them run. Either way, it’s fun and challenging.

What are some of your favorite things or hobbies to do?
Reading, of course, is one of my greatest pleasures. And I cherish every year I spent as a high school English teacher; my memories and students are priceless.  Now, while I still tutor, I also have time to craft jewelry, custom bookmarks, and home/office beaded decorations. It’s relaxing and therapeutic…and cheaper than psychiatric sessions J. I cook because I have a husband who expects to eat <g>, though he’s not picky, thank heavens—but I love to bake. Spending time on the lake at our Upstate South Carolina home is heaven. Music is one of my passions. If I had to choose between it and TV—music, hands down. And travel. I love, love, love to travel!

If you could go anywhere in the world to write, where would it be and why?
England’s Lake District. We spent some time there on a special anniversary trip several years ago, and it ‘spoke’ to me: the natural beauty, the ambience, the people. I could happily have stayed there. J

If you could collaborate with one author who would it be?
There are so many I admire, both historical and contemporary, but I’d have to choose Nora Roberts. I think she’s amazing. What I’d really like to do is spend an hour in her head, see how her mind works, how she crafts such incredible characters and stories. Don’t know how she’d feel about that, but I can dream LOL. 

What books are currently on your nightstand or e-reader that you are itching to read?
Kait Ballenger’s UNDERGROUND SERIES, Jaime Rush’s new HIDDEN SERIES, Margaret Mallory’s THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS SERIES, Monica McCarty’s HIGHLAND GUARD SERIES, and J.D Robb’s CALCULATED IN DEATH. See, paranormal, futuristic/contemporary, and historical <g>

Anything you would like to add? 
Again, Dawn, thank you and the LRC so much for opening up your ‘home’ to me today.

I love to hear from readers! Honest comments, criticisms, accolades are always welcome.
CHERISH THE KNIGHT available as both print and ebook:

Cherish the Knight
Available as both print and ebook:

Ambushed as he approaches the English estate promised him by William the Conqueror, Lord Cort Dornogard dares trust no one...least of all the spirited Gaelic healer, Alexis Fallon, who fascinates even as she defies him.

The magnificent Norse warrior threatens both Alexis’ heart and cherished autonomy, for she harbors a secret about the ambush she cannot reveal. Honesty will cost her her freedom. But silence may cost her far more.
Cort harbors a damning secret of his own—one guaranteed to foment rebellion among his new subjects. Escalating attacks and accidents on the estate confirm that fear. His foes, both English and Norman, will exploit what he hides to destroy him, his dreams, and the woman he’s grown to love.
Snared in a web of castle intrigue, passion, and betrayal, Cort and Lexi are far more than either suspects. And if they do not learn to trust, their enemies will destroy them both. Will they discover too late that truth is a double-edged sword? 

About the Author
             Diane O’Key, raised on the Jersey Shore and married to her high-school sweetheart, now divides her time between their homes in Southwest Florida and we’d-rather-be-on-the-lake-in-South Carolina. Though she has so many wonderful friends in both areas, it’s difficult to choose…
            She cherishes her years as a former high school English teacher, the ongoing contact with colleagues and her now-grown students. She loves words and says her mother told her she thinks she was about six months old when she started reading. Not quite, though it does seem like forever.
            Diane values time with family and friends and enjoys the water, making custom jewelry, bookmarks, crafts, and baking. She writes historical and contemporary romance and is represented by Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency.

GIVEAWAY: Anyone who comments on the blog itself, thru the author's writing loops, FB know s/he is eligible for a signed copy (US/Canada only due to postage rates) of the book or a handmade, one-of-a-kind beaded leather bookmark--winner's choice.


Kathryn Freeman said...

Lovely interview, Diane. Your writing routine made me smile - very similar to mine (just sit down and write, woman!). I agree with your statement about finding contemporary romance easier to write - that's my genre - I really admire those who write historicals though. All that research! Finally I laughed when you talked about the Lake District. I'm English and was there only a few weeks ago, trying to climb our highest mountain there. We trudged for hours in pouring rain and gave up before even seeing the mountain! But maybe writing in a cosy cottage in front of an open fire would work well! Good luck with your book.

Jessica Lemmon said...

A "sassy-sweet contemporary romance"? Sounds great! :)

Carl P said...

Great interview Diane. Very good insight on the reality of the writing process. I guess that's how it goes when you choose a profession that's largely built upon sitting around and making stuff up! :-)

- Carl Prude

jean harrington said...

Diane, Loved your interview. Your answers are so insightful and so you!

Cecy said...

I read Cherish the Knight and absolutely loved it. So beautifully written!

Patricia Bradley said...

Great interview. Loved getting to know Diane. Know her pain about writing slow. :-)

Tonya Kuper said...

Cort sounds like my kind of hero. :) I had no idea you wrote a short contemporary, Diane. Awesome! And, I agree. I haven't written a historical, but I think they would be challenging in so many ways. Great interview!

Julie Ann Walker said...

Woot! Can't wait until the next one. Write faster, woman! (I bet you get tired of hearing that. *wink*)

Jaime Rush said...

Great interview, and loved the book! It really took me into the past with some fascinating characters.

kbetha said...

Terrific interview, terrific book!

Scrappy Diva said...

Great to hear we may be enjoying a new novel from you soon, Diane. Thanks for sharing with your fans!

Patty Campbell said...

Late to the party, Diane, but I wanted to stop in and say hello. I read CtK and loved it. I'm looking forward to your contemporary when it finds a home. It's true about characters hijacking the book, but it is lots of fun. Congratulations on a funny and informative interview.

Jen J. Danna said...

Great interview, Diane. And I know what you mean about it taking longer than you'd like to write a book when life is complicated. Oy! ;) But it's all about great quality, so a good book takes as long as it takes.

Barbara said...

Great interview, Diane. Love finding another author whose writes medieval stories. I can identify with writing 'slow' and catching from the last writing session before starting the next. It gets me back in the feel of the story and the era. I'm looking forward to reading yours. Barb Bettis

Kathryn Knight said...

Great interview! Cherish the Knight sounds fantastic!

TJ Shaw said...

Truly enjoyed your interview, Diane. Nice to hear that finding the time to write is a concern for you too.

Congrats on Cherish the Knight, sounds like a great read! :)

BGillilan said...

Great Interview!
I really enjoyed seeing how you write.
Cherish the Night sounds great and I look forward to reading it one day.

LaVerne Clark said...

What a great interview, Diane! Us Kiwi's are great travellers too, and so I've been tempted by your description of the Lake District in England. Its just a pity most places are so far away from us at the bottom of the world! :)
I admire you with the research and time spent writing historical novels. I'm afraid I'm too impatient for that, but I LOVE to read them!
All the very best with the story you've got out in the wilds with your agent!

Zoe Forward said...

That was a great interview. The book sounds great. I completely understand how hard it is to find the the time to write!

Diane O'Key said...

Thanks so, so much to all of you for stopping by and leaving such lovely comments! Heartfelt gratitude to those who've read CHERISH THE KNIGHT and 'loved it' and/or left other very kind and complimentary words. Your encouragement means more than you know, and I truly appreciate it. To those who haven't yet read it, hope you will :-)
Again, thank you, thank you for your time, interest...and most of all, for making me smile--BIG.
Will post winner later today or tomorrow morning. Just FYI, you're ALL winners in my eyes!