Writerly

Whether they’re coming from my family members or the guy at the table next to me in the coffee shop, some writerly questions pop up over and over again. My answers to these ponderables may change with time, but here are my current responses to the FAQ:

Why do you write what you write?

typewriter loveFirst and foremost, I love a good story, but I gravitate toward characters who encounter similar issues in life as I do. I find those issues most often in the women’s fiction and romance genres. With regards to romance, I’m fascinated by the ways love can change us, push us, or completely undo us; to do it right, we often need to reveal parts of ourselves that we might prefer to keep hidden. Creating fictional people who confront the darkest aspects of their character and move toward redemption (or at least acceptance) in the course of a novel or novella — all while running from an external threat and bonding with the love of their life — is a challenge, but I like a challenge almost as much as I like losing myself in a good story.

Where do you get your ideas?

I love, love, love to watch people. It’s a sickness. Or possibly a weird brand of voyeurism. Either way, my writing always starts with the characters. I try to remain open to the little bits of life’s wonder we’re exposed to every day — the yearning described in an anonymous love letter, for example — that plant all sorts of interesting story seeds in my head. What drives a particular character to pursue the forbidden? What scares them most? What do they need to feel complete? Who do they love and why?

What is your writing process?

Depending on the project, I might use any of the tools in my writerly toolbox:  Storyboards, spreadsheets, Scrivener, Write or Die (great for self-prescribed deadlines!). When I get really stuck, I turn to the unmatched skills of my critique partner Joy Adare. And when the first draft is complete, there’s the rewrite process, which I personally find more exciting than the writing process. All of the major & minor elements of the story really gel for me in the second (or sometimes third) draft.

Sounds like a lot of your main characters are British, Scottish or Irish. Why is that?

mapQuite simply, I’m a big Anglophile. Let’s look at the lures thrown before me over the years:  Dr. Who; Austen; Sherlock Holmes; the fascinating peerage system; gorgeous gardens; a preoccupation with tea; an ongoing & apparently nationwide love story with long walks and puppy dogs. And hello? Castles!

I’ve always been fascinated by Anglo Saxon history; the emergence (both positive and negative) of Britannia via war, colonialism and trade; the seemingly endless juxtaposition between the monarchy’s sense of entitlement and the fiery rebellion of native warrior mentalities; and of course, the merits of a good pint enjoyed with fine company and live music. I wrote my honors thesis on the creative, political and personal nuances found in the poetry of Seamus Heaney and William Butler Yeats. I honeymooned in Ireland, have explored England on several occasions, and gave birth to my firstborn while living in Scotland. Last but not least, my father’s family is of Irish descent. With all of this influence, how could I NOT write British, Scottish and Irish characters?

What is “paranormal suspense”?

In my writerly world, I often combine Celtic magic (which puts me squarely in the Paranormal category) and an element of danger or mystery on the part of my main characters (which often puts me in the Suspense category). Above all, of course, there’s the love factor. Hooray for romance!

Where do you turn for writing and publishing advice?

I’m a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and several specialty chapters of Romance Writers of America. I’ve learned a great deal from these organizations, especially when it comes to craft and the business acumen required for career-focused writers. I get invaluable feedback on every aspect of my works in progress from my incredible critique partner, Joy Adare. Finally, I’m learning quite a bit from my fellow 2012 Golden Heart® finalists, The Firebirds, about taking my writing to the next level and the first foray into publishing.