Jeannine Van Eperen currently lives in the state of her birth, Wisconsin, but has lived mostly in the southwest and still calls New Mexico home. She has a son, Daniel McGrew, and a step-son, Raymond Van Eperen and grandchildren. She loves travel, and used to fly her own Cessna. Her favorite sport is snow skiing. She enjoys reading, needlework, and walking her small dog, Happy.
1) I see this is your first book for Wings. Tell us about it.
Memory and Desire is about a young man’s desire to find himself. He was raised in poverty on a Caribbean island that caters to the wealthy. At age sixteen he is discovered by an American actress who tells him she can make him a star. He can have the American dream, or is it a nightmare?
2) Do you write in more than one genre? If so, do you find it hard to switch genres and can you write in each simultaneously? Which genre is your favourite?
I write in various genres: contemporary, paranormal and historical romance; mainstream general literature; historical literature; and mystery. I don’t find it difficult to switch. I think what I write depends on the mood I’m in when I begin a story. Very often I have no idea where the germ of an idea will lead me. Some of my stories are sweet romances and others are sexy and edgy. I really don’t have a favorite type, and I like variety in almost every aspect of life, so that must be why I chose to write in various categories. I think I’d get bored if I wrote the same type of story time and time again.
3) Which phase of writing a book is easiest for you? The most difficult?
That’s a hard question because I enjoy all aspects of writing, even the re-writing and editing. I guess I enjoy the process so much I don’t dread any of it.
4) What’s more enjoyable for you? Creating heroes or villains? Action scenes or your book’s introspective moments? Dialogue or passages of description?
I must say that I do enjoy writing dialogue, and often do that first and then go back and put in more description. At least when I first began writing, I did it that way. I dislike books with pages and pages and pages of descriptions and little action and dialogue.
Villains are fun because I can make them do and say things I would never do or say. In my upcoming Wings book According to the Rules, the hero is an anti-hero and the main female character is certainly not a heroine in the ordinary sense of the word. That book I believe will be published in September.
5) How would you describe the hero in this book? How would you describe your heroine?
The hero is a young man who because of circumstances beyond his control is confused and is trying to find himself. He is also incredibly handsome, talented and charismatic. The heroine is talented, an attractive, typical American girl. She knows what she wants in life. There are several women involved in the life of the hero, but one who is truly special. The story has a romance or two in it, but it isn’t written as a romance, it’s mainstream general literature.
6) Do your own hobbies and passions ever sneak in and become those of your character?
I suppose they sometimes do. In another book, I have a character who is a pilot and I hold a private pilot’s license. I sometimes have my characters downhill snow ski, a sport I love. They often like the same type of music I like, but there are many characters that like nothing I like. I have books coming out from Wings that have a ballet background, and I studied ballet and use my knowledge in my work. I think it is more that I use things I know about and that I can write about with certainty.
7) What are you at work on now? How do you feel about writing? Any hints for getting over rough spots?
I’ve been so busy with editing and getting several books ready for Wings and other publishers that I’ve had to put new projects on the back burner, but I do have about three chapters on a new work that will be a historical taking place in Cornwall, England. I saw this grey mansion on a cliff above the sea and it set off a story in my head. I hope to see it through some time this year. Writing is my passion. It is something I have to do. My only hint as to getting over rough spots is to persevere. One may have to change something in the story but eventually it will work out.
8) Who are your favourite writers? Who are your favorite characters in literature?
My favourite writer, and I have a few others, is Norah Lofts, a wonderful English writer who did historicals, contemporaries, mysteries and non-fiction. Most of my favorites write a lot of history, especially British history. Susan Howatch, too, tops my list. I also enjoy Colleen McCulloch, Ayn Rand, Nelson De Mille, John Grisham, Karen Kijewski, Robert Crais, Sharon Anton, Kenneth Follett, Thomas Costain, Kenneth Roberts. I think my list is getting too long. Characters are harder to pick, so I won’t.
9) If you could spend time with any literary character, even one of your own, who would it be and why?
Gee, I’m in love with most of my heroes so that is a difficult decision. I’ll opt for another. Maybe Amber of Forever Amber. She had a diverse and exciting life during in interesting period in history and as I recall the story she was embarking on another quest to the New World as the book ended. That gal would have to have many interesting stories to tell.
10) Do you belong to any writer’s groups? What’s your TBR pile like?
I’m a member of South West Writers, RWA, Land of Enchantment Romance Authors, EPIC and a past member of WisRWA.
My TBR pile is huge with a lot of less known authors than I mentioned above. In my spare time I do reviews so those books seem to go to the head of the pile. I’m reading Waking Walt to be followed by The Acts of Judas and there are a lot of Wings books waiting for my attention, too. I keep reading the Wings Readers Group and there are some wonderful stories on the TBR from there.
11) What advice would you give hopeful writers?
Keep writing. Don’t let rejections get your down. Get the whole story down and then go back and polish it to perfection.
12) How do you feel about getting reviewed?
I love to be reviewed. I know not everyone will like my work, but many will, and I can always learn something from the good and the bad. Naturally, I prefer the good and so far my reviewers have been kind. From experience I know of some run-away best sellers that I haven’t liked but others have praised and visa versa, so it is all a matter of personal taste.
1) What started you writing fiction?
I began writing fiction around eighth grade. I wanted to be able to do better than my sister. I’m not sure I succeeded, but I’m published in fiction and she isn’t. Once I started writing fiction, I couldn’t stop. Writing is part of me.
2) Tell me about your currently published book from Wings ePress.
By currently published I imagine you mean the one that’s coming out now, According To The Rules, which is my second from Wings. It is the story of a premier danseur with the Paris Opera Ballet during the early 1950s. The anti-hero seduces an underage dancer, and his carefree existence begins to crumble.
3) What gave you your idea for it?
I studied ballet and planned to pursue it as a career. I grew too tall, but I have always loved the dance. Some stage mothers encourage their children to believe that their teachers are all-knowing and not to be questioned. This is part of the basis of the plot.
4) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
First drafts go fast for me, probably about three or four months.
5) How long did it take to write the revisions?
Revisions can take a lifetime, if the writer lets them.
6) In what genre do you write and why?
I write in various genres. A story gets in my mind and takes its course, sometimes contemporary and sometimes historical.
7) Do you prefer writing historicals or contemporaries?
I have no preference. I love history so research is fun.
8) What, if any, is your daily writing routine?
Now that I am no longer employed, I write whenever I feel like it. If I’m in the midst of something new I can start in the morning and write all day. When I write I’m in another world and never am bothered by my son’s drumming or his band practicing in our living room.
9) What kind of characters interest you enough to write about them?
If you read my books, you’ll see all kinds from the licentious hero of According To The Rules, to a troubled, confused youth of today, to a strong, good woman who is set on bringing religion to a mining town in the 1890s Arizona Territory.
10) How do you feel about writing love scenes?
What’s not to like about a good love scene? Love makes the world go ’round, but there is love and lust and my books have both.
11) Are there outside problems, social or otherwise, that creep into your stories?
I’m sure there must be, but I’m not out to change the world, just entertain.
12) Are there some topics that are close to your heart right at the moment?
Not that I’m aware of at this time.
13) What else have you published?
Memory And Desire from Wings is one of my favorite stories; it is mainstream, contemporary, the story of a young rock star, who drops out and wonders what his life was like before he was propelled into the world of a rock singer, then what happens when he leaves that life. Love And All That Jazz and Hearts In ¾ Time are contemporary romances. Trail To Bliss is an historical romance set in Arizona Territory in the 1890s, Golden-Rod, is a contemporary paranormal romance set in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Albuquerque is a mainstream novel set, guess where? And The French Physician is a humorous historical set in the early 1800s in France and England. Some of my books are sexy and some are sweet.
14) Are you planning to switch to writing other genres in the future?
As I said, I write in various genres. According To The Rules leads into three other books that are being published by Wings: Children Of St. Yves, Lila’s Protégé and Before The Star Fades. The background moves from ballet, though characters in Children Of St. Yves, who are members of the Paris Opera Ballet. The main characters of the first story are secondary characters in the next. Also, the settings change from France to the U.S.A. Wings will also be publishing Daughter Of Spain next year--a historical adventure-romance set in early 1600s in Spain and New Mexico.
15) Do you have several favorite authors who have influenced your writing?
Favorite authors, yes, but I can’t say they influenced my writing. Susan Howatch, Anya Seton, Ken Follette, Norah Lofts, Thomas Costain--are my all time favorites. I read more contemporary writers but won’t mention them now. There are just too many!
16) What projects do you have in the works?
Plus those noted above, I have three others I’m working on. Two are historical and one is a contemporary.
17) Does your recreational reading come from the genre in which you normally write or is it different?
Yes and no.
18) If so, which ones?
I read a little of everything. I’m not into sci-fi, but I read it occasionally. I like mysteries, suspense. I love Colleen McCulloch’s historical series set in Rome. I finished the last one she said she’ll be doing, so have to look for something else. I enjoy a good romance be it historical or contemporary.
19) What advice do you have for budding authors of any genre?
Write, write and keep writing.
Perhaps, because it has a little something of everything in the story. The children in this book go on to lead interesting lives even though they’ve been raised in poverty at an orphan home in a tiny village in France. One girl rises to fame in the ballet due to hard work and drive, another, her best friend, uses her beauty and sex to achieve the same goal. There is also a story of undying and eternal love, and a shroud of mystery surrounds a blind boy who arrives at the St. Yves Orphan Home one day with no memory of his past.
2) I noticed from one of your previous interviews that you even enjoy the editing process. Can you share with prospective authors what mistakes you made as a new writer that you no longer make as a seasoned veteran?
I’m not sure I don’t make the same mistakes, Ginger, but I do try to correct them. My editor can tell you how many times I must change using “and then” when writing, but I’m getting better. I work and work at not ending sentences with a preposition, but find that I still do that at times. In dialogue, a writer is allowed that lapse as Americans tend to speak in that manner, but it is not good grammar to do so in narrative. What I now do when I write is go over the last pages I’ve written and edit them before moving on with the story. Not only do I catch typos and mistakes in language but doing this takes me back to the mood of the story.
3) When you are deciding your genre, do your characters decide for you?
I’ll have to give you a sometimes on that. Usually I know before I begin if I will be writing a mainstream, romance, historical or a combination thereof; that said, I wrote a paranormal romance without knowing that was what it was until I finished the book. Then I told my friends at my RWA chapter, Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA) about the story, and they informed me I had written a shape-shifter paranormal romance. I just thought Golden-Rod was weird and wondered why I had written such a strange book. So, in that instance the characters did lead me.
Also, in Children of St. Yves the heroine Jean-Marie just started talking to me, telling me she wanted this story. I recall driving with my husband one day near Peoria, Illinois, when this little French girl began her story. I had to grab some paper and a pencil quickly and started writing. The story begins in the mid 1940s, shortly after World War II.
4) What prompted you to seek Internet publishing?
I believe it is the coming thing, not that we won’t still have libraries and regular books, but since children are now growing up with computers and five-year-olds are more adept with them than I, I must believe that in many cases, ebooks will replace most print books. I can’t understand why all schools don’t switch to giving students ebookreaders and just load the texts into them. It would save a lot of back problems among the younger generations. I’m sure I recently read that at least one school district was trying out that plan. I was pleased to see that someone had the same idea I had.
5) If you had it to do over, would you go the same route or would you seek a literary agent and try to "bigger and better" results?
I have some books published by print publishers. As you are probably aware getting a book published by a big New York publisher is as hard as getting to be a star in movies. One must have their book hit an editor’s desk or agent’s desk at just the right time. I have had editors and agents tell me that they love my writing and the plots, but that they don’t think the book will sell. Funny, but that’s just what they told Ayn Rand about Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Editors and agents are rarely willing to take chances on an unknown writer. Perhaps the story doesn’t have the requisite three sex scenes or the book is set in 1946 and they are only interested in those set in 2003; and places like Harlequin will not consider a story where the hero is in the arts, unless the writer is one of their big names. At this stage, I am happy to have the opportunity to let the populace choose to read a book that isn’t done on a prescribed formula. Wings gives me this chance to write what I want to write, and hopefully, I’ll find my niche and audience. I do have some very faithful readers.
6) What were some of your most disappointing moments after the release of your first book?
I didn’t have any disappointing moments with the first. My first books The French Physician and Albuquerque came out within a few months of each other. Albuquerque has a banking background set in Albuquerque. I had worked at Albuquerque banks and knew a lot of people in that industry. I sent a mailing to every bank worker I could think of, and they all bought the book, I suppose, thinking they’d see themselves. However the book is complete fiction, although my husband met a man who told him he knew exactly who I wrote about. He mentioned the name and I had never heard of that individual. People will see what they want to see. With those books I also received publicity in the newspapers, was interviewed on the radio and received a review in “West Coast Review of Books”. It’s been downhill from there. I have still been able to garner some newspaper articles and appear at book signings from time to time. Now, disappointments include not being able to get my print books into some bookstores.
7) Do you have problems promoting yourself? What are some of the avenues you've used and do they work?
I answered a bit of this already. Mostly, now I send out mailings via snail mail and on the Internet. With so many complaining of spam, myself included, I only send e-mail notices to those I know and to a listing I have of people I’m not personally acquainted with that have indicated they’d like to received notices from time to time. If I manage to have a book signing, I let the newspapers know. When I have time, I post on several yahoo group listings, and of course, I make the time for this when I have a new book out. I sometimes find that with writing, I can’t afford to take too much time reading messages on the group lists every day. My problem with promoting is that I’m not the type of person who easily pushes oneself into the spotlight, even though I have a theatrical background. To speak before people, I need to pretend I am someone else. In other words, I’m acting. I am or have been a member of South West Writers, RWA, LERA, WisRWA and EPIC. I belong to a women’s club and let the members know I am a writer; in fact, I do this club’s monthly newsletter. I was newsletter editor for LERA and for a newcomers’ club. I just try to let everyone know that I’m an author and have books for sale and give them the URL of Wings and of my websites. I have three: http//:firstname.lastname@example.org, http//:email@example.com, and http//:www.geocities.com/jve321/Hearts.com I’m having a hard time now keeping them updated.
8) As a cross-genre author, who has penned a historical, I wonder how you conduct your research and what is the most difficult for you?
My historical adventure-romance, Daughter of Spain, will be published by Wings next year. It is set in early 17th century Spain and New Mexico. This is the story of my heart, as I dearly love New Mexico. I researched this book by reading many books on New Mexico, the Conquistadors, and attending lectures on early architecture of New Mexico, and reading books on Spain. Most of my college credits are in history, English history to be precise, though I haven’t completed a story with an historical English background as yet. I have about four chapters completed on a novel set partially in 15th century England, but it keeps getting pushed onto the back burner. Oops, I forget about The French Physician. That book takes place in both England and France, circa 18th century. With such a love of history, I’ve just about done the research already.
9) If you had the opportunity to speak to a "budding" author, what advice would you give them, and what pitfalls would you share?
The budding author should read everything possible in order to have a broad background to bring to her/his writing. I believe reading is the most important part of writing. Don’t let yourself be discouraged. If you have critique partners and they don’t like your work, tough! Let them make suggestions, but don’t believe what they say is gospel. It isn’t. Some people enjoy re-writing someone else’s work. Your book is yours, not theirs. That said, don’t discard everything that is suggested, but keep your voice and your story. If you feel that belonging to a writing group is helpful to you, join one. If you prefer to go it alone, more power to you. Sometimes it’s nice to know that others have the same problems you have. Rejections hurt. They hurt everyone who receives one, and it is helpful to understand that every author gets or has gotten rejections, even the very best. I lectured a group of elementary students last year and said, “To write, read everything you can, even Ketchup bottles.” Some of the students thought that statement funny, but it is true. If it’s printed, read it. Possibly you’ll learn something. Another thing, a writer writes, and re-writes and re-writes. If you want to be a writer, get used to it.
10) There is a lot of talk about the value of obtaining "reviews" of your work. How do you feel about having your own books reviewed and what value, if any, do you get from them?
If a writer wants people to know about her/his book, there must be several reviews. A review can come from another author reading your book and giving his opinion, and hopefully, some kind words or from an Internet site that specializes in reviews. Be advised that not everyone will like your book. It is unfortunate but true. I’ve been blessed with some wonderful reviews, but I have one book out, that people either love or hate. Fortunately for me, I had so many good reviews on that book (not a Wings book), that when I did receive the awful review, I took it with a grain of salt. The strange thing is that book has sold better than some of my other books. People have different tastes. I review books myself, but I usually can find something good within the book; however, I did find one where I could not. Another reviewer might have found that same book heavenly. It is difficult to get a review from your local newspaper, but try it. One can never tell, until one tries. I am not particularly fond of Dan Brown’s books, but he has been on the Best Seller List for over a year with two books. Nor am I a Stephen King fan, but most people love his work. I enjoy reading a Joyce Carol Oates book, but my sister hates her work. A review is one particular person’s opinion on that particular day. In answer to your question, I try to get as many reviews as possible. If I get a good review I’m happy, and if I receive a bad review, I don’t let it ruin my day. I’ve read some wonderful books that have received bad reviews and visa versa.
11) Do you have anything else you would like to share with your readers? With me?
Children of St. Yves is the beginning of a series of books, and if you’ve read According to the Rules you will find that a few of the same characters appear as members of the Paris Opera Ballet in smaller roles. The story of the some of the primary characters in Children of St. Yves continue in Lila’s Protégé and Before the Star Fades. I actually wrote Lila’s Protégé first, but then the characters wanted me to write their earlier story. In this case, the characters led me back to their beginning.
Thank you, Ginger for taking the time to interview me. I hope you and everyone else will give The Children of St. Yves a try and don’t forget Wings has also published two other of my books, Memory and Desire, a contemporary story of a rock star who drops out, and According to the Rules, set from 1936 to 1945, that takes the reader into the world of the ballet. The reader may find the people of ballet very different from what they expect.
1) Jeannine, tell us a bit about yourself.
I currently live in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and most of my life has been spent in the Albuquerque area, but I have lived in many other places. I was born in Beloit, Wisconsin and lived in Chicago before moving to Albuquerque. As a member of the Newcomers Club in Appleton, Wisconsin, I won first place as the person who lived in the most places. Most of those place changes are because of job transfers, and for some years my husband and I worked as motel managers and were transferred a lot, California, Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Wyoming and when I worked as an office manager for MONY I was sent to New York, Washington, Colorado, California, Virginia as well as Albuquerque. My husband's job in international marketing took us to many places in Europe, and for some time we had our own plane and traveled at times just for the fun of it. I attended the University of New Mexico, College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande in Albuquerque and Western States University College of Law in Anaheim, California.
2) You've had a fascinating life with so much travel, ballet training, a family, and even a pilot's license. What drew you to writing fiction?
As a teenager I thought I'd try to do something better than my older sister, Shirley. I remembered the family being so proud of her writing and getting A's on her creative writing, so I decided to try. I don't think I ever did any better than she, but I'm published and she didn't pursue writing. She did write a song, however, and I'm using the lyrics at the beginning of my upcoming historical, Daughter of Spain.
3) Music, dance, and the creative life with its joys and sacrifices fill most of your books. What draws you so to that life, and do you regret leaving it?
I guess sometimes I do regret not continuing. I still love ballet and try to see a ballet every so often. I studied dance for many years, so I believe my ballet sequences and the people involved within my books are true portrayals. I did continue with little theatre work in Albuquerque for a while and sang with a band, but now spend my creative energy on writing. Though I'm not a good musician, I keep a Casio keyboard adjacent to my computer and play badly while things are printing out or downloading.
4) Your new book, Lila’s Protégé is a sequel to Children Of St. Yves, also published by Wings. Tell us something of Children Of St Yves
This is the story of children raised in an orphan home in a tiny fishing village in St. Yves, France (a fictional village). When a small blind boy, Jeffrey, is brought to the orphan home, Jean-Marie Merchand, though eight years of age instinctively knows that she and the boy have loved in another life. A woman who teaches the village children ballet discovers Jean-Marie's dance ability, and arranges for Jean-Marie and Gabrielle, her daughter, to audition for the Paris Opera Ballet's dance school. Jean-Marie and Gabrielle leave St. Yves to attend ballet school in Paris. Jean-Marie uses her talent to succeed, while Gabrielle learns that her beauty and sex can also achieve the same goal. Jean-Marie's love for Jeffrey doesn't diminish, but can their love survive as they mature and Jean-Marie becomes famous?
5) Lila's Protégé is Jeffrey's story. Will we be seeing Jean-Marie in this story, or is that giving away too much of the story?
It won't be giving away too much to say that yes, Jean-Marie appears in Lila's Protégé, but I won't go beyond that now.
6) Lila sounds like what I call a whirlwind character--a character of such strong personality and energy that everyone around her is changed for better or worse. Do you see her as that kind of personality?
She is a strong character, but she does have her weaknesses--money and sex.
7) As I work with my novels, for my own amusement, I often choose a theme song of sorts for a character or for the novel. My Time After Time, for example, shares the name of the pop standard I chose for it. Do you connect any songs or music with the novel, Jeffrey, or Lila?
I wore out two LPs of Vic Damone singing Shangri-La during the writing of this book. I now own several CDs that contain the song, so yes. Shangri-La and the song, Ridin' High, also is a background theme. In fact, Vic Damone's Shangri-La was so inspirational that though I don't know the man, I dedicated this book to him.
8) Will there be another book in the St. Yves series? Tell us about it.
Before The Star Fades is the last in this series and will be out in July. This book is set in northern California, primarily, and continues the life of Jeffrey. There is a reincarnation theme as there is in Children Of St. Yves. If after reading Lila's Protégé you think nothing more can happen to Jeffrey, think again.
I might mention that a few of the minor characters in Children Of St. Yves are also found in According To The Rules as major characters.
Thank you for chatting with me, and I wish you great luck with your career. Is there anything else you'd like to share with readers?
Just that I love to write and I hope readers enjoy my work. If readers would like to comment on them, I'd love to hear from you. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put the title in the subject line.
Interview Jeannine D. Van Eperen
1) What are your publishing credits (include books, dates, publisher)?
Albuquerque and The French Physician, from Alpha Ltd in 1981. Hearts in ¾ Time in 2002; Love and All That Jazz in 2003, from Port Town Publishing. Golden-Rod and Trail to Bliss from Awe-Struck Publishing in 2004 and 2005. Memory and Desire, According to the Rules, Childlren of St. Yves, Lila’s Protégé, Before the Star Fades, Daughter of Spain, Heir to the Good Times, No Escape from Love, A Matter of Blood--all from Wings ePress 2004 through 2008. And Highway to Love, Interlude and Willow Spring from Whiskey Creek Press 2006 and 2007.
2) What is your website?
3) Please provide a short blurb for your most recent/upcoming book.
When Lydia Murley can’t sleep and leaves her Chicago hotel room in search of an aspirin, she finds instead a young man bleeding to death in an elevator.
4) Tell us a bit about your writing, including credits, the genre in which you write, etc.
I don’t stick with one genre. I write general fiction (historical, western, contemporary stories) and romance (contemporary, historical and paranormal). Many of my stories are G-rated, but some are also rather spicy PG-17. I received the FAR-award for 2005: Best from Wings for Memory and Desire, a general mainstream fiction. Daughter of Spain, a historical romance, received the Roberta Clementi award. Thus far I believe I have eighteen published books and several short stories. My Gunfight at Whiskey Gulch, a western, is an Amazon Short. My latest A Matter of Blood is my first mystery.
5) Have you always been a writer? Do you have or have you had another career? If so, how did you make the transition/how do you keep your careers separate?
At present I just write. I have been Director of Publicity for a university, a motel manager, and I also worked in the banking and insurance industries. I think I got more writing done when I worked full-time. I recall in my past coming home from work and writing at the dining room table while my son and his friends set up their band and rehearsed rock and roll songs. I am able to focus and used to work at the computer writing while next to me the television showed whatever my husband had decided to watch. Now, I have my own office and find I’m often playing computer games when I ought to be writing. I never had a problem working and finding time to write after work. When one loves doing something, that person (me) finds the time.
6) How did you get your “big break”?
I’m still waiting for it (LOL).
7) Was there ever a time when you felt like quitting and seriously considered it? If so, how did you overcome it?
Many times. Rejections are quite disheartening, but I have a supportive family and my sister always told me, “Keep writing, it’s better than stealing hubcaps.” After I completed my first book, I found that I couldn’t quit, no matter how much I may have wanted to do so. The stories kept coming and I had to get them down. I had to write whether I got published or not.
8) Why do you write in your particular sub-genre?
As I noted before, I don’t write in just one genre. I think I’m a dilettante at heart and like to just leap from one thing to another because it all interests me, but I hope I’m not superficial about my writing. The paranormal I wrote, for instance, I had no idea I had written one until someone told me that is what it is. I just write.
9) What's your writing schedule like?
I don’t have a schedule. Some days I don’t write at all and others, I’m at my computer all day. It just depends. Writer Nan Ryan once said, “Don’t just write, write, write. Take time out to enjoy life, to garden or paint or just go shopping.” Or words to that effect.
10) What are you working on right now?
I just finished a contemporary romance that I have yet to submit, and I’m working on two others, a general fiction and another romance, both contemporary. I also have another that I work on from time to time that goes from the 1800s to near present.
11) What are the biggest challenges for you as a romance author?
It seems to me that a lot of people want to read erotica, and I don’t think I can write that. I believe in leaving some things to the readers’ imaginations. My Lila’s Protégé, Memory and Desire, According to the Rules and Golden-Rod are about as sexy as I can get. I’m pretty much a G and PG rated author.
12) What are your biggest rewards?
Having someone tell me they have enjoyed my work. Writing isn’t for the money. Few authors get rich writing. It is about the satisfaction of completing a story, and as I said, it is always nice to hear a reader say, “I truly enjoyed your book.”
13. How do you start a new story? Where do ideas come from, do you plot everything out, do you write more around characters than plots?
I rarely know where a story comes from. In most cases the plot just starts to float around in a head for a while before I start writing. With The Children of St. Yves I was riding passenger in our car, my husband driving, when all of a sudden this little French girl popped into my brain and told me she had a story to tell, so I brought out my yellow legal pad that I almost always have with me and began writing.
I don’t plot first, and that’s strange, because some people have told me that I sure know how to plot. If I do, I must do it subconsciously. I guess in answer to your question the characters must come first, but I truly don’t know.
14) What one thing do you wish you had known at the beginning of your writing career?
That I was going to write so many stories. Also, it is just about as hard to become a well-known writer as it is to be a movie star.
15) What is one piece of advice you’d offer a new writer?
Keep writing. Finish the story and then go back and edit. I’ll add one piece of advice that Tony Hillerman gave me. “Don’t pay anyone to read your work.”
If my counting is correct, You Can Bank On It from Wings ePress is number nineteen. Number twenty is coming out in July from another publisher.
I don’t have a favorite, and sometimes when I begin a book, I’m not sure what genre the story will fall into until I’ve done a couple chapters. I do like romance because they always have happy endings, and I must admit there is often a romance layered in the general fiction I write. I guess I’d have to say that with general fiction an author writes truth as he/she sees it, or I’d like to think I do.
Usually I write in solitude. Sometimes I do listen to music, usually classical except for my story Lila’s Protégé. When I wrote that, I constantly listened to recordings of “Shangri-La” especially Vic Damone’s version. That said, I can and have written while my son’s rock band practiced in my living room. I think I go into a trance and don’t hear anything I don’t want to hear.
I read almost everything. I’m not too fond of sci-fi or fantasy, but I read some on occasion. I enjoy historical novels, romance, general fiction, mystery, some non-fiction. As you can tell I spread myself around, I not only can’t write just one genre, I can’t read just one genre. Variety is the spice of life, or so I’m told, isn’t it?
This could be a very long answer. There are so many wonderful writers. In fact you’re one of my favorites. The list here are some I’ve loved for years and my collection of their books sit on my bookshelves: Anya Seton, Susan Howatch, Norah Lofts, Colleen McCulloch, Sharon Kay Penman, Kenneth Roberts, Edmund Rutherford, Ayn Rand, Thomas Costain, Nelson DeMille, Sandra Dallas, John Ehle. I think my very favorite book is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and I was first brought to historical romance by Mary Campbell Barnes years ago. Just a few months ago I was thrilled to meet Robert Crais, who writes a very good suspense story, especially Hostage.
In the 1950s women were very different yet basically the same as today. At that time women were still thought of as secretarial material, not bank managers. They were, on the whole, brought up to believe that the only right choice for a woman was to be a wife and mother. It never seemed to occur to anyone that a woman doing the same job should be paid the same salary as a man. After all, a woman was just marking time until Mr. Right came along. Women were not only confined by girdles, they were hindered by the mores that were held by “right-thinking” people. Hair-coloring was not generally accepted by the populace, now almost everyone does it, male and female alike. It was a different time. Men didn’t wear earrings. I believe in a lot of states tattooing salons were banned. In the early 1950s, in a town like Albuquerque, one could still see signs saying “No Indians served” in taverns. I’ve found that from what I gather it is the mentality of the time that is different. People are people. They may dress differently and adjust their outward appearance but they all want to be liked if not truly loved. I chose it because it is sometimes good for us to look back and perhaps it helps us to understand our parents and grandparents and maybe ourselves better.
Do you mean fictional heroes in my books? If so, it would probably have to be Jeffrey Laurance. He’s in three of my books so I must truly love him. I’d also take along the hero from Love And All That Jazz, a pianist, Tony Fremont. You probably won’t believe this, but I had to go look up his name as this book came out about eight years ago. At any rate, he was rather charming and played a mean piano.
Yes, very much so. My husband, son, my sister, nieces, nephews, as well as my parents when they were alive. Whenever I got discouraged from rejections, my sister kept pushing me along, always encouraging me.
This book doesn’t have just one heroine, and it really doesn’t have a hero. It’s not a romance though at least one character does ride off into the sunset happily married. The most important thing about Julie is that she loves her son more than anything and though she may have been handed some hard times, she hangs in there and is true to herself.
My life’s an open book, can’t think of anything right off.
Dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and then going to see a ballet, perhaps Spartacus, or if the ballet isn’t in town a good older musical like A Chorus Line or Porgy and Bess. A few years back, it would have been dinner and non-stop dancing. I’m not sure if my husband really enjoys the ballet that much, but he takes me and pretends to enjoy it, and that’s love, isn’t it?