For our final week of the “Two Questions With…” blog tour, we’re doing a recap of our answers. So, in case you missed something along the way, here are all my answers.
Week one, I was hosted by the lovely Pat Esden. Stop by Pat’s blog to find out a little more about her in her recap.
Q. Why do you write?
I discovered my love of books very late, we’re talking early 20s—I know, it’s terrible, and you can all throw virtual tomatoes. I’ll wait.
Okay, that’s enough.
No, really. Please stop.
I spent my childhood outdoors, playing pretend and creating my own stories. I was a real water-baby and would splash in the pool for hours, imagining a world of mermaids and sea creatures. Somehow it never occurred to me that I could put those stories down onto paper. At least not until I found my love of books.
Once I did, it was only natural for me to switch from reading to writing. It happened in a very organic sort of way when an idea hit me on the head, and I just HAD to write it—even if it happened to be about 1am at the time. Of course, this presented a whole new learning curve—actually crafting the words. It took many manuscripts and a lot of words before I found my rhythm. I’m still learning, but writing has become an obsession.
I write because I love stories. I love characters. I love exploring their lives and figuring them out, discovering how they’d react in certain situations. Most of all, I write to purge the characters from my head that demand their stories to be told. I write because I’m essentially still that little girl in the pool, playing with imaginary characters in made-up worlds.
Q. What is the hardest part about writing?
There’s a lot of craft aspects that I think will always be challenging. Starting the first draft of a shiny new idea is daunting, but also thrilling. Often deciding where to begin and end can be tough. Revising can either be great fun or difficult if major re-writes are needed. I’m a pantster (which means I “fly by the seat of my pants”), so sometimes I write myself into a sticky situation I need to fix. Although, since my last manuscript, I’ve begun plotting as much as I can beforehand, and learning how to do that has been interesting, to say the least.
Each book also presents its own set of obstacles. Sometimes that can be the content or the research required for a particular plot or character. Sometimes they can be emotionally draining if you’re tackling a difficult subject. And for me, the absolute hardest part, is getting the emotions on the page.
This is something I struggle with in my day to day life—showing emotions—so I find it particularly difficult to express them in my writing. On top of that, it’s such a vital piece of the puzzle, especially in romance, that you really have to get it right so that readers can relate to your characters and want to read about them. Nobody wants to read about cardboard cut-outs with the emotional range of a fish (no offense fishies!). That would be no fun. It’s something I’m constantly trying to get better at, and will likely continue far into the future.
Week two, my writing bestie—Janet Walden-West—and I shared coffee and cheesecake. Check out Janet’s blog here to learn all about my writerly soul mate.
Q. What does a typical writing day look like? Any pre-writing rituals?
Oh, man. Typical days are a thing of the past for me. I’ve gone through some personal life upheavals in the last year, so now I scrape together any time I can. Usually that means trying to block myself off from the rest of the world, and the interruptions, because I need a fair bit of peace and quiet to get in the writing zone.
I don’t have any real rituals, apart from checking Twitter far too often when the words are scarce, but I always have a cup of coffee next to me. Said coffee used to be in my trusty mug, the mug that’s been by my side for several years and seen me through at least six novels, but I recently broke it, by accident of course. And yes, this was pretty tragic because I still haven’t found a replacement, and the coffee never tastes quite right.
Also, as any cat owner will tell you, writing often involves negotiating with my rescue tabby, Clio (named after the Greek Muse of history, but I always say she’s more like a Fury because she’s so feisty) for space on my keyboard. Usually this results in her sulking on the corner of my desk, and at least one of my hands bleeding.
Q. What attracted you to your genre(s)?
I’m such a cliché, but I fell in love with romance after reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I know. It sounds like the cookie-cutter answer, but it’s true. I’d seen the 2005 Joe Wright film version, with Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen, and I wanted more, so I bought the book. Again, I was super late to reading, so this was the first book I’d really read for me, just for fun. And I gobbled it up. I loved it so much, that it was the start of my love of all books. From there, I branched out into paranormal romance, and it was love at first book!
With romance, I love the character development. I love exploring their relationships and seeing the heroine and hero grow. You could say I’m a romantic at heart, because I’m always looking for the pairings in anything I read or watch, no matter if there’s meant to be a romance or not.
Paranormal romance combines my romantic heart and the wild imagination I let fly as a kid. I’ve always been fascinated by fantasy. I adore mythology, folk lore, or new, excitingly unique creatures. I love getting lost in rich world-building. Paranormal romance indulges my love of romance and fantasy in the perfect blend.
I’ve recently discovered my love of romantic suspense, and it’s my new favourite. It combines all the wonderful goodness of romance, while adding an adrenaline kick. I love the dark twists, the grittier characters, the intricate plots, and the touch of danger.
Week three, I spent a bit of time on the awesome Ken Schrader’s blog. Check out Ken’s blog for a full recap of Ken’s answers.
Q. If you could give Past You one piece of advice, what would it be?
Embrace the writing community!
It took a very long time for me to find my perfect critique partners. I tried several different avenues, searching for writers with a similar critique style to me, who were not only wonderful writers who wrote books I was excited to read, but also gave honest, helpful feedback. Last year, I entered Pitch Wars, and it’s been the best way to find my community of writers. I’ve gained wonderful friends and awesome critique partners, writers who are there for me and support me no matter what.
Having a support system in place is extremely important in any situation, but I think writing can be isolating if you don’t embrace the amazing community out there, waiting to welcome you. I know it’s tough if you’re an introvert like me, but those connections can make all the difference in your writing life. I don’t know what I’d do without my writer friends. They mean the world to me.
Q. What is your “Go-to” thing that you treat yourself to when you finish a first draft?
This depends, really. I’ve treated myself to reading a new book, or spending some time on a painting I’ve been putting off (I’ve been known to dabble, but nothing serious), or maybe a little baking time. Most often the treat is to get stuck into a shiny new project or dive into revisions straight away.
However, when I finished drafting my last manuscript, I treated myself to binge re-watching the entire Roswell series. Yes, the 1999 TV series. I loved it as a teen, and I’d been dying to watch it again, despite not being a huge TV person. So, the minute I wrote those final words, I dove into Roswell, and was not disappointed. It was the perfect thing to give my brain a rest, to get lost in something else, something I hadn’t created, and because I’d already seen it as a teen, I sort of knew what was going to happen. It was easy and fun, exactly what I needed after writing an emotionally taxing draft. The best part was that it refuelled my creative well, and I think that’s the ideal “treat” for any writer.
I hope you enjoyed the tour and got to know all of us a little better!