What jobs have you held, and how have they influenced your writing, if at all?
I've held many odd jobs as I helped fund my college education, such as
cafeteria line serving, receptionist, etc. My favorite job was working for the Hilton hotel chain. I went to work at the Midland Hilton right out of college as a hostess cashier, and in eight months I got four raises and two promotions until I was assistant manager of the cafe. I was then transferred (at my request) to the Austin Hilton where I was put on the management track until--I met my husband. He's an engineer, and with my split shift hours we didn't get to see each other much, so I quit and went back to school after we married. I worked on my Masters in Journalism for one semester, but when I got pregnant with my first son, I had to drop out because of morning sickness. My husband had built a computer out of scrap,
and it was sitting in the corner unused, so I wrote Wild Heart Tamed, my first romance, sold it myself at the age of 26, and have been a professional writer since.
How do you imagine up all your characters?
Like all writers, I guess, I have a fertile brain. Ideas can come from the silliest places. I got the idea for Heaven's Rogue, my September debut Millennium release from LoveSpell, while I was on vacation with my family. I wanted to write something a bit more profound than the typical romance, something that reflected what it meant to be human on the dawn of a new millennium, a gift few in human history have ever lived to see. So I thought--what's the best representative of humanity? Michelangelo's David. What if he came to life as the year 2000 dawned? What if he'd been turned to stone for five hundred years because his entire life fell apart back in
1500? Dom's fiancee died of the plague, his parents were murdered, his father disappeared, and he himself had accidentally killed a rich man's son in a brawl, so he was a hunted man. In his despair, he got drunk and cursed God and the angels....and was visited by an angel who severely informed him of the curse he'd in turn endure for his sins. As the new millennium dawned, a virgin's tears would awaken him, and he'd have until the year 2000 to find his last remaining descendant and turn him away from the same wrongful path, or turn back to stone and thus remain so, forever this time. From this simple genesis sprang an entire world of ideas, based on the three heroes introduced in Heaven's Rogue. The second book, Heaven's Hero, due in April 2000, is Nick's story. He's the embittered ex cop who's so suspicious of Dom. Still, out of Nick's love for his brother Ernie, the heroine's best friend, will come another twist of fate: Ernie goes back to the Renaissance to help his friend Honor, and Nick
chases after to save little brother as he's done since they were boys.
There, he meets his own destiny in Isabella, a Joan of Arc type character, and brings her back to the present. He also meets Leonardo da Vinci. In keeping with my theme, the child Nick has with Isabella has her own destiny to fulfill.... The third hero is Rafe, Dom's descendant, an embittered Navy SEAL who's vowed never to kill again. However, he, too, is given a choice by the angel: stay in the present, safe, bored, unhappy, or travel to where he's sorely needed--far into Earth's future, in the next millennium. Here, on
the edge of the stars, he'll meet the descendant of Nick and Isabella--an empath. She's the product of a pacifist society, and her people have no idea how to fight against the ruthless Roman-style conquerers out to subdue them. Our primitive warrior must overcome his own painful past and teach them to fight or watch them die by attrition. And in turn their child will fulfill the destiny foretold by the angel in 1500: he will unite the warring colonies into one peaceful Federation. This one hasn't sold yet, but I have high hopes for it. It will be titled Heaven's Warrior if itsells.
WHEW! See what can happen when you ask an author where she gets her ideas?
What books and authors do YOU like to read?
Too many to list. Right now I'm working on a science thriller, so some of my favorites are books like The Relic, Jurassic Park. My all time favorite thriller is Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter. I enjoy mysteries and some sci-fi and of course have many romance favorites, from old style authors like Georgette Heyer to new ones like Linda Howard and Mary Jo Putney.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
If you want to be a published author, there are four things you MUST do, and pretty much in the following order:
1. READ. Anything, everything, not just novels or romance, but newspapers, magazines, non-fiction. Make it your mission to learn a new fact or new word every day.
2. WRITE. Apply the seat of your pants to a chair and try to turn out a certain number of pages weekly, according to whatever schedule you follow. Even if it's only one page, in a year you'll have a completed historical romance. After you've written it and made it AS GOOD AS YOU CAN, find other aspiring authors and form a critique group. Polish, polish, polish some more. DON'T send it out unless it's professional, no typos, no grammatical errors, something you could show to a stranger on the street and they wouldn't want to put it down.
3. PERSIST. If you're put off by
rejections, you're in the wrong line of work. If an editor is kind enough to give you detailed feedback, seriously consider EVERY WORD. If you get the same criticism from more than one person, you should give serious thought to revising this element--providing it doesn't go against the heart of who you are as a writer (in this area, I confess I have not always followed my own advice because some stories are just too personal).
4. Write from your HEART. A book you'd like to read. Instruct, yes, move, yes, inform, maybe, but above all ENTERTAIN. Fiction writers carry a proud legacy begun by silly Greeks in masks millennia ago, and it's one that will outlive us, and probably outlive the nova someday billions of years from now of our own sun. Writing is not just a craft and an art--I really believe it's an honor. If God gave you a gift too, or even if you have to sweat over every word, use it well. With a moment of gratitude to all the Georgette Heyers before you and all the ones yet to come who may remember YOU with equal fondness.
What is your next book(s), and when is it/they due out?
As mentioned above, Heaven's Hero, April 2000, the sequel to Heaven's Rogue. My current WIP is the second launch book for Dorchester's new Gothic line. I want to do my own take on Hound of the Baskervilles, with a werewolf hero, female Sherlock Holmes and an American heiress heroine. It will have erotic thriller overtones and is tentatively scheduled for Decemer 2000. I'm also working on screenplays and have in fact recently completed Heaven's Rogue in screenplay form. It was my fourth, but probably will not be my last. I write so fast that I can really do one romance, one mainstream and one script yearly.
What attracts you to the paranormal?
Imagination. Heartfelt belief that there are, Virginia, more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of. And a belief in the resonance of the destiny we make every day, act by act and kindness by kindess. We have no limits but our own self-imposed ones.
How much luck have you had in getting published? How long did it take your first book to be published?
I sold it myself to Berkley in less than a year. Wild Heart Tamed won me a nomination from Romantic Times for Best New Historical Romance author. I went on to win three Kiss awards (one for each hero of my fairy tale trilogy) and a Reader's Choice award--Best British Isles historical for The Gentle Beast.
Hopefully that'll be enough. :) Take however much time you need to get it finished, and lotsa luck on your next book!! :-)
Thanks for the interest, and your support of a romance genre that doesn't get as much respect as it deserves. Yet....See, I really am an optimist . Anyone interested, feel free to check out my web site for all my latest career news:
I can also be reached via email from there. Thanks to all who listened and to Sarah.