1. Who’s your favorite author, and why?
Asking an avid reader to name one favorite author is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. There are so many authors I love, and they all taught me something about writing. But the one that sticks out for me is Emily Brontë. Wuthering Heights is an amazing novel. Every word—even the names— she selected to convey the proper mood for the scenes, and Brontë made every line a poem. I’m not that skilled and I probably never will be, but I try to follow her example in choosing words that enhance the mood I want to convey.
2. If you could have a conversation with one of the characters in your most-recently released novel, which one would it be and why?
I would pick Seth Fortner from Ghostwriter. He was a man both haunted and haunting, terribly damaged by his experiences in WWI, but as Sara says in the novel, he had a sweet poet’s soul.
3. Where do you get the ideas and inspiration for your characters personalities?
They seem to grow organically. A story begins in my mind with the simple question, “What if…?” As the story develops, so do the characters who tell it. They start as faint outlines, but as I get to know them, they seem to become people with a mind of their own, who sometimes steer the story in a different direction than I intended. And most of the time, they’re right.
4. What is the best thing (in your opinion) about being a writer?
Sharing with others these characters who have lived in my mind for so many years. There’s no greater reward than seeing people love the characters I’ve created.
5. How did you find your agent/publisher?
They found me, actually. I was writing fanfiction, having made the startling discovery that other people re-write books and movies, too and there are massive online communities dedicated to it. One of my stories became popular and that brought me to the publisher’s attention. They contacted me and asked if I’d ever considered writing a novel.
I’d never thought being published was a possibility. I thought that only happened by sending out hundreds of manuscripts and facing the inevitable rejection. I’m not bold enough or thick-skinned enough for that, and I was content with just letting my stories out “into the wild.” And then that email came and everything changed for me.
6. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?
I used to correspond with a published author and she gave me the best advice I’ve been given. She told me that every scene, every line, every word must drive the plot forward, or reveal something important about the characters. If it can be cut without affecting the story line, you should delete it.
This is difficult, to say the least. Writers tend to be in love with their own words, which is great because that passion shines through to the reader. But we have to look at our own work with a critical eye. However beautifully written, a scene that doesn’t drive the plot forward is dead weight.
In Ghostwriter, I had a long scene about the anarchist bombings of 1919. I really liked it, but it didn’t survive the first round of edits. I tried to make excuses for it, saying it added historical detail necessary for the reader to understand the time period. I finally faced up to the fact that it didn’t really advance the plot; in fact, it slowed it down. I could convey the necessary information in just a couple of lines.
Stephen King calls it “killing your darlings.” And that’s what it feels like, sometimes, but it’s necessary.
7. Biggest mistake you’ve made as an author?
“Show, don’t tell.” It’s something that I’m working hard to learn. With every book, I find a new area where I need to improve. Harsh reviews may sting, but there’s often valuable insights into where your work can be improved.
8. What would the lead character of your latest novel want for Christmas?
Justin Thatcher is the lead character in my latest novel, The End of All Things, a romance set in a post-apocalyptic world. He’s very practical, so he’d probably ask for a gun or canned foods.
9. Favorite Christmas music?
Carol of the Bells is my favorite Christmas song and my favorite version of it is Christmas in Sarajevo by the Trans-Siberian orchestra. Every time I hear it, It gives me chills.
10. What was the best gift you ever received?
Gift cards for book stores. It’s like giving me the universe in one small package. It gives me travel to another time and place, new “friends” I’ll meet in the pages of a novel, new ideas or new perspectives, and maybe —just maybe— what I read will spark that question “What if…?” and my imagination will catch fire with a new idea for a story of my own.
The Author to Author Blog Hop is hosting a giveaway for a prize package of eBooks from our contributing authors. Enter below, and the winner will be notified by e-mail. You have a chance to enter every day on any of the participating authors’ blogs – so keep checking back. (Note: eBooks labeled 18+ will not be awarded to a winner under the age of 18.)
The Author to Author Blog Hop Giveaway Prize Package includes:
Legacy of a Dreamer by Allie Jean (16+)
Lessons Learned by Sydney Logan (16+)
Ghostwriter by Lissa Bryan (16+)
Behind Closed Doors by Sherri Hayes (16+)
Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever by L.V. Lewis (18+)
Riverbend by Andrea Goodson
Serial Summer by Angel Lawson (18+)
MORE by T.M. Franklin
Valerie, Daughter of the Dragon by Robert S. Fuller, Jr.
Ghosts of our Pasts by N.K. Smith
My Only by N.K. Smith
Damaged Goods by Alexandra Allred
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