It’s time for another post from Romance Weekly. Here are the questions for this week, submitted by the ever fabulous Katie O’Connor (I like the name, by the way!)
1. What is the weirdest question you have been asked about writing?
The one that I find most amusing is this one: “Do you write about yourself?”
Um, yeah, because I’m totally a 18th century Scottish laird. Totally.
In a related question, I often get, “Is this you you, or writer you?”
The answer to that question is simple: I am writer me. Just because I refer to my writer persona as my alter ego doesn’t mean that I have another personality living in there. I don’t. I swear it’s not plain old Mary in the morning and wild child Meggan at night, like the split personality sagas from every soap opera from the 1980s. “Look, she has on glasses! It’s Mary, and she’s a librarian by day. But at night, she’ll take off those glasses and take her hair out of the straight-laced bun, and she’s a murderous stripper!”
Um, no. I’m just me. No skeletons in this closet. And no, I’m not a stripper by night. Or by day. Or in any light. Ever. No one needs to see that. After two babies and four hernia surgeries, really, I’m feeling pretty daring if I walk out my door without Spanx on. No, seriously.
2. What was the most exciting thing about your writing career so far?
I suppose it was when I got “the call” from Soul Mate publishing. I’d submitted on a lark, and because the publisher promised a detailed critique. Honestly, I thought to myself, “Hey, it’s cheaper than a contest.” I didn’t expect anything. Then I got asked for a full, and i thought, “Ooo, maybe I’ll get good feedback on the whole thing.”
But then, a few mornings later, I got an email offering me a contract. Actually, I was walking into work when I got it (because I’m addicted to my phone, I’ll admit). I sat down on the curb, right there at the school, and read the email four or five times before I actually believed it.
That was a good day.
But there are other days that are really exciting, too. Because I’m a relatively slow writer, I don’t publish really more than once a year. So every time I get a cover, I get super excited. My next cover is really something, and I’m super excited about it. This time, when I got my cover, I actually dropped my phone, because it was so awesome. These are good days, and wonderful surprises.
3. Do you get your story ideas from real life or real people? If not, where do they come from?
If I were to ever write a contemporary, I might base it on a friend of mine and her dating (mis)adventures. She’s totally behind this endeavor, so that would be okay. But otherwise, no. I make these people up.
See, when I write, I very rarely start with the characters. I devise a plot, and then the characters come forward to introduce themselves, like actors trying out for parts. Sometimes, the first character who shows up gets rejected for the main manuscript, because he or she doesn’t fit the story. Sometimes, the characters insist that they stay exactly as they are, if not tweaked for the worse. For instance, in The Marker, some of my original readers and judges from contests felt that Nicholas was unlikable, because he was drunk, a gambler, and he was willing to allow a remarkably unsavory wager. But every time I tried to change him, to show in those first few chapters that he had a good heart, he dug his heels in and got worse. He eventually let his good heart show, but not in the beginning. He was drunk, or hung over, in those.
But in Highland Deception, I wanted my hero to be more hot-headed. I thought I wanted a fiery Scotsman, a fighter. You know, like traditional Highlander heroes.
Yet, when I tried to write him that way, he insisted that that wasn’t his character. Given his history, he had learned to curb his temper, so while he could fight, that was never his first option. So while I thought I would be writing a brash, alpha male Scot, the character I wrote was a quieter, more contemplative version of the alpha male. He doesn’t act without thinking. Because if he did, he wouldn’t be alive.
For more on these questions, follow the link to Leslie Hachtel! I’m excited to see her answers!