Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reprint of interview with The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews was kind enough to run a feature on my series The Women of Independence. Here's how it went:

Q:  When you started this series, did you already have a clear vision of the books and characters you wanted to write about, or did that evolve over time?

A:  I thought I did. In my mind, it started out as one book with three female characters. I let my books percolate around in my head for a long time before I actually start writing, and when it came time to sit down at the keyboard, I realized that each of the three had a compelling story of her own. So it quickly became a series. It was important for me to make each book a stand-alone; (I’ve blogged about how I hate cliff-hangers), as well as allowing the characters to flow back and forth between all three books. I think I’ve accomplished that fairly well, and the readers agree.


Q:  How do you keep track of your series details?

A:  I’m what’s termed a “pantser”. For those who may not be familiar with this term, it means writing by the seat of your pants as opposed to using a strict outline. I’ve tried both, and for me, the story flows more naturally when I let it go off in directions I hadn’t originally considered. Makes it more fun, too.  I do, however, think of the book in scenes. I can often be seen sitting at my computer staring down at the keys. I’m visualizing the scene. I also buy some inexpensive card stock, and cut out pictures from magazines for the characters. They don’t have to be an exact likeness, just close to who the character is in my head. I give each one a label with their name and important details like age, height, hair colour, eye colour, etc. When I was writing Book Three, Never Look Back, I printed out a gorgeous picture of the Santa Monica pier at sunset. I was surprised by how often I looked at it.


Q:  In the first book, Loving From Afar, what kind of woman was Allison Ransome? How could she have borne losing everything, especially Cole? Tell us how this loss shaped her character.

A:  Wow, what a good question. It brings tears to my eyes to think about it. Rather than give the story away, I’ll just say that she went through a rough time after Cole left, but over time, the tragedy of what happened began to strengthen her resolve. Of course she had the love and help of her sister. But she never forgot Cole, and was never able to give her heart to anyone else.


Q:  What was Allison and Cole’s first meeting like, ten years later?

A:  It was tempting to have them run into each other’s arms, but I don’t believe that would have happened in real life. This is the most true-to-life series I’ve written, and it was important to me that it be honest, within the parameters of a romance. But to answer your question, the meeting was tentative, but poignant. They had both made mistakes along the way, and they had a lot to explain... a lot to think about. Actually it’s one of my favourite scenes, because it’s so real. When he rides off, I can feel the ache in her heart, wanting to reach out to him.


Q:  In book two, The Last Goodbye, what kind of man is Grayson, that he so captivated Danielle? What do you feel is the most heartrending moment between them?

A:  Grayson is a director from Hollywood, where you’re only as good as your last film. Danielle doesn’t want to fall for him, but he’s handsome, charming, and vulnerable at the same time. They have many of the same interests, and it’s almost inevitable that they would fall in love. The most heartrending moment is one I enjoyed writing. She can’t bear to say goodbye in person, but she knows the direction the film production company’s private jet will take to climb out of the valley. She rides her horse up to a rocky promontory and waves goodbye.


Q:  In Never Look Back, book three, please tell us more about Maya. How did the past play a role in shaping her character?

A:  Maya leaves home when her step-father starts showing an unhealthy interest in her. She’s watched her mother rely on first her father, then her step-father all her life, and determines that she will be independent.  To that end, she works hard to save money with the goal of buying a small home. Falling in love is something she’s never considered, but when it happens, she falls hard.


Q:  Which is your favorite scene in the entire series? Why?

A:  The scene at the end of the last chapter in Book Three, Never Look Back. There’s something about this scene, where Maya is watching people walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards.  I can see her leaning forward, talking to the television, and I honestly shed a few tears when I wrote it. I re-read it the other day, and it still chokes me up.


Q:  Among all the characters in the series, major and minor, which is your favorite? Why?

A:  I have one of each... major and minor. Carmen Santangelo plays an important, but secondary role as the movie star who comes to Green Lake Ranch in Book Two and captures the heart of Danielle’s Uncle Jake. She’s earthy, she’s sexy, and she knows what she wants. I also like Cole, Allison’s love interest in Book One. He protected his friend, he helps youths at risk, and his moral compass doesn’t waver. Some readers didn’t care for the fact that he had a love interest in the ten years he was separated from Allison, but here again, I made this series real, and I believe that’s what a young man would do.


Q:  What kind of research did you do in the process of writing this series? Please share with us an interesting fact that you came across.

A:  In Book Two, Grayson has a ranch near San Luis Obispo. I haven’t been there, but I went to Google maps and took my little orange man and drove along the roads out toward where I imagined his ranch would be. The surrounding area is very similar to where this series takes place... the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. I love that little Google guy.


Q:  Will there be more in The Women of Independence series? Please give us a sneak peek.

A:  Yes, there will be one more book, but not for a while. I believe that Katie deserves a book of her own, and readers agree. In the meantime... oh, I see you’ve asked that in the next question.


Q:  What’s up next for you?

A:  As this interview goes live, I’m just starting a new series. It’s a historical romance series featuring three different women, a slight departure for me, but I’m quite excited about it.



Fast Answer Questions:

Last book you read: Creole Belle, by James Lee Burke

Favorite vacation location:  Long Beach, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

Favorite dessert:  Crème brulée

Favorite drink:  Ice cold water

Favorite place to write: In the darkened, quiet corner I have set up specifically for that purpose


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