Today we have Harlequin Desire's Andrea Laurence in The Hot Seat.
Andrea Laurence has been a lover of reading and writing stories since she learned to read at a young age. She always dreamed of seeing her work in print and is thrilled to finally be able to share her special blend of sensuality and dry, sarcastic humor with the world. A dedicated West Coast girl transplanted into the Deep South, she's working on her own "happily ever after" with her boyfriend and their collection of animals including a Siberian Husky that sheds like nobody's business.
Q: The journey to publication is a unique experience for every writer. What was your journey like?
Long. : ) I have been writing pretty much since elementary school. I finished my first book while I was in college, but didn’t get serious about publication until after I finished grad school. That was 2003. I joined RWA in 2004 and started learning and growing as a writer. It took a while for me to really get in touch with my voice, and when I did, even longer for me to find a place where my voice would fit. After many years and many rejections, I finally got picked from a slush pile in 2010. We worked together on a book for a while, and then ultimately they rejected it. But — they asked for a different project because they liked my writing, just not that story. So I came up with another idea, submitted it, and that’s the book Harlequin Desire ended up buying. It took over eight years and eleven manuscripts to sell.
Q: Can you describe your writing process?
I am a plotter, all the way. I usually come up with a little snippet of an idea, like a setup or a character, then I meet twice a year with my plotting group. Over the course of a long weekend, we plot about 3 or 4 books for each of us, flesh out the idea, nail down the conflict. Then I go home with my notes and write a synopsis. I write fairly long, detailed ones that I can later break out into a chapter outline of sorts. Since I plot so heavily, I have a fairly solid roadmap to where I want to go. That doesn’t mean I don’t get lost in the middle, but I have a good idea of where I need to be and that can help be bridge the gap.
I usually take the outline and start writing from that. Because I have a day job, I’m what I like to call a binge writer. I sit down Friday night and write pretty much through to Sunday evening, knocking out two or three chapters in a weekend until I’m done. Then I let it sit for two weeks. When that’s over, I go back through and read, layering and adding as I go. From there, I mail it off and hope for the best.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your July release, More Than He Expected?
When I was writing the epilogue for my April book, What Lies Beneath, I got an idea in my head about the society writer noticing a budding romance between the best man, Alex, and Gwen, the maid of honor. I hadn’t planned it, but it was perfect. Their book opens with a quick, no-string fling. They don’t see each other again until the next summer when everyone gathers for a 4th of July vacation in the Hamptons. Alex is hopeful for round 2, but when he sees Gwen, he finds she’s not only pregnant, but she’s sworn off men. There’s nothing Alex likes more than a challenge.
Q: Why do you write? Why romance?
I have to. I can’t explain it. I’ve always had the need to get these stories out. I chose romance because I wanted a happy ending. The news and reality depresses me so badly, that I want a happy ending with my fiction. No Nicholas Sparks books for me. With romance, it’s a guarantee. Romance also gave me the freedom of writing in so many different genres — romantic suspense, paranormal, contemporary — yet still stay within the same main romantic genre. Once I got into romance, and RWA, I realized what a great community of people it was, too. I don’t know that I could ever write anything else.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Random places. Usually nothing as exotic as people expect. I watch a lot of odd TV shows, read a lot of articles online. You never know when the tiniest snippet of a story can spark an idea. I also get inspiration from the characters themselves. For example, with Alex, I was trying to think of what kind of story hook he and Gwen would have. I had zero to start with aside from their fling. So I thought... what would be the most horrible thing I could do to him? A pregnant ex-lover fit the bill perfectly for my commitment-phobic hero. So I started from there.
Q: How do you balance your personal life, day job and writing?
Ahhh... this is always a tough one. I have a pretty demanding day job that sucks a lot of hours out of me, but does allow me to travel for conferences and things as I need to. As yet, I have no children, so I don’t have the distractions of soccer games and homework. Just lots of animals and a boyfriend, and they’re easy enough to distract.
Mainly, what I have to do is make the time to write and do as much as I can possibly do at once. There’s none of that 15 minutes a day thing with me. I have trouble writing on weeknights, so that’s when I typically work on promo or revisions. The weekends are solid writing. That’s what works best for me. Is that balance? My house is dirty, I never get any exercise, and I eat a lot of take out, so I’d probably say no, but I’m managing for now and praying that eventually, I can make enough to replace my day job and write full time.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring romance authors?
I have gathered some great pieces of advice over the years. Here’s what I’ve found to be the most useful. Take it or leave it. First, write. Write a lot. When you finish that first book, write another one. Try entering a few contests for feedback or submit a partial to an editor or agent, but keep going. You get stronger with every story. Don’t sit around and wait to hear back. Have something else ready to go if it comes back with a rejection.
Next, educate yourself. Join RWA. Go to conferences or attend local chapter meetings. Listen and learn. Despite what you think, you don’t know everything. Absorb information like a sponge. But don’t let it paralyze you. Take what’s useful and grow as a writer. Don’t worry about fonts and other nonsense that distracts from writing the story.
Last, follow instructions. When you’re ready to submit that MS to an agent or editor, go to their submissions page. See what they’re looking for. How they want it. This is when format matters, but not before. If they want a query letter, don’t send a partial. If they want it snail mail, don’t email them. If you can’t follow instructions now, they’ll know you can’t follow them later and they won’t want to work with you.
Q: What's next for Andrea Laurence? Can you give us a “sneak peek” at your Secrets of Eden series?
I am very excited about my new Secrets of Eden miniseries. The four book series kicks off in January 2013 with Undeniable Demands. The hero, Wade Mitchell, features in More Than He Expected in a small role. His book takes us out of New York and into the rural countryside of Connecticut where he grew up. Wade is the oldest of four foster children raised by the Eden family, who own a Christmas tree farm. Each of the four brothers will have a book that tells the continuing story about a dark secret from their past that is threatening to surface and ruin them all. The second story, A Beauty Uncovered, will be out later in the fall of 2013. I’ve got a May continuity coming out in between, but I don’t have a title yet to share.
Q: What's your favorite television show? Why?
I watch some eclectic television to be honest. The other night, I stayed up until 1AM watching a biography of Benjamin Franklin. I love History’s Mysteries, shows about serial killers, or archaeological shows about historical or biblical places. I like mystery whodunits, like Psych or Sherlock. At that same time, I also love Glee and Project Runway. So... a mixed bag. I guess it depends on whether I want to solve a puzzle, learn something new, or lose myself in cheesy showtunes.
Thanks so much for joining The Hot Pink Typewriter today, Andrea. What Lies Beneath is on my keeper shelf, and I'm looking forward to reading More Than He Expected.
More Than He Expected is available:
For more information about Andrea Laurence, visit www.andrealaurence.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.