Friday, October 19, 2012

About Us: Olivia Miles


Hello and welcome to the next installment of our About Us series. I'm in the Hot Seat today and I'm shedding a little light on my experiences, so thanks for stopping by!


How and why did you get involved with The Hot Pink Typewriter?
It started out as an idea between Natalie and me, and as we started more seriously discussing it, we got Victoria involved. Together, we thought of a few others we wanted to include with the specific goal of creating a diverse group of writers at various stages in their careers, who write different sub-genres of romance, and thus a blog was born. 

I’ve always been impressed by how supportive and close-knit the romance writing community is, especially when writing is such a solitary activity, and I was excited to have an outlet to get more involved with other writers.

What sub-genre of romance do you write and why?
I write contemporary romances and my first book will be released through Harlequin Special Edition. I love that this genre allows me to write about fresh, modern, strong heroines in "this could happen to me" situations.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? What prompted this interest?
Always, and I think that's why I am still pinching myself that I actually fulfilled my dream. I can't say what prompted this other than the simple fact that I just always loved books and I wanted to have one of my own. I would always ask to go to the bookstore instead of the toy store, and we have pictures of me ripping open Christmas presents, clearly freaking out over a copy of Ramona Quimby, Age 8. (Like, screaming with joy.) I was writing stories as soon as I could hold a pencil, but I also liked the idea of having an actual book. I can remember writing stories and then binding them into some crude book form at an early age. It was always important to me to have that end product. I just loved books. I still do :-)

Did contests play a role in your writing journey? If so, in what ways did you find them beneficial? And what if any were the drawbacks?
Yes. The first book I sold (working title of ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas) was the winner of Harlequin Special Edition’s Happy Holidays First Chapter Contest. The contest win led to a full request and shortly thereafter, The Call. I knew as soon as that contest popped up that I had a story for it, but I entered with the hope of getting my work seen, so the outcome of the contest was very surprising. It was the first contest I ever entered, and I never expected to win.  

I also entered last year’s New Voices and SYTYCW contests, though I had to pull out of SYTYCW as I sold my other manuscript in the midst of the contest. Both experiences were very motivating and forced me to finish and polish a manuscript. There is also a great sense of camaraderie with some of these larger contests. I met many wonderful writers and friends through both contests, including dear friend and HPT sister, Victoria.

What point are you currently at in your writing journey?
I am currently learning the ropes of being a contracted author. I had always thought that once you sold a book, the journey was over. Now I am realizing that it is truly just beginning. I reached my lifelong goal, and now the real work begins.

Describe what makes a perfect hero for you. And what makes a perfect heroine?
I like my heroes to have a bit of an edge. I have always had a personal weakness for bad boys, and my dating history is living proof! There’s something about the transformation of a hero that gets me every time. 

I also like a really strong, modern heroine. I tend to write heroines who are down to earth, perhaps even slightly self-deprecating, women who I would be friends with in real life, and women who know what they want from their life - and that extends beyond landing a man. My heroines have dreams and goals, and they don’t toss them aside when the hero comes knocking. My heroines hold their own. They can take or leave a hero who is behaving badly, and maybe that’s a little incentive for him to try and step it up a bit and win her over.

What does HEA mean to you?
I like a satisfying ending in any book I read, and to me that usually requires characters to get what they deserve or to reach a realistic conclusion to the situation they created. In romance, the ending is obviously a happy one, and as a writer of romance, I feel it is my responsibility to make sure my characters are on a path that would make them deserving and capable of resolving their issues with themselves and each other so that they achieve everlasting love in a believable way. 

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Whenever I brainstorm a new project, I start with the characters, and so I think it is fair to say that they inspire me and guide the story. I take time in creating the hero and heroine, as well as side characters, and I think about their pasts, their interactions, and their personalities. From there I start asking myself how my characters would behave in different situations, and it tends to start falling into place. Often times a secondary character will inspire me enough to consider a spin-off story, as well.

Name your five favorite movies/books, or those that have influenced you the most and how.  

* Everwood. This show inspired me to write small town romances, with characters who all know one another, and a storyline that feeds off those interactions. I love the sense of community and the dynamics between the characters. There is a great sense of place which I strive to achieve in my own work.  

* Richard Yates. While not a fan of the HEA, I am forever impressed with his impeccable ability to capture the complications of human relationships, and his brave showing of raw emotion.  

* General Hospital. This is a true guilty pleasure, and I do not miss an episode. Ever. What I love about this show is that I never have to part with my favorite characters, and many have been with me since I was a toddler. It’s always sad to part with characters at the end of a book or movie, but with GH, I never have to. (I mean, even if they die, they usually find a way back eventually…)  

* Other favorite authors include: Joyce Carol Oates, Elinor Lipman, Tom Perrotta, Nicholas Coleridge, Marian Keyes, Zoe Heller, Rona Jaffe, and Maeve Binchy.

* For movies, I am a Woody Allen and Hitchcock fan, and I love mini-series, particularly North and South and Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea. I love romantic comedies: Anything from Nora Ephron is a huge hit with me. Same goes for Nancy Myers. 

Tell us about your greatest writing challenges and how you work through them.
I have always struggled with my own inner critic, and this extends beyond my writing, but can of course be crippling for a writer if you do not overcome it. Taking constructive criticism was therefore difficult at first given that I am so self-critical to begin with, but I’ve learned to embrace feedback because it always makes the final outcome stronger. I’m a bit of a perfectionist - maybe more of a control freak, actually - so it is easy to get caught up in everything I should have done better, but I am trying not to sweat the small stuff, not to be so hard on myself, and to just focus on putting out the best book I can each time. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
 "If you don't have dreams, they can't come true." My dad has always said this to me. If you want something badly enough, you just push through the tough times.What's the alternative? To give up?

What are your hopes and aspirations for your career?
For now, I am taking things as they come and enjoying every step of the journey. I’d like to see my career grow and advance, and I am constantly focused on moving things forward, but I am taking it one day at a time, as the saying goes…

Thanks so much for visiting with me! If you want to learn more about me, feel free to visit my website: www.oliviamiles.net.

8 comments:

  1. A wonderful interview by a lovely lady and a hugely talented writer. Can't wait to see what the future holds for you. xx

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  2. Great interview, Olivia!!! I've been fortunate enough to read your work and I just love your writing. I love your dad's advice-so true isn't it?? All the best for a brilliant career! :-)

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    1. Thanks so much, Victoria! Right back at you:-)

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  3. I really enjoyed this, Olivia. It's been great getting to know more about you. Ah ha - another author who likes her edgy heroes! And another perfectionist too. This is a great way to learn what we have in common. ;-) And what great advice from your dad. Thanks for sharing. :-)

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    1. Seriously...who doesn't love a bad boy? Although, I have been asked to make some of my bad boys a little less bad...LOL. Thanks so much for reading!

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  4. Olivia, I loved your interview. It's so great getting to know the group. Thanks for sharing! :-)

    And I totally hear you about the inner critic. But I have the opposite reaction to feedback, thinking the suggestions are always better than what I've got. So I've had to learn to listen to and trust, not my head w/ its insecurities but rather my gut.

    Am so looking forward to your debut!!!

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  5. A fabulous interview, Olivia! :) I really enjoy learning so much about y'all.
    I can totally identify with your "Romana Quimby, Age 8" experience. And I always wanted to write books too and used colored paper and cardboard as covers. I can remember my mom helping me glue and staple the pages.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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