It’s great to be here on The Hot Pink Typewriter as a brand new contributor from the UK, and now it’s my turn to sink into The Hot Seat and answer a few probing questions. Here we go ...
How and why did you get involved with The Hot Pink Typewriter?
I was very flattered to be asked if I’d like to contribute to The Hot Pink Typewriter by Victoria James, who I ‘met’ through Entangled Publishing. I’d been enjoying reading the blog for a while anyway and Victoria is SO nice, it was a no-brainer. I’m so happy to be part of something that has so many talented authors contributing. And it has such a cool name!
What sub-genre of romance do you write and why?
I write contemporary category-length romances, because that’s what I read mostly and it’s the genre I feel most comfortable with right now. I quite often find myself drawn to wanting to write something historical, but I don’t think I’m experienced enough yet to get everything right with the core romance and also get the historical facts spot on as well. It would seriously lengthen the time it would take to write and time isn’t on my side as it is! So for now it’s ‘write what you know’ with lots of superyachts, billionaires and glittering lifestyles. Maybe someday I’ll throw caution to the wind and write that sexy 1920s flapper story though …
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? What prompted this interest?
Not consciously, I spent my childhood wanting to be many things, including a Concorde pilot. My great grandmother taught me to read before I’d even started school, so I think my love of all things bookish started then. I was a voracious reader but I think the writing bug was there somewhere all along even if I didn’t realise it. I wrote silly stories including my friends and our imaginary adventures in the Maggot Club (don’t ask!), and angsty teenage poems ridiculing boys that I fancied rotten. In my twenties the boring old office job improved when a subversive Viz-style comic came into being – it featured a character that looked like my boss quite heavily. I left that job soon after … During a decade working in as an accountant, I began to think how wonderful it would be to become an author instead. Haven’t I been lucky?!
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?
They did in that I entered a number of them along the way, but none of the entries came to anything in the contests. However, after one of the Mills & Boon annual competitions I was asked to submit something fresh and was sent a signed compliment slip for my next submission. Those were the days before you could send you submission in by email! I wrote the whole book in seven weeks and they hated it, frankly. Undeterred (after excessive weeping and bouts of self-pity), I wrote another book following their guidelines closely and got a generic rejection a long, long time later. That last book had quite a journey itself in the end, but Entangled Publishing turned it into a bestseller: Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire.
So, I’d say contests are a great way to motivate yourself into actually getting the words down and submitting, but I found them a huge distraction. I’m easily drawn into obsessions, and contests consume me for the entire duration. In retrospect if I’d spent the time writing and submitting that I did on checking forums, scouring for news and reading endless commentary on the entire process, I’d have a lot more books published by now.
What point are you currently at in your writing journey?
I’m only at the beginning, but my confidence is growing now that I've had three books published in the last year. I can’t be a total fluke – I can write!
Describe what makes a perfect hero for you. And what makes a perfect heroine?
Now that’s a toughie. There’s not a definitive hero for me, but he’s got to be an alpha male. This means he’s in a position powerful enough to take charge of a situation if necessary and do the right thing. He will be honorable and decent, and for this reason I will allow him the odd moment to be grumpy and even a bit of a jerk, but he always redeems himself. He must be ridiculously good looking. He will never have a full bushy beard, roll his own cigarettes, or live off welfare.
My perfect heroine must be likeable and have some gumption about her. She won’t be treated like a doormat and it would take a lot to make her cry. She needs to be independent in all respects and isn't afraid to say what she thinks. She is also kind, honest, loyal and hardworking. She will have a vulnerability of some sort though, she’s only human!
What does HEA mean to you?
It means two people finally recognise that they’re in love and fully intend to spend the rest of their lives together. Obstacles to their happiness have been swept aside and all the nasties they've encountered on their journey to this point have been overcome. Marriage and procreation optional.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
So many places. An overheard conversation, news article, photograph, lyric from a song, a vivid dream … Too many places to mention really.
Name your five favorite movies/books, or those that have influenced you the most and how.
The Magic Faraway tree and Famous Five books by Enid Blyton (I’ll count that as two books but there were tons of them!). I devoured these as a child – a proper torch under the bed clothes obsession. Not only did these books inspire many outdoor adventures in real life, they kicked off a lifelong appreciation of books and love of reading. My own children love them too
Reading 1984 by George Orwell changed the way I looked at the world forever.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I read this when it was first published and I was a pseudy teenager . You just had to, because everybody else was reading it. It taught me that life is too short to spend reading something that you neither enjoy or understand. Perhaps I should give it another go? Nah!
The Sound of Music . How perfect is this film? Romance between a nun and a count, snowy mountains, evil Nazis, evil new ‘stepmother’ and it’s based on a true story! I still know all the words to all the songs and watch it every time it’s on the telly. It brings back so many happy childhood memories (I’m sure it was on every Christmas when I was growing up). Lovely.
Monty Python's Life of Brian. Possibly a controversial choice but, for me, this is one of the funniest films EVER. And laughing is good for you.
Tell us about your greatest writing challenges and how you work through them.
The promotion side of writing is the most challenging for me. I enjoy it and I know it’s an essential part of the job, but it’s extremely time consuming. The most rewarding thing is when people get in touch and say how much they enjoyed reading my book – that’s simply brilliant.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Leave your ego at the door.
What are your hopes and aspirations for your career?
Lots and lots more books being published, please! And enough royalties to by a villa in Amalfi. :0)
Want to know more? Then please feel free to leave a question in the comments section or visit my website and blog at my website and blog. I love to chat, so don’t be shy!
Thanks once again for visiting The Hot Pink Typewriter today. :0)