Tell us about yourself and your books.:
I Love to travel and write Romantic Suspense, set in places I know and love: Italy, Germany, Hungary, Austria, France, Greece, the Caribbean… When I am in these places my imagination kicks in and characters and situations begin to invade my imagination. Stories and characters begin to crowd around me like uninvited guests for dinner. I find I must scribble down these fleeting images before they disappear. Then when I get home again to Canada, I’m mentally already half through the next book.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I must have a view to look at, preferably a sea view. It helps my concentration. At home in Canada my desk faces the Strait of Georgia, the large body of water separating mainland Canada from Vancouver Island. At my winter home, on the tiny Caribbean Island of St. Eustatius, I look over the Caribbean to the distant islands of St. Maarten and St. Bart’s. It is somehow easier for me to wipe out the intrusions of the outside world when I look up at the sea. It focuses my imagination.
What authors have influenced you?
Michener, Theodore White, Alexandre Dumas, Margaret Mitchell. A very mixed bag, to be sure. None of them “Romance writers” and yet, one of the greatest love stories ever written was Dumas’ La Dame aux Camellias or as it became better known, Camille, made into both a movie and an opera. White’s The Once and Future King, is a gorgeous retelling of the King Arthur legend, and what book was ever more romantic than Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind. Every book I’ve ever read has influenced me in one way or another. But these more than most.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Learn your craft! You may have the most wonderful plots and characters in your mind, but if you don’t know about things like POV and plot arcs, and pacing, take writing courses before you start submitting your work. And remember a book is NEVER ready to submit after the first draft. That’s the point where you need a good critique. Other than that, don’t be discouraged by rejection. Keep rewriting and resubmitting. If any publisher deigns to make suggestions, thank them, follow their suggestions, and resubmit.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Don’t be discouraged by rejection or even bad reviews. Learn from them.
What are you reading now?
A rather charming book set in the slums of Dublin in 1925. The characters, especially the heroine, are wonderful, and the descriptive prose involves all the senses. The book would have benefited by professional editing (head hopping POV and other such small problems a good editor would have caught) but it brings both place and people to life. 'Through Streets Broad and Narrow', by Gemma Jackson.
What’s your biggest weakness?
I’m never quite satisfied. I keep wanting to make the book better. It’s like sending a kindergarten child off to his first day of school when I submit a manuscript. I never feel it’s quite ready. This has gotten to be less of a problem since I found an editor I really trust.
What is your favorite book of all time?
I think I’d have to say Margaret Mitchel’s ‘Gone With the Wind’ or as a second, Theodore White’s ‘The Once and Future King’. The latter is more literately written but for fast paced story and unforgettable heroine it would be the former. I also love Alexandre Dumas ‘La Dame aux Camellias’ or as it was titled in English as both a book and film, ‘Camille’. Sorry, I can’t name only one.
What has inspired you and your writing style?
Nothing. I simply write the story as it comes. I write detailed character studies for each of the characters and a detailed synopsis (20 pages or more) before I write the first line of the book. So when I start a book I know where I’m going. That’s not to say there isn’t the occasional detour. Of course I must have absorbed something from the books I read. I’m a voracious reader.
What are you working on now?
'The MacInnes Affair' is set in Scotland in the present and in 1850. Two sets of lovers with intertwining lives must overcome a long-standing clan feud involving intrigue and murder. Can the young lovers in the present uncover the truth about the lovers in the past and be free to marry?
What is your method for promoting your work?
I must admit I cannot both write and promote. Promoting is a full time job, and requires skills I simply don’t possess. I am fortunate to have the help of a person knowledgeable in marketing.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I just sent The MacInnes Affair off to my editor, Kinan Werdski, at Wild Rose Press. I’m catching my breath before starting my next book. I’m not sure yet where I’ll set it. That comes first for me. I’ll get to work later this month. I know it’s important to have a new one on the go as the just-finished one is working its way through preparation for publication.
How well do you work under pressure?
Not at all well. I try never to let it happen, but once in a while…
A month ago I was on a sailing ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when I received my final copy of Delighting In Your Company with a deadline of 5 days to read and approve. I had access to internet sporadically. I got it done but it was tight. Let’s say I REALLY enjoyed my Gin and tonic the night I sent it off.
How do you decide what tone to use with a particular piece of writing?
The characters and story decide for me. The tone of' Fatal Charm' is light, in spite of the plot that has the heroine in constant danger. The lightness comes from the hero, who is a red-headed Irishman with huge intelligence and an irrepressible sense of humor. The story in the past in 'The MacInnes Affair' is dark, because it borders on tragedy. But it is off-set by the humor in the day to day relationship of the couple in the present. As I said, the story and the characters dictate the tone of the novel.
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