Now, instead of asking myself the usual old questions, I Googled options for original questions and answered them for a bit more of an original interview. Hopefully, this will let you get to know me a little better.
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It can do both. Sometimes, when a story will not leave me alone, I can be a total energizer bunny and not stop until I’m completely exhausted. At other times, if the story is emotionally or detail exhausting then I tend to get quite tired while writing it and am more likely to take a rest, which means I might not touch it again for weeks/months.
- What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think the biggest trap is that it’s easy. In school, we’re taught that you only have to have an idea to write. But we’re never taught the proper process of needing to be good at grammar, that you need to be able to properly articulate an idea and weave a world around it. I never knew just how much work went into the process and wish someone had been there to tell me, before I tried to get published. There’s more to being a writer than just writing your idea down.
- Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
All the time. I review as well as write books, so I tend to take 2-weeks to work non-stop, then force a break so that I don’t suffer a block as badly. I try to schedule days off in between books, as well, if I have the time. Sometimes I find that reading the same genre for too long can be a cause of reader’s block, too, so I always try to vary the genres or themes of the books I’m reading, when I can.
- Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Honestly? Neither. I don’t “try” to do anything. I write the stories and characters that speak to me, the stories I want to read, and the stories that I know I feel a connection with. I could never force myself to write a genre or style that wasn’t natural to me, just because it was popular. It would make the entire story insincere and I’d struggle to see it through to the end. I much prefer falling in love with my stories and characters as I’m writing.
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Do your homework. Not the school type, but the research kind. I’d tell myself to really research what it took to be an author, what it meant to be published, what it required to get that far, to brush up on my grammar and save money so that I could afford blog tours, promotional material and all the programs that would make my life easier, such as Grammerly, Photoshop etc.
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Oh, way too many to count. At the moment, I have 110 on my laptop, mostly because I’m a series-writer, which means I have at least 3 books in every series and I generally have about 10-12 series on the go. That doesn’t count the probably 20+ more that are on my hard drive but not ready to be written yet, or need to be rewritten, or that have been discounted because they’re not good enough.
- How many hours a day do you write?
I don’t. Quite simply, I don’t plan my writing at all. I write when I feel the inspiration for a particular story. I don’t want the stress of having a pre-set limit of words or chapters to write in a day, when I know that forcing the process is going to be detrimental to the overall story and the quality of the writing. I’d rather write a few thousand words a month and have them be what I want to write than to write a thousand words a day and find that half need to be deleted or rewritten when I come round to editing it.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
I actually have a lot of different ways. I have a spreadsheet that I keep of names I like, that I’ve taken from credits of movies, music or film stars, and from Google. I have a website that I like to use for fantasy stories, where you can find unusual names – http://donjon.bin.sh. I also use Google if I’m looking for a certain style of name – unusual, Victorian, historical, royal, or up-to-date popular names.
- If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
No doubt, I’d be a professional reader/reviewer. Or I’d find a job in a book shop, like Waterstones or the old Borders, which had all my favourite things under one roof. There’s no way that I’d drift away from books permanently.
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read reviews sometimes. I most often read them by accident, from book blogs that I’ve requested reviews from, or when a book is new. I’m more likely to check in on reviews written by people who have been given ARC’s, to check if they’ve completed the review yet. I try not to let the reviews bother me, regardless of what they say. I know, from being a reviewer myself, that not all books will read the same to all readers. A book that I love might be hated by someone else, so I try to remember that and keep that mindset for my own reviews.
- Does your family support your career as a writer?
Yes! I’m so lucky to have a supportive family. I write MM romance, despite not being male or gay, and it was hard for my parents to understand that for a while. They still don’t completely get it, but they support it regardless. They know that I’m doing something I love and that I feel is important and that I’m passionate about, and that’s all that matters to them.
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Oh, it can be anything from a month to years! Sometimes I can write like the energizer bunny and get the first draft cranked out in a month, sometimes I end up stopping a story halfway through, because of exhaustion or other commitments, and don’t come back to it for months, or even years. It all depends on my passion for the story. I’m awful in that I tend to lose interest in writing a story once I know the ending, because I’m a pantser, and knowing the ending tends to ruin the excitement for me. That’s why I tend to try to write the whole book in one go, so that I don’t lose interest and leave it lingering for too long.
- Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read A LOT. I mean, this year is not even halfway through (May 3rd as I write this) and I’ve already read 130 books. I’m a huge fan of the paranormal Queen’s Marie Treanor and Christine Feehan, and the historical mystery writer Elizabeth Peters. I’m also a massive fan of the LGBT authors Caitlin Ricci, Charlie Cochet and B.G. Thomas. Of course, I can’t forget the classics of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
- Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
Yes and yes. I always edit my work at least 8 times before submitting to a publisher. Once a book has been accepted and I have a release date, I then re-edit the book another 5-8 times, sometimes even doing massive rewrites. By the time it gets to the in-house editor I will have edited and proofread that single book at least 20 times.
- Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?
Yup. See above, as to why. But, yes, I’ve definitely abandoned books for a long time. Sometimes it only takes a month or two for me to get other commitments out of the way before I can finish, but sometimes it takes a lot longer. One series, previously known as Devereaux Case Files was an 11 book series and, because I began publishing at the time of writing book 11, that final book in the series was never completed. That way about 5 years or more ago. Now, I plan to revamp the entire series and include it in one of my current series. For me, morphing it into a current WIP series means that it will likely be finished eventually, but it also means that I have a lot of work to do to get it done.