Recently I was asked to do an interview on Micheal J. McDonald’s blog. He asked such wonderful questions that I thought it was important to share it with my regular readers–so you could get a more in-depth view of the behind the scenes activites of writing. Please enjoy and feel free to share your thoughts.
1. We might as well start with the question writers always seem to get – what makes you write? Why do it?
There are a thousand reasons I am driven to write, but what keeps me going is the love of creation. I love creating scenes and people that entertain, that keep readers up and night, and that make readers want more. There is no better feeling than having a reader say, “I loved your book. Your characters were amazing!”
2. You’re clearly very active online, and a fellow Books To Go Now author. Do you treat your writing activities, such as marketing and keeping tabs on blogs and so on, like a job? Do you ever find it gets in the way of writing time?
Great question! I think if you are serious about writing and want to make it a profession instead of a hobby, you must be serious about marketing and building your brand. So many doors will open for you both as an author and as a professional if you just ‘keep swimming.’
As far as time, yes marketing and promotion does cut into my writing time. However, this is a concession I’m willing to make. I love interacting with my readers as well as other authors. I don’t write only for myself. I like to talk about books, reader’s lives and the ever-changing ‘real’ world.
3. Do you think having digital platforms like Books To Go Now and Smashwords has made a huge difference to the industry? Do you think this is bad or good for writers like us?
I have been publishing now (in several different genres) for a while. I have to admit I’m a huge proponent of digital publishing. I have published in paper, I have published in magazines, and just about everywhere else you can think of, but the downside with traditional paper is that once it is printed and out there it’s gone. You have a short window of opportunity to sell a million copies, and for first time authors the promotion that is necessary to do this is almost impossible unless you have a large publisher behind you.
With digital publishing your books never go out of print. They are always there on the shelf waiting for readers when they are looking for something to read. This gives authors a chance to build their reader bases and expand their reach. There are many success stories in which authors were turned down by large houses (they have specific needs at specific times, and often even if you write an amazing book, if it doesn’t fit they will not accept your work), only to go on and be digital best-sellers.
4. Is there a part of writing you enjoy the most? For myself, it’s the first draft, since I can just pour things out onto the page and create a new world. It’s a bit like being a god, not that I’m a megalomaniac or anything. Not at all. Anyway, what part of the process do you find yourself most looking forward to and having fun doing?
LOL I think there are those authors out there that are slight megalomaniacs, but I’m not one of them.
My favorite part of the process may surprise you, but it’s actually the act of closing my eyes and escaping into the world I’m creating. I like to get to know my characters, what makes them tick.
My friends in real life know when I’m starting a new project. I draw into myself. Or else I’m asking a million questions about what makes them act and think the way they do. It’s almost like being an anthropologist—seeking answers about culture, lifestyle, and language.
The research aspects of writing absolutely fascinates me. This week, I’ve been working on research for my next book and had the opportunity to go horseback riding into high mountain lakes one day and then spend the next on a Police ride-along. The adventures I have the opportunity to partake in make this job (and all its pitfalls, rejections, and criticisms) worth it.
5. What about the worst part of the process? For myself it’s the marketing, trying to get eyes on my pages and my books into people’s hands or digital devices, but some people really enjoy the chase. What part of being a writer could you do without?
I find that the first draft is the hardest. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and knowing that I have made mistakes and areas that will need rewrites bothers me. I have to stop myself from going back until I have finished the first draft, but the entire time I’m thinking about those little bits that need to be changed. I have learned that if I write myself digital notes then I won’t stress about the little things.
As for marketing, it is a tough thing to get used to. It would be great if I could simply disconnect from the world and focus on writing. Unfortunately, with the new age of technology and digital publishing authors must take an active role in marketing and promotion. Even the biggest authors out there (unless they’ve been doing it for decades upon decades) are visible—just look at J.K. Rowling.
6. Just as the writing industry is going through a transition between traditional publishing and a plethora of electronic outlets, the genre of paranormal romance is hugely in fashion and currently very popular. Do you see this as a bubble and do you worry it will burst? Do you think writing in a significantly popular genre makes it easier or harder to break into the market?
Wow, put me on the spot.
I think that there are waves in the publishing world. Paranormal is at the top of the wave right now, but just like everything that has been popular in the past, it will subside. The good news however, is that just like every other genre it will continue on in the background. There are those readers who will always love paranormal romance (and I’m one of them).
I have to admit I get tired of the same old thing. I like living in a bit of a fantasy world, where magic is real, and the unexpected can happen. The only thing that limits you in paranormal romance is your own imagination.
As for breaking into the market, I think it is possible to break into any genre as long as your writing is well done. Very few authors’ first books are amazing. In fact, very few authors’ second or third books are amazing either, but if they keep working on their crafts, attending classes, meeting other authors, and going to critique groups—then they can truly succeed. Like I said before, this is a business and to be great you must work hard and give it everything you have.
7. Paranormal romance, and romance in general, are sometimes stigmatised, or at best seen as a guilty pleasure. Does this perception bother you? Do you think it is changing as the industry and people’s reading habits are so radically changed by technology?
I would be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me. My work is about 0.5% what people expect of romance (i.e. physical intimacy). The other 99.5% is made up of all the other aspects of writing, publishing, marketing, promotion, and research. (I wrote a funny article on the subject. Please feel free to check it out: http://www.danicawinters.net/542/the-key-to-becoming-a-great-romance-author-is-having-a-sense-of-humor/)
When people cringe or berate me for my job, I force myself to smile because I know what the sales figures are; 90% of all book sales are in romance. That means 9 out of 10 readers out there love romance novels. Therefore, it is likely that the person sneering at me (or their wife) goes home at night, snuggles into their bed and flips open one of my books.
8. Is there anything else you’d like to say, or an upcoming project you’d like to mention?
I have to share a little bit of fun news. This week, I signed the contract for my next novel, The Nymph’s Labyrinth!
The Nymph’s Labyrinth is an edgy paranormal romance novel about a shape-shifting nymph, Ariadne Papadakis, who is ordered to stop the American archeologist, Beau Morris and his delinquent son, Kaden, from exposing the Sisterhood of Epione and the Labyrinth (of Minotaur fame). In the end, Ariadne is faced with a choice: face her over-bearing leader, Katarina, and fight for what she knows is right, or let herself continue to be overrun, pushed down, and criticized for the mistakes of her past. If Ariadne follows her heart and attempts to help Beau, she will no longer belong to the Sisterhood and her life (as well as Beau’s and Kaden’s) will be in danger.
I want to thank all those who took time to read this interview. It is greatly appreciated. Also, thank you to Michael for hosting.