Lynn, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
So I kicked off the interview with questions:
On Writing and Reading…
On Writing and Reading…
I wrote my first story when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade. It was a horse story, and I illustrated it. When I was fourteen, I started a novel. It was basically a fictionalized account of my life thus far, so it was rather boring. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve always written. When I was in my 20s, my husband bought me a computer. That’s when I wrote my first romance novel. It took several more years and several more novels, but I finally sold my first book to Harlequin – and I’m working on the 10th right now! It took me 15 years from when I wrote my first romance to when I sold my first book, but I did give up for 8 of those years. I wish I hadn’t, but I did. I got so discouraged with the process that I stopped trying to write for publication and just wrote for me.
What do you love most about being a writer?
Deadlines. <g> Not really. Having a deadline is a good thing, because I could probably meander for weeks if I didn’t have to turn the book in!
Where were you five years before?
Where do you envision yourself five years from now?
|PRINCE VORONOV'S VIRGIN on a shelf near me!|
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
They are all my favorites at the time I write them! Right now, I think my UK release, STRANGERS IN THE DESERT, is my favorite! I tackled a secret baby story there – but it’s the heroine who doesn’t know she has a child. ;)
What is your favorite recent title by another author?
What one specific piece of advice would you give a would-be writer trying to kick-start a career?
Never give up. Seriously, it’s that simplistic and that hard. You just can’t let the business defeat you. Now, there are so many options available with the self-publishing phenomenon. But if it’s your goal to see your book in stores, to have a major NY publisher, then go for it and don’t give up. And if you do decide to self-publish, be sure the book is really and truly ready. The books I wrote before I sold will never see the light of day because they don’t deserve to. I still had lessons to learn about storytelling. They are well written in the sense of grammar and style, but the story isn’t quite there yet. That takes time.
Describe the ultimate romantic meal.
Describe the ultimate romantic meal.
Anything with wine! <g> No, really, I think romance happens when you’re with the one you love, and you’re enjoying each other’s company. Wine, a picnic, a fire, a starry night – the possibilities are endless.
What is your all-time favorite romantic movie?
Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version with Colin Firth.
What is the most romantic gesture or gift you have received?
Where is the most romantic place you’ve ever traveled?
I’ve been a lot of places! But I lived in Hawaii for 3 years, so I think that’s probably the most romantic place. Gorgeous sunsets and blue, blue water – but I don’t have to tell you about that, Nas! You have that every day.
All About her...
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
When I was writing and illustrating short stories as a child, I thought I wanted to be an artist. But my drawing skills truly suck. My writing skills were much better. I finally figured that out. ;)
Besides writing, what other talent would you most like to have?
Drawing would be nice. Or singing. I’d love to be able to sing beautifully.
What quality do you most admire in a man?
A sense of humor. My husband has a great one, and always makes me laugh. They say laughter is the best medicine – I think that’s the truth!
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
An interior decorator, an antiques dealer, a restaurateur — I think I’m a writer because I get to be all these things anyway. I could never choose just one.
What quote or personal saying do you live by? Who said it?
It’s not a quote, but advice from Ann Landers. Someone once wrote to her saying that at the age of 42, he wanted to go to medical school. But he was worried that at the end of it he’d be 46 and just beginning a medical career. Ann wrote, “And how old will you be in four years if you don’t go to medical school?” Life moves on regardless. Live it to the fullest.
To finish up, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
It depends on what kind of book you are writing, but for short category, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:
- You don’t have a lot of room for backstory. Start in the middle of the action and feed backstory into the narrative in small bites. The reader only needs enough to know what’s driving the story now and who the characters are as people.
- Emotion, emotion, emotion. A Harlequin Presents, most specifically, is about the emotional conflict between the characters. External conflict is secondary. It’s what brings the characters together in the first place, but the emotional conflict is what drives the story. For example, in my latest book, THE DEVIL’S HEART, what brings the characters together in the first place is a diamond. Each of them believes they are the true owner. That’s the external plot. The internal is what drives the story. Marcos and Francesca were married once before and Marcos abandoned Francesca on their wedding night. These two have a past together! Lots of emotion there. Of course there’s more to the story than that, but this is a very basic demonstration of external versus internal.
- Setting. Setting is very important in a Harlequin Presents simply because it sets the exotic and glamorous tone. But this can be a dangerous place to put in too much information or to showcase all the research you did. Here is the opening to my June book, BEHIND THE PALACE WALLS (this book is also known as PRINCE VORONOV’S VIRGIN, and was out in the UK in January):
The scream that split the night arrowed down Alexei Voronov’s spine like a river of ice water. His senses throttled into high alert. A light snow fell steadily, dusting the cobblestones of Red Square. To the right, the Kremlin wall bordered the square. At the far end, the Spassky Tower, with its giant clock like Big Ben in London, stood out like a beacon, as did the colorful onion domes of St. Basil’s nearby.
But the hour was late, and there was no movement in the square.
Until the scream echoed again.
Alexei swore. He’d been standing in the shadows of the Russian museum, waiting for his contact to arrive, but he couldn’t ignore the cry.
Do you see what I did there? Right in the first page of the story, I’ve grounded the reader with setting through the use of key words. I don’t need to tell you every little detail. Simply giving the reader enough, such as words like Red Square, Kremlin, St. Basil’s, Russian museum lets the reader know the setting is Moscow. Add in the snow for atmosphere, and that’s it. A few paragraphs down, I add a tiny more setting detail. But it doesn’t – and shouldn’t – take paragraphs. This is a short contemporary romance, not an 800-page historical novel.
NOW TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK….
I’ve told you a little bit about my latest two books up above, but here are the back cover copies. First up, THE DEVIL’S HEART:
Francesca D’Oro was just eighteen when darkly sexy Marcos Navarre swept her up the aisle—then fled before the ink on the marriage licence had dried. Marcos might have given Francesca a jewel for her finger, but he stole another: the Devil’s Heart—a dazzling yellow diamond he believed belonged to his family…
And this is what BEHIND THE PALACE WALLS is about:
Alone and scared on the dark streets of Moscow, staid, bespectacled Paige Barnes has no choice but to comply with the handsome stranger’s command…
Little does Paige know she’s been rescued by Alexei Voronov—a Russian prince and her boss’s deadliest rival. Now he has Paige unexpectedly in his sights, Alexei is prepared to play emotional Russian roulette to keep her close and discover her true motives. But in his splendid gilded palace his game of chance spins out of control and passion takes over…
It’s only when she’s back home that Paige realizes she’s pregnant with the Prince’s baby…
The Desert King’s Lost Wife…