Over the past two weeks, I’ve invited fans to submit questions about my writing. Today, to celebrate the recent launch of The Fortuitous Pen, I’ll be sharing those questions and answers.
If you have additional questions you’d like to ask, post them here as a comment and I’ll answer them before the end of the party.
Q1. How do your family and friends feel about your writing in this genre?
A. My family doesn’t actually know about my writing. It’s a closely guarded secret with less than twenty friends who know I’ve been published.
Because of my family’s conservative views and my work in high level government circles, I write anonymously under a pseudonym.
One day, I’ll tell my daughters.
Q2. Where do your character ideas come from?
A. Every novel is a little different, but my main characters are usually a mix of physical and personality traits from people in my real life. I have a fantastic group of followers on Twitter that I interact with. More than one character has been influenced by a follower. For me, it’s a fun way to show my appreciation for their loyalty as fans.
Two scenes in particular in THE FORTUITOUS PEN were inspired by conversations with a fan.
The steely blue eyes of my next character will be based on a picture that a follower posted on Instagram. He has the most mysterious eyes.
Q3. What is the inspiration behind your stories?
A. It’s a mix of real life experiences that are larger than life in print. The framework for a story seems to come together in my head. I don’t always know the detail that will unfold, but I have a good idea of where I want the characters to go and how they’ll get there.
I’m currently writing book #5. The storyline came together in the span of a 5-minute text conversation with a fan. I threw out an idea. He added in a twist. I expanded on it. He made another suggestion. I sent a sarcastic message about a crazy twist to end the book and as I waited for his response my mind began to race. I suddenly realized that THE crazy idea I had texted would be the ultimate surprise ending.
And that’s where ideas come from.
Q4. Who is your ideal reader?
A. Surprisingly, my ideal reader is male. I know that women love my books, but I intentionally write with a male reader in mind and I try to include elements and situations they will enjoy.
With my first two novels I had three male friends read as I wrote. They loved the detail and sometimes offered suggestions for improvements.
What’s different about writing for men? I think guys still want a great story, but they want to read about hot sex the way men like it, with less emphasis on emotional attachment and more on sexual adventure. I keep my novels a little shorter (53,000-58,000 words) and I get right to the point in the first chapter. It’s a rush to write scenes where men’s needs, desires and fantasies take center stage.
Q5. What made you start writing?
A. Honestly, I didn’t set out to be published or even to write a book. I sat down one day and challenged myself to write down the thoughts that were in my head. I just wanted to see if I could write fiction that would be interesting enough for my friends to read.
They loved the 3,500-word chapter that I churned out in an afternoon and they encouraged me to keep writing.
One challenge turned into another. Write a book. Submit something good enough to a publisher. Secured a book deal. Sell a few copies. Write another book and see if the first book was a fluke…
You get the picture.
Q6. How long does it take to write a novel?
A. Every book is different. I’m a busy mother of two young children with a full time career to balance along with everyday life.
‘The Fortuitous Pen’ took just 13 days to churn out. In fairness though, that book had been ruminating in my head for months. I just needed the time to get it down.
‘Every Second Weekend’ isnext on the schedule (release set for January 2015). It took almost a month to write.
‘Loans Lust and Lies’ is a work in progress. I hope to have it finished in the next week or so.
Because I’m always on the go, I’ve discovered that writing in the notes app of my iPhone has sped up my writing process. Sometimes I can jot down a scene but sometimes it’s an entire chapter that emerges as I sit on the couch in the evening with the kids while they watch a movie.
Talk to text has also speed up my writing process.