Surprise Interview on James McAllister's Blog!
Hello, Marie. Thank you for joining us. Please tell us a little about your background: where are you from, where you live now, your family, if you have or did have a career other than writing.
I came from a small town in Indiana. I still live in Indiana, but I do plan to move to California someday. I live with my family and three cats. Writing has pretty much always been my main job, though in the past I took side jobs as a waitress, hostess and call center agent. Currently, in my other life, I am the executive vice president of a medical devices startup.
Do you have any hobbies, interests, or activities that you enjoy?
I love writing, of course, but I also do a lot of reading and I love shopping when I can afford it. I also like to try new restaurants. I am adventurous with food. I enjoy cooking at home as well, and I spend a lot of time making up recipes.
If you were beginning your writing career today, what would you do differently?
In some ways, I wouldn’t change it because what I did got me here. But, I might try to focus more on projects instead of flounder from one story to another, which is what I did when I was younger. Although, if I had a deadline, I always had to the uncanny ability to finish something when it was necessary. I am more organized these days.
Did you have a mentor, someone who helped you through the process?
I wouldn’t say I had a specific mentor. I had several Creative Writing teachers and professors that inspired me. I also used my favorite authors as inspiration.
What advice would you give new authors?
For one, never give up. That persistence or bullheadedness will save you in a number of situations. If it seems like you’ve failed at something, pick yourself up and start again. We never truly fail; we are just delayed for a time. And secondly, start promoting yourself as a writer or author early on, even before you’ve published. Gain blog followers. Just try to gain a following of people who like to hear what you have to say. Word of mouth is the best marketing tool around.
How do you form the story lines for your writing?
Ideas just come to me at any time. There is no recipe for it. When I am ready to focus on it, I will sit down and come up with a basic outline. Later, I come up with a very detailed one. But, in between all of this, scenes can come to me in any order.
How do you research your books?
I write until I get stuck. If I know I need to look up information, I stop and do that. At some point, I have to come up with a detailed research document filled with links and notes on whatever topic I’m covering. This helps because I can refer back to it when I need to.
Out of the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite, or one that stands out in your mind?
There are two. Upon Your Return will always be my baby because it was my first historical romance. Fara and Grant will always have a special place in my heart. I was also affected by the characters in A Touch of Dawn. Caitlyn and Jack were very special people who deserved so much to be happy, and I was glad to step back from the writing of it and realize their story was told the best way it could have been.
When writing a series, do you map out the entire story of the series at the beginning?
Truthfully, I didn’t know there would be sequels to Upon Your Return until about two years ago. It wasn’t planned at all. One day, the idea came to me. I saw a scene for the second book in my head. A few months later, I started thinking about the third book. I would say that I have a basic idea of how they will play out, but the good stuff, the core of the story, doesn’t come out until you’re working on it. I didn’t know the motivation of the heroine for Upon Your Honor until well into the writing of it. Now, I have other works in progress where sequels are involved and it is the same. I have a basic idea for them, but I am just as surprised as the reader to find out what happens.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest release is Magick & Moonlight. It is a short paranormal romance about two characters who have their own secrets and the lengths they go to in order to figure out what they want in life.
What did writing this book teach you?
Oh, I learned a lot about Wicca. I never have judged people for their beliefs, but it certainly does make me respect the religion more. And I have other magickal books planned for the future.
How can readers learn about your new projects?
There is a “projects and writing” section on my website where readers can see my temporary titles and plans for books and series. I usually include a sample of a work in progress. http://marielavender.webs.com/projectsandwritingreviews.htm
Where can readers find your writing?
Links to all of my books can be found on the homepage of my website. http://marielavender.webs.com/
Is there anything you would like to leave our readers with?
You can find updates about me and my books on my blog. http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/