Frequently Asked Questions
What sparked you to write or is it something that you have always wanted to do?
I’ve always been a big reader from since I was a small child. Writing seems a natural progression of this and was always at the back of my mind. I kept putting off my attempts to write a book and did other things like getting married and traveling instead. Finally, I realized my dream to write and become published was going to pass me by if I didn’t apply myself and stop procrastinating. As karma would have it, I learned about Romance Writers of New Zealand through a magazine article the same week and saw an ad for a romance-writing course at Auckland University . I’m a determined wee thing so after these obvious signs, I joined RWNZ, enrolled for the course and after that sat down and wrote a book then another book. I wrote for six years before I sold my first book, Aislyn, to New Concepts Publishing in 2004.
What was the first story you sold?
One of the first stories I wrote and had published was when I was about 11. My parents used to receive a magazine called “The Farmer” written for the New Zealand farming community. They used to have a children’s page. This particular summer they held a competition where you had to write in and say where you wanted to spend the Christmas holidays. I wrote a story about wanting to travel to outer space and visit Mars. (My love of paranormal started early!) I came second and won $5.00. I remember that the next time they ran the competition they reworded and entrants had to say where in the world they’d like to spend their holidays.
What inspires you? How do you come up with your ideas?
Life! I find ideas all around me-they might be quirky little stories in the local newspaper, visiting a town or country or something I hear on the television or radio. For example, I found a story about stolen garden gnomes in my local newspaper and used that in my romantic suspense, LANE’S LOVE CHILD. Kate, the heroine is horrified to find the police at her doorstep enquiring about the circle of ten ugly garden gnomes sitting around her clothesline.
A few years ago, I found a cutting in an Auckland newspaper about black panther sightings in Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand. I saved the article. On TV I heard about a small South Island town called Middlemarch. The town had organized a dance to attract young women to the town. The Middlemarch singles dance is now an annual event and a train, dubbed the Luv Train, travels from Dunedin to Middlemarch full of attendees. I combined the two ideas and SCARLET WOMAN was born.
What does your working space look like?
Disorganized! I have lots of piles over the floor. To someone else it might look like a mess, but I know where everything is. I also have what I call my “mobile office”. At the moment, it’s set up in front of the TV with piles of research for my shape shifter book, a copy of my synopsis, a dictionary and thesaurus. My mobile office gets cleaned up in between books, but I’m afraid the main office remains disorganized and cluttered to the uneducated eye.
You have been published in a few different genres now, do you like writing in any one more than the others?
When I was an aspiring writer attending meetings and conferences, we were always told to write and stick to the same genre. I couldn’t see the sense in this. As a reader, I always liked reading lots of different genres-a varied diet of contemporary, historical and paranormal-so I followed this through when I wrote and ignored the so called “rules”. Actually, in truth, I’m very fickle and get bored easily! I like the variety and the challenge of different genres. I also flirt with both first person and third person stories.
I think I lean more toward paranormal than any other genre. This is the genre I grab first in a bookshop or library to read and most of my favorite authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon and Katie MacAlister write in this genre. I do like to switch around a little though and think this helps keep me fresh. I like to combine genres such as historical/paranormal or contemporary/paranormal. I’m not the only author doing that these days.
What is the best advice you have received as a writer? The worst?
I think the best advice I’ve received is to “finish the damn book.” A lot of aspiring writers out there might write the first chapter or the first three chapters then lose interest. By finishing the book you’re learning discipline for later when you need to keep deadlines. You know how long it will take you to write the book and learn about things like pace, writing your character’s black moment and of course the ending. The worst advice – that’s a toughie. All the authors I’ve met have been incredibly generous with their time and advice, and I’ve taken what I think will work for me from their advice. The worst thing I’ve done in my pursuit of being published is trying to force myself in a mold. The moment I started writing the books that I wanted to read is when I grew into my humorous writing voice. Not long after, I sold my first book.
Do you have some words of wisdom for budding hopeful writers out there who still feel insecure in what they do, or are trying to do?
Keep following that dream. Don’t let go because whatever your dreams are, they’re worth fighting for. In addition I’d say to read, read, read as much as you can, but don’t forget to sit down and write because you learn a lot of the process along the way. You need to write a book before you can sell it! Join a writing group, either online or in person, because writing is a lonely business. Writing buddies make all the difference.