My special guest today is fellow Ellora’s Cave author and friend, Cari Quinn. I’m delighted to welcome Cari today and help her celebrate the release of her latest book, Personal Research. It’s out today! I asked Cari a little about her book plus her writing process and there’s a contest at the end of the post.
Tell us a little about your new release, Personal Research. Did you need to do any special research during the writing of this story?
Personal Research is about Elena Thomas, an erotic romance writer who’s feeling a little uninspired lately. She’s a legal secretary who spends her free moments at work writing her sexy books—and watching the hot Italian IT guy fix the printer that, luckily for her, seems to break down daily. Also luckily for her, her attraction’s not one-sided. The only question is if she’s actually willing to have a crazy, sexy adventure, or just experience them vicariously through her books.
I will say this though – Nunzio can be pretty persuasive. ;)
Personal Research didn’t require any special research because like Elena, I write erotic romance and also work in an office setting. We’ve had lots of issues with the printer, too, although unfortunately our IT guy isn’t quite as sexy as Nunzio. But fiction’s often more fun than real life.
What is it that draws you to writing contemporary romances?
As much as I love romance for the possibilities of what-if, I like a dash of realism in my stories. I really enjoy current cultural references in the stories I read and write. It just adds a sense of authenticity for me. The other reason I like writing contemporaries is because they’re a natural fit for my voice. I tend to have a sort of snarky, sexy fast-paced way of writing and contemporary subjects work well for me. But I do have a completed vampire paranormal romance that I’m currently editing and plans for additional urban fantasy, paranormal and even erotic horror stories. And my latest love is reading historicals, so I never rule out writing in any genre.
I’m going through a historical binge at present, too, Cari. Tell us a little about your writing process. Are you a plotter? Do you do music playlists or collages? Character interviews?
I don’t plot, much as I wish I did. I usually sit down at the keyboard with an initial scene and my characters and go from there. Sometimes I don’t even have my characters before I sit down to write. My favorite pantsing story involves my novel currently submitted to Harlequin Blaze, Virgin Territory, where I didn’t even know my heroine’s name until I reached her first POV scene. I’m really guided by the characters, which is why I’ll sometimes get stuck for weeks while I’m waiting for them to tell me what they intend to do already. ;)
I have gotten in the habit of doing music playlists because music really gets me in the mood to write certain scenes. Occasionally I’ll find pictures that suit my characters. Mostly I just write my way through the mist until something emerges I can work with.
Ah, another fly into the mist writer! There are a few of us around. How do you maintain your creativity and keep your writing fresh?
First and foremost, I take a lot of breaks. I don’t write every day. I’ve tried. My muse seems to get cranky if I ask her to show up several times in one week and tends to go on strike. This week, for example, I’ve written 11K in three days. That’s more then I’ve written in the last month. As much as I’d like to be on a regular schedule, I think that thinking space in between writing sessions is a must for me to stay fresh. Plus it goes back to that whole lack of plotting thing I mentioned—I can’t go forward until I’ve figured out how to get from point A to point B. Sometimes that takes weeks to discover. Sometimes months. I also work on multiple manuscripts at one time, which helps keep me interested and excited to write. If one story’s not working, I switch to another.
Another big creativity boost for me is reading. An excellent story can spur me to return to my manuscript with fresh eyes. That happened to me today actually, with Juniper Bell’s Samhain release, Training The Receptionist. Juniper’s voice is so unique and fun and sexy that I immediately jumped back into writing with new enthusiasm. I love when that happens.
Do you have any favorite books on the craft of writing?
Honestly, no. I know that’s an unusual answer. I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of the popular ones, but I’ve always felt you learn the most by doing. Nothing can teach you more than the act of sitting in front of the computer and getting all the way through to the end. Reading other books in the genre you’re targeting works for me too, although I know some people advise against that. Reading widely gives you clues on how to build a story. Eventually you start picking up the rhythm, so to speak, which is essential for pacing. Paying attention to what works for me as a reader also helps me hone my craft.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer just starting on their journey?
Don’t give up on yourself or the stories you need to tell. No one can express themselves in quite the same way as you and the world needs your unique point of view. Everyone goes through rejection and self-doubt. I imagine even la Nora still does. Well, maybe.
Thanks so much for having me here today, Shelley! Love your blog and your books.
You’re very welcome, Cari, and thank you!
CONTEST – Cari is giving away a copy of Personal Research to one commenter. To enter the draw answer this question: What do you think of office romances? Fun or forbidden? Both?
You can visit Cari’s website or blog for more details about her books. She’s also on Facebook and Twitter
Purchase Personal Research at Ellora’s Cave