One of the fun things about social networking is meeting other authors who are taking various publishing paths to see their work put into readers hands. No matter what path you take, our experiences are different and can alter the voice of the writer. (If you’ve been through the query gambit you know what I mean.)
Recently I was contacted by Nia via Facebook when she messaged me to say she’d picked up a copy of my book because of hearing great things about it. I in turn got a copy of one of her novels. We later talked privately about our books, both impressed with the others approach to writing. I was floored by how much – in my opinion – out style of storytelling mirrors one another, despite the difference in our writing voices.
The book I read, Unsuitable Men, has me anxious to read more of her work. Her novels are on my TBR list! Be sure to grab a copy of her latest release, Secrets!
Shayla has a secret. She’s very different than the person she used to be three short years ago; that person she finally feels like she’s left behind and never wants to be again. And she’s been doing fine so far with her plan to reinvent herself. Trey Denison wasn’t going to put even a dent in those plans.
All she needed from him was an extremely short, extremely hot, purely sexual affair and she had no reason to believe he wouldn’t provide it. After all, that was his specialty. But after one crazy weekend, Trey decides that a ‘short affair’ with Shayla is the last thing he wants . . .
What inspired you to write?
Some of my earliest memories are of being read to, and seeing my parents read. My father was a voracious reader, and he read just about everything—the newspaper, of course, but also popular fiction, history books, biographies and the classics. My childhood memories are of a home filled with books. I started writing at the same time I started reading, stringing words together that were probably nonsensical at first. And I’ve been a writer ever since. The only period I remember not writing was when I was in law school and just didn’t have the time. I remember those years as among the most miserable of my life—wanting to write and not being able to was excruciating. The only thing that probably kept me from going completely out of my mind was that I was journaling, even though not writing fiction. After that, I pledged that nothing would ever keep me from writing again. So while a love of the written word and of the process of reading first inspired me to write, I’d have to say that now I view it as so much a part of who I am that I almost don’t need “inspiration” to write, I just do it because I have to.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I write whenever I have a spare moment, or when a thought about my characters occurs to me. I don’t maintain a set schedule, but when I am actively working on a book, I cram as much as I can into the hours I have. I also have a day job, so that means I write well into the night and early morning hours if my characters are speaking to me. I also write in my head almost all the time, meaning I craft new details about the people in my books while I’m showering, cooking dinner, driving to work, or grocery shopping. And I carry a pocket-sized leather-bound notebook with me at all times so if I hear a word, phrase or snippet of conversation that I want to use in my writing, I can jot it down. Occasionally an idea comes to me out of nowhere for a story or a detail about a character and I use the notebook to record those as well. But if I had to give an average, I would say that in an active writing period (sitting in front of the computer, actually typing ), I probably write 6-8 hours per day.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not sure how interesting or quirky it is, but while I’m writing, I can’t read anyone else’s work, or anything at all really. I think it may be similar to “getting into character” if I were an actor —I have to screen out every other voice except my own and that of the people in my book. If I watch television at all, it cannot be fiction; it has to be the news only. I don’t want anyone else’s stuff to creep into my writing. And that’s easy to do because writers’ brains are like the most sensitive of sponges—always gathering data for the next work. So I try to put myself in a kind of creative sensory-deprivation chamber, in the hopes that the only creative ideas I produce on the page will have come from within, not the latest popular song on the radio, or book I read, or drama I watched on TV.
Are you a pantser or plotter?
No question, I’m a pantser! I never outline a book or a character. They become real to me and all I want to hear is what they have to tell me about themselves, all of which I allow to unfold on the page, I can’t determine what they will do until I write it, I can only determine who they are. In Secret, for instance, I knew who Shayla was and what her past was, and what she looked like. I knew what her family background was, and I knew she was moving into a house with Trey Denison, a playboy with a painful past of his own. Specifically what would happen as a result, I honestly did not know until it unfolded on the page. I knew they would have a relationship but not much more than that. And that’s always how I write. Whenever I’ve tried to use outlines to predetermine what should happen, the dialogue, the situations, everything feels and sounds forced. So I stopped trying.
Are your stories based on experiences based on someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share and example?
Despite my trying to screen out the rest of the world as I’m writing, there’s no doubt that I get ideas from the world and experiences I’ve had before I write. For instance, ‘The Seduction of Dylan Acosta’ was inspired by one summer watching bad reality television when those “ . . .Wives” shows were all the rave—Basketball Wives, Football Wives, Mob Wives. I watched some of the women change their appearance, behavior and values as they became more immersed in this persona that was determined almost completely by who they were married (and some of them not married, but simply attached, to). And it made me wonder how that process of redefining yourself might unfold, and how gradual it probably is.
In some of the “. . . Wives” shows, I watched as some of the relationships with the men they had come to define themselves by unraveled and ended and how desperate the women seemed to be to hang on to those relationships even though they had become bitter and alienated. I tried to understand that desperation and finally reached the conclusion that they were desperate because they had become the Football Wife or the Basketball Wife and no longer knew who they were apart from that. Without that, they would have no identity. So in The Seduction of Dylan Acosta, I wanted to explore how that process happens and the world that these women live in, and how it can threaten the very relationship that they use to define them.
Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?
My only suggestion is to never stop writing. Don’t write to be published, just write. I only recently came to terms with the fact that while I’m newly published, but not a new author, and one thing I can say for sure, is that when I stopped writing fiction for 3 years and then started again, I was not as good at it as I had been. By stopping, I lost valuable developmental years and lessons. And my voice changed so much! Some of my old stuff that I haven’t published sounds so different, and some of it is much better (in my opinion) than anything I am writing now. But I am no longer that person, and so even editing that work and trying to do rewrites to publish it has so far been an abject failure. It sounds like two different people, because it is. So my advice would be: write uninterrupted.
Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?
With my fiction, I am self-pubbed. I also write policy and social commentary under another name.
What are your current projects?
My current projects are ‘The Art of Endings’, the spin-off (not sequel!) of ‘Secret’, and an as yet untitled spin-off of ‘Commitment’ that features Chris Scaife, one of the secondary characters in both ‘Commitment’ and ‘Unsuitable Men’.
Connect with Nia via these links: