SPOTLIGHT ON… Escape Publishing: MA Grant
Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
I’ve been writing my entire life, but began taking it seriously in junior high and high school when I started entering and placing in smaller writing contests. I went to college with the goal of getting a degree in Creative Writing. I ended up with that degree as well as one in English, and entered the work world, writing on the side to keep my sanity. Red Moon was my debut novel and I entered it in So You Think You Can Write without any real knowledge of the level of competition. Nothing came of that, but it pushed me into joining the Harlequin online forums, which eventually led me to Escape.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
I never dreamed I’d ever be a published author. I mostly wanted to write my stories, and hoped that by submitting them I’d get feedback from editors who could help me learn the craft better. I figured that if I could get a personalized rejection from an agent or publishing house, I’d be a success. Even when I got The Email from Escape, I couldn’t believe it was real. I still can’t.
What is your writing routine?
My writing routine is to let inspiration strike at the most inconvenient times. I try hard to write every day, but because of my day job that usually doesn’t happen. Instead, I’ll write down whatever the muse whispers whenever she chooses to and give in to crazed writing marathons when time (and my super-supportive husband) permits. But I freely admit that I’m not as good at typing at 3 a.m. as I used to be in college.
Favourite snack whilst writing?
Hot tea and M&Ms. Or cherry Jelly Bellies. Those are dangerously addictive…
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
If I’m not at work or writing, I’m usually cooking in the kitchen or hanging out with my husband. I love French cooking, and my husband and I have regular “date nights” where we’ll sit down together to watch a movie, play a video game, or just chat about whatever pops into our head. We’ve been together nine years now and I still feel the same butterflies that were there when we first started dating.
One thing you’d like readers to know about the romance genre:
The romance genre isn’t “easy” in any sense of the word. It isn’t easy to write out stories that provide us with delicious fantasies while staying true to characters and their inner conflicts. It isn’t easy to do the research necessary to get the story right because you know that your readership is statistically proven to be highly-educated, busy, hard-working people. It isn’t easy to sit down and write out 60,000 words or more to create a novel, despite the barrage of Internet articles insisting that anyone could write a novel. It isn’t easy to know that you’ve let some readers down when you see their one or two-star reviews, or to accept that your story will never meet everyone’s needs. The easiest thing about the romance genre is to not be brave enough to tackle it.
The one book that you’ve read over and over is…
Every year I reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Two of the greatest love stories told.
Favourite fictional character:
Since I just reread the series, I have to go with Severus Snape from Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling wrote one of the greatest love stories of my generation in a single word: “Always.” Every action, belief, choice Snape made was ruled by love. Forget fame, riches, or beauty—to be loved like Lily was by Snape is all I would ever ask.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
In twenty years, if someone contacts me and lets me know I made a lasting impression in their life, that I helped them live a better or happier life, I would know that all the steps I’ve made on my own journey were worth it.
What book has changed your opinion/stance on something important to you, and why?
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean has had a lasting impact on me. I could delve into Maclean’s gentle reminder that God can be found outside of a church, the beautiful descriptions of nature and how his sparse style has influenced my writing, or his sense of humour. But the way he shared the tenuous relationship with his brother, and his wrestling with Paul’s death changed my own outlook about sibling relationships. It made me stop taking my sisters and brother-in-laws for granted; they’d always been there, and I hadn’t ever contemplated a life without them. That prospect scared me, but was a good wake-up call to appreciate what I was fortunate enough to have.
Biggest accomplishment to date:
My biggest accomplishment to date was pushing the “Submit” button on Escape’s website and sending in Red Moon. I was petrified with fear and my husband actually had to put my hand on the mouse so I could do it.
What’s next for you?
My next release, a novella titled Lace & Lead, is releasing November 1st with Escape. I’m working on the sequel to Red Moon and a labour of love that I’m not sure I’ll ever submit to anyone. There’s plenty to keep me busy for the near future.
If you could offer just one piece of advice to aspiring authors, what would it be?
As Diane Mariechild said so perfectly, “Trust that still, small voice that says, This might work and I’ll try it.” We all have that voice for a reason.
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