Amanda Sims wants a fresh start…one with purpose. Josh Kent needs redemption. Thrown together on an alternate plane of existence, they never expect to discover their deepest desires in each other, nor the peril their travels through another realm will present.
On your site, you mention that Alicia Key’s Songs in A Minor, Annie Lennox’s Diva, Sarah McLachlan’s Afterglow and Mirrorball, Sade’s Lover’s Rock, and ANYTHING by Bonnie Raitt were your musical muses for this novel. I can DEFINITELY see that as this book is very pro-woman, women’s empowerment, and on and on. Can you talk to us specifically about a particular song or album and how it influenced you and the writing of the book directly?
For Saints, Mirrorball was probably the most influential because McLachlan’s voice is so achingly poignant it breaks my heart, and the lyrics quite simply kick ass. For Amanda’s character, Building a Mystery and Fear were the two that resonated the deepest.
I chose girl power when it came to my listening pleasure because this was the first first-person book I’d written, and music was a fabulous way for me to get in touch with Amanda…her foibles, her hidden power, what was really deep in her heart, even if she couldn’t acknowledge it for fear of destroying herself.
What are three of your guilty pleasures?
You’re totally going to laugh, but high-school dramas (i.e., Can’t Buy Me Love, She’s All That, Sixteen Candles, The New Guy, etc), dark chocolate, and Age of Empires (ancient computer game).
On your site, you state that you wrote THE SAINTS OF MIDLAND before you started on your erotic works – so was THE SAINTS OF MIDLAND an older novel that you picked up and decided to work on?
Actually, I finished Saints quite a while ago, and started shopping it out. It won a contest, came in second in another, then got nibbles from New York publishers, but in the end, it was rejected as “hard to shelve” because it’s not really an urban fantasy, not really a straight fantasy, and not really a romance…it’s a bundle of all three. Soooo, long story short, I took it to my first e-house of choice for mainstream work, Samhain Publishing, and it was accepted shortly thereafter.
THE SAINTS OF MIDLAND is a very complex novel – we are in a different realm, universe, and I can only assume you spent a great deal of time researching and developing the world to which your characters would live. How long did it take you to write this novel, to research it, to create the universe of Midland?
Most of my “big” books take about a year to write, including getting shredded by my critique partners. Saints took about eleven months, and many tweaks of both Amanda & Josh’s characters. I always have a “surprise guest” character in every book I write, someone who wasn’t in my head when I started, but ends up being integral to the plot. For Saints, it was Gabriel…so much so that he’ll have his own book in the semi-near future. Then again, thinking about it, Rick was pretty damned cool, too, and I NEVER imagined the role he would really play.
When it comes to research, I’d already done a ton of background work on Wicca for my first two TL Schaefer books, so that flowed really well (or at least my Wiccan advisors tell me). Because of that, I was free to really concentrate on creating the world, and that’s what a bunch of reviewers have commented on, so apparently I did it right!
What is the ideal space for you to write?
I can write almost anywhere, but right now my fave place is…get this…in my truck at lunchtime, smoking a cigar, and listening to my alternative music station. I take an old-fashioned tablet and pen and just kind of chill for an hour. Because there’s no real outside input, and I can’t get online *g*, it’s a great productive time for me…I can usually get at least 800-1000 words written in that timeframe, which is my daily goal, so everything else is gravy.
Now that football season is coming up, I’ll plug in my iPod and get some serious writing done now that Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday are spoken for!
Talk to us a bit about your journey to publication – when did you decide writing was what you wanted to do, when did you begin to take it seriously, how it felt to go through the publishing process and to become a PUBLISHED author.
I guess I’ve always written…starting with truly awful poetry and semi-intelligent letters to the editor. I wrote my first book when I was sixteen—an atrocious Harlequin Presents rip-off. That “book” (and I *really* hesitate to call it that) is in a hiding place of shame right now. My hubby keeps teasing that he’s going to “out” me after I’m rich and famous. Anyway, I put down the pen for a good long while (over 15 years) while I bounced along with life. When my husband and I returned from our overseas assignment, a story idea literally struck out of the blue, and I was consumed with writing it down. I was lucky enough to have that book (The Summerland) published in 2000, and have been working ever since, albeit part-time (Uncle Sam pays waaaaay to well for me to walk away easily). I absolutely adore Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver, because they gave me my start and have been such a joy to work with. I recently tried out Samhain with Saints, and have been really happy with all of the staffers and the process in general.
Being “published” has so many connotations with different people. To everyone I meet outside the publishing arena, they’re just thrilled that I have written books they can buy–they don’t really care about the format. Sometimes it seems like those of us within the publishing community are our own worst enemies when it comes to stratifying success based upon platform. That may sound like a bit of sour grapes, but in reality it’s not. I know of many epubbed authors who make more than series and even midlist writers and are happier writing “outside the box”. I guess my point (and really, I was coming to it *g*) is that as long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing, who’s to judge?
Do you have a standard process to your writing? Are you an outliner or a jump-right-in writer?
I’m a COMPLETE pantser! The two books I’ve tried to plot out are sitting on my hard drive right now, probably waiting for me to forget all of the “bones” work I did on them and to get on with the creative process *g*. I traditionally get a picture in my head, be it of a person, place or situation, and sit down to write out a quick blurb. If the story is ready to be told, that blurb will quickly become more as I flesh out the idea. If not, then it percolates in my head until I’m ready to rock.
What are your favorite music genres/artists?
I tend to vary wildly in my musical taste. Right now, because I’m working on something grittier, I tend to listen to that type of music…think Disturbed, Linkin Park and Breaking Benjamin. For a book that was pubbed earlier this year, it was all about the eighties, so I went out and grabbed things like REM, Concrete Blonde and the Violent Femmes. When I wrote my second book, it was all country because that was what the character liked…I still can’t hear Clint Black without thinking of Doug. To say my music collection is a bit eclectic is putting it mildly.
What’s your favorite thing about THE SAINTS OF MIDLAND?
When it’s all said and done, I love the world I’d created. The plan is to head back in Angels of Retribution, but in a way no one would ever expect *g*.
What three adjectives best describe THE SAINTS OF MIDLAND?
Magical, epic, romantic
How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?
A couple of ways…first, I have a day job working as a risk/patient safety manager for an Air Force clinic. I’m also the editorial director for Liquid Silver Books, and even though I don’t edit directly any more, it can take a good chunk of time (at least to make things run to my satisfaction). Lastly, I’m a HUGE reader. I traditionally have at least 80-100 books either on my e-reader or in my TBR pile, and I turn to them to avoid burnout and to see where the industry is headed. I adore losing myself in another world, and I’m never happier than when I re-read something I wrote myself and say “damn, that’s pretty good!”
As a published author, what advice might you offer to writers hoping to get published?
Keep at it! Whether your dream is to be published by a traditional NY house or by the more boundary-pushing e-publishers, keep honing your craft. Your first book might not be the “one”, but practice makes perfect! As a side tidbit…don’t let anyone change your voice. Craft and voice are two completely different beasts…the structure of how you put something together is negotiable, but the distinct way you tell a story is what is unique to you. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is YOUR “brand”.
Dream-on: The movie adaptation of THE SAINTS OF MIDLAND is greenlighted! Who would play the main characters, Amanda Sims and Josh Kent?
See, I’m a total geek because I’m one of those authors who goes through magazines and pulls out the pics of what my characters would look like so I can visualize it more fully. In my oh-so-happy world, it would be Julia Stiles as Amanda and Jake Gyllenhaal as Josh. Yeah, both of them look like the characters in my head, but they also have that “something” that just makes them click for me.
If there were a soundtrack to your life, what would be THREE MUST-HAVE TRACKS on that disc?
Interstate Love Song, Stone Temple Pilots
Selling the Drama, Live
Walkin’ After Midnight, Patsy Cline
What are you currently working on?
I’m about halfway through my third RuneQuest novella (as Keira Ramsay), Sea of Dreams, and I’m beginning to ponder the follow-up to the “big” book I just finished (View to a Kill) that I’m going to begin shopping out soon. I always put excerpts of my works in progress up on the website, so swing on by and let me know what you think!