Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Back from my break in Wales and thrilled to welcome my first August guest, Emly Forrest!

Welcome Emly! I am thrilled to have the chance to interview you...let's get started!

1) What is your writing routine?
Oh, I hate that word—routine. In fact, I do my very best to not get caught up in routines if I can. Of course, I am a creature of habit in some ways. Mornings are structured somewhat with dog duties and chores, and I have my favorite rituals before turning in for the night. For writing, however, I eschew the routine. While I almost always write in the afternoons, I don’t have a specified time or place. Often I’ll listen to music: Miles Davis or another jazz great, classical, or for romantic sections I might be working on, Luis Miguel does the trick. The only rule I impose on myself is that I must write a minimum of five hundred words a day. I strive for a thousand, but I don’t thrash myself if some days just don’t work out that way.

2) Which author/s inspire you to write?
Barbara Kingsolver, James Lee Burke, Stephen King (yes, really—my editor and I think he is one of the most underrated authors in recent times), Pete Hamill (Forever is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read), Dennis Lehane, Amy Tan. Yes, I know. None of them are romance writers. Nonetheless, I consider them all fine, readable authors whose talent I can only dream of attaining someday.

3) Which is your favorite romance subgenre to read? To write?
I’ll let you in on a big secret: I don’t read much romance of any kind. Is that sacrilege? It’s not that I don’t like it. I do. It’s more a sense I have that I’ll be too heavily influenced by established authors of the genre and (if unconsciously) imitate them. I’d rather find my own voice and character development.

If I had to choose one romance sub genre as a favorite to write, I suppose it would erotic romance. It rather ignores a lot of the “rules,” which I appreciate.

4) How do you deal with criticism/rejection?
I yell, kick, and scream for a few seconds, then I get depressed for a few seconds. Then I let it go. I’ve been a copywriter, an editor, and a copyeditor for more years than I like to think about and have been reviewed by the best and the worst. I don’t take it personally any more. I think it was James Lee Burke (who holds the record for most rejections by an famous author—something like 117 no-thank-you’s) had a rule for rejections. When he received one, he committed to submitting to a different publisher within thirty-six hours. Look where that got him. Can you imagine how those first publishers who rejected Burke’s manuscript felt after he became so wildly popular?

5) What do you expect from an editor?
First and foremost, honesty. Second, a sense of humor. Third, a little experience and good sense. I’m fortunate to have an editor at Lyrical Press (Piper Denna) who has all these qualities and a bunch more. We connect on so many more levels than just writing and editing. From what I’ve seen and heard, this is not always the case.

6) Tell me about your latest release
The Last Resort follows the literal and figurative journeys of Margaret Murphy Ryder (known to most at Murph), who is newly divorced and searching for personal and sexual identity. She takes to the road in her motorhome (one of the spoils of her settlement), only to find that she was really escaping to a place she would call eventually call home. She entertains a few lovers along the way, but ultimately finds serendipitous passion where she least expected or looked for it. She also winds up as the owner of a failing but potentially profitable RV park. The bulk of the story takes place in a fictitious Gulf Coast town in Louisiana—an area I’ve spent a lot of time around and have come to love, so I included a lot of regional bits for those who may not know much about this part of the US.

7) Tease us with a blurb or short excerpt
Sure! Here’s a little piece from near the end of the story:

I learned to speak a few words of Cajun. Learned that cher is pronounced sha. That “T” before someone’s given name is short for petite and is used much like junior: T-Maurice was likely the son of Maurice, and not necessarily a small man. I discovered that I liked crawfish better than shrimp and became adept at picking the bit of fat out of the head that Cajuns love to eat. I came to recognize zydeco artists and their different styles. In short, while I might never be completely as acculturated as a native to this part of the world, I became accepted.

I also got mail from Lee during his absence. Not cards, but actual handwritten letters. In some, he included photos he’d taken while at the Beach. A few of our photo shoot on the beach. He’d made me look much more beautiful than I am.

One envelope had no letter, just photos. The top photo was a picture of Lee holding a long sign that read “Hi, Maggie. Wow! I love you.” Lee clearly had nothing on and held the sign in a strategic spot to cover the good stuff. The second photo was the same, but the sign had been shortened to “Wow! I love you.” The third only said “Wow!” And the fourth, well, no sign. I hung all four photos in a row along a wall in my tiny bedroom. Some nights, I danced a slow sensuous dance in front of the photos, pretending I danced for Lee. I could hardly wait until he got back and could dance for him in the flesh.

8) Which is your favorite character in the book? Why?
Definitely, Lee Soloman, Murph’s ultimate love interest. He’s modeled after someone I knew years and years ago, so I guess this book was a way for me to renew my fantasies about him. If I knew how to get in touch with him, I’d love for him to read the book and give me his thoughts.

9) What is next for you?
Lyrical Press has graciously consented to publish a romantic novella I’ve written with an Irish theme, just in time for St Patrick’s Day, March 2011. The story, titled Irish Ice, takes place in Boston and includes a suspected (and possibly dangerous) IRA operative and an unsuspecting woman who is falling hard for him while on a business trip to the city. Per my editor’s request, Jessica (the unwitting protagonist) is some years older than her Irish paramour.

10) What are you working on right now?
Lots of stuff! Mostly, though, my focus at the moment is a paranormal romance set in the wilds of Montana. Think hiking, werewolves, steamy sex, and Big Sky rolled into one.

I’m also plugging along on a story told exclusively through exchanged emails and a mainstream novel about a woman who reaches middle age to find that no one really pays much attention to her (well, almost no one—the plot develops nicely in her favor, eventually).

11) Your biggest piece of advice to aspiring novelists?
Work hard to make your manuscript the best it can be and don’t give up on the possibility of it being published. Sometimes it takes a few tries (or even several) before you find the perfect match for your work. Also, be sure to follow the submission guidelines of publishers to the letter. They put them out there for a reason.

12) Where can readers find you?
I’d love to hear from readers at emlyforrest@gmail.com. Due to a procrastinating husband, my website is still in the works, but will soon be accessible at www.emlyforrest.com.

In the meantime, readers can find more information at www.lyricalpress.com/emly_forrest

Fascinating how little romance you read/watch, Emly but how wonderfully you can write it! I can't help wondering how many other romance writers are the same whereas I read more romance (across the sub-genres) than anything else. This is a great talking point - or comment on anything you'd like to pass on to Emly, she'd love to hear from you

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