Stacey at Whispering Stories recently interviewed me for her blog. Her questions were fun but also made me think about my answers. I was half excited and half terrified what she was going to ask and I think I rewrote my answers four or five times. I’m getting better at interviews on paper; I have yet to be interviewed in person and just the thought of that makes me feel a little sick.
Anyroad, here’s our interview, in full.
1) As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
I dreamed I would do a lot of things, but a writer was not one of them. I remember wanting to be a jockey, a firefighter, a police officer, a nurse. When I grew up, all I wanted was a job that paid well.
2) Who were your favourite childhood authors?
Walter Farley (The Black Stallion), Judy Blume. Then I stumbled upon David Eddings and Mercedes Lackey, and a completely new world opened up to me.
3) At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I didn’t set out on this path, although I was always making up stories in my head. I rarely wrote them down or showed anyone if I did. It wasn’t until 2015 when I accidentally (on purpose maybe?) emailed a friend the draft of a chapter.
4) How did you go about following that dream?
I just kept writing and writing, day and night, and self-published a draft that should never have seen the light of day. My biggest regret. Since then, I hired an editor and together we made my first novel, Wheeler, something I am proud of writing.
5) What is your writing day like? Do you aim for a certain amount of pages, or words before you stop writing?
I write whenever I’m inspired, because if I don’t write it down immediately, I will forget it. Occasionally I’ll record myself on my phone or handheld recorder but I hate the sound of my voice. I loathe word counts and being a total pantser, I can’t stick to one anyway.
6) Do you or did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I did consider it since there is another author named Sara Butler, and she’s a nun. I batted around using my Confirmation name, Veronica, but in the end, nobody can identify me in a police lineup so I use my full name.
7) Do you have any strange habits before, or whilst in the writing process?
I have to be doing something while I think, and as I was developing the story, I rode my bike quite a bit. Luckily, there’s a great rails-to-trails system where I live and I can ride fast without ending up getting hit by a car. I also crochet, but mostly while editing. It’s like a palette cleanser. Getting up and walking around would be better, but then I lose my train of thought.
8) Do you write longhand, typewriter, or on a computer?
Always on the computer.
9) How many books have you written? Do you have any unpublished work?
I have written two books, Wheeler and Wheeler: In Darkness, There is Still Light, which completes the story of Loren Mackenzie. Mostly. I haven’t decided whether or not to make it a series. (Sidebar: I’m still on the fence)
10) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Total pantser, but having a calendar as a timeline was my savior. Otherwise, I think this story would have ended up like every other one: in the trash.
11) Do you read all the reviews left for your book(s)? What strategies and mechanisms do you employ to cope with negative subjective comments (if you have received any)?
I do read all the comments, and after the one terrible review by a cycling magazine, I took Wheeler off the market. I had a long conversation with myself about what I wanted and decided to take the reviewer’s advice and hired an editor. That same editor worked on the second book with me.
— Concerning your latest book–
12) How long did it take you to get from the idea’s stage to your publication day?
I started writing the story of pro cyclist Loren Mackenzie in the summer of 2015. It was far too long so I decided to cut it into two books. Book one took two years, from first word to the re-release in January, 2017. Book two didn’t take quite as long, but editing and rewrites have taken nine months, at least.
13) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
Loren Mackenzie is named after Loren Rowney, a former pro cyclist who I admire. For the other characters, I tried to find names that were indicative of their nationality. Graham Atherton is very British. Felix Lalonde is French.
14) Can you give us an insight into your main character(s)? What makes them tick?
Loren Mackenzie is a survivor. She is intense, a little too serious sometimes, but has a big heart even though she tries to hide it. The tragedy she has faced in her life shaped her into a champion, but because she’s avoided dealing with her past it comes back to haunt her.
Graham Atherton is a White Knight in a shiny Jaguar. He is a proper Brit, a little full of himself and has his own baggage. He brings out a side of Loren she didn’t know existed, the romantic side.
While Felix Lalonde would be the antagonist, I tried to weave into the story that both he and the relationship between Loren and Graham were the antagonists. Felix wanted to own her, which took her attention away from her goal of winning. She wanted to love Graham, which also took her away from her goal. Ultimately, though Mr. Lalonde is just as damaged as Loren is, which makes their connection hard to sever.
15) What was your hardest scene to write?
Hands down, the sex scenes. It took me a very long time to be comfortable enough to even show anyone those. One of my betas said this: “That’s great, love the build-up, but if you come at me with just a sentence to finish it off, I’d be disappointed.” Apparently, I wasn’t descriptive enough.
16) How did you come up with the title of your book?
Coming up with the titles has been harder than writing the story! The type of cyclist Loren would be is called a wheeler and the French word is Rouleur. Typically, these types of riders are endurance specialists, they have the ability to ride for long periods of time at a high effort, which make them ideal time trialists. For the sequel novel, In Darkness, There is Still Light, I wanted to my readers to know there is hope.
17) Did you get a family member/friend to read your work before sending to the publishers?
Of course, and while I love my friends and family, they were not the right people to give me an opinion on my writing skill. That’s why my advice to any author is to hire an editor.
18) What process did you go through to get your book published?
It has been long, arduous and painful. Full of strife, self-loathing and agony. I’m self-published because having a romance about a female pro cyclist is a hard sell. I stopped sending queries at rejection number 122. (Sidebar: It’s now 124)
19) What did you do once you had written the final word in your book?
I got my first full night of sleep in three years.
20) What’s next for you, writing-wise?
I have to decide whether Wheeler will become a series or just the two books. I like mixing romance with suspense and I have some ideas percolating in the back of my head.
1) What’s your favourite food?
Pizza. Oreos. But not together.
2) If you had a box of crayons and you could only choose one, which colour would you choose?
Black, because you outline the shape of you want to color in black.
3) What movie could you watch over and over again?
Captain America, Winter Soldier.
4) What would be the top song on your playlist?
My musical tastes are so eclectic, I can’t choose a favorite. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of post-rock instrumentals.
5) If you won millions, what would be your first purchase?
A bigger house.
6) A talking duck walks into your room wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, what’s the first thing that he says to you?
For Pete’s Sake, woman! You really need to clean this place up!