Wednesday, June 16, 2010
An Interview with JULIE GARWOOD!
Julie will be checking the comments so make sure you say hello!
Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
Just about everywhere. I'm always finding stories in things I see and hear. I was once sitting at my son's football game and envisioned medieval warriors going to battle. My imagination kicked in, and before I left the stands, I had an idea for a historical novel.
Q: How do you organize your various projects? What does your working/writing schedule look like?
I wish selling more books meant you had more time to write, but it's just the opposite. I find that much of my day is taken up with business matters, marketing, contracts, etc., so I've had to separate my writing time. For me, that's early in the morning. It's a routine that actually began at the beginning of my career. When my children were young, I'd get up before they did and spend an hour or two writing. I'm still a morning person and I try to get in several hours before turning my attention to other matters. Of course, when a deadline is looming, that schedule might change considerably, but my ideal situation is to write in the morning and by mid-afternoon be free to handle everything else.
Q: Was it difficult for you to get that first novel published?
No. I was so, so lucky. I had attended a reception following a local writers' conference and at the end of the evening met a literary agent who asked about what I was writing. I described a story about a medieval knight that I was working on, and she told me it sounded like a historical romance. I wasn't even sure what that meant exactly. I also told her about a little book I was working on for younger readers. She asked me to send them to her, so I did. It wasn't long before she told me she had sold them to two different publishers.
Q: What do you consider the most successful way to promote your books?
I think the Internet is the best way to reach people these days. There are so many sites for readers, and it costs next to nothing to get word out about your book. I also think every author should have a web site.
Q: What are you working on right now?
I'm at the beginning stages of my next book, and it's a little early to tell much. It's not that I'm being guarded about it, but I've found sometimes I'll be surprised at the direction a story goes, and I'll make changes. So I like to have most of it written before I talk about it. I can say this: it's another contemporary romantic suspense novel, and I'm liking the characters very much.
Q: How do you handle revisions and polishing before submitting the finished product? When is enough enough?!
That's a really big question. Every time I send a manuscript in, I wish I could take it back and rewrite it. I'd probably hang on to it forever to polish it, but the deadline forces me to let it go. I envy any writer who submits a book that she believes is perfect.
Q: I have read all the historicals at least once and more often twice. Did you plan them as a series or write more as the idea struck?
I don't really follow a master plan for a series. Most often, as I'm writing one story, I become intrigued with some secondary character and want to find out what happened to him/her, so I bring that character back for another story.
Q: While I enjoy your contemporary novels, I LOVE your historical ones--are there any plans to introduce more of the historicals?
I love the historicals too. The contemporary novels, however, have a much broader audience, so the publishers have asked for more of these. Right now I'm committed to writing several contemporary novels, but I hope to return to medieval Scotland before too long.
Q: Do you have a favourite out of all your books? Do you have any favourite characters?
That's like choosing a favorite child. They're all special to me for different reasons, mostly having to do with what was going on at the time I was writing them. I guess I'm usually most partial to the one I'm working on because it's demanding all of my attention.
Q: What challenges have you faced in writing more than one genre? Did your editors/agents discourage you from this? Do you have a preference for one of the genres?
Actually, my publishers had been asking me to write a contemporary novel for a while, and I was a little hesitant. I so loved researching and coming up with historical plots, I resisted the change. But then I wrote Heartbreaker, and I really liked the experience and the change of pace. If I lived in a perfect world, I'd be able to write several at once, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet.
Q: Many historical writers pick a time period (i.e. Regency) and base the majority of their novels in that period. Your historical novels are set in a number of different time periods. How do you decide the time period your story will be written in? Do you research a time period and then the story comes to you or do you have a story in mind and then research the time period?
I was a history major in college, and my favorite period was the Middle Ages. After I wrote a couple of books in this era, I decided to branch out, so I wrote several Regency novels. They have a whole different feel to them. I think of these as more light-hearted because society then was a little pompous and silly. Then I came up with an idea for a western based on what I had read about the orphan trains, and I became so attached to the characters in FOR THE ROSES, I had to write a story for each of them. So, I guess you could say I tend to go where my imagination leads me. Usually, I come up with a story idea first, then I do the research.
Q: For several years, I had been hopping from novel to short story to nonfiction to poetry in no particular order. I finally decided I should stick to longer fiction exclusively for a while, but occasionally hanker to dip into another genre. Do you write exclusively in one genre from start to finish, including the revisions that come back from your editor? Or do you work on more than one simultaneously? How do you guard against "cross-contamination"? Also how do you keep your focus?
I focus on one at a time, though usually by the time I finish it, I'm jotting down plot ideas for the next one.
Q: What advice on writing would you give to unpublished writers?
Keep working and keep improving your craft. Even if you don't get the approval of a publisher at first, find ways to share your writing with others. Writers organizations, critique groups, etc. will give you an audience. I also encourage you to attend writers' conferences where you'll get the chance to network with agents and editors.