1. Tell us a little bit about how you write your books:
Hi, Heather! Thanks for having me on your blog. I’m delighted to be here.
Generally, I get a “germ” of an idea while I’m doing something totally unrelated like laundry, or watching TV, or making dinner. A blippy will come to me, and I’ll write it down. Then I brainstorm to develop the idea or character, sometimes on my own and other times with a writer friend. I am not a plotter. I do not sit down and plan a book from start to finish. Wish that I could! I do not write an entire first draft of a manuscript before going back to revise it as a whole, either. When an idea for a scene comes to me, I sit down at the computer and “barf” out the scene, as I call it, writing as fast as I can. Then, once the scene is down, I rework it with pencil and paper, editing and revising by hand, and inputting changes into my computer until I am satisfied with the result. Then I start the process all over again with the next scene. I might get ideas for following scenes or scenes much later in the book, and I jot them down. However, I do not “see” my characters like a movie in the mind, like some writers experience. I feel them and I hear them, but I do not see them. For me, part of “feeling” them is the editing and revision process. Each scene springs from the one I’ve just written. So I find it very difficult to write scenes out of order. I’ve done it before, but it’s not my preferred method. I need to fully visualize a scene in my head before I can move on. And I need to edit the scene before I can fully “see” it as well as feel the characters.
Once I’m finished the story or novel, I revise it as a whole.
I’ve tried numerous times to become accustomed to writing completely on-screen, but for me the computer is for very fast drafting that I would not want to show to a soul and it’s also for business-of-writing. For instance, I have no problem answering interview questions on the computer. But my creativity flows through a pencil. Might sound weird, but there you have it.
2. How long have you been writing and what do you love about it?
I have been writing in one form or another since I was about ten. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books. I learned to read at an early age, before attending school, because my older sister was learning (I was around 4, and I didn’t go to Kindergarten, so I didn’t attend school until I was 6). I loved how reading could transport me to a different place and time,and how I could slip into the skins of the characters. We had two TV channels and no Internet, so reading was a primary form of entertainment. My grade three teacher read us the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of LITTLE HOUSE books every day, and those books inspired me to want to become a writer. Whenever I had a teacher, whether in elementary school or high school, who loved creative writing and incorporated it strongly into their curriculums, I adored it. In particular, my grade seven teacher and my grade eleven and grade twelve English teacher (same person for 11 and 12) helped foster my love of writing through their creative writing assignments.
I didn’t write fiction while I was in university, but I took it up again when I graduated. When my husband and I had kids, I stayed home but didn’t have the time (or energy) to devote fully to writing until the kids were in school. I’ve been at it ever since.
3. What hobbies/interests do you have?
Well, I had a lot more hobbies before I committed myself fully to writing! When the kids were little, I played the piano, sewed, and made fantastic Halloween costumes. My favorite was my “Pond Scum” costume, however no one at our party that year could figure out what I was. The closest guess was Mother Earth.
Today, I love walking our dog, Allie McBeagle, with my husband in a big provincial park near where we live. I run three times a week, which is not really an interest (I hated it at the beginning) but something I do for my health. I love movies, and I love live theatre. If I have a chance to visit New York (like for a conference), I will go to as many Broadway shows as my budget and time constraints allow.
Now that our children are grown and starting lives of their own, my husband and I have started traveling. In the past few years, we have been to Peru, Ecuador, and China. We did not travel when the kids were young, because I was a stay-at-home mom and we could not afford it. So we’re making up for it now. I blogged about our Peru and Ecuadors trips (see Peru 2010 and Galapagos 2012 in the sidebar at http://www.museinterrupted.com.)
4. Something people would be surprised to know about me is…
My paternal grandfather was born in 1899 and died in 2005, so he set foot in three centuries, not something a lot of people get a chance to do. When I was a kid and found out he was born in 1899, I challenged him to live to 2000. Then 2000 arrived and I realized that to truly set foot in three centuries, he would have to live to 2001, which I believe was the year the 21st century actually began. Not that I believe my childhood challenge was the reason he lived so long, but darn it if he didn't do it - and by then some!
"Duke," as he was called (a nickname), lived to 106 and a half. Until he was 105, he lived on his own, for fifteen years after my grandmother died (he was around 90, nearly 91, I think), albeit living in a house next door to my parents. He was very active. My grandparents square-danced, and after my grandmother died he continued on. He also played horseshoes nearly every day until a bad fall put him into a nursing home at 105. He took up five-pin bowling after she died, so in his early nineties, and he went tandem skydiving for the first and only time at 100 years and 40 days of age.
While I don’t plan on going tandem skydiving any time soon, I loved and admired him greatly and he remains a great source of inspiration to me. He had a can-do attitude and a zest for life that was contagious.
5. If you could invite 4 people (real or fictional, living or dead) to a dinner party, who would you invite and what would you serve?
The serving part is easy, because I hate cooking, so it would have to be a potluck. I am sorry, dinner guests, please bring your own food or get subjected to my cooking....
I would invite my brother-in-law, because he died when I was 21, before he actually became my brother-in-law, and I miss him terribly. I might invite Margaret Atwood (Canadian literary icon, living), Pierre Trudeau (famous, for Canada, Prime Minister of Canada, now deceased), and then Anna Karenina (fictional character) just to mix things up. The last three could discuss politics, history and literature, and my brother-in-law and I would go dirt-bike-riding and meet them for coffee and dessert later. Specifically, chocolate mousse.
6. I can’t live without…
Chocolate. I used to think I couldn’t live without Costco cinnamon buns smothered with cream cheese, but then the local Costco stopped carrying them and I discovered that I could.
7. Tell us a little about this current book - what was your favorite part about writing it? How did you go about adding to it for the re-issue?
BORROWING ALEX is an over-the-top, madcap romantic comedy. My favorite part of writing it was pretty much all of it. However, I loved coming up with the concept, which came to me while I was vacuuming. I was thinking about romance-novel tropes and how I could turn one on its head. At the time, in historical romances, a common trope was the kidnapped heroine. So I wondered, how about if I take that trope and place it in contemporary times and the heroine does the kidnapping instead of the hero? What sort of woman would do such a thing? And why would she do it? What would happen as a result?
The story reminds me of a romantic comedy movie, which is how I thought of it while writing it. It starts with an offbeat situation, however, as you read, the layers of the characters are uncovered and part of the enjoyment of the reading is that a great love lies beneath.
For the re-issue, without giving away the plot, I’ll just say I expanded the ending. The story now has an epilogue, whereas it didn’t before. And Nikki confronts a secondary character in the re-issue. That scene wasn’t in the first edition of the book.
8. What's next for your writing?
I lost my mother-in-law this year, and also for other various factors it has been a bit of an off-year for me personally. I am also not a fast writer, and I write under two names (my pen name writes erotic romance and erotica). More and more, I’m focusing on my contemporary romances and romantic comedies written as Cindy. However, I have a partially written story for my pen name that I will probably get back to. Once I have that done, I plan to complete my romantic comedy short story series, LOVE & OTHER CALAMITIES. Two short stories are available now, Deceiving Derek and Catching Claire, and I have three left to write (they have titles, but, true to my process, I have no idea what's going to happen in them, other than I know how the series as a whole generally ends). After that, I plan to return to my small-town contemporary romance series based in a fictional Canadian logging town called Destiny Falls. The first book in the series, WHERE SHE BELONGS, released in ebook in December 2012, and in early October of this year it hit the Kindle Paid Romance Bestsellers list and also the Top 100 Kindle Paid Bestsellers. It also hit the NOOK Top 100 Bestsellers list. That was all really exciting.
I have another humorous contemporary romance I will probably release in the next year or two, about the same length as BORROWING ALEX, but not as outrageous in concept or execution. It requires a revision first. And I have a completed 90,000-word humorous romantic mystery that I would like to edit and see released in 2014. A lot is in the works!
9. How can your fans stay up to date with what you are doing?
I am on Twitter and Facebook, but usually visit my Facebook page daily while I pop in and out of Twitter on a not-as-frequent basis. I also have a blog and website and a newsletter that I release only when I have a new book or story or other exciting news to announce. Here are the links
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/rqr0b (If that doesn't work, there are links on my Facebook page, my blog and my website)Thanks so much for hanging out on Acting Balanced today Cindy! I look forward to reading more! I've already checked out Catching Claire and I'm off to grab Deceiving Derek!
com (make sure to spell Procter with an E!)
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cindypk or @cindypk