10 in ’10 with Shirley Tallman

Last fall I read Murder on Nob Hill and The Russian Hill Murders and fell in love with the independent and spirited Sarah Woolson.  The next  book in this historical mystery series is on its way to me as I type 🙂  So, I was very excited when I contacted author Shirley Tallman and she agreed to answer a few questions. 

I recommend visiting her website where you will find access to her blog, books, and contests.  This month she’s giving away an Amazon gift card and next month she’ll be giving away signed hardcover copy of one of her books EVERY DAY!

On to the questions…

1. I love Sarah Woolson.  She’s smart, independent, and brave.  What or who was the inspiration for this wonderful character or did she just show up on your screen one day?

Actually, Sarah’s character had  been growing and developing in my mind for quite some time before I started MURDER ON NOB HILL, the first book in the Sarah Woolson Historical Mystery Series. To me Sarah embodies all the qualities I most admire in a heroine: intelligence, determination, fair-mindedness, empathy, honesty and, above all, courage. In order for a woman to square up against the chauvinism rampant in 1880’s society, she would have had to possess all of these virtues — in spades! Yet despite her feisty independence, she also possesses a quiet vulnerability and sensitivity that makes us sympathize with the many obstacles she must face, and root for her to come out victorious in the end.

2. Historic San Francisco is such a wonderful setting for this series.  What was it about San Francisco that made you want to explore its history in a series?

Several things led me to choose San Francisco as the setting for my novels. Of course the fact that I was raised in San Francisco was largely responsible. Fortunately, at the time I was growing up it was still fairly safe for a young girl to travel practically anywhere in the city by bus or cable car. My friends and I loved to ride our bikes through Golden Gate Park, visiting museums and the California Academy of Sciences, then continue riding down to the beach where we’d go ice skating, to Playland at the Beach, or to the Cliff House (the setting for book number four in the series). With my family I attended live theater and plays downtown, shopped along brightly decorated Maiden Lane at Christmas, and window shopped on Market Street. I think I fell in love with San Francisco before I even learned to read, and once I could, I would literally bury myself in books to learn more about its fascinating history. I don’t remember considering any other locale for my mysteries.

3. You also write screenplays.  How is that experience different than writing novels?

It’s completely different! For one thing, writing a novel is usually a solitary effort; for better or for worse, the author pretty much controls her story and her characters. Writing a screenplay is anything but a solitary endeavor. In Hollywood everyone seems to want a piece of the pie, and to satisfy their own egos. Perhaps a better way to put it would be to say everyone from the producer(s) (often there’s more than just one producer),  director and even the actors want to have a say in the final product — which frequently forces the screenwriter to veer off into vastly different directions. Of course when the writer attempts to please one of the producers/directors/actors, she’s sure to offend the rest of the players. To put it in a nutshell, the finished screenplay sometimes bears little resemblance to the writer’s first draft!

4. Can you tell us a little about how you were first published?

Once upon a time, my best friend and I (both mothers of small children) decided to write a book. Today we look back on the experience as having proven the old saying that, “Ignorance is bliss!” Having absolutely no idea as to the impossibility of the task, we blithely sent out the completed manuscript to at least fifty publishing houses, papering our laundry-room walls (yes, that’s where we did a good portion of our writing!) with rejection slips. Finally, one brilliant and perceptive publisher (at least that’s how we like to remember him), bought our book, PLEASE STAND BY — YOUR MOTHER’S MISSING, and released it in hardcover to an unsuspecting public. To his surprise, I’m sure, the book sold rather better than he suspected, and our careers were launched. Okay, maybe they weren’t launched right away, but we were certain we were on the right tract. As it turned out, my friend went on to write award-winning stage plays, while I helped feed my growing family by penning Harlequin/Silhouette contemporary romances. Later on, we joined up again to successfully write and sell movies to ABC, NBC and CBS.

5. Who are some of your favorite mystery writers?

There are so many it’s hard to list them. Certainly Agatha Christie introduced me to the magic of mysteries as a child. As a teen, I added science fiction to my favorites, then mystery masters such as Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters, Ngaio Marsh, Robert Bernard and Ellis Peters.

6. What’s the last book you read?

I just finished reading Maeve Binchey’s novel, HEART AND SOUL, and Dean Koontz’s FOREVER ODD. Plus, of course, a steady stream of research books for my own novels, but I don’t necessarily count those as leisure reading.

7. What is your favorite non-reading and writing hobby?

I’m a Gemini, so I have a lot of hobbies. I love to bike ride and snow ski, do yoga, knit and crochet, and go to the movies. I admit I’m addicted to several TV series, including TRUE BLOOD, THE CLOSER, MONK, CSI (all three), HEROES, PBS MYSTERIES, HOUSE and  THE BIG BANG THEORY.

8. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

I think my favorite quote is: “All things are possible to one who believes.” (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux – letters)

9. If you were trapped in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

I know I’m prejudiced, but actually I’d choose the life of my own heroine, Sarah Woolson. As I said earlier, she embodies so many qualities that I admire in a woman. Beyond that, her life is never dull!

10. And finally, what are you working on now?

I’m working on book #5 in the Sarah Woolson series, tentatively titled, DEATH ON TELEGRAPH HILL.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Shirley!

9 in ’09 with Mary Doria Russell and book giveaway, part 2

To read the first part of this interview, click here.

I will be giving one lucky commenter his or her choice of one Mary Doria Russell title.  After reading part one of the interview leave a comment and you will be entered.  Read Part Two and comment  and earn a second entry.  Those who have gotten a correct answer in my Green Title Quiz have earned an extra entry and those who are winners in my upcoming quiz on Monday will also earn extra entries.  I will draw the winners on March 31st at noon.  I will ship anywhere.

And now for the rest of the interview…

5. I’ve read that you became a novelist because you were out of work.  Is that true?

Yep.  There was this big recession at the end of the Bush administration…Wait!  I’m having deja vu…

Anyway, I lost my job and I had an idea for a short story about Jesuits in space.  That turned into The Sparrow and Children of God.

Would you recommend the writer’s life for the rising number of unemployed Americans?

Um.  Only if you’re married to an engineer with a secure job and medical benefits.  Seriously.  Publishing is under severe stress as an industry, and it was brutally competitive even before the latest economic pooh hit the national fan last fall.  The odds of an unknown getting a first novel published were approximately 4 million to one back in 1995 when I got my first contract.  Today, you’ve got a better chance of fame and fortune if you buy lottery tickets.

On the other hand, if you can’t help yourself, and you live to write, and you are talented and have something interesting to say, the blogoshere is an amazing new outlet.  Making money that way is a different thing.  Occasionally a blog will take off, and be parlayed into paying work, but it’s a lot like standing in a field during a thunderstorm hoping to get hit by lightning.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?

You probably mean quotes from famous authors or something, but in our household, about 64% of the conversation consists of quotes from movies.  We use any of a hundred lines from the Princess Bride on a regular basis, but we just watched Moonstruck again a couple of nights ago, and I particularly like “Yeah, well, someday you will die, and I’ll come to your funeral in a red dress!”

My husband and I also use “You’re still gonna die, Cosmo!” whenever we see some middle-aged idiot trying to pretend he’s a young stud.

7. What are you currently reading?

At the moment?  Two non-fiction studies of the Kansas temperance movement in the 1870’s – that’s background research.  Also “Born Fighting,” by Jim Webb, about the history of the Scots-Irish, which explains a huge amount about contemporary American politics.  I’m also reading The Last Judgement by James Connor, which is a wonderful art history book that clarifies the swirl of politics, science, art and war that was the Renaissance.  And recently, I loved a book about death called  Nothing to be Frightened of” by Julian Barnes.  Exquisitely written and funny as hell.

I also read stacks of magazines: current affairs, economics, decorating.  And I watch a lot of TV.  I’m not a snob.  Baseball, HGTV, the History Channel.  Just discovered Dead Like Me, on DVD.  Getting into The Dollhouse, by Joss Whedon.  LOVED Firefly!

8. If you were stuck in the life of one of your fictional characters, who would you choose?

Interesting question…I guess I’d choose Agnes Shanklin, in Dreamers of the Day.  Yes.  Definitely.  Agnes.

I like the way she questions everything and slowly takes charge of her life and handles adversity.  I also like that she stays true to her sensible Midwestern self, no matter who she finds herself among.

9. What are you currently working on?

This time, I’m taking on two iconic figures of the American frontier.  Eight to Five, Against is a murder mystery set in Dodge City in 1878, the summer when the unlikely by enduring friendship between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday began.

The novel takes place almost 4 years before the famous gunfight at the OK Corral, but there’s a direct line from the summer in Dodge City to the gunfight in Tombstone that made the Earps and Doc Holliday notorious.

I’m about 8 chapters from having a complete first draft.  Usually Wyatt is the focus of these stories, but I am totally in love with Doc.  That boy just breaks my heart…

He’s often portrayed as a coldblooded psychopathic killer, but he wasn’t like that at all.  At the time of the novel, he was a frail, proud, beautifully educated 26-year-old dentist living on the rawest edge of the American frontier, still hoping to recover from tuberculosis in the warm dry climate of western Kansas.  That summer in Dodge was the last time Doc was well enough to attempt to practice his profession.  He still believed that he was going to get better and go back home to Atlanta someday, but it never happened.

When will it be out?

Sometime in 2010 is my guess.

BONUS QUESTION   What’s next for you?

I’m starting to get interested in Benedict Arnold now, and there might be a book in that.  I seem to be drawn to characters who are unjustly condemned by people who don’t know anything about them, and I do think Arnold got a raw deal from Washington and the Continental Congress.

I like the idea that Arnold could draw me into the Enlightenment and Baroque music, and early American history.  Not sure what the story would be, though.  When Eight to Five is done, I’ll start reading biographies of Arnold and his wife, and Washington, and so forth.  Maybe a plot will emerge.  Maybe not.

On the other hand, and this is a scoop for you: I may go back to paleoanthropology.  I’ve been thinking about the Dark Ages in Europe, and how everybody – including pregnant and nursing mothers – drank beer and wine almost exclusively for long stretches of European history.  The Dark Ages have been described as a thousand years when each generation knew less than the one before it.  It was a great melting away of high culture, and I wonder if endemic fetal alcohol syndrome had something to do with it.  So I have and idea for how to test that idea using skull measurements from cemeteries.

Have to think some more about this, but it would be fun to get back into the bone biz.


I want to thank Mary for taking the time to participate.  I appreciate it and I’m sure all of you did too!

9 in ’09 with Mary Doria Russell and book giveaway, part 1

Mary Doria’s first novel The Sparrow and it’s sequel Children of God, combined to win 8 regional, national, and international awards.  She followed with two books of historical fiction, A Thread of Grace, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and Dreamers of the Day.  She holds a PhD in Paleanthropology and taught human gross anatomy at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dentistry before becoming a full-time writer.

Mary is a wonderful speaker and you should take advantage of any opportunity to hear her.  Here‘s my post on a book signing I attended last year. Visit her website for more information, http://www.marydoriarussell.net/

I will be giving one lucky commenter his or her choice of one Mary Doria Russell title.  After reading part one of the interview leave a comment and you will be entered.  Come back tomorrow and comment on part 2 and earn a second entry.  Those who have gotten a correct answer in my Green Title Quiz have earned an extra entry and those who are winners in my upcoming quiz on Monday will also earn extra entries.  I will draw the winners on March 31st at noon.  I will ship anywhere.

Without further ado…

1. Dreamers of the Day takes place as the fate of the Middle East was being decided in 1921 and many historical figures play roles in the book. How true to the real players are the characters?

I did my level best to portray all the historical characters with accuracy. My goal with historical novels is never to contradict the facts, but to work with them and deepen the reader’s insight into personalities and events. I will sometimes fudge dates by a few weeks, to make a narrative work, but I really try to keep things as accurate as possible. I’m still an academic at heart.

2. The Sparrow is one of my favorite books and was optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company. What is the status on The Sparrow making it to the big screen?

 Producer Nick Wechsler called me at the end of February (2009) with an update. According to Nick, Mr. Pitt is passionate about getting the film made and “Brad’s been concentrating on doing his own treatment of the novel since finishing up with Benjamin Button and the Oscar hoopla.” The whole project could still evaporate, but it seems more likely now that it is the focus of Mr. Pitt’s attention.
3. Your historical novel, A Thread of Grace, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  Can you tell us about your personal experience of becoming a nominee?
Well, as everybody says, it’s great honor to be nominated – a heartening validation of a writer’s skill and very nice recognition of a particular work.  It’s also the only thing that impresses people more than “Brad Pitt might do The Sparrow!”
To me, however, the most gratifying recognition is the email I get from families of veterans of the World War II Italian campaign.  These are notes from people whose parents served in the armed anti-fascist resistance, or in the German, Italian and Allied armed forces.  I also hear from children of Jewish refugees whose lives were saved by the Italians, as described in the book.
Veterans and survivors rarely talked about the occupation of Italy, and the novel fills in a lot of gaps for families because the silence of Claudia at the end of the story is typical.  Partly, it’s the difficulty of conveying political and strategic complexity in what is often a third or fourth language for he parent.  But it’s also very difficult to relive those emotions, and most people in the World War II generation believe such memories are better forgotten.
Of course, war trauma is never forgotten – it’s there, and the consequences echo down the generations.  It was my privilege to start a few conversations, even ones that are now posthumous.  The book seems to fill in gaps and connect dots for many in the second generation.
4. Your books must require so much research.  You invented a whole language for The Sparrow…
Two actually!
And Eight to Five, Against, I even ‘interviewed’ horses to get the personalities and capabilities of an intact quarter horse, an Arab mare and a gelded hunter-jumper right!
And since Doc Holliday went to dental school in 1871, I read all the issues of the professional journal Dental Cosmos between 1871 and 1878, so I’d be familiar with the instruments available to Doc and his patients.
This kind of research is just a joy to me.  I love love LOVE this stuff.
…and your two historicals are jammed full of information.  How much research do you do for each book?
Tonnage.  I mean: YEARS of research for each of them.  And I go deep on the main characters.  I need to know what they knew, and I also have to understand their parents’ lives and the kind of relationship they had with their parents.  I know more about Doc Holliday’s family than I do my own, and if I get started on him, I’ll go on forever, so I’ll tell you about the research on the Earp brothers, because I can shut up about them more easily.
I started with all the biographies, but I still didn’t believe I understood their family dynamic.  Just looking at the whole group – Newton, James, Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan and Warren – I knew there was something going on at the home that nobody was writing about.  My guess was that they were beaten as children, but none of the biographers mention it.
Then I dug up a diary written in 1864 by a woman on a wagon train to California that was led by Nicholas Earp, the boys’ father, back when Wyatt was 15.  Sure enough, Nicholas was a mean, profane, violent sonofabitch.  The diarist gave example after example, and this was years before any of the Earps was famous, so I think it’s reliable.  It was a great validation of my developing insight into the brothers’ personalities and was of dealing with the world.
I’m also pretty certain Wyatt was dyslexic, based on descriptions of his attempts to read law, but Morgan was a reader, and that told me something about their relationship – Morg was four years younger, but he and Wyatt were extremely close.  So there’s Morg’s hero worship of his older brother Wyatt, while Wyatt was dependent on Morg’s help with letters and newspapers and so on.
And I’m becoming very fond of their older brother James, who was crippled during the Civil War.  Each of the boys has reacted differently to their father’s bullying, and James is the kind whose reaction is to remain gentle in a quiet existential defiance of the abusive parent.  He’s a remarkable guy…James was in every town where Wyatt served on the police force, but he’s almost unknown to history – I have a colleague digging out James’s war record  right now, to get a feel for where he’d been and the intensity of the fighting he saw.
to be continued tomorrow…

9 in ’09 with LaConnie Taylor-Jones

This Friday romance writer, LaConnie Taylor-Jones, joins me for 9 questions.  Last year I reviewed When a Man Loves a Woman, here.    You can visit her website at http://www.laconnietaylorjones.com/index.htm

LaConnie is a wife, mother of four, health educator, and author.  Somehow she found the time to fit in these 9 questions 🙂  Thank you, LaConnie!

1. When you wrote your first book, When I’m With You, did you know you would continue to write about the Baptiste family? Did you have future stories in mind for these characters?

Yes, I actually knew from the beginning that there would be at least four stories from the Baptiste Family. Since I’ve introduced them to readers, they’ve been well received and many readers have requested stories from some of the secondary characters. Only time will tell if this will happen.

2. I love a great romance, but sometimes the genre gets a bad rap. What is the most memorable reaction you have received when you told someone you are a romance writer?

First let me say, I ditto your sentiments. I love romance, too, both as a reader and a writer. A romance novel has the same characteristics as any other novel, except it centers on the love between two people, and provides an optimistic ending. The read is fresh, smart, and diverse.

The most memorable reaction occurred in late 2007 when I stood face-to-face with a person I’d recently met at a small gathering. After a few moments of polite introductory exchange, I casually mentioned that I’d recently published my debut novel.

“Oooh, so how exciting,” the person exclaimed.

With a smile, I nodded and said, “Yes, it certainly is.”

“So, tell me, what do you write?”

“Contemporary romance.”

There are no words in the English language to truly describe the flabbergasted expression on that individual’s face the moment I uttered those last two words.

3. I think it is hard to walk the fine line between too little and too much sex in a romance, but you did a great job in When a Man Loves a Woman. How difficult is it to know how much to put in and when to stop?

The answer to that question comes with an author truly understanding the genre they are writing in. If for example, an author is writing erotic, then it would include more sex scenes than a traditional romance. Most of my books hover between 300-310 pages and I usually include no more than three love scenes.

4. What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

The best writing advice came from my author mentor, Beverly Jenkins. She wisely said, “The only control you have is the story you write, so write the best darn story you can.”

5. What was your favorite childhood book?

Actually, there are two: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger.

6. I love quotes. Do you have a favorite quote or motto?

“Reach beyond the break.”

7. What are you reading right now?

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

8. If you got stuck in the life of one fictional character, who would you choose?

Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind. Despite her faults, this character showed a tenacity to succeed and perseverance to overcome the most difficult of situations.

9. And finally, what are you working on right now?

Currently, I’m working on the plot for an upcoming romantic suspense series.

Books by LaConnie- When I’m With You, When a Man Loves a Woman

9 in ’09 with Tish Cohen and Book Giveaway

This Friday Canadian writer, Tish Cohen, joins me for 9 questions.  I reviewed Inside Out Girl last year and it was a 2008 favorite.  Tish is a novelist, YA writer, and children’s book author.  Visit her website http://www.tishcohen.com/ for more information.  Thank you so much for answering my questions and for offering a free book, Tish!

Ms. Cohen is graciously offering a signed copy of Inside Out Girl to ONE lucky reader.  To enter please leave a comment on this post after reading the interview, one entry per person.  There are no shipping restrictions.  I’ll draw a winner next Friday, February 6th, at noon.

Cover Image

1. Your first book, Town House, is being made into a movie.  Can you tell us a little about the process and how involved you are?

I’m not involved in the process beyond getting to read the script and hearing which actors are being considered.  But I’ve learned a great deal nonetheless–most of all that Hollywood is a hurry up and wait industry.  I think it’s important to trust the people who are making your film adaptation – I feel pretty lucky with my studio, producer, screenwriter, and director.  They all want to produce a quality film and I couldn’t ask for more than that.

2. I loved your novel, Inside Out Girl, and it’s most compelling character, Olivia, who is stricken with NLD (nonverbal learning disorders).  What is the one thing you want people to know about this disorder?

My close friend is a family therapist and once told me her favorite clients are the children with non-verbal learning disorders, because of their loving dispositions–naivete’, and utter inability to connect with other children.  She loved that they talked too close, constantly knocked things over, said the wrong thing, and still got lost on the way to the restroom down the hall in an office they’d been coming to for five years.  Often they can’t walk up the stairs and talk at the same time, their clothes are inside out and their lack of motor skills means they can’t brush their own teeth.  If you tell them to jump in a lake, they probably will.  Frustrating, to say the least.

But they will hug you until you weep.  They not only wear their hearts on their sleeves, but on a neon sign above their heads.  They see nothing wrong with marching straight up to the meanest clique in middle grade or the bully everyone fears and wrapping themselves around them in a full-body hug.  And they cannot for the life of them see why they’re rejected.

I thought about what it would mean to have a child with NLDand the joy and pain that would entail.  Then I wondered what that parent would do if he found out he was dying and had to leave his daughter in a world that doesn’t understand her.  The reason I chose a father and daughter for this story was very deliberate.  Parents of girls with conditions such as NLD or Asperger’sface a very real threat, especially as their daughters reach adolescence.  Girls with social disorders can be so naive that they can be easily preyed upon by males.  And lacking a healthy level of skepticism or wariness, they can easily be lured into dangerous situations.

3. You have written two novels and a children’s book.  How is the process of writing the two different?

Honestly, all the same elements go into a children’s book: character development, plot development, subplots and layered storylines, etc.  It’s all there but the energy is amped up.  Kids’ books can be quite a bit of fun and it’s always interesting to mine your children’s school lives for funny happenings!

4. What is the best aspect of life as a writer?

Hmm…great question.  There are some things that are exciting–the film stuff and the TV stuff (Zoe Lama has been optioned for a television series), meeting other authors at literary events, forming close friendships with other writers who “get” what you’re going through.  But I think the best aspect would be making up lives and characters and worlds for a living.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  It gets to the point thinking about imaginary people keeps you sane!

5. How did you first get published?

I had certainly had much rejection before Town House sold.  I secured an agent withmy first manuscript, but the book didn’t sell.  And rightly so, as it was severely lacking in plot!  I probably would have given up at that point but the rejections were quite encouraging so I wrote another manuscript using what I’d learned from the rejections.  Also, I realized at that point I needed an agent who was more familiar with the fiction market (my first agent was primarily non-fiction) and parted ways withher, eventually landing the agent I have now.  He’s a dream agent and was willing to work with me as I got the next book ready for sale.  But that book didn’t sell.  Came close but no sale.  In the meantime, I wrote Town House, again, learning from my rejections.  Then when it came time for my agent to send Town House to editors, I made a decision.  If no one jumped on it right away, I would go fill out an application at The Gap.  The book went out on a Thursday and, unbeknownst to me, the editors slipped it to literary scouts who work for Hollywood and a week later we had a film offer from Fox.  It sold as a book one week later.  The film thing was a huge shock, totally unexpected.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite quote or motto?

One of my favorite quotes is from Steve Martin.  “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

7.  What are you reading right now?

Meg Wolitzer’s The Ten-Year Nap.  Great book.

8. If you got stuck in the life of one fictional character, who would you choose?

Miss Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.  Horses, long dresses, and Mr. Darcy.  Need I say more?

9. And finally, what are you working on right now?

My debut teen novel, Little Black Lies, is coming out in September, so I’m working on edits.  And my third novel for adults comes out in a year, so I’m writing the first draft and having a ball with it.

Books by Tish Cohen- Town House, Inside Out Girl, Zoe Lama children’s books.

Leave a comment to be entered in the free book drawing.




9 in ’09 with Carla Neggers

This Friday New York Times bestselling author, Carla Neggers, has graciously agreed to answer 9 questions.  She has written over 50 books and 10 best sellers.  I have reviewed The Widow and The Angel. 

Carla graduated magna cum laude from Boston University and lives with her husband in Vermont.  You can visit her website for more information, http://www.carlaneggers.com

I met Carla last May at a book signing here in Cleveland (photo below).  She was charming and gracious enough to spend an hour answering our questions.  When I contacted her yesterday about doing this interview she contacted me and answered my questions within 24 hours.  Thank you Carla! 

1. I loved the Ireland setting for The Angel and I know it was inspired, at least in part, by a family vacation.  Have any other of your travels shown up in your books?
Ireland’s incredible. I can’t wait to go there again! I’ve been to almost every place my books have been set. One of my early mainstream novels, BETRAYALS, is being reissued in March (with a stunning new cover), and part of it is set in southern France. Where I’ve never been. I must go, don’t you think? Many of my books are set in New England, where I live, so that’s easy; and Boston is “my” city. THE RAPIDS, one of the books in my “U.S. Marshals” series, is partly set in Holland. My father was Dutch, and I have many first cousins there. In fact, we’re heading to Holland this summer for a visit…via London and Paris. 😉
2. You have written so many books.  Would you consider any of the characters favorites or more personal to you? 
Every character is an individual to me. I can see them — they’re no more interchangeable in my mind than my six brothers and sisters are to me. Right now, I’m totally taken with the Rush family in THE MIST. They own boutique hotels and have a penchant for spying. And the Davenports…Will Davenport makes a brief appearance in THE ANGEL but takes center stage in THE MIST. He and Lizzie Rush have to stop an American billionaire bent on violent revenge.
3. You are a New York Times bestselling author.  What advice do you have for other writers who are trying to achieve that goal?
Focus on writing the best book you can. There’s an old saying that a good book is a writer’s triumph and a bestseller is a publisher’s triumph. And celebrate every milestone on the way. Don’t wait to make the bestseller lists to break out the champagne!
4.  Do you read reviews of your books, in print or online, and how do they affect you?
Everyone appreciates a compliment! 
5.  Do you have any rituals or routines when you are writing?
I try never to eat at the computer. 🙂 
6.  I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?
I have two mottos. One is from the Tao: “Let life ripe and fall, force is not the way at all.” The other is from a friend: “Anxiety focuses the mind.” They’re not as contradictory as you might think!
7.  What are you reading right now?
THE MEMORIST by M.J. Rose. It’s fabulous! 
8.  If you were placed in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?
One who lives happily ever after!
9.  And finally, what are you working on now?
I’m writing COLD RIVER, the sequel to COLD PURSUIT — which has my first-ever true cliffhanger ending. We know “whodunit” but we don’t know the mastermind behind the killers. COLD RIVER is set in Vermont in the middle of winter…so research is easy. I’m going cross-country skiing on my lunch hour today. Research!
For a complete list of Carla’s books, click here.

9 in ’09 with Rachel Hauck

 This is my first of many (I hope) interviews with authors I enjoy.    Every Friday I’ll be asking 9 questions of an author gracious enough to answer them.  I reviewed Sweet Caroline last year (review here) and its author, Rachel Hauck, answered these 9 questions for me.  Thanks Rachel!  You can visit Rachel at her website, www.rachelhauck.com

Rachel Hauck is a best selling and award winning author. A graduate of Ohio State University, she lives in central Florida with her husband and pets. She is currently writing her twelfth novel.

1. I loved your book, Sweet Caroline.  What made you choose to set it in the South Carolina low country?

RH: To be honest, I looked at books set in the south and saw how well received lowcountry were and thought, why not set a book in South Carolina? But before that, a friend of ours wrote a worship song called Praise House. I asked where the idea came from and he showed my husband and I his home video of a spontaneous trip he and his wife took to Beaufort, South Carolina looking for a Gullah praise house. As soon as I saw his video, I knew I wanted to set a book there.

2. This YouTube clip promoting Love Starts With Elle is great.  Can you tell us how it was done and more about your Diet Coke addiction?

RH: Diet Coke addiction? What Diet Coke addiction. Okay, yeah, I do enjoy my daily Diet Coke. It’s my drink of choice rather than coffee. When I was in college, I was a Diet Pepsi fan, but several years ago while at my corp job, everyone drank Diet Coke like it was going out of style and I switched because several people had office mini-fridges stocked with Diet Coke. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Love Starts With Elle trailer came to me one night out of the blue. I wanted a book trailer, but they are all the same and I wanted to do something different. I thought, “What if I talk to Elle like she’s real?”

I called a good friend who used to work at Pixar. We agreed on the project and price, I wrote a script and we filmed it a few days later. It was fun and easy. Despite my bad hair day, it turned out well. 🙂

3. You attended Ohio State (Go Bucks!) and earned a degree in journalism.  What drew you to writing inspirational fiction as a career choice?

RH: Yes, Go Buckeyes! I always wanted to be a writer which was one reason I majored in Journalism. After graduating and working in the corp world for awhile, I thought about writing but knew the publishing road to be daunting. Finding an agent, etc.

In the early ’90s I started reading Christian fiction. I enjoyed the stories and liked the aspect of weaving in a spiritual theme if I wanted. On ’94, I started my first book, a WW2 epic. Excerpts from it made it in Love Starts With Elle.

I went to my first writers conference in ’97 where I began meeting people and learning about the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA.) In those days, you didn’t need an agent. A writer just submitted to the publishers, but even by the late ’90s, fiction was making huge strides.

I don’t think I purposefully set out to write Inspirational, it just came out of the books I was reading and the excitement I had in my heart over a life in God.

4. Do you have a local writing group or fellow writers that you look to for support and advice or is writing a solitary endeavor for you?

RH: Writing is always solitary. No way around it. But I do have a great support network. My brainstorming buddy and great friend, Susan May Warren, is a phone call away. She’s a fabulous and award-winning author who really helps me out when I’m stuck in the middle of writing. I do the same for her. We laugh about how clearly we see each other’s stories, but are so blind to our own.

My good friend and award winning Christine Lynxwiler also provides support. Many times, a writer needs someone just to listen to the struggle. And of course, if something good happens, they are the first ones I call.

I am a member of Romance Writers of America which has a local chapter. I attend monthly meetings with those writers and receive a lot of encouragement. I learn something every meeting.

And, I’m on the Advisory Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. Part of the organization is run by a member based email loop, so there’s always writers an email away. Such a great resource for all kinds of information.

Last, but not least, I’m a member of published author organization and we provide a lot of support to each other. I feel surrounded sometimes.

My husband and non-writer friends, and my family also provide support. They listen to me go on and on about a book issue. Bless them!

5. What was your favorite childhood book?

RH: I loved to read biographies, but far and above, The Little House books were my absolute favorite. I’ve read the entire series a dozen times.

6. I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite quote or scripture?

RH: I have one of each. My favorite quote is from Michael Jordan.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

My favorite Scripture is Song of Solomon 4:9.

“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride;
         You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes,
         With a single strand of your necklace.”

7. What are you reading right now?

RH: I just finished “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Next book, not sure yet.

8. If you were placed in the life of one fictional character who would you choose?

RH: Hmm, good question. Maybe Ebenezer Scrooge or Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice fame.  Mostly to see what their world was really like. I’d like to see Ebenezer’s change and watch Elizabeth fall in love. 

9. And finally, what are you working on right now?

RH: I just finished a book with country artist Sara Evans. The book releases sometime this spring along with her new album. I’m excited about it. We’re doing several fiction books together. They are stories we made up. Nothing autobiographical.

Thanks Stacy! Great questions. I appreciate this opportunity!

Books by Rachel Hauck– Love Starts With Elle, Sweet Caroline, Diva NashVegas, Lost in NashVegas, Georgia On Her Mind, Lambert’s Peace, Lambert’s Pride, Lambert’s Code, New Hampshire Weddings, Windswept Weddings