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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Welcome Author Norah Wilson...

Where do you hail from? What do you love most about your hometown?

I live in Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick, Canada. What I love is the way it balances small town life with cultural amenities you usually associate with bigger cities. We’re home to two universities, an amazing art gallery, a very active theatre, and a vibrant music scene.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?

I always thought I’d make a great doctor, but being #10 of 11 children, grandiose career ideas like that were actively discouraged. But the love of all things medical makes its way into my writing, often through giving my characters medical crises/injuries to cope with.

What do you do for fun?

Way too much, I’m afraid! I love watching great TV (The Wire, Justified, Supernatural, everything Joss Whedon ever did, Terriers and too many more), as well as movies of all kinds. I also love music. (Did I mention Fredericton puts on a world-class Jazz & Blues Festival every year?) Then there’s reading….

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

I was raised in a Catholic family in a tiny community outside Fredericton, so it’s been a bit of a journey from there to writing very sensual romantic suspense and sexy vampires. I still feel as though dozens of people are peering over my shoulder as I write sometimes. Very unnerving!

Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

I actually write YA (young adult) paranormal with a writing partner, and our agent is shopping our stuff. That joint writing schedule keeps me pretty busy, but right now I’m working on a solo project at the same time. It’s a fourth installment in my Serve and Protect series. I hadn’t really intended to expand on it, but I’ve had so many requests from fans that I’ve had to rethink it.

How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

My books were initially targeted to the category romance market. I thought GUARDING SUZANNAH was a suitably category-ish name. The next ones had to follow the pattern, so SAVING GRACE and PROTECTING PAIGE followed. Then I wrote a novella to put up for free as a promo to let fans sample my writing, and called it NEEDING NITA. Of course, my agent (whom I acquired after writing those stories) wondered why I didn’t use alliteration from the start – SAVING SUZANNAH and GUARDING GRACE made much more sense to her. D’oh!

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?

I have, but not really as a central plotline. I tend to use those things in a more peripheral way. For instance, a real life law-and-order event might provide some handy fodder for my police detective or lawyer characters’ day-to-day grind, giving it a touch of realism.

How much of your work is real? How much is fantasy?

It’s pretty much all fantasy, whether you’re talking about bad boys who are tamed by the love of a good woman or vampires. In real life, you’d probably do well to run away from both! And the heroes I create – they’re idealized to fit a particular female fantasy. But at the same time, I try to infuse enough real life grittiness and detail to make the characters and the experience feel more real and authentic for the reader.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

For me, the biggest challenge is that I do not possess the limitless imagination that seems to be the birthright of most writers. Ideas come much more slowly to me. Which is why I write much more quickly with my extremely imaginative partner than I do on my solo projects. With Heather, I never have to wonder, “Okay, what next?”, because she always has a raft of ideas. Thankfully, our skills complement each other’s very well.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Write, write, write. Enter contests, take the advice that resonates for you, and write some more. Join a critique group, where you’ll learn more from the mistakes of others than you will from your own, and write some more. Submit, to editors and agents, take your lumps, and – you guessed it – keep writing. Basically, hone your craft to a publishable level, then persevere.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Remember that paucity of imagination I mentioned? That’s what’s apt to stop me in my tracks. I generally have to gnaw away at the problem and solve it in my own time. I do have a large circle of writer friends, but I rarely ask for help. I want it to be my solution. And yes, I do realize I’m my own worst enemy.

Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

I grew up reading romance, and the authors who shaped my view of the genre are too numerous to name. Anne Stuart has always been a favorite, as is Suzanne Brockmann. I was also influenced by Linda Howard, Lisa Gardner and the like. Pamela Clare is a current favorite. She really puts it all together – the grittiness, the sensuality, the amazingly heroic heroes.

How did you deal with rejection letters?

Rejection sucks. It used to put me out of commission for days. Then I’d pick it up, read it again. If I thought I could take something useful from it, I did. But more often than not, they just got filed away. If you’re going to be writing for mass market publishers, you need to get used to it. Now I have an agent who feeds me the rejections along with the sugar coating of flattering things the editor said. (Editors give more detailed feedback to an agent than they do an author. Often the author get little more than, “Sorry, not for me.”)

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

A fertile imagination is an asset, but I’m living proof that even a modest one will do. Thereafter, you need discipline, especially if you work a full time job as well. And lastly, perseverance. Perseverance often trumps raw talent. If an author can stick with it long enough to evolve and improve, they’re more likely to succeed than the brilliant-but-less-committed author.

Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

I like a certain amount of grittiness and realism, without straying into horror territory. I don’t want to be traumatized by what I read, so I try to show my reader the same consideration. Of course, I write romance, so no matter how I torture the characters, the reader can rely on my covenant that they will emerge stronger and happier. I’m sort of the same with the erotic content. My love scenes are graphic but tasteful. And the sex always provides an emotional turning point. It’s fundamental to the story arc, and never gratuitous.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?

My favorite is still published, a vampire story called NIGHTFALL. If my agent can’t stir up interest from New York, I may self-publish it. Aiden is the sexiest thing on two legs, not to mention an amazing hero, and I want to share him with people. Of my published books, I think I loved writing GUARDING SUZANNAH the most, which is strange. Quigg is maybe the least Alpha guy I’ve ever written, but I adored him. When I entered the Golden Heart contest with that entry, I thought I might be kissing my string of finals goodbye, but he made the cut. And from fan mail, I think a lot of ladies agree.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

This isn’t really weird, I guess, but it sure felt weird at the time! Getting the male community police officer who was housed in my office to read my extremely steamy stories to assure authenticity. I don’t know which of us blushed more! Oh, and doing a ride-along in a patrol car. It was awesome! (Thanks, Matt! Also thanks to Scott, the K9 handler, for his expertise for PROTECTING PAIGE.)

Where can we find you on the net?

My romantic suspense hangout is http://www.norahwilsonwrites.com/. For the young adult stuff, you’ll find my partner Heather Doherty and me at http://www.writersgrimoire.com/index.php. And of course, I’m on Twitter and Facebook.

Where can we find out more about your books?

You can find them anywhere ebooks are sold (Amazon, B&N, Amazon, etc.), but you can actually sample a full 50% of the book at Smashwords before making a decision to buy, so I often send people over there. Also, you can download in virtually any format at Smashwords, including Kindle.


Anonymous said...

Welcome, Norah.

Norah Wilson said...

Thank you, Brynna! I guess better late to the party than never. I totally dropped the ball, thanks to some anxiety-inducing life real life stuff. But I'm in the house now and will keep my eyes peeled for comments.

Barbara Phinney said...

Hi, Norah! I bought your books and look forward to reading them on my new Kindle.
Very good interview, btw. And excellent advice.
And don't worry, we've all 'dropped the ball' once or twice.

Norah Wilson said...

Thanks, Barbara! I have been known to be tardy sometimes, but usually by minutes, not days! And thanks for buying my book! Speaking of which, they're all 50% off this week, but only at Smashwords. It's part of their celebration of Read and E-Book Week.

Lina Gardiner said...

Norah! Great comments. You would've made the best doctor out there!! But I'm sooo glad you're writing instead because I totally love your writing.

Norah Wilson said...

That was me laying a big smooch on you, Lina. Maybe I could hire you to do my PR? Except that would take you away from YOUR writing, and we can't have that. ,-)

Norah Wilson said...

OMG, just reading the typos in my answers. The most egregious: I say my favorite story is "still published". (Head - Desk) That would be "still UNpublished".