Christmas In July Interview Questions
So, tell us a little about yourself? What is your typical day like?
I’m a retired stay-at-home mom, so I guess that makes me a kept woman.
When did you start to write and how long did it take you get published? How many stories did you finish before you were published?
I started writing when I was in my early twenties. That was before personal computers. I wrote in longhand on notebook paper and in spiral notebooks, but never finished a manuscript. When my children were born, my writing went by the wayside. I didn’t waste those “writing” years; I read voraciously—romances mostly, but there was a period during my early thirties where I read classic literature exclusively. When the kids were bigger, I took up writing again. I completed eight manuscripts and collected many rejections before finally publishing.
How did you break into publishing?
For years, I was targeting Harlequin/Silhouette. I caught the eye of an editor, but kept getting rejections. I entered a few contests, but the expense was prohibitive. I was really in a bad place psychologically in my writing, nearly to the point of giving it up. But writing is my passion, my identity. I am a writer, therefore I write. I couldn’t give up.
I kept reading romances and craft books on writing, and attending my RWA chapter meetings. I noticed how a few of my chapter mates were being published in digital format. They were having a blast, so I decided to give it a try. Being published by The Wild Rose Press has boosted my confidence and now, I’m having a blast!
What influenced you to write?
My mother, BK Reeves. She’s been published for many years. She’s taught me so much. She’s my biggest fan and my sternest critic. Here’s a little story about when I decided that I could write: Mother had published a couple of Regency romances with Avon. One Friday out of the blue, they called her and asked if she had anything to submit right now, because they were in a lurch and needed a book ASAP. Well, BK told them she had a typed manuscript (written before personal computers) locked in her safety deposit box. They said great! Could she send it to them by return mail on Monday? Not a problem, she said. She called me in a kind of a panic, saying she had to enter the manuscript into the computer. I offered to help her. While I was entering the story, I realized a book was written one word, one sentence at a time. Okay, this is so obvious, but it was a light bulb moment for me. What can I say? I’m Polish.
What inspired you to write romance?
I’ve been reading romances since the sixth grade. I love reading about men and women overcoming obstacles, falling in love and living happily-ever-after. Real life can be ugly and messy. In romance novels, love conquers all and there is always hope for a bright future with the love of your life.
What genre or sub-genre do you write? Why did you choose this genre?
My first book was a Regency romance. After I finished that story, my sister introduced me to category romance (Linda Howard, no less), and I’ve been hooked ever since. Most of my stories are set in West Texas where I spent summers as a child on my grandparents’ farm and ranch. That land is now in a family trust, and we all enjoy going up there as often as we can. I write Western Contemporary Romance with yummy cowboys and ranchers.
What difficulties do writing this genre present?
For me, it’s big city vs. small town. I’m a city girl, but my heart belongs to the little town up in West Texas near our farm. I love the rugged ranch land and the vast acres in cultivation. I like to share my love of the land and my love of Texas with readers. Wait a minute! That’s not really a difficulty at all.
What motivated you to write your current book?
I wrote HER RELUCTANT RANCHER four or five years ago. I think the idea came to me when I read a feature article in a magazine. It was about a rural doctor who made rounds of house calls. How this morphed into a girl driving a bookmobile, only my muse knows for sure.
How much time do you devote to writing each day?
Two to four hours on good days. But not all days are good days. I try to be disciplined and get on my computer by nine in the morning, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen.
Tell us about your other works, books, stories, etc.
As I said before, I’ve completed eight manuscripts. I have a series set on a ranch up in the Panhandle (where else?) about four brothers and a sister. I have three of those stories written; two more to go.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the fourth book in the series mentioned above. It’s about the youngest brother who is a crop-duster. He’s crashed and burned and is having a difficult time recuperating both physically and mentally. My heroine is a flying whiz and comes along, knocking the hero for an aerial loop.
How do you write? Are you a panster or a plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influences you the most?
I’m an in-betweenster. My characters usually come first. I do a bit of pre-writing: finding pictures of my hero and heroine, choosing their names, figuring out the internal conflicts, etc. I keep all of this information in a project notebook. For the last three or four books that I’ve written, I’ve made collages. This is an awesome activity and really stimulates the subconscious brain.
What was the most unusual way you came up with a story idea? I mean, I’ve gotten a plot idea from a song I heard, from brainstorming with a classmate. What unusual thing caused you to think, ‘hey, I could make that into a story?’
One day, when my husband and I were driving back from his dad’s, we were on the freeway. A man on a motorcycle passed us. He had a small girl riding behind him. That got my brain to playing what-ifs all the way home. Who was this guy? Where was the mom? I knew there was story there, and sure enough, I wrote it. Right now, it’s sitting on an editor’s desk (or in her inbox), and I’m waiting to hear back on it.
If you could spend an hour talking to anyone from any time in history, who would it be? And Why?
I would love to meet Georgette Heyer. She was the Queen of Regency Romance. Even though I write Western Contemporary, Regencies hold a special place in my heart. The way she handled characterization and setting and plot was awesome. Her books are dense and rich; not a lot of white space. I’ve read her Regencies countless times. They are my “comfort” reads. Most of my copies of her books are over fifty years old and are literally falling apart.
Tell us some of the things interviewers are saying about your story or stories.
HER RELUCTANT RANCHER is my first published book, and this is my first interview. Most of my reviews have been good. It’s exciting to know people are actually reading and enjoying my book.
“This is the first book I have read by Ms. Novark but it will not be my last. Her characters are strong and passionate and she takes the reader along for an emotional ride through her story!”
“HER RELUCTANT RANCHER adds a new spin on reluctant romances that form after a death in the family… It is very refreshing that marriage between Beth and Trevor was not a requirement of the will… Trevor and Beth find passion in this delightful story of regrets, love, and family.”
Read the full reviews on my website: www.annemarienovark.com.
What is your all time favorite book?
Gosh, I have so many favorite books. Like I mentioned before, my comfort reads are the Regencies written by Georgette Heyer. It’s very difficult to say which one is my absolute favorite. I guess if I have to choose, I’d say A CIVIL CONTRACT. It makes me cry every time I read it.
How do you do research for your books? What’s the most interesting bit of research you’ve come across?
I check out books from the library—inter-library loans are fabulous. And of course, I couldn’t live without Google. The most interesting bit of research? When I found out you could own hundreds of acres of land without owning the mineral rights. That tidbit became a crucial turning point in one of my books.
What advice would you give aspiring writers today?
Don’t give up. Keep writing and honing your craft. Read books on writing, take online classes, and most importantly: submit, submit, submit. If you don’t keep writing and submitting new manuscripts, you will never get published.
How do you like your fans to contact you?
Visit my website at http://www.annemarienovark.com/. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.