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Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview With Erin Quinn

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The most difficult part for me is cutting through the noise and focusing. I find that I often have to write by hand in order to quiet my inner perfectionist and keep myself off the Internet of Distractions. The drawback of writing by hand, of course, is that I need a secret decoder ring to decipher my awful penmanship.

At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?

That’s an easy one. At the point where they start taking themselves seriously as a writer. I would say that usually comes after a full-length manuscript is completed from start to finish, but everyone has their own gauge for determining their goals. It took me years and several published books before I began answering “what do you do?” with “I’m a writer.”

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused? 

Quiet. Coffee. My three dogs sleeping nearby. Time. An added bonus is if I have stashed chocolate somewhere that my husband hasn’t found.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

It’s nearly impossible to build a career off one book. No matter what happens with the first book–loved by all, hated universally, published with fanfare, published and forgotten–it doesn’t matter.  Each new book gives you the chance to be better.


If you are a writer and you aren’t loving writing, you’re probably writing the wrong thing.

Both came from a wonderful friend and bestselling author Jennifer Ashely. So talented and wise.

If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be? 

I’ve been fortunate to have a wide circle of author friends so I already feel like I’ve been mentored by many famous authors and they all have my undying gratitude. 

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date? 

I just finished a novella that is part of a series written with two of my besties. They are small-town holiday romances that revolve around a glitch in a dating app. It was so much fun to write and they are releasing this week exclusively on Kindle Unlimited.

Miss Taken, by Erin Quinn

Miss Behaving, by Calista Fox

Miss Matched, by Pepper Swan

Author Interviews Featured Authors

an interview with Amy Stuart

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The most difficult part of the process is always simply getting started. This has always been the case, but with the pandemic and an increasingly distracting world, the act of starting has become more and more difficult. I find that once I start writing, I can stay in a flow. Writer’s block isn’t usually a big issue for me, but I find I’m always searching for tricks and tips to quiet the world around me enough that I can sit down and begin. 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Fundamentally, it didn’t. I published my first novel at 41, so I think my habits were pretty ingrained by then. The key for me has always been to separate the business of writing from the craft. I can’t control what happens in the publishing world, but I can control how much time and effort, and dedication I put into my craft. I will say that working to a publisher’s deadline is an excellent motivator!

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

It’s more about what I don’t need. I use a program called Freedom to block out the internet while I’m writing, and I try to keep my phone at a distance. Because I have three kids and my life outside of writing is busy, I’ve worked over the years to be able to write almost anywhere — cafés, ice hockey rinks, the kitchen, parks. But my ideal writing space is sunny with a cup of something warm and a blanket over my legs. I’m all about comfort! I’m very grateful that my office at home fits this bill. 

How do you come up with character names for your stories?

I often mix and match the names of people I know as a form of tribute. Cemeteries are also a great spot to find names. There’s one close to my house where I can walk if I need inspiration. 

If you could be mentored by a famous author, who would it be? 

That’s a tough question! So many options to choose from. I think I would pick Alice Munro. I would like to know how she continued to write and learn so beautifully for so many decades, and how she makes decisions about which direction to take her stories. Her writing may not be the same genre or even format as mine (she writes short fiction only), but her ability to surprise the reader is something all writers could learn from.

Speaking of mentoring, you’re also the founder of Writerscape, which works with emerging authors. Can you tell us a little bit about this project?

I founded Writerscape because I’m a teacher by trade, and when I stepped away from full-time teaching I found I missed that connection. Writerscape is a way for me to meld my two big loves — teaching and writing. I’m planning to start offering single-day writing retreats both online and in-person (I hope!) to allow writers who need that little push to get going.

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date?  

I’m almost finished with my fourth novel, which is my first that isn’t in the “Still” series. It’s a standalone that follows our narrator through a single day of her life that takes some very dark turns. No publication date yet, but I’m hoping I’ll know that soon!

Author Interviews Featured Authors

An interview with Jennifer Ryan

​​​​What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Naming the characters. It’s worse than naming my kids. There are only 3 of them. But a book requires a lot of names. And with the number of books I’ve written, it gets to be hard to come up with good names that fit the characters. 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It didn’t change that much for me. I love writing. I wrote nearly 20 books in the 7 years before I got an agent and sold my first book. I write most days, whether it’s a little or a lot. Most days I write about four to five hours straight. I think the longest day I ever put in was 12 hours. I was so lost in the story, I just had to keep going. Granted, that was the rough draft. It wasn’t all good writing, but getting the story on the page is what counts.

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

The characters and the opening scene. That’s always my starting point. Because I write romance, there’s the built-in happy-ever-after, which I love, because my books usually start at some pivotal point in the character’s lives where everything changes. 

And then things get intense and messy and life happens to them and they have to find their way through it and earn that great, enduring love. 

What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?

Coffee or tea. Brownies or cookies.

How do you come up with character names for your stories?

Sometimes it’s a name of one of my kids’ friends, a colleague of my husband, a name in a book I’m reading, a name on a TV show or movie. 

I do use a random name generator. 

But one of the most helpful places for finding lots of different kinds of names is the credits at the end of a movie. 

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date? 

I just finished writing my next women’s fiction novel, which will be out July 2022. It’s called The One You Want. One week, two friends, secrets revealed, and a wedding gone wrong. 

But up first I have a brand new romance series – Wyoming Wilde. The first of three books comes out on 3/29/22 – Chase Wilde Come Home.

Happy reading everyone!

Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Lucy Smoke

If you could escape into one of the worlds you’ve created in your books, what character would you become and why?

It really depends. Haha. Unfortunately, the majority of my characters have some sort of internal damage and I don’t know if I’d want that. But I’d love their strength and fortitude. I think, though, I’d personally like to go in as just myself and see how I would adapt to a new world–contemporary or fantasy.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

I’m a night owl, so my work schedule generally starts late afternoon and moves into the early morning. I usually do my research, outlining, and admin duties in the afternoons, and anywhere between 7 pm-1 am I’ll find myself writing. I’m addicted to writing, so I generally write every day if I can help it.

Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?

I love all of my characters, but with that said, I do love some more than others. In my fantasy works, Barbie is my favorite (from the Barbie: The Vampire Hunter series). In my contemporary works, Avalon is my favorite (from Sick Boys). These two have a lot in common. They’re both brash and aggressive. They don’t back down from challenges, yet at the same time, they have flaws and wounds from their childhoods. They’re special to me because of those flaws of theirs. 

Characters who are perfect and always good don’t interest me because I can’t see them being real people, but these two, Barbie and Avalon, aren’t always likable, but just because they aren’t likable doesn’t mean they aren’t loveable. 

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Pretty much anything and everything. I draw inspiration from real life, from my own past and childhood, as well as stories I hear on the internet, on the radio, from friends and colleagues. I want to make my characters as human as possible with their wants and desires and dreams. They may be fictional to readers, but in my mind, there’s so much beneath the surface of their characterization and bringing them to life on the page. 

If you could ask one successful author three questions about their writing, writing process, or books, what would they be?

Well, first, I feel like “success” is in the eye of the beholder so that makes it hard for me to determine who I would ask and what I would ask because those questions would change depending on the author in question and their expertise. Generally, though, I might ask about the mental fortitude it takes to be an author and what they do to cope or harness the varying levels of their craft and how they are perceived by readers. 

I can only be who I am and they can only be who they are, but other authors will understand that working in the publishing industry isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would be a “successful” author. We do it because we love it and I enjoy hearing people just talk about what makes them happy. So I’d ask what about this industry they love and why they keep writing. 

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date? 

Currently, I’m working on the next book in the Sick Boys series. It’s become my most popular series to date under both my fantasy pen name (Lucinda Dark) and my contemporary pen name (Lucy Smoke). The original trilogy has been completed, but I have follow-up stories in standalone format for the side characters that everyone fell in love with. The expected release date is October 2021 (so next month!). 

Author Interviews Featured Authors

An Interview with Mary Balogh

What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for a book?

I can’t think of anything that would qualify as really strange. However, I should mention that for many years after I began writing (in 1983) there was no internet. It’s hard to imagine now when it is so easy to check details and even whole topics. Research then meant hunting down books and making annual trips to Britain to see things in person. Often it was not easy. Historical facts (like wars and treaties) were no problem, but social facts were more difficult to find. What did people eat at their banquets, for example? What did they wear? Talk about? How long did a journey from Point A to Point B take? We couldn’t just google the answer in those days.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I wouldn’t be telling you anything you don’t already know if I said that men and women are totally different in the way they think, speak, act, and emote. Writing from a man’s point of view is a challenge. It has to be credible. I can remember the first time I knew of a man (a British medical doctor) reading one of my books. I wanted to bury my head in a deep hole and keep it there.  It was a huge relief when he commented without any prodding that I got the guy’s point of view exactly right. As a writer one always has to apply the believability test. The hero can’t think or say or do something just because it is convenient to the plot. It must all be consistent with his masculinity.

What special challenges did you face making your story stand out from others in the genre?

I don’t think I ever thought of my writing in those terms. I have never felt I was in competition with anyone else. I can remember a friend telling me when I was first published that I might be the second Danielle Steele. I told her I didn’t want to be the second anybody. I wanted to be the one and only Mary Balogh. I have always aimed for consistently excellent prose and love stories that combine an intensity of emotion and passion with realism and an aura of wonderful romance. I have always aimed for characters I (and therefore the reader) know soul-deep. I have always wanted my books to stand out from one another. I would hate to discover that readers were coming to find the same old same old in my plots or characters. It is difficult to be fresh and new after you have written more than a hundred novels and novellas. It takes constant hard work.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?

That is a fascinating and fun question. I have to be consistent with what I said above, though. Although I have some firm favorites among the many books I have loved and admired, I have never wanted to be the author of any books but my own. As writers we all have our own vision and values and–most important–our unique voice. I am very happy to be the author of my body of work. No one else could have written those books–just as I could not have written anyone else’s book, much as I might (and do!) love what certain other authors have produced.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

That’s an easy one. The biggest surprise was discovering when a New York publisher decided to buy my first book (A Masked Deception) that they were offering me a two-book contract. “What?” I thought. “Now I have to do it all over again?” Another surprise followed that. I did it! And then I did it again and again and… One does not, it seems, run out of ideas after a certain number of books. The more I write, the more I know I can write. Surprise, surprise!

What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date? 

I most recently published Someone to Cherish in June. It is the final book in the Westcott series–Harry’s story. Then there will be an add-on book in November, Someone Perfect, the story of Lady Estelle Lamarr, a character in the Westcott books but not strictly a member of the family. Both those books are written. I am about to start a wholly new series, the Wares of Ravenwood Hall. I plan seven stories–for a mother, her three sons, her two daughters, and her late husband’s illegitimate son. I can’t give any more detail than that. I will be starting next week (on March 1). My stories take shape as I write. I am not a planner!