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Susana: Today my guest is Elaine Violette, who, like me, writes historicals for Ellora’s Cave. I’m eager to find out what else we have in common. Welcome to Susana’s Parlour, Elaine! I just bought your earlier book, Regal Reward, and pre-ordered the one that comes out next month, A Convenient Pretense. Can’t wait to read them!
Susana: First question: What inspired you to start writing?
Elaine: Thanks for having me, Susana. I’ll skip over talking about the terrible poetry I wrote about love and loss when I was teenager. Personal struggles drew me to write poetry and my love of romance drew me to read historical romance. After reading maybe my hundredth historical, I thought, I can do this, and so I did. My mom told me often, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” I believe that is true for all of us.
Susana: What advice would you give writers starting out?
Elaine: For new writers, it’s easy to get discouraged. High hopes can be dashed easily with the first rejection. The best way to prepare for the ups and downs is to maintain confidence in yourself as a writer, accept criticism graciously and continue to study the craft, while remaining true to your inner voice.
Writing a novel takes time and patience, one page at a time, and often it takes years to finish that first novel. My first historical romance, Regal Reward, published in ebook and print, tells the story of York Blackstone’s quest to retaliate against the man who framed his father, only to fall in love with the woman engaged to the villain’s son. I was excited and encouraged when it received wonderful reviews. My readers wanted me to continue the story of York’s younger brother. My editor accepted the manuscript immediately and the story of Martin Blackstone and his life out of the shadow of his older brother was prepared for publication, only to be pulled two weeks before publication. I was devastated. I won’t go into the details but for the first time, I could not diverge from my personal integrity as a writer and make changes where I didn’t wholly agree. Instead, I chose to shelve the manuscript.
That was the beginning of a downward spiral in my confidence as a writer. I dabbled with story ideas, wrote a couple of short pieces, attended my writing groups but I couldn’t bring myself out of the doldrums. My pity party lasted way too long.
New writers need to expect that rejection as well as disagreeable industry decisions, are part and parcel of being an author. Consider some of the most famous authors whose works were rejected: Stephen King’s Carrie, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, J, K, Rolling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, even George Lucas’s Star Wars. The list goes on…
I knew in my gut that I was a good writer and had to believe in myself again. Eventually, I started another historical romance, A Convenient Pretense, which is being released on April 4th as an ebook and is available on Amazon for pre-order, as you just mentioned.
Susana: Persistence is the key, isn’t it? A friend of mine once said she was grateful for all the potential writers who gave up too soon, because it cleared the way for her. Sad, but true.
Can you tell us a bit about A Convenient Pretense?
Emily Hughes has little patience for the frivolity of the season. Marriage brought out only the worst in her parents and if she has her way, she’ll avoid matrimony altogether. Only the demands of her father are enough to force her to join her aunt in London for the festivities.
Marcus Deming, Earl of Pembridge, refuses to love after watching his father succumb to a broken heart. Marcus will marry, but only for the convenience of producing an heir. Love need have no place in a marriage.
Emily and Marcus agree to spend the season in each other’s company, fending off the worst of the suitors and their aunts’ schemes. It isn’t until Emily is called home to aid her ailing father that she and Marcus realize their pretense has escalated into something far more intense. So alike, right down to a shared stubborn streak, it’s going to take a common enemy and the ability to admit when they’re wrong for Marcus and Emily to secure the future they suddenly can’t imagine living without.
Elaine: I hope my readers enjoy Marcus and Emily’s story.
Incidentally, I finally gained the courage to go back to the story that was pulled just before publication. I learned that while it’s important to be open and accept criticism, we also need to own our ideas and respect our muse. The changes I made reflected growth while I maintained my stand in areas I truly believed should not be changed. I recently signed a new contract for that second manuscript, A Kiss of Promise, Martin Blackstone’s story, which will be released later in 2013. For those who haven’t read Regal Reward, they might enjoy being introduced to York Blackstone’s story before Martin’s story is released.
Marielle Henley’s betrothal to Richard Craymore has settled her future until her disobedience leads her into the path of a ruggedly handsome highwayman. York Blackstone’s seemingly invulnerable nature, hardened by a life molded in poverty and thievery is tested when he becomes enamored with his beautiful and defiant captive. When she reveals the name of her betrothed, she becomes a pawn in his obsession to destroy the man who falsely accused his father of treason and left his family desolate. York will let nothing or no one, not even his alluring captive stand in his way. Marielle becomes trapped between loyalties to her betrothed and to her own heart.
Susana: Are you a plotter or a punster?
Elaine: I admit to being a pantser. As an idea develops, I begin to write. I don’t know who will appear in the story apart from my hero and heroine and, perhaps, a villain. My muse takes over and has not disappointed me. As long as I make the effort to sit down and write, she joins me and the story and characters evolve. Technically, I must keep a record of names, eye color, etc., of my characters, but the story takes on a life of its own. A workshop speaker once said: “Sit down every day and write, even if it’s only one sentence.” I never forgot that slice of wisdom, though I confess I no longer remember the author’s name. I don’t always follow that advice, but I do my best to write or revise as often as possible.
Susana: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Elaine: Absolutely. As I stated above, when I allowed my confidence to diminish, I found it difficult to write even a word. I needed to continue to participate in writers’ groups and, most important, silence the voice that diminished my belief in my abilities. Most commonly, writer’s block happens when my mind is filled with all of life’s interruptions and responsibilities. I find, however, if I begin writing that first sentence, I become slowly freed from outside interferences. I just need to get hooked by my characters’ dilemmas.
Susana: Wow, can I identify with that! What are you working on presently?
Elaine: My newest manuscript is a departure from Regency romance. A Kiss of Promise takes place in New England during the 1800s. Racism and intolerance takes a major role in the heroine’s plight as well as a ghostly spirit intent on justice. I look forward to seeing where the story takes me and how my characters develop.
Susana: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Elaine: I love all of Mary Balogh’s books. She is my idol when it comes to historical romance. I find, however, that reading other genres improves my writing, especially reading novels by male authors like Clive Clussler and Ken Follet.
Susana: What a coincidence! I just did a spotlight on Mary Balogh in Susana’s Parlour last week! Tell us about your life apart from being an author.
Elaine: Though I will always be an incurable romantic who enjoys weaving stories of heroes and heroines, my most rewarding pastime is spending time with my husband, my children, two sons and a daughter, and my six grandchildren. As a veteran English teacher, I work as an adjunct at a local community college presently teaching public speaking. My favorite time of year is summertime when I get sit by the ocean or get out on my kayak.
Before I leave, I want to express my gratitude for my devoted readers. I absolutely love to hear from fans. Please visit me on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Elaine.Violette.author and say hello. At present, my website, www.elaineviolette.com .is undergoing some updates, but it should be back up soon.
My books are (or will be) available on Amazon and Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
Thanks for having me drop by today, Susana!