Monday, March 01, 2010

Interview with Author Gail Roarke

Please welcome my guest author, Gail Roarke, who writes for Cobblestone Press! In the upcoming days I will be posting excerpts from her books...

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Virginia, but moved to Oregon in 1991 to escape the heat, humidity and traffic of the east coast. I succeeded, but at the price of almost never experiencing thunderstorms (I miss them). I've been writing since I was a kid, but only Got Serious a year ago and started working at it professionally. I've written a lot of short stories since then, sold half a dozen, and now I'm working on novels as well. Talent is great, I've learned, but discipline and practice are what really matter--in writing, as in so many other fields.

Do you use a pseudonym and if so, why?
I do. Gail Roarke is not my real name. I chose it on a whim, really. I thought it sounded more like the name of someone who'd be writing erotica than my real name. Once I sold my first story under that name, I really felt like I needed to stick with it for name recognition. Someday when I'm rich and famous, they'll republish everything as "Real Name, writing as Gail Roarke"! Heh.

What genre do you write in? Why did you pick that genre?
I write in a number of genres--science fiction, urban fantasy, mysteries, action-adventure, and erotica. I'm published in erotica, though I'm still pursuing the other genres. Why those genres? I write what I like to read. Your first audience has to be yourself; if you don't care about what you're writing, it's not going to be what it could be.

What inspires you to write the type of stories that you write?
I write about my fantasies. Whether it's sailing among the stars, or working magic in the modern world, flying through the air like Superman, or a night of wild sex, all my stories start with imagining what it would be like to do that (or remembering, in some cases). From there, the plot takes on a life of its own and it becomes more than just a fantasy--but that's how they start.

How would you describe your writing style? Plotter or pantser? Why?
I'm a pantser all the way. I've tried plotting out stories beforehand--tried for years, and repeatedly. It would be so much less daunting to sit down at the keyboard knowing that I'm going to be writing this scene, and that one, as already plotted. But I can't. It just doesn't work for me.

I get an idea for a story, whether it's a character or a situation or a particular scene, and that's all I have when I start. Maybe a vague idea of where the story will end up, but as often as not I have no clue. I just throw my characters into the story and see what happens. I suspect that if I did manage to plot out a story ahead of time, I'd lose interest in writing it. I'd have the answers already, instead of having to work them out as I went along.

What is your favorite genre to READ?
Oh man, I can never answer "favorite" questions. I have too many favorites. Science fiction and erotica are probably my favorites, though urban fantasy is right up there.

Do you have a specific place where you like to write? When, during the day, is your most creative time?
I do most of my writing at my computer, though occasionally I'll take the laptop out to the food court at the mall and do some writing while I people-watch. I suppose I should cultivate the ability to write anywhere, but my handwriting is so atrocious even I can hardly read it, so writing longhand just isn't really an option.

My most productive time is the afternoon, from as early as 11 a.m. to about 5 p.m. I'm a nightowl by nature; if I didn't have to get up in the morning to drive my spouse to work, I'd probably sleep til noon every day and work in the afternoon and late at night. But then I'd never see my spouse, which is why I play chauffeur twice a day--that keeps me on a regular schedule. My most creative time is probably the early evening. That's when I tend to get brainstorms that lead to new scenes or new story ideas.

What’s your typical writing day?
As I mentioned, I get up every morning and drive my spouse to work. I come home, do chores, netsurf a little and do some self-promotion online. Then I start writing. A fair day's writing is 3,000 words. Anything less than that is a poor showing, while 3,500 words or more is a good day. Not all of those words will end up in a finished work; a lot of them get filed away to be pulled out and reused eventually.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers? Why?
No, I have no critique partners. My spouse is my beta reader, but has no desire to be a writer, and so responds purely from a reader's perspective. I want to know if the story was interesting. Was it coherent? Did the character's decisions make sense, and did the story hold together?

I don't believe in writing for critique groups. Robert Heinlein's rules for writers tell us, among other things, "Do no rewrite except to editorial order." Unless someone is paying me to rewrite a story, I don't. I also believe that rewriting tends to hammer out the very features of one's writing that give it character, that produce a distinctive voice. I prefer to write quickly, with little or no rewriting, then let my first reader give me a reaction. I'll take those comments seriously, make changes if necessary--and then it's done. On to the next story.

Who give you the most support along in your writing?
That would be my lovely and talented Spouse, who reads my work and gives me an honest appraisal, who gives me pep talks when my doubts overwhelm me, and who gives me someone to talk to about both the good and the bad parts of trying to earn a living my writing. And who, let us not forget, still goes to work at an office everyday while I stay home and write.

Do you have another job (besides writing)? If so, what do you do?
Not any longer. I worked as a secretary for a local non-profit agency for fifteen years before being laid off going on a year ago now. I received a considerable severance package for my time there, so between my spouse's income and the money we squirreled away after I was let go, we've been able to afford the time for me to work at writing full time.

What’s your take on the future of ebooks and epublishing?
I think epublishing and ebooks will be with us for the long haul. But they're not going to replace paper books, not for a very long time, if ever. Both kinds of publication have their advantages and their drawbacks, and ultimately I think they'll both settle into serving different niches.

Do you have a favorite quote -- yours or someone famous or even infamous?
A couple, actually. "Three people can keep a secret--if two of them are dead," is one of them. I don't remember the origin of that one. The other is, "If you're gonna shoot, shoot--don't talk!" That's from Tuco, in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Words to live by.

What’s your favorite food?
My favorite food that I cook myself? Pecan pie.

My favorite fast food? Popeye's chicken, biscuits, and cajun rice.
Other than those, there are too many items competing for "favorite" to make a decision.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?
Again with the favorites! I can't pick just one. I love lots of movies, for lots of reasons.

Do you have a favorite book or author?
Ditto. I can name lots of writers whose works I love, and any one of them be the flavor of the week--as in, I'm rereading everything of theirs that I own. But a single favorite who stands out above all others? Nope, can't do it.

Tell me about your latest or upcoming release?
My most recent release was "Three On A Rooftop", a Wicked short from Cobblestone Press. It's the third story I've published about the adventures of Iron Maiden, my sexy superheroine. In that one, she's traveled to Chicago on business (in her civilian identity) and while there she has some erotic adventures with a couple of local superheroes, individually and collectively.

My next publication will be One Knight Stand, another Wicked short from Cobblestone Press. Iron Maiden's frequent partner in "crime", the Black Knight, has his first starring role in this tale of intrigue and seduction.

Do you have any releases scheduled for 2010?
Three On A Rooftop came out in January of this year, and One Knight Stand is in the pipeline, but doesn't have a firm publication date yet. I've just heard from my publisher that they'll be publishing Fast Friends, though there's no date set for it yet. It will be my first Tryst-length traditional HEA romance, rather than the purely Wicked erotica I've been doing. It's good to stretch!

What’s your next project?
I'm currently writing a novel, and preparing to revise one I wrote for National Novel Writing Month in November 2009. It's only 50,000 words at the moment, not long enough for submission to a New York publisher, so it has to be revised. But once it is, I'll be shopping it around. Ditto for the second novel. I hope to get three novels minimum into the mail by the end of the year, and with a little luck and a lot of work, it could be five or six.

Where can readers find you on the web?
I have a blog, Signals From My Subconscious, at I'm also on Twitter (Gail_Roarke) and Facebook. I have a yahoo group that I use to keep people up to date on my publications,

I also participate on the Romance Divas forum and occasionally on Coffeetime Romance. And you can always reach me at I hope to see y'all around. Feel free to contact me!

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