Today I am pleased to present a guest to the blog.
Fellow author Joan De La Haye joins us to in a blog interview. Pull up a chair and your favourite cup of tea, glass of wine, or whatever, and let’s join Joan for a few questions.
Joan has written Burning, Requiem In E Sharp, and Shadows.
- Is there an author or book that inspired you to write, whether to become a writer or just to write a specific story?
That’s a tough question. I grew up in a household full of books. Both my parents were avid readers and I grew up with a love for books and stories. My Grandmother once said that I was writing stories before I could even walk properly. Writing was something that I always wanted to do. When I was about 12 or 13 I wrote a fairytale and forced everybody in my class to read it. But I couldn’t really tell you who or what really inspired me to be an author, I think it was just every book on the shelf that I read and loved that made me want to be able to take others on those sorts of journeys as well.
- What is your last story and what made you want to write it? What was the inspiration, the drive that started the idea for it?
My last story is called Burning. It’s about a witch who takes drastic and dangerous steps to improve her love life with deadly consequences. It started off as my failed attempt at writing something romantic and erotic, because everybody kept telling me that I should. So I did and failed. Burning ended up being anything but romantic. My publisher did however come up with the label ‘erotic horror’ for it, so I guess I at least did succeed in writing the erotic bit, just not the romantic bit.
- It is the age old debate: scene setters vs. seat writers. What is your writing process like? Do you outline extensively, carefully mapping out your story ahead, or do you just go with the flow writing as it comes to you?
I don’t map my stories out at all. I start off with a basic idea of how the story starts and where it might end up. But it just builds from there. It’s almost like watching a movie in my mind which, unfortunately, sometimes hits the pause button while my brain and the characters argue about where the story is going to go.
- We all know names hold a certain amount of power to give us all a pre-judged idea of what a person is like. You want to hate someone just for having the same name as a despised ex, a strong sounding name makes you think they must be strong, and a name like Poindexter, well you get the idea. How important are your character names to you? What resource would you recommend for someone having trouble finding names?
It all depends. Sometimes people will ask me to name a character after them. Sometimes I name a character after an ex-boyfriend, like in Burning (although he did ask me to do that). Sometimes I’ll name a character, especially a character that’s going to die really badly, after someone I really, really don’t like. And then there are times when I’m at a complete loss and I have to consult a baby name book which also gives you the meanings of the names which comes in handy when trying to figure out if a name will suit a specific character or not.
- Each writer has their favourite type of scene, the kind of scene that just flows naturally for them. Is there a certain type of scene you find hard to write?
Sex scenes! I find getting the balance in them just right is a little difficult. You don’t want it to be just a boring blow by blow sort of thing and you also don’t want it to end up being overly flowery, romanticised twaddle that won’t turn anybody on and will only result in uncomfortable giggling.
6. If you could give only one piece of writing advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Just focus on writing that first word, then the first sentence and the next sentence. Before you know it you’ll have the first paragraph and then the first page. Writing is sometimes like walking, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Also read extensively in all genres.
- What is your best do or don’t marketing tip?
Don’t spam. The thing that will stop me from ever buying an author’s book is if they friend me on Facebook with the sole purpose of messaging me to tell me to buy their book or getting me to like their author page. If you haven’t bothered to interact with me on any other level there isn’t a snowballs chance in hell that I’m going to rush out and buy your book because you begged me to do so on Facebook or twitter.
- What is your pet peeve when it comes to writing? It could be about any part from the writing process to publication, marketing, fans, etc.
It’s the self-entitlement that I’m seeing amongst some newbie and aspiring writers that gets to me. The fact that they think other published authors owe them something confuses me. If you want to get published write a good story and submit it and keep submitting it. You have to pay your dues like the rest of us. You don’t just private message a published author and say ‘Hey! I want to be a writer, so you have to help me.’ We don’t have to do anything of the sort. There are plenty of books and online resources available for newbie writers; they really don’t need to demand it from other writers who have deadlines to meet and books to write. And what really gets to me is how rude some of them are when demanding it. One so-called aspiring writer even went so far as to try and get my home phone number so they could harass me at home. That kind of attitude boggles my mind.
- Reviews can drive writers to distraction; looking for them, yearning to get them, and scared of getting them. At the same time it takes a certain kind of reader to put themselves out there and actually post a review. How do you go about encouraging your readers to rate your books or stories and post reviews? How do you respond when you get a negative review?
I must admit I’m rather bad at getting people to review my books. I try to every now and then put a little note up on twitter or Facebook to ask that if they read the book and enjoyed it, that a review would be greatly appreciated but I don’t hound people for reviews, which is probably why I don’t have that many reviews on Amazon.
As to how I deal with a bad review … well … I think it depends on just how bad the review is and whether it’s constructive and fair or not. If it’s a fair review I process what the reviewer said and implement it in my future works. And by process I mean glug a glass of red wine and eat a slab of chocolate. But if it’s just a particularly nasty one where you can see that the reviewer wasn’t actually interested in writing a fair review or if it just wasn’t the sort of book, no matter how well it was written, that they would enjoy there’s not all that much I can do about it. Those sort of reviews you have to just shrug off, hard as that may be, because those tend to be more about the reviewer than about the book.
- And finally, the question every author’s fan wants to now: What are you working on now? What is your next published project going to be?
I’m busy working on a full length novel called Fury which is due for publication in June 2016 by Fox Spirit books. I’ve also got a couple short stories coming out in anthologies. The first of which is European Monsters due out in November.
You can follow Joan and her writing here: