Name Fiola Faelan
Age 59 in people years, 38 in mischievous, pixie writer years
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I was born in Norman, OK to a Chief Naval Officer and freelance writer/photographer. My early years were spent flitting from naval base to naval base. The chief, or Dad as we affectionately called him, encouraged reading from the cradle. We landed in San Jose, CA when I was five, way before Silicon Valley was even in gleam in its eyes.
As a teenager, I was an avid horsewoman, riding gymkhana on my Appaloosa and specializing in barrel racing.
I have two bossy older sisters who I wouldn’t trade for anything, and who have encouraged me in my writing and are even known to occasionally brag about their romance writer sis.
I left the Bay Area as a single mom when my son was 11 to get him away from the crime, smog, and all around craziness. We landed in Portland, OR and have been thriving here ever since!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I recently got back edits on a romance filled with danger, stalking, and attempted murder weaved in. Well, and of course two people shooting sparks at each other before the sexiness, kisses, love and HEA happens! I have three others in the works and hope to have at least two books published this year. The one described above, and one from an alter ego I’m playing around with who’ll write westerns as Gemma Blake.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing with crayons when I was about four and a half, according to my mama. I don’t remember, though! <grin> As a child, I always loved to fiddle with poetry, and short stories throughout middle and high school. As an adult, I was famous for volunteering for every newsletter a company put out.
I’m chagrined to say I didn’t sit my butt down and write a romance until 2009! What the heck! I’ve been unstoppable since then – well, except for those couple of years I was working 75+ hours at the day job. I must admit I let that put a kink in things. I’m back at it though! Ditched the job and full speed ahead!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I actually considered myself a writer long ago, when I was just penning poems and writing articles. My father was a poet, even in the Navy, and my mom was a freelance writer for 20 years or so. They taught me that you didn’t have to actually be a best seller, or even sell your stuff, to be a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Delilah Marvelle inspired me to write my first book. She’s an amazing local Pacific Northwest author. My son knows her, and introduced us. She encouraged me to join the local writers group, which I did that year and haven’t looked back once. <schmooches Delilah!>
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’ve been told more than once that I “have an interesting take and a strong voice”. I think I agree with that! I’m what they call a pantser, where I think of a scene or scenario in my head and then as I’m writing, build a world for my characters around that one scenario. I rarely plot out the story before beginning.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I came up with Holiday Hearts Awakening because in the story, the heroine’s heart is all but ash, and Christmas is looming. She doesn’t want anything to do with her sexy neighbor or his little girl, but as the story unfolds, between the season, the man and his child, her heart awakens to love and happiness once again.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want readers to grasp that there are second chances at life, and at love. I’ve had setbacks in life which made me question those concepts, but I’ve always found a way to pull myself up by my bootstraps – sometimes all on my own, and sometimes with the help of family and friends. I want people to know that love is out there somewhere, along with happiness, and hope. Don’t push people away because of the pain – perhaps let them nudge the pain out and replace that space with something that’s good.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I’ve taken snippets from my own life – someone tried to abduct me from the school bus stop when I was five. I’ve pulled from the memories of letting pain and heartsickness push people away when in hindsight, maybe something wonderful would have come into my life if I hadn’t kept them at arm’s length. I’ve never felt the pain of losing a child, but have a son who was chronically ill as a child and the emergency room visits when he was having trouble breathing were terrible. I would sit there by myself and agonize over how I would cope if anything happened to him.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I don’t remember ever really having what I would consider a mentor growing up, although I did meet and know Anita Southern when I was ten. She is the woman better known as Neeta Snook – she taught Amelia Earhart how to fly! She was so independent, taking care of her disabled husband living in a house she built, atop a hill in Los Gatos and raising miniature Shetland ponies. I think just being around her for the few months was a subconscious nudge to believe I could master anything I put my mind to, and could overcome any adversity.
As for books – I think the one that opened my eyes to true story telling was one my father gave me on my ninth birthday. It’s “Stories from an Indian Cave”, and it’s a compilation of stories told by the Cherokee Cave Dwellers. I was fascinated, and it opened me to a world of make-believe and perhaps, who knows? The unbelievable perhaps happening as told by those that witnessed it.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Oh, my goodness, you don’t ask any hard questions, do you? <grin> Every time I think I’ve found my new favorite author, I find a new author that blows my socks off. I’ll pull up a very recent find – an author I just LOVE! The Thing About Love by Julie James blew my socks off, and after finishing it, I went back and reread her other books in the series that came before it. She had the perfect combo of sexiness, the hero and heroine’s push and pull, and an undercover investigation to heat things up.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My best friend, Sudha, who has actually become a sister from another mother, so I guess she is a family member! LOL So, non-family member – my daughter-in-law’s cat Nudge. She warms my lap when I’m writing, meows at my door in the morning to make sure I’m up and, if not writing, at least thinking of writing!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do see writing as a career. If I had enough bucks in the bank, I’d be writing full time and wouldn’t have a day job. Since that isn’t going to happen any time soon…..hey! Publisher’s Clearing House, over here! <waves madly>
Oh, did I mention that’s how I afforded the move to Portland? I won ten grand in the early 90’s from them! Big cardboard check, flowers, balloons, the whole shebang. I digress!
Anywhoo, I do consider it a career. It’s just that, at this time in my life, I have a day job in the tech industry, and a night and weekend job as a self-employed writer.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’ve wondered off and on if I shouldn’t have made it holiday-themed. I feel that may be one reason sales tend to uptick around the holidays and fall away the rest of the year. But then I remember that Christmas was an integral part! So, probably not. Now, the first draft, before I had a professional editor look it over? Yeah, that needed work and I did change a few things around!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
What a great question! I don’t have a memory I can pinpoint, but I’ve always thought it was seeing my mama and dad writing. Every single day. I don’t remember a day where one of them wasn’t putting pen or pencil to paper, or banging away on a typewriter, back when it was ribbon and keys hitting the paper.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The book just returned from the editor has a woman who’s kept herself hidden away for a couple of years from an ex-husband, who’d love to do away with her. She discovers he’s been killed, so she has no reason to stay hidden. Just when she’s trying to decide whether to reveal her secret to her best friend, strange things start happening to her. Enter her sexy, muscled landlord, a not-so-stray shot, and it takes off from there!
The other one that I’m just a few chapters into has a military guy recently separated from the service, mild PTSD, thinking about donning his cowboy hat and getting back to the ranch.
Also, another Christmas one for later this year that has some fun paranormal elements working to bring together two unhappy people.
So many stories in my head, only two hands and limited time!
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I have trouble keeping other stories from encroaching on the one I’m actively writing. I’ll be crafting a scene for my current characters, and something will trigger me to think, “Oh! I should do so and so for Book X”. My brain also works faster than my fingers, although I type over 100 words a minute, and that gets frustrating sometimes.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I do have a few trips planned in the next year or two! I curbed my travel the past couple of years because of the long hours at the day job, but I’m starting a new day job – Monday the 1st! – which will have more “normal” hours. I’m looking forward to getting back to my old haunt in San Jose for some research, the Oregon Coast, as well as a trip next year to North Carolina! I’ll post pictures!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Jimmy Thomas and a designer he works with designed the cover. I love his covers, and if only he had an uncle, about 55 – 65 years old that was single, looked like him, and lived in the Pac Northwest. LOL
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part used to be fitting writing into 75 hour day job work weeks and sleeping. Thank goodness I don’t have that problem anymore!
Now I have trouble with repetitive words! It’s also an ongoing work in progress to “show not tell” when writing. The editor I work with is great at pointing out those flaws, though.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I did! I learned how very fulfilling it is to actually finish the book. Not the first draft, but the finished product – after editing and having a book you’re confident is ready for publishing
I also learned that no matter now often I proof-read, I can NOT catch all my typos. I kinda knew that already, but challenged myself to try to catch them all with the last book, then gave the manuscript to my sister Sudha, who promptly found five grammar and spelling errors sprinkled throughout the book.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead.
I’d have to say Terry Crews or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I love the tough-guy look, and am partial to muscles on top of muscles. Again, if either of those guys has an uncle, around my age, single, lives in the Pac NW, yada yada. LOL
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes! The advice given to me, I’d like to pass along. Research! Cruise around the internet, Googling things like “newbie writer mistakes”. I didn’t do that, and in my first novel, which is collecting bytes instead of dust on the hard drive of my computer, I made the classic mistakes. I did an info dump in the beginning of the book instead of sprinkling the info around here and there.
I did more telling than showing. I bounced from one POV (point of view) to another without warning the reader. Anyway, research what the newbie mistakes are, and maybe even bullet-list them out and tack them to your wall right in front of your desk! Make a checklist of what not to do and then when you go back to edit, make sure you correct any areas where you slipped a bit.
If you’re a romance writer, Join RWA, then join the local romance chapter of same. Or, if you don’t have a local chapter that you can physically attend, join one in another town. The internet will keep you connected.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d love to say THANK YOU for reading my book. I’d also like to shamelessly ask that anyone who has read it, pretty-please leave a review. Even if it’s just a few words, like, “Loved it!” (that’s optimistic-me), or “It was okay but I didn’t care for the holiday theme”, or even “Loved the sex-scenes!” <grin>
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m actually rereading “The Spy Who Wants Me” by Lucy Monroe. Lots of snark, humor, danger and sexiness!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I think the very first book I read was one of the Little Golden Books – Nurse Nancy. I think the first actual good-sized, meaty book I read was The Forest of Mystery by James H. Foster. I still have the book!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Oh boy, you’re making me fess up to everything, eh? Well, as for crying, believe it or not, the Budweiser football commercials always make me tear up. Any situation where someone has been wronged, etc. I’m telling you, the stuff happening here in the US brings tears to my eyes almost daily now. I’m strongly empathetic, so seem to have my tears jerked more frequently than I would like. It’s been about five years since I’ve cried, though. I’m not a dainty crier!
Laughing! I love to laugh, and I love to make people laugh. My son and daughter-in-law are always making me crack up with their antics. Also, when my sister Sudha and I get together, we make each other laugh with our snark and joking around.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
For someone in the past, I would love to meet my great-grandparents who immigrated from Ireland. I want to ask them what their life was like, why they immigrated, and pick their brain on ancestors so I could fill in those pesky blanks that no one seems to know.
For the present, I would love to meet Michele Obama. She’s courageous, strong, and a great role-model for young and older women alike. I wouldn’t want to ask her intrusive questions, but would love to just have a great conversation with her.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“To my son and daughter-in-law: Love you MORE!”
“Don’t wait, don’t put it off, DO IT NOW!”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I do have other hobbies, although I’ve let them fall by the wayside. I’ve promised myself to pick up at least one of them again, if not more! I used to never leave the house without my camera in my hand. I love taking pictures, and I’m not half-bad.
I also love to hike, but having Lupus, I can’t be in the sun, and so am not quite as enamored of walking around covered up whilst everyone else is in shorts and tanks.
And last but certainly not least, I miss riding horses! Gotta get back to that, too.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Ohhh, that’s actually a hard question now, but only because I have an issue with vertigo and motion sickness that’s gotten worse in the past few years, especially with how they film movies and TV shows (and commercials!) now. They move that camera around as if a person was bouncing around while they were watching something happen. Annoying as all get out. I haven’t watched as much as a commercial since 2012.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Chocolate! Cheesecake! I’ve become adept at changing around recipes, though, since I have a list of foods to avoid that’s about the length of my forearm. My darling DIL makes me cheesecake without gluten or sugar, and it’s outta this world! Love me some chocolate, too. Yum!
Red! I adore red. Oh, okay, and green. The color of the forest or meadow in the morning.
Credence Clearwater Revival blasting while I’m driving, Al Green crooning for romantic music, and kick-ass Tina Turner.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
If not a writer, then a photographer or horse-trainer. Would love either of those!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I do have a blog/website! I’d love for people to swing by and visit. It’s https://fiolafaelan.com/
Thanks so much for interviewing me, Fiona! You have wonderful, insightful questions and I had a blast answering them. Even the hard ones. Hugs!