Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi, Fiona, and thanks for having me as your guest. My name is Elizabeth Rose. My age . . . now did you really think I was going to answer that question? Smile.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I live in the suburbs of Chicago, although I must say I like the country better.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a background and degree in art. I am happily married to the same wonderful man for 32 years, and have two very handsome (and single) grown sons.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Besides my news of my upcoming book, Autumn’s Touch – Book 3 in my Seasons of Fortitude Series which releases on September 6th, I also want to tell you that one of my books is up for an award. Igniting Andrew, (my firefighter) Book 11 of my 12 book small town contemporary Tarnished Saints Series is up for a RONE award from InD’tale magazine. I will find out at their conference in October if I won.
This was a surprise to me since I mainly write historical novels. Plus, it is book 11 in a very long series about 12 brothers and there are a ton – I repeat a ton of characters in it. When the book was reviewed, the reviewer had no trouble following it, and because of my character list at the front of the book she was able to keep straight who is who and totally loved the book!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in High School. My friends and I would make up stories and write them in long hand. As we passed in the halls, we handed off our notebooks to each other, and then proceed to read and leave comments on each other’s stories in our next class.
When I started having children, I was a freelance artist. That proved to be too difficult with babies in the house. By the time I changed a diaper my airgun would clog up. So I started selling pencil renderings of houses to realtors. When my two-year-old scribbled over a completed project, I could see that was a bad idea too. I also created commercial logos for a while, but decided writing was the best idea. I enjoyed it, and it was easy to do while raising children – and with no cleanup.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I would have to say after the first 100 rejections by big publishers, when I finally sold my first book to a small press. That book was published way back in 2000.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Actually, I first started out by writing children’s books. I was in a critique group at the time. Well, I got something in the mail from Harlequin that said I won money and also 4 free books. I did not read romance at the time and was going to throw it out. My husband, on the other hand, was sure we won substantial money. So, I checked off medieval romance as my book choice and sent it back just to suffice him.
A short while later we received our fifty-cent check and 4 free medieval romance novels. Not knowing what to do with them, I figured I’d send them to my mother-in-law since she liked to read. Then a little voice in my head kept hearing “cheap, trashy romance novels,” and I decided it might be in my best interest to read one before I sent them to her and embarrassed myself.
The first romance I ever read was The Saxon, by Margaret Moore. I loved the book, and my mother-in-law never got a one of them. Then my cousin who was in the same critique group as me, asked if I ever thought about writing romance. I thought about it a minute and decided, why not? And now, 63 romance novels later, I know I made the right choice!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The first romance I wrote was a medieval. At the time I wanted one of those hot, sweeping romance titles and called the book, Devon’s Desire. (The heroine’s name is Devon.) Well, by the time I published the book, it was called Lord of the Blade, and was the first book I published myself through self-publishing on amazon. It was actually a book I had started to revise at the request of a Harlequin editor who loved it. But she went on maternity leave before I finished the rewrites. With her went my chance to publish with Harlequin since the woman who took her place wasn’t as enthused about my book as the last editor was. To this day, it is still one of my best-selling books.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I am a pantser, not a plotter. I did finally start to keep series bibles after so many books, but I don’t like to write down what I’m going to do before I do it. I come up with an idea and just start writing, letting the characters decide what will happen and which way things will go.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I don’t base characters on people I know, but sometimes I find myself using traits or habits of people I know and weaving them into my characters. However, there is one series, my small town contemporary series that is mostly based on my life. It takes place in Michigan on the lake. I grew up visiting my grandparents on the lake, and the setting of the series is real. It is written about the area I grew up and where my parents live still, even though the name of the town is fictional in my books. I have used a lot of happenings and things from real life in that series, letting the memories of my childhood live on through my books.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I do research for my books, of course, but have yet had the opportunity to travel to England or Scotland where my medieval stories take place. For other books, yes, I do travel to do some research. For example, my book Loving John – Book 9 in my Tarnished Saints Series takes place in winter and my hero is a musher. So, to do research for my book, I went up north to see an actual dog sled in action. While it was fascinating, I about froze my butt off since it was one of the coldest days I’ve ever experienced. But nothing is going to stop me from doing research to make my books the best they can be.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did! I have designed nearly all my covers myself. With my art background, I love being creative. I knew nothing at all about photoshop a few years ago and taught myself, because I was so determined to do it. More motivation for the course was that my sons both laughed at me and said I had to go to school for it, and would never be able to do it otherwise. Well, I proved them wrong. I think making my own covers is one of the best parts of this business.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I try to add life lessons and higher consciousness messages to my stories. This is usually relayed through the hero or heroine’s transformation as the story progresses. The readers seem to like the ones with lessons the best. My upcoming book, Autumn’s Touch, deals with believing in oneself.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
To be honest, with my writing schedule I don’t have much time to read. I’ve started getting audiobooks so I can multi-task. It works wonderfully. (Of course I don’t write and listen at the same time, that is not what I mean.) I must say that when I first started writing romance, two authors who probably inspired me the most were Susan Wiggs and Anne Stuart. Susan used to write a lot of medieval books, and Anne wrote for the More Than Men paranormal line from Harlequin that I just ate up. I love anything paranormal.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I come from a very religious family, so it took my parents a while to accept what I do. I think it was when one of their best friends started telling them how good my books were that they finally looked at the whole thing in a different light. Besides that, I would have to say my husband has always been supportive, and that the Windy City Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America were my support team too. The authors I met there and online through the years are some of the most uplifting people I have ever met in my life.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
When I first started writing, it was more of a hobby. I did manage to have 5 books published through traditional publishers, but couldn’t live on my scant part of the royalties. So I went back to the work world and did not write a word for ten long years! Then about 4 ½ years ago, I lost my job. My author friend, Elysa Hendricks had been trying to get me to publish my books myself. I always had an excuse why I couldn’t, but when she mentioned it this time – I had nothing better to do. So without knowing what the heck I was doing, I started publishing my backstock of books I had written ten years earlier.
When I put my first book up on amazon, I figured I’d sell two copies. One to myself and maybe another to my sister, but that was it. To my surprise, my books started selling all over the world. I kept putting up my stash of backstock. For the first year or so I didn’t have a website, wasn’t on facebook, and didn’t do a bit of advertising at all.
Somehow, people were finding my books and buying them. That gave me the motivation I needed to make a business out of writing books, and never having to work for bosses that didn’t appreciate me again. Anyway, yes, this is my career now and I love being my own boss. I also like working from home. I wrote two books this summer, enjoying my yard and the weather, sitting in my hammock – where I am writing this interview right now. Who could ask for a better life?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not in my newer books, but in some of the older books, yes. I am in the process of getting all my books professionally edited. On some of the older ones I would like to do a little rewriting, if I ever get the chance. In my first book, I do some headhopping with a lot of the characters in the book. I am a purist when it comes to this now and it drives me crazy when I’m reading a book and the author is headhopping all over the place. To me, that says novice, loud and clear.
I always try to better my books, no matter how old they are. If a reader finds a typo, I fix it. If the cover doesn’t look good enough any more, I’ll change it. I am probably crazy. There are not a lot of authors I know who will fix up a book once it is published. It is a personal goal of mine to always have the best book possible. I take pride in my work, and that is the way it should be.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
At the end of Autumn’s Touch, I tell a short real-life story that touched my heart about the writing of that book. Since I wrote it outdoors, I watched cardinals make a nest in my arbor, lay eggs and have babies. I guarded them and watched over them, taking videos and photos of the baby birds as they grew. I excitedly shared them on facebook. It is a sad ending and the birds did not survive. I never found any dead birds or feathers or anything, they just disappeared two days before they would have been ready to leave the nest.
I tell about it more in detail at the end of my book in case anyone would like to read more about it. I will say that I was so heartbroken that I put that incident in my story. So those baby birds will be remembered through my writing.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
As long as the hero was good looking, I wouldn’t care who they got to play him. I would love to have any of my books made into movies or mini-series. So if anyone out there reading this knows of a way to help me make that a reality, I’m listening!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Only the hungry will survive in this business. If you want something bad enough, you’ll get it. But if you stop trying and think it’ll be handed to you on a silver platter, you are in for a rude awakening. My business in the past 4 ½ years has taken off considerably. I must admit there were two times when I almost gave up, but I didn’t. I just worked harder and that is what got me through the tough times. There is so much competition out there now – much more than there was 4 ½ years ago.
Remember, I told you my first books sold like crazy without even trying? That was true. But nowadays, I have to work three times as hard to make that happen. My advice is to be fearless, keep moving forward, and never give up.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Yes, I would like to say thank you. Without readers, I would not have a business or be where I am now. Sometimes it might seem that I’m forgetting about my readers, but I assure you I am not.
Prolific authors with crazy schedules such as myself oftentimes are working under a lot of stress. With preorder options, we are under tight deadlines. People are buying a book that might not even be written yet. To think it might not be done in time is horrifying. So if you don’t hear from me, it is only because I am working to bring you more books.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just got back from the RWA conference and 12 days in Florida and had a lot of catch-up to do. So at the moment I am not reading anything. But I did just listen to the audiobook of Summer’s Reign – Book 2 of my Seasons of Fortitude Series, so I could approve my narrator’s work and get it published. It should be out any day now, so watch for it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
When I was in first grade, I received a certificate for reading 500 books! I went to the library constantly and read any book I could get my hands on. The stacks of books were so heavy I couldn’t carry them home.
The one book I do remember, besides the classic Dick and Jane, was a paranormal book called The Wednesday Witch. I still have it. It was about a witch that rode a vacuum cleaner. That is probably where my love of paranormal first started.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love putting humor in my books, and I must also say when writing my books there is normally something that makes me cry at the end. I think romance novels are all about emotion.
I don’t need a reason to laugh or cry. Sometimes the smallest things seem funny. And if I see someone crying, I am sure to start crying along with them even if I don’t know them or know what they are crying about.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I love watching Turner Classic Movies. I often wonder what it would have been like to live in the 30’s or 40’s. Sometimes I think I was born too late. I would love to meet any of the old actors and actresses from the time when movies were classy, men wore suits, and women wore hats. I loved the singing too. Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Vera-Ellen, Rosemary Clooney – I could go on and on. These people were so inspiring to me.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Ok, who has time for hobbies when there is always another book to write? I do like to garden and spend time in nature. I also am interested in researching my family tree. I have started but it proved too hard to find records in Europe, so it is at a standstill for the moment.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
For movies – I like anything that has a castle in it. I prefer action and paranormal aspects in movies rather than just a romance. (Sorry)
TV shows I enjoy watching – reality TV or old sitcoms.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Pizza and coke is my favorite. I would never get tired of that. I like music from the 40’s and 50’s. I grew up hearing my dad listen to it, and learned to love it.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
If I ever stopped writing, I think I would be a cover designer or perhaps a marketer for other authors. I enjoy doing both those things.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Yikes, what a question! I guess I try not to think of things that might be upsetting – as that is.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes. Readers can sign up for my blog or newsletter by visiting my website at http://elizabethrosenovels.com.
Thank you the interview. It was a lot of fun, and I hope readers will feel they know me better now. I hope to get to know them better too. I started a reader’s group on facebook, and if anyone would like to join it, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1069264379873015/
Thanks again – Elizabeth Rose