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?
My name is Erin Kane Spock and I am forty-two. Yes, Spock is my real last name. It’s my married name and it’s Polish, not Vulcan. And no, I am not related to either Dr. Spock or Leonard Nimoy (yes, I get asked this).
Fiona: Where are you from?
I have lived in Southern California for most of my life, with a brief stint in Ireland when I was a child.
My husband and I just celebrated our twenty year anniversary. We have two daughters and their schedules keep us pretty busy. Aside from writing, I teach middle school art and am a full time Irish dance mom.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My debut novel, Courtly Pleasures, was released this December. The next two books have just been made available for pre-order. Courtly Scandals will be coming out in March 2018. Courtly Abandon is scheduled for release in July of 2018.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing various things most of my life. I didn’t start taking my writing seriously until about ten years ago when I finished my first full manuscript. I started pitching that while continuing to write new material. I’m glad I kept at it – my writing continued to improve with each book and I learned a lot about myself.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I finally, now that I’m published, feel comfortable calling myself an author. I’ve been calling myself a writer for years, even before I wrote that first book. The difference of my pre-book and post-book perception of being a writer is that I treated it as a hobby before and now I see it as a career.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I started writing my first book because I needed an outlet for my own struggles as a new mother. I had an infant and an 18 month old and wasn’t sure who I was as a person any longer.Writing gave me focus, a sense of accomplishment, and time to myself (I actually hired a babysitter 2 days a week just to have that time to lock myself in with my computer and not think about diapers).
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
“The Rules of Courtly Love” are a real set of guidelines that the Renaissance courtier would have known and applied, maybe in jest, maybe not, in courtly flirtations. My novel was originally called Courtly Love. Each chapter has one of the rules associated with it that matches the theme of that chapter. After pitching and querying that title, I got a lot of responses that said the book was more historical fiction than historical romance. It was Eloisa James who told me that I had to choose a direction and stick with it. If I was going to go with romance, the title needed to be sexier. Courtly Love became Courtly Pleasures and I streamlined the story significantly to make the emotional connection between the main characters the dominant thread.
I am actually really bad at coming up with titles. I have a work in progress that I refer to as Sexy Trees because I want the title to have a sensual element and include and something about the forest/nature. My mother actually thinks the book is about sex with trees. And then there’s another project I call Alcoholic Costumer… *sigh*
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write character driven stories and sometimes they don’t always do what I plan for them to do. My writing is part planned and part organic. The hard part is when I try to force the story into the direction I want it to go. Sometimes everything stalls and I have to go back and figure out when the story stopped growing naturally and throw out huge chunks of writing. It’s frustrating but, ultimately, makes for a better story. My haphazard writing style drives my VERY organized critique partner insane.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Courtly Pleasures is entirely fictional in a historically accurate setting, however, many of the ancillary characters are real people from history. I tried to do my best by them.
My main character, Frances, shares some characteristics with me. She’s creative and, physically, resembles what I looked like at twenty four. Writing this book was inspired by my own identity crisis and Frances’s journey mirrors that, but we are also different in many ways.
My sister once told me that my books are like therapy because all of the heroines deal with some unresolved issue that I can relate to. I think this is what makes them real to the reader.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I have travelled through the British Isles and that was helpful in writing exterior scenes. I used to participate in Renaissance Faires and that research and recreation of history was very helpful in fleshing out courtly interactions, feasting, scents, etc… and making the scene multi-faceted.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The marketing team at Crimson Romance put the covers together after asking me for some inspiration from the story and providing some images options for research. Ultimately the cover is all their work and I trust that they know the market and how to put something together that can catch my reader’s attention.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I would like my readers to take away a sense of hope. Romantic love can be magical and seem to happen in that instant, but maintaining it takes work and commitment. All of my stories will, of course, have that happily ever after despite the initial conflicts, but all of my characters have to choose to reach out and grab that chance for happiness when it would be easy to let it escape them. The message I want my readers to grasp is that they are worthy of their own happily-ever-after if they’re willing to take a chance and put the effort in.
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?
I just read an ARC of The Tremblers by Raquel Byrnes. It’s a post-apocalyptic steampunk zombie action romance. I could see the scenes play out like I was watching the movie (which I can absolutely see this becoming). It is fun and scary and breath-catching and gross and heart-breaking and sweet all at once. This is book one of a series and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Joining Romance Writers of America was a really good step for me. I could barely afford it, but it was worth it to go to that first conference. It helped me see that what I was doing was real, that there were more people like me, and that there was a possibility that my book(s) might actually deserve to see the light of day. I look forward to going to Denver this year as a published author.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I have been a teacher for seventeen years. Being a writer, struggling and failing and then trying again, has given me real life applications of the skills I’m trying to get my students to understand.It’s made me a better teacher. I will continue to write and, hopefully, someday it will provide the income for me to make writing my next career instead of a second job.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’ve changed so much in that book that there’s hardly anything left of the original. I think, at this point, it’s in its best form. If I could change something about myself during that process, though, I would give myself a big dose of humility early on and the openness to learn.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I am constantly learning. Courtly Pleasures taught me that writing is not a solitary endeavour. I wrote it without being part of any sort of writing community and with no research into the market or industry norms. It didn’t become a viable book until I took an objective look at it with the help of my critique partner, beta readers, and both the online and RWA writing communities.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I wrote this book with a picture of young Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman as visual inspiration for the leads. If it was a film, it would be a BBC mini-series filmed on location with fabulous period costumes.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
- Keep writing forward and don’t get caught up in the rut of constantly editing or you’ll never finish anything.
- Get critiques often and DO NOT argue with them. They have given you the gift of their time. Thank them and then mull over anything they had to say. You may disagree with it, but consider that it is a reader’s opinion and if something you wrote didn’t make sense to a reader (even though you understand it perfectly) you may need to rethink. Critiques are a gift.
- Don’t take your first rejection as an invitation to self-publish. Your name will be on that book and creating a reputation for you and, while you may think it’s the best book ever written now, your writing is only getting better as you write forward. Try to be objective about your own work and take any rejection (especially if they tell you why) as an opportunity to improve. I’m not saying not to self-publish, I’m just cautioning you not to rush into it.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I want to thank my readers for choosing to read my book. I am in awe of the fact that people (outside my immediate family) are actually reading and enjoying my work. It means so much to me.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale, and Highland Flame by Mary Wine. Yes, I read multiple books at a time.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first memory of reading a book by myself and by choice (age 6ish?) was something about a horse. The first book I remember LOVING was Anne of Green Gables (age 10ish?).
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I’ve been watching“Grace and Frankie” on Netflix and every episode has made me both laugh and cry. I have a somewhat off sense of humor and laugh at a lot. I tear up a lot, too. Watching the Olympics and considering that, win or lose, these athletes have worked hard and accomplished their dreams. It’s humbling. Same thing when I watch the Oscars, or the Super Bowl. Each person there started out as a kid with a dream and pursued it.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would have loved to meet David Bowie. He was one of my first loves and then, later, an inspiration. The world lost a great artist when he passed.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I’m an Irish dance mom. My kids are very active, so there’s practice and competitions. I enjoy making their performance dresses, so there’s also a research component along with design and constructions. There is at least one feis (pronounced fesh) per month. It’s time consuming and, aside from writing and teaching, it takes all the time I have left.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I just finished watching “The Miss Fisher Mysteries” and decided I want to be Phryne Fisher when I grow up. I also like“Murdoch,”“Project Runway,”and shows like “NCIS,” but I don’t have a lot of time for much TV. It’s winter break for me right now (two weeks off school) so I’ve been able to catch up a bit.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Mexican food, turquoise/red, classic rock/80s/grunge/Broadway/alternative/NOT RAP
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I might get more seriously into Irish dance dress design. The creative process is actually very similar to writing and then seeing your dress out there, dancing, is a great feeling.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?