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?

Thanks so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Fiona. I’m Liv Rancourt, and I’m 57 years old.

Fiona: Where are you from?

I’ve lived in Seattle, Washington since the ‘74 (except for a few years in Honolulu and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba). I call myself a native Seattleite, though that’s not technically true.

Fiona: A little about yourself (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

I’m married, with two kids in college and two very needy dogs. My husband’s a carpenter and a musician, so he understands my need to do something creative, and in my day job, I’m a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

My newest book, A Holiday Homecoming, is a gay romance in which Jon, a rising star classical pianist,returns home to Seattle to help his mother after his father’s stroke. It’s Christmas, but there’s not much to be merry about until he meets – or rather, reconnects with – hisfirst crush, Bo. But Jon lives in New York and Bo lives in Seattle, and Bo doesn’t fly. Ever. Anywhere. It’s going to take more than a little holiday magic to cross that continental divide.

I’ve also got a freebie running right now, too. The Christmas Prince is a steampunk-lite novella that’s a sequel to The Clockwork Monk – though you don’t have to have read Monk to enjoy Prince. Both of them are free downloads from Prolificworks, & the newsletter sign-up is optional if that’s not your jam.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

When I was a kid, I knew I’d grow up to be a writer, but I pretty much got to the age of 48 without seriously acting on that belief. Then I realized I was almost 50 and, well, if I was going to be a writer, I better get going, so I did.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Since 2012, I’ve published twelve titles – novels, novellas, and short stories – some with ebook publishers and others self-published, and I’ve had an agent since 2014. I’ve also co-written and self-published another four novels/novellas with my friend Irene Preston. All ofthat sounds like I should consider myself a writer. And…I do? Sort of? I recognize my own experience, but I’m not sure I’m a “real” writer yet.

I have started taking myself more seriously since the October publication of Lost & Found, a gay romance set in 1920 Paris, or at least I’m more committed to self-publishing as my primary strategy, but I’m nowhere close to being able to quit my day job. Maybe that’ll be the point at which I’m comfortablegiving myself a label.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book, the one that lives in a drawer and will never see the light of day, grew out of my love for urban fantasy and the rather difficult relationship I have with one of my sisters.My first published book, A Vampire’s Deadly Delight, is sort of a mashup of Buffy and Spiderman; I watched all seven seasons of Buffy with my oldest kid, which turned out to be very influential.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

The titles generally present themselves at some point as I’m writing. The tricky part is finding a name for the first book in a series, becausewhatever I choose will have to lend itself to subsequent books.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

I think I’m a product of my generation – which is either that tag-end of the Boomers or very early GenX. I tend to be naturally reserved and private, and that reflects in my writing. I think that’s why I’m more comfortable writing historic characters or working in the POV ofmy 100-year-old vampire monk Thaddeus Dupont.I have a pretty strong voice and can shift between first and third-personwithout a lot of trouble, but digging in and finding the openness a contemporary requires is hard for me.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The situations and events that make up my plots are generally made up. The emotional truths underlying those situations and events are drawn from my own experience.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

I tend to set stories in places I’ve either lived or visited quite a bit, because I need to know what a place feels like to make it real. Funny story: I visited New Orleans right before I stared work on Vespers, a paranormal vampire romance I co-wrote with Irene Preston, and several scenes were shaped by that visit. The second time I visited, there were moments where I’d see things and they’d be filtered through my first visit and throughscenes from Vespers, in layers of memory. It was…odd.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

One of the things I like best about self-publishing is the control I have over my covers. I’ve worked primarily with Kanaxa, and have also done a couple with Lou Harper, and I absolutely recommend both of them. They rock.

The cover of my new holiday novella was made by LC Chase, working for Dreamspinner. It was the first time I had a publisher send me a cover that I loved immediately, without reservation. It fits the story perfectly, and I love it.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Each book has something different to say, but the theme that’s common to all my books is that the good guys are basically good, and that love is going to win. My heroes might not always make the best choices, but I write romance because of its essential optimism. No matter how bad things get, there’ll be a happy ending.

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 keep a Pinterest board with the books I read every year, and I have to say my favorites from the last year have skewed toward nonfiction. I loved The Five by Hallie Rubenhold, a social history of the women killed by Jack the Ripper that explores the premise that they weren’t prostitutes. It was difficult reading at times, but it fascinated me. Another really good read wasThe Butchering Art by Lindsay Fitzharris, about Joseph Lister and the discovery of antisepsis.Wow has surgery come a long way since the 19th century!

For fiction, the writer who made the strongest impression on me in the last years is Sarah Perry. Her book The Essex Serpent is historical fiction, but written in such a way that it verges on fantasy. Just lovely writing. Her book Melmoth is contemporary-ish, and is just about as close to horror as I can tolerate in a story. So good and thought-provoking, though, it was worth the scare.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

Back in October of 2011, I went to a writing conference and met another novice, Amanda Byrne. We hit it off and agreed to be critique partners, and from there we became friends. Amanda was my other brain, the person I could bounce ideas off of, who’d read my stuff and tell me what worked and what didn’t. Over the course of our friendship, we both grew a lot in our craft, and I’ll be forever grateful for her support. Amanda passed away July 5th, 2016, and I still think about her every day.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I do see it as my second career. I’m getting closer to being able to retire from the day job – still 7 or 8 years away – andfully expect to expand my writing when that happens. The work I’m doing now is laying the foundation for the future.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Either nothing or everything. (LOL!) If you told me I could have another whack at editing any one of my books, I’d dive right in, but at the same time, each one was the very best I could make it when I hit publish.

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

I learn something from every book, but some have a steeper learning curve than others. I’d say my recent release Lost & Foundrequired more work than many of my others. It’s set in 1920 Paris, so I did a lot of reading on the history of Paris in general and the post-war period in particular. I also had to study World War 1, because although the story takes place after the war, one of the heroes was an army veteran, and his experiences informed a lot of the action. I was also fortunate to have a beta reader who was from Paris, and she helped a great deal.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

I generally have an image in mind for each character I write, and often that image is an actor. For example, if Netflix optioned A Holiday Homecoming, I’d want Jon to be played by Keanu Reeves, and Bo to be played by Daniel Levy from Shitt’s Creek. Irene and I pretty much agree that the vampire Thaddeus Dupont would be played by Michiel Huisman and his boyfriend Sarasija Mishra would be played by Hasan Minaj. None of this is likely to happen, but we can dream…

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

Write what you love. Even though I’ve got fifteen or so titles on my Amazon author page, I’m still struggling to create a recognizable name.It’s so easy to get down on yourself because so-and-so reached X milestone much faster than you were able to, or to get caught up in the vast difference between where you are and Stephen King, or to have your self-confidence drop-kicked by a bad review. If you don’t love the stories you’re telling, the hard work and the hits won’t be worth it.

Here’s another thought that I came across in a recent essay. Decide for yourself what success looks like and keep the goals within your control. You can set a word-count goal, for instance, because that’s between you and your laptop. You can’t necessarily set the number of bookssold as a goal, because you can’t make people buy them. Querying x number of agents or editors is within your control; signing with an agent or signing a book contract isn’t.So define for yourself what success means, and work toward your own goals. It’ll make it much easier to celebrate others’ success when you know you’re hitting your own milestones, too.

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Thank you. That’s the most important thing I want readers to know. I very much appreciate their enthusiasm and their reviews and their generosity.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I’m in the middle of two, actually, or maybe three. I’m reading Annabeth Albert’s holiday novella Mr. Right Now, which is wonderful, and I’m rereading Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk. Widdershins is kind of a classic in the m/m paranormal romance genre, and I wanted to take notes on the story’s structure. I’m also reading Native Seattle by Coll Thrush, a nonfiction look at Seattle’s history from the perspective of the indigenous people who were already here, part of the research I’m doing for my current project.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

Nope, but I know I read Poe’s Telltale Heart in the 3rd grade and it freaked me out so bad I haven’t read anything by him ever since.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Oooh….good question. I love snappy wordplay and witty dialogue, either in real life or in print. Regarding what makes me cry….lots of things, honestly, but I’ll guarantee that if I’m at the day job and get called to a delivery and the dad starts crying when the baby is born, I’ll be bawling right there with him. Maybe not obviously crying – because professional – but the dads always get to me.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

I’m not sure. Mostly I’m afraid that meeting someone I idolize would knock the gilding off the icon, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t mind making dinner for Barack & Michelle Obama, just because I appreciate how much they did for our country. They could come over, I’d open a bottle of wine, and we could compare notes on our kids. Malia and Sasha are about the same age as my kids, so we’d have a lot to talk about.

Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

I’m addicted to crochet, and my garden keeps me busy. I walk the dogs every day, hit yoga a couple times a week, and recently started a weekly spin class (which makes me feel like a total bad-ass!)

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Not many. I’d rather read.

 Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?

Pizza. Beer. Burgundy. Cream – the color, not the food.Too many good musicians/musical styles to limit myself to one or two.

Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Before I started taking writing seriously, I sang in a cover band and was a cantor/soloist for my church choir, so I have some experience with shifting focus from one passion to another. When I get to the point where I don’t have any more stories to tell, I’m not sure what I’ll do next, but I’m creative and I have a short attention span, so I’ll figure something out.

Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?

Spending time with my family and re-reading a favorite book.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

She did her best.

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

Ican be found on-line at all hours of the day and night at my website (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).I also blog monthly over at Spellbound Scribes (https://spellboundscribes.wordpress.com/). For sneak peeks and previews and other assorted freebies, go HERE to sign up for my mailing list or join the Facebook page I share with my writing partner Irene Preston, After Hours with Liv & Irene. Fun stuff!

Amazon Authors page USA  https://www.amazon.com/Liv-Rancourt/e/B006XJCQW2/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_2

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Liv-Rancourt/e/B006XJCQW2/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1