I’m delighted to have with me today my fellow Wild Rose Press author, Alana Lorens (aka Barbara Mountjoy) who has been a published writer for over 35 years. In addition to producing massive word counts, Alana also takes care of a husband and a bunch of kids and blogs on a variety of subjects, including autism, science fiction and life at Awalkabout.
Alana, what made you decide to be an author?
I read from the time I was three, and fell in love with romantic suspense by the time I hit junior high school. I guess it was natural that I’d want to write the same genre. I finished my first novel when I was 14, and actually sent it off to Doubleday, who published Victoria Holt’s novels. The editor was so kind and sent me a nice letter of rejection, encouraging me to keep at it. So different from the market today!
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?
I love creating, and scenes where I know what HAS to happen and actually MAKING it happen in a way that’s appealing is almost like a drug. When you succeed, it’s like you’re flying over the moon.
What I don’t like is listening to people argue about the future of publishing or traditional vs. small press vs. self-publishing and how one is good and one is bad. There’s certainly room in the world for as many books as people can create. Readers will be able to tell which ones they like. Let’s just get to work and support each other.
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?
Particularly in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer series, of which SECOND CHANCES is the second volume, I know what it’s like to be a family law attorney practicing in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been to Pittsburgh a lot. Inessa Regan, our heroine, is also not model-thin, and when she’s hurt, she cuddles up with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s to compensate. I like writing about real women.
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book–as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?
I’ve never felt this way. My characters don’t get away from me. I’m a control freak like that. Ha!
You’ve written 17 novels and are working on an 18th AND 19th novel. What’s your favorite time management tip?
What works for me is writing every day, but not necessarily at a set time. I often have “down time” waiting for a kid at the doctor, or waiting on a court hearing to convene, etc., and I make sure I have a notebook to go ahead and write out the next scene or at least outline. By getting my mind working on what’s next, when I actually have an hour to sit down and do it, things go much more smoothly.
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
It depends what kind of deadline I’m on. I try to write during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) each year, to get a first draft done for a book to edit during the next year. For that, I’ll write character sketches and outlines the month before so I can just concentrate on getting the words on the page. Same with some of the genre fiction I write where the formula is expected.
On the other hand, the ménage sci-fi romance I’m writing now is just flowing chapter by chapter, and I’m not really sure exactly how it’s getting where it’s going. J It’s discovery for me, too!
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?
Never give up on your dream. I finished my first novel when I was 14 but didn’t get a contract for 39 more years. And now I’ve got four publishers, 17 novels and the dream I’ve always wanted.
Tell me more about SECOND CHANCES.
When Inessa Regan gets a pink slip, laid off from her law firm at the age of 42, without prospects she’s sure her life is over. She hides from the world, until her neighbor brings her a client, a young Iraq war veteran dying of cancer.
Kurt Lowdon only wants to make sure his affairs are in order should the worst happen, but meeting Inessa gives him encouragement on the road to recovery. His quest to help her realize her self-worth leads them into dangers they never expected, as horrors from the war and long-hidden family secrets come back to haunt them.
How about an excerpt from SECOND CHANCES?
Sure! This scene takes place after one of Kurt’s friends has a disturbing encounter at his parents’ home. Inessa is handling his divorce. Kurt, Rafe and his soon-to-be ex Susan all served in Iraq together:
Kurt was present on a Thursday morning near the end of June when Rafe burst through the door. Inessa, working on some papers in her office, heard the veteran’s gasping breaths as he yelled, “Top? You gotta do something!”
She had started out of her office before Kurt called her, but she wasn’t prepared when the young man pulled a dead gray cat out of his black backpack. “What the—”
“It’s my mother’s pet,” Rafe exclaimed through clenched teeth. “Sus killed my mother’s cat and nailed it to the garage door.”
A sensation of writhing worms passed through Inessa’s gut and she turned away from the bloody carcass, wishing she could get the image out of her mind, but it stayed there, like a bright afterimage in the dark. “Sweet Lord.”
“Rafe. Put that thing away,” Kurt ordered, his voice choked. He’d risen to his feet and stood stiff, watching them both. “Now, Private!”
Inessa waited till the animal was hidden again before she first took a glance, then came to perch on the edge of the secretary’s desk, where Kurt had been loading an anti-virus program onto the future secretary’s computer. She had to force herself to look at Rafe. “Did you call the police?”
Face worn with lack of sleep, Rafe tossed the backpack over near the door, blood still on his hands. He wiped them on his pants. “Sure, my mother called them. They said if we didn’t see someone do it, they couldn’t do a damn thing. But you and I both know it was her.”
“You know where she is, Rafe?” Kurt walked over and put an arm around his shoulders. The picture was Mutt and Jeff to Inessa’s view: the strapping former bomb defuser with the debilitated former sergeant, the smaller of the two clearly the superior.
Kurt pulled away. “You’ve been together, haven’t you?”
That got Inessa’s attention, although she wasn’t totally surprised when Rafe nodded.
“She met me last night up at the Wendy’s on West Liberty. Just to talk. Just to see if we could, you know… if I could help her in some way,”
“Oh, man.” Kurt blew air between pursed lips. “You know that’s not going to get you anywhere.”
“She sounded okay, Top, like herself again. I just thought that maybe she got medicated, maybe she was doing better.”
Inessa watched the anxious young veteran and compared his shamed attitude with that of any number of other abuse victims she’d represented. Inexplicable to those outside the relationship, they often went back, drawn by financial considerations, by coercion, often only by the hope and a promise that everything would change. Why wouldn’t they? Even abusers could be charming when they wanted to be. If you knew they could be so wonderful, why shouldn’t you hope they could always be that way?
“But apparently she wasn’t.”
Rafe shrugged. “She started out that way. She was even flirting. The way she tore into that food, I don’t think she’d eaten for days. But when I paid for the burgers, she grabbed my change. After, she demanded money. Said it was my fault she got kicked out of the apartment and she had to have a place to sleep the night.”
“You didn’t take her to your parents’ house?” Kurt said.
“Of course I didn’t.” Rafe sounded insulted. “I gave her another fifty, that’s all I had. She was angry there wasn’t more. She started making threats. Getting loud. The manager tossed us out and said he was calling the cops. She was yelling there in the parking lot, cursing me and men in general. I couldn’t talk to her. I tried, Top, I owed her that much.”
“I know you felt like you had to,” Kurt said.
“Finally I just got in my car and left her there. I stayed up awhile when I got home, sitting out on the porch with my pistol, but nothing.” He glanced at his backpack. “Then this morning, that.”
Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
Facebook Fan Page
Book Trailer(s): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEMtSxd6FQQ
Buy Links: http://www.amazon.com/Second-Chances-ebook/dp/B008CVY09Q/ref=la_B005GE0WBC_1_3_title_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1367343736&sr=1-3
Alana, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.
Thanks for having me! I enjoyed visiting with you and your readers. J~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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