AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: DEIRDRE MARTIN
Deirdre Martin is taking a little time out of her busy writing schedule to let the bunnies of Joyfully Reviewed pester her with questions…
So Deirdre what is your most current work?
It’s called Breakaway, and it’s published by Berkley Sensation
Tell us a little about Breakaway and what its inspiration was.
Here’s the synopsis:
Erin O’Brien was everyone’s favorite in Ballycraig, while Rory Brady was the town’s golden boy: the local lad who moved to America and became a professional hockey player. Rory promised to return to sweep Erin away to the life of her dreams in New York. But the bright lights and late nights turned his head and he never came back.
Two years later, Rory realizes he’s made the worst mistake of his life. Heading back to Ballycraig, he’s confident that all he needs to do is flash his winning smile and Erin will fall back into his arms.
But Erin’s moved on.
Racing the clock, Rory needs to prove to her that the man she fell in love with is still there. But can happy-go-lucky Erin risk it all and give another chance to the man who broke her heart?
As you can tell, I wanted to revisit the fictional village of Ballycraig, Ireland that I introduced in Straight Up. Readers seemed to love the characters in that book, and so did I. Breakaway’s heroine, Erin, is the cousin of Liam O’Brien, the hero of Straight Up. Erin seemed the logical choice for the heroine, since she allowed me to maintain the O’Brien family connection that began in the Wild Hart Saga with Just A TWIST.
I also knew I wanted to write a romance where the hero returns from afar to win back a lost love, since I’d never written one before. In Breakaway, the hero, Rory Brady, left Ballycraig to go play for the New York Blades. That was fun: it enabled me to put a little hockey magic in there as well.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I have to have a basic story line mapped out in my head. I’m too neurotic to do it any other way. I tried once, and it was awful, the story was all over the place. It’s just not me.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I actually started out as a freelance magazine writer, but in the back of my mind, I always hoped I’d one day be able to make the leap to writing romance, because I enjoyed reading it so much. I got there, but it was a slog. However, it was worth it.
What made you decide on hockey players (interviewer is a huge fan here)?
What happened was that I started watching hockey with my husband, and I realized very quickly that not only was the game itself exciting, but that the players made perfect romantic heroes. They’re warriors on a quest: the quest for the Stanley Cup. They’re willing to sacrifice, whether it’s physical, mental, or spiritually, to achieve their goal. These guys are tough. And let’s not forget, they have fabulous bodies.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I’d have to say it’s Michael Dante from Fair Play. He’s emotional, he’s determined, he’s romantic, and he’s also quite funny. I love writing scenes between him and his brother, Anthony (who’s the hero of Just A Taste). They both have quick tempers that flare up when they’re together, but you’re never in doubt that the love is there between them.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Adam Perry in Icebreaker. He was hard nut for me to crack, since his emotions and vulnerability were buried very deep beneath an extremely taciturn surface. I’ve written “strong, silent types” before, but Adam proved very elusive. It took me awhile to get all the elements of his personality to coalesce in my mind. By the time I finished that book, I needed a month long vacation in Hawaii. Writing Adam wore me out.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Ty Gallagher, the hero of Body Check, is an amalgam of Mark Messier, the former Captain of the New York Rangers, as well as the former Captain of the New Jersey Devils, Scott Stevens. The dog walking heroine in Chasing Stanley was inspired by a real person. If you stretched it a bit, you could probably say Quinn O’Brien in With A Twist is based on a real beat reporter for a tabloid in New York.
I shadowed a Manhattan dog walker as part of my research for Chasing Stanley. At one point, she let me take all the leashes while she looked on. It was a disaster; within two minutes I had six dogs wrapped around me like I was a maypole. I don’t know how the dog walkers do it.
The funniest story I have to share concerns not a character based on someone from real life, but a real place: an FDNY firehouse, since the hero is a firefighter. While doing research, I spent a lot of time at one particular firehouse in New York, where the guys teased me non stop about being a romance author. I was having lunch with them one day when they started passing my latest book around, taking turns reading one of my love scenes aloud. It was pretty funny, but I wanted to die.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The part where you have to show up in front of the computer every morning. I’m one of those writers who will come up with a million excuses NOT to write. (“Oh, look, the top of the fridge needs dusting.”). Nothing about the process comes easily to me. I’m so envious of those writers whose characters speak to them, or who sit down in front of the computer and words just pour out of them in a torrent. I’m one of those writers who cries a lot and asks herself, “Why didn’t I go work on a sheep farm in New Zealand when I had the chance?”
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
When I was in college, I modeled nude for art classes to make money.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
British TV. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. If it’s British, I’ll watch it.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Well, as mentioned earlier, I needed to have the basic story line mapped out. I have to work at home, and I need it to be quiet.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
It really doesn’t. I know that’s boring, but it’s true.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I would definitely want Colin Farrell to play Rory, and Kelly Mcdonald to play Erin.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was in my kitchen. It was late August, 2001, and my best friend was visiting from Manhattan. She could tell what was going on from both my facial expressions and my responses I was giving my agent on the phone. The minute I hung up, we just looked at each other and started to scream.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I think I was twelve. My mother was going through a big Anya Seton phase, and I read Greenn Darkness and LOVED it. I still love it.
Is there a genre that you love to read but don’t want to (or think it would be tough for you) write?
Romance is pretty much the only genre I read, though my husband recently got me hooked on George RR Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series, so I think I might start reading more fantasy books. But there’s no way I would ever attempt to write one. I have a tough enough time writing stories set in the real world, never mind trying to conjure up a world that’s completely imaginary!
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Susan Elizabeth Phillips, hands down.
What is the most recent romance story you have read that you would recommend?
It’s an oldie but a goodie: Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I read it at least once a year, and I’d recommend every romance writer to check it out at least once. The book’s hero, Heathcliff, is handsome, dark, brooding, tormented, and willing to do anything, good or bad, for the woman he loves. It gets me every time.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m working on the next book in the New York Blades series. I also have a novella entitled early Bird Special that’s part of Kensington’s Kiss the Bride anthology, which will be published this April.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Oh my God, I would never write with another author! Never! They would kill me within two days. I’m too much of a control freak.
How do you pick your characters names?
Tough question. I’ve written a lot of books where the hero and/or the heroine have a definite ethnic heritage, so that can be a big help in terms of thinking up names. Sometimes I thumb through magazines or I channel surf to see if any first or last names jump out at me. It’s important to me that characters’ names sound as real as possible.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
Steady growth throughout, though I wouldn’t mind tackling the “love at first sight” approach at some point.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
If someone says to me, “Oh, one of those books,” I’ll ask them if they’ve ever read one. Inevitably, their answer is something along the lines of, “No, I don’t read that kind of trash,” at which point I will politely ask, “How do you know they’re trash if you’ve never read one?”
If someone questions whether what I write is “real,” I usually respond by saying, “Gee, the checks my publisher sends me seem real enough.”
Sometimes it shuts them up, sometimes it doesn’t. You just have to accept that there are some people who will always think romance is garbage. It’s their loss. I have to say, though, that the elitist attitude toward the romance genre sets my teeth on edge. It makes me glad I don’t own any weaponry.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
There is nothing silly about chocolate! I like dark chocolate best, though I’ll eat any kind of chocolate you put in front of me. Especially if it’s British.