AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: FRANCIS RAY
Author Francis Ray has joined me for a late spring chat about her upcoming books…
Tell us a little about When Morning Comes and A Dangerous Kiss.
When Morning Comes is the sequel to I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, and tells the story of Cade Mathis, a gifted neurosurgeon in search of his birth mother. What he doesn’t expect to find is a woman who will lead him to the family he has been searching for and a love he never expected to find.
A Dangerous Kiss in book # 7 in the Grayson Friends trilogy. Payton “Sin” Sinclair has a dangerous secret and doesn’t plan on falling in love, but one dangerous kiss might just change his mind. What inspired me to write the series was I wanted to explore the depths of friendships and how far a real friend will go to be there for you.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
When I begin writing I have a synopsis that is usually 5-10 pages. However, my books run between 280-340 pages so there is a lot that’s not in the synopsis. Beginning the story is always a struggle for me. However once I’m about a third in, the characters come out of hiding and the writing flows a bit faster. I don’t actually ‘hear’ the characters speaking, it’s more of the words forming as I type…if that makes sense.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I was inspired to write romance because of the moral values of the characters and the happy endings. It’s a given that people will have problems in a relationship. I liked how the main characters in romance novels worked those out in a sensible, moral way.
I started out writing romance. I also write women’s fiction where romance might not be the focal point, but my main characters will always be monogamous and have core values.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
Tough question. I have several favorite characters. My first one would be Kane Taggart in Forever Yours. He wasn’t traditionally handsome, but he was a strong man who would go to the mat for his family and those he loved. C.J. in With Just One Kiss because he was blind to falling in love. Sin in A Dangerous Kiss because of the secret he carried. Cade Mathis in When Morning Comes who cared so fiercely for his patients because no one had ever cared for him.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
The toughest character would be Blade Navarone in Only You. He’d been wounded emotionally and had a heartbreaking reason never to fall in love again. He put up a good fight, but Sierra Grayson and love proved a stronger lure.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I draw “characteristics” for my characters such as strong moral code, courage, and determination to name a few from people I know. Sorry, no fun stories.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Writing is the hardest part of writing. After the initial “what if” it takes me a long time for me to write the story.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I think they’d be surprised to learn that even after 47 books, I struggle to write a story.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is probably eating candy- chocolate and jelly beans – when I get stuck writing.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I don’t need anything tangible to start writing – I just need to know who the main characters are, what they want in life and why they can’t have it. However, I find it goes faster if I’m on the computer. Pen and paper no longer work for me.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
I listen to country music when I write. I like the songs that talk of life and mistakes and resiliency of the heart. Break Every Rule is a song by Tina Turner and the name of one of my books. The title fit perfectly with the heroine’s list of rules she had regarding men. Before the book ended she had broken every rule and found the love of a lifetime.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I really think I would select unknown actors. Movie goers have strong opinions of actors they’ve already seen.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was at home on Christmas Eve when I received my first contract from Odyssey Books. My daughter was home so she was the first one I told.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
Probably in my thirties. I was a late bloomer. But after that first book, I was hooked.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Since I’ve had the privilege and honor of meeting authors whose books I admire, I don’t go crazy anymore. In the beginning of my career it was Elizabeth Lowell, Jayne Ann Krentz, Sherilyn Kenyon and Nora Roberts. I remain in awe of their talents, but I can talk with them without hyperventilating.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
Bookkeeping with expenses.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m currently working on All I Ever Wanted. It’s Richard and Naomi’s story and book # 8 of the Grayson Friends series.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I’d probably faint if it happened, but it would be Kimberla Lawson Roby or Nora Roberts. Both have incredible plots with unforgettable characters.
How do you pick your characters names?
I pick my characters names with much difficulty. Sometimes it comes quickly, sometimes deep into the story. The name has to fit.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I have no preference. Either way it has to fit the characters and the plot.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?