AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: GRACE GREENE
Debut author Grace Greene is chatting about her first book with us.
What is your most current work out ?
Beach Rental (publisher Turquoise Morning Press) released in July 2011 and is my debut novel. Beach Rental is available trade paperback and eformats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and all of the usual online retailers. It’s also available at the TMP Bookstore.
Tell us a little about Beach Rental, what inspired you to write Beach Rental?
I spent a wonderful week in an oceanfront duplex on Emerald Isle, one of several towns on the island of Bogue Banks in North Carolina. Bogue Banks lies east/west. You walk to the sunrise in the morning and to the sunset in the evening. I’m a dedicated beach walker, so that’s hard to beat. Nearby is Morehead City and Beaufort, NC. Front Street in Beaufort has a charming lineup of galleries and restaurants and just offshore is a world class shelling beach on Shackleford Banks. The whole area is fun and scenic and I knew it would be a perfect setting for the right story.
I found my heroine in a dry cleaning store. She was young and attractive, but nothing in her background prepared her for a long-term future. She was getting by a day at a time with no plans for more. During that time several of my friends died of pancreatic cancer. They were full of love and life and were the epitome of selflessness during their last months. And then the ‘what-ifs’ started. I wondered what would happen if I brought a dying man together with the girl who had no prospects for a happy future? What could he bring to the relationship that would impact her life and future in an enduring way and what gifts could she give him?
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
Setting, characters, concept – or some combination of those. Plot follows organically from there.
I have an idea or a theme or a concept. Sometimes the setting comes first. For instance, a moody landscape or a house may catch my attention. Some combination of theme, setting, characters initiates the story idea. From there, it builds as I’m writing. I have an idea of a plot line, but it’s a moving target depending upon where the story takes me. Once the story is in progress, it’s the characters that drive it.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I’m guilty of crossing genres. In each of my books you’ll find romance, suspense, peril, inspirational elements, and so on – some books have more of one than the other. Beach Rental has them in fairly even quantities. Kincaid’s Hope, due out in January 2012, has romance, some suspense and peril, less inspirational. Yes, even though there are less specific inspirational elements, the themes of trust and faith always seem to be in my books and the faith arcs are still there, part of the character arcs. In the end, each book is ultimately about the heroine’s journey, so it fits nicely into Women’s Fiction.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
Most my characters are right up there on the favorite’s lineup. I like different things about each of them. For instance, one of my favorite characters is Kath Havens from a book (Cub Creek) that isn’t on the market. Someday I’ll complete the re-writes and give Kath another chance. Another favorite is Beth in Kincaid’s Hope – after she gets past the stuff she can’t forgive. She’s dramatic and hot-tempered and once she accepts that part of her personality and stops trying to hide it, her courage and spirit are amazing. And, of course, Juli in Beach Rental. It was wonderful watching her grow. But sometimes, the secondary characters grab your heart, Maia in Beach Rental, Joyce in Cub Creek, and Maude in Kincaid’s Hope.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Michael in Kincaid’s Hope. He struggled a bit at first because he was a very normal guy in the midst of colorful, temperamental, good and bad characters. Once I figured out his flaws, he blossomed.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Yes, I draw character inspiration from real life, but the only elements. Characters, like the story, and the scenes, are just fragments squished together into a new reality. Much like a quilt – each swatch of fabric represents something, a prom gown, a favorite flannel shirt, a child’s garment – but sewn together they become a blanket – no longer the gown or the shirt or the garment.
What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?
The doldrums. It can be hard to punch your way out of it. When you’re not lost in the doldrums, you can review your writing and judge it – wow, it’s brilliant, or ugh, it stinks, and you fix it – but when you’re in the doldrums you just wonder why you’re bothering to try.
I think it’s a pretty natural state. Events or persons in your life may be taking your energy and attention, or maybe your brain just needs to recharge. I usually step away for a few days and do something different and try to get more physical – maybe riding my bicycle and playing the piano. Also, reading other authors can be recharging.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was at home. The offer came via email from Kim Jacobs at Turquoise Morning Press. I was stunned – funny, since I’d submitted my queries to her! I was so used to rejections that I was already planning who to submit to next! She offered publication for two of my books, Beach Rental and Kincaid’s Hope. Ultimately, it was a relief to accept the offer – which I did with excitement and pleasure – because it felt like, now that those two books had a home, I was freer to move forward with other projects.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I was a big reader all through my growing up years, but mostly biographies and Nancy Drew mysteries. I think my first romance was Mrs. Mike, although that isn’t technically part of the romance genre, but as with the books I write, it had love and romance, suspense, peril, and so on. I read my first, capital R, Romance, when I was about twenty. It was one of those books (probably a Rosemary Rogers) that one gal brought into the office and it got passed from reader to reader. That was a very long time ago. I’ve enjoyed many different types of romance and other fiction through the years.
If you still have one of those pesky non-writing jobs, what is it?
I work a day job and enjoy it. I do wish I had more writing time. I treat my writing like a second, full-time job – writing evenings and weekends. Even when I travel (IE in the car as a passenger or in flight) I pull out my laptop and keep writing.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
My WIP (Wynnedower’s Stranger) combines elements of the old-fashioned gothics and romantic suspense novels in a contemporary setting. It’s moving along nicely and approaching the final draft. Also, I’d like to get back to the re-writes on Cub Creek. Cub Creek is a psychological suspense, with romance. The heroine is very flawed and reflects the truth of what hides in most of us.
How do you pick your characters names?
Usually, I start with generic names – a boy name and a girl name, for instance – and don’t settle on more personalized names until later in the book when I know the characters better.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
Both. Even love at first sight must grow or it fizzles out. In Beach Rental, for Ben, it’s love at first sight. For Luke, it’s an attraction that grows into appreciation and love.
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”.
No one has said that to me. Mostly, they’re just surprised that I write books. The next question is usually, “What do you write?” To one friend, when I replied, “Women’s Fiction,” he asked, “Isn’t that the new Chick-Lit?” I had to laugh. The assumption that most people have is that getting published means big bucks. Fat advances and beaucoup royalty checks. I wish J
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Milk chocolate, although sometimes dark chocolate if it’s not too bitter. Tootsie Rolls are always welcome. And chocolate pie. Fudge is good, too. Oh, and don’t forget chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup….Interestingly, you can read about the Annual Carolina Chocolate Festival in Morehead City. It’s held in early February and supports charities – a very sweet way to spend a day!