AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: JOSELYN VAUGHN
Astraea Press author Joselyn Vaughn has stopped by to chat…
My newest book is called Climbing Heartbreak Hill from Astraea Press. Here is the blurb:
Professional runner, Ryan Grant, blows out his knee training for another attempt at the Boston marathon and the dreaded Heartbreak Hill. Ryan retreats home, not looking for anything more than a fast recovery, but he finds solace in the arms of his tax preparer, Tara Mansfield.
Tara’s cheerleading career ended abruptly and she faces an upward climb beating the stereotype as dumb blonde in her new calling as an accountant. Framed with defrauding the IRS during the last weeks of the tax season, Tara’s tentative confidence is shaken, but Ryan coaches her in ensnaring the true perpetrator. She cheers him on in discovering his identity as a coach rather than an athlete.
With the help of the junkyard king and a mechanical bull, can Tara and Ryan find the courage to climb Heartbreak Hill together?
Tell us a little about Climbing Heartbreak Hill, what inspired you to write Climbing Heartbreak Hill?
Climbing Heartbreak Hill is a related work to my first book CEOs Don’t Cry. Tara, the main character in Climbing has a small part in CEOs and needed her own story. It was fun to delve into her character because she seems very stereotypical in the first book. As I wrote, her story became more complicated and interesting.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I usually don’t know very much about the story at all. I might only have one character and a situation and the story evolves from there. Climbing Heartbreak Hill started with Tara’s boss Leslie going into labor two months early and at the height of the tax season, the busiest time of the year at their accounting office. I had to ask: Could Tara cope? How would she handle things? And what would make her situation worse?
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
So far I’ve only written contemporary romances. I like romances because of the happy ending. I like to read stories where everything works out for the best at the end.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
Minnie Schultz. She’s a hoot. She appears in several books and is always getting into everyone’s business. She has a ton of energy and is great for a laugh. I got to write her story in Hauntings of the Heart.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
It’d be a toss-up between Tara in Climbing Heartbreak Hill and Bryce in Sucker for a Hot Rod. With Tara, it would be easy to slip into the cheerleader stereotype of her past and not develop her further than that. As I learned more about her past, it made it easier to see why she made the choices she did and what she eventually learned about herself from them.
With Bryce, he was so crabby all the time. I didn’t know what to do with him. I wanted him to be charming and it wasn’t really happening. He totally blew a marriage proposal and I had to figure out why. When the story finally came together, I found out he was a sweet guy underneath the gruff exterior.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I try not to base characters directly on people I know. But there are some stories I just can’t resist. I’m using one that I heard at my husband’s work party about the woman throwing up all over her date’s new car on their first outing. Did she get a second date? Yes, they got married. I’ve tweaked the situation a bit to fit the story I’m working on, but it’s great inspiration.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Tackling scenes I’m not sure I can pull off. I went through a big struggle writing Hauntings of the Heart because of one of the scenes in the middle. Minnie had a huge heartbreak and I wanted to do it justice for anyone reading who might have had a similar experience. I think I hid from the manuscript for at least a month. Finally, I just had to sit down and work through it.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I don’t know if this would be surprising or not. I enjoy running, possibly because I’m not coordinated enough for many other sports. Zumba? Aerobics? Those just wouldn’t be pretty. I’ve done a 25k that last couple years with my sister. I’m thinking about a half-marathon this fall.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Chocolate! I’m finding that my system does not react well to it anymore, but that hasn’t stopped me from eating it.
What TV Shows are you addicted to?
We don’t get a television signal in our house very well. I suspect there is lead shielding under the roof or something. So we watch a lot of Netflix. Right now I’m going through Crossing Jordan. I like that it isn’t as gory as some of the newer crime shows. My brain likes to remind me – while I’m sleeping – that I watched the first two seasons of Walking Dead. I liked the show, but the walkers really creeped me out. Then I wake up and don’t sleep.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Lately, it’s been quiet. I’ve tried writing when my kids are awake and I can’t keep my train of thought. I’ll think Sidney will say this and Joshua will respond with that and get halfway through the first sentence, and a child will come and ask me to read something to them. Before their question is done, I’ll have forgotten what I was writing. I’ve found I need a buffer of an hour or two after they go to sleep to wind down. This does not do good things for me being well-rested.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
It does. I don’t listen to it while I’m writing, it’s too distracting, but I do come up with play lists that inspired the story. I listen to them at other times in the day to try to get inside the characters’ heads. Each story has at least four or five songs that either describe a character or relationship.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Ryan in Climbing Heartbreak Hill would have to be played by Owen Wilson. He has the perfect crooked nose. I’d choose Jennifer Lawrence for Tara. I think she could pull off the frustration that Tara goes through. As for Minnie, it’d have to be Helen Mirren. She had grace, class, and lots of spunk.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
In the bathroom, changing my daughter’s diaper. I made my husband listen to the answering machine message as soon as he got home from work.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I was probably in middle school. I went through a phase of ugly duckling gets asked out by the homecoming king books.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
I have to get the newest Julia Quinn books. I absolutely love her characters and the humor in her story. I get the most excited about my critique partners’ books. It’s so much fun to see the polished story after reading all the drafts.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I am a ginormous failure at potty training, in other words, I’m a stay at home mom. People say she won’t go to kindergarten in diapers, but since that’s only a couple months away, I’m not so sure.
Before that I was a reference librarian. I got to buy all kinds of books. It was a treat.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
I haven’t seen a movie in the theatre since the Batman one with Heath Ledger. How pathetic is that? Probably because the one I saw before that I was pregnant and the seat was so uncomfortable. I love all the Jane Austen adaptations. I don’t think I can pick a favorite of those (as long as I’m watching it from my couch.J)
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
All of my previous books have centered around Minnie and her Ladies Night Out group. I’m working on a new story in a town called Pine Bottom. So far it involves a canoe race and a multi-level marketing scheme. Half the characters don’t even have names. Sadly, for them, the first draft is almost complete.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I’ve never even thought about it. My critique group does a lot of brainstorming of plot ideas so sometimes it feels like they’ve done all the hard plotting work for me and their names should be on the cover instead of mine.
How do you pick your characters names?
They kind of come to me. Which is why the poor people of Pine Bottom have no names. The other characters are calling them Mom and Dad, etc. For Climbing Heartbreak Hill, I used last names and pen names from my fabulous critique group.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
In reading and writing, I like variety. It depends on the story. Some stories work better with instant attraction while in others the characters need time to get to know each other. The story always starts with a spark. In some it takes longer than others for the characters to find their happily ever after. In Hauntings of the Heart, it took fifty years for Gordon and Minnie to sort it all out.
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”.
Luckily, I haven’t had anyone say that to my face. I’ve seen the reaction though. You’re at a book fair and as soon as you say it’s a romance, they are across the room. It hurts to be dismissed, but I try not to get too bent out of shape about it. I’m writing, I’m having fun. I like what I’m writing and it doesn’t give me nightmares at night.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side –
What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Dark. Is there anything else?
Ranger or Morelli?
Ranger! In the books, anyway. Morelli has lost his mystery for me. With Ranger, you never know what’s going to happen. In the movie, Morelli was pretty darned cute.