AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: PEGGY BIRD
Author Peggy Bird has been gracious enough to let the bunnies of JR pester her with questions….
Tell us a little about Loving Again, what inspired you to write it?
In both this latest book and my first book, Beginning Again my other creative life as a glass artist came into play. I’ve loved being part of the art world, even if I’m not as good at what I do as Amanda, the heroine in Loving Again is and I wanted to write about it. In these books, I got to do that.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I have a foot in both camps. I know generally what happens and have the beginning, middle and end in mind—and written down. But I have never written anything where one character or another hasn’t taken off in some direction I’d not foreseen. Sometimes it doesn’t work but most of the time, it’s great.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I started writing short memoir pieces and children’s stories so, no, spicy romance wasn’t where I began. I blame it on my characters. They began obsessing me, taking up residence in my head as I plotted out how they lived, worked and fell in love with each other. They were quite adamant that I keep the bedroom door open as I wrote. So I obliged and my spicy romances were born.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
Amanda St. Claire, the heroine of Loving Again is a talented glass artist. I am a not-so-talented glass artist. I want to be Amanda.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
The killer who stalked Amanda. It took me awhile to get into the mindset of someone who would murder other human beings. I had to find the meanest part of me and amplify it. I’m happy to say, it took me awhile!
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Some aspect of each of my primary characters is a trait from someone I know. Well, except for the killer. Never have, to the best of my knowledge, met one of those. But no character is exactly based on anyone from my real life.
On the other hand, there is always one scene in each book that is based on something that happened to me. In book #4 in the series, for example, three women friends go from a symphony concert to the Heathman Hotel for a drink and find the only empty chairs are at a table with a handsome man. Those circumstances and some of the dialog in the book are taken from an experience three friends and I had last winter. We were all completely and absolutely smitten by the sexy, charming, handsome and attentive man we shared the only available table with. On the drive home, one of my friends said, “You have to put him in one of your books.” So now I have. Except in reality, we never saw him again. In the book, he’s the hero.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Letting go of a finished piece into a world that may or may not like it. It’s like sending your baby off to college 3000 miles away. Tough but you know it has to be done.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
The number of careers I blew through before I got to writing. (It was seven, if you really have to know.)
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Oh, yeah. But as you haven’t asked what it is, I think I’ll keep it to myself.
What TV Show are you addicted to?
I watch very little TV. I’d rather write.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Not really. I have gotten into the habit of writing every day, usually first thing after I get up, and then edit at night after dinner. No magic. Just habit.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Music always influences my writing. I have a playlist on iTunes for each of my books and listen to it while I write. If I haven’t yet firmed up the playlist, I listen to rock when I write action scenes, Andrea Bocelli for love scenes, classical music for editing.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I don’t like casting my novels. I’d rather give a general idea of what they look like and let readers—including me—fill in the details.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was sitting in a gym watching a granddaughter play basketball on Valentine’s Day. Got “the call” on my BlackBerry and showed the message to my daughter and husband after reading it three times to make sure I understood it correctly and, I think, shrieking.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I was ten or twelve and my mother unearthed a box of old books from who-knows-where and I found The Sun and the Sea a book from an English publisher about a poor girl who wins the lottery and goes on a cruise where she falls in love with a rich man. Loved it. It stuck with me, as you can see.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Bella Andre and her Sullivan series. Love those Sullivan men.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
No pesky non-writing jobs, just a patient husband.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
Best recent movie I’ve seen is “Argo.” Best all time fave is “Gone With The Wind.”
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m currently finishing up #5 and #6 of my Second Chances series. What’s in the wings is deciding which of two series I want to do next. One is another romance series with characters tangentially related to those in Second Chances stories, the other a YA historical series.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Over the past year I have come to know, through our connection with Crimson Romance, dozens of talented, funny, supportive, amazing women. (They also post images of shirtless men on our private Facebook page for inspiration.) I’d co-write with any of them in a heartbeat.
How do you pick your characters names?
Sometimes I look for specific meanings to reflect a character trait or search out an ugly name for a not-so-nice person. Sometimes another character will identify them in a conversation. (Yes, I eavesdrop on conversations between my characters. And I talk to them, too.) I have also been known to name them for members of my family, but only in a nice way.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I have used both approaches. Some days the thrill of love-at-first-sight is more fun to write. Others the growth in heat from just-friends to can’t-keep-my-hands-off-you is more interesting. Depends on the couple, I guess.
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”.
Usually I say I’m just doing what a good writer does—I’m writing what I know. I love the look of longing that comes over some faces at that point. Or I laugh and say that at least I got my books published, which is more than most writers can say.
Where can readers find you Peggy Bird?
Here are links for Facebook, Pinterest (where I have a board for each of my books) and my website.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
The kind you swallow.
Ranger or Morelli (if you know to what this refers please answer with which one and why )
Hard choice. I love bad boys so that would trend toward Ranger. But I have written two books with hot cops as heroes, which pushes me toward Morelli. And, although in my real life I find bad boys magnetic, I married a good guy. So, guess that tips it towards Morelli.