Wednesday, March 07, 2012

REV UP WEDNESDAY - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with MADELINE HUNTER

Hello world,

Life's been getting in the way lately, and I haven't had much time to post. However, I live for my Monday and Wednesday postings, and today's interview makes me very excited indeed. Because I have an author that's made every bestseller list imaginable, and, being a historical romance buff, I happen to own all of her books - Madeline Hunter is my visitor today.

About Madeline...

Madeline Hunter’s first romance was published in June, 2000. Since then she has seen twenty historical romances and one novella published, and her books have been translated into twelve languages. Over six million of her books are in print. She is a seven-time RITA finalist, and two-time RITA winner. Nineteen of her books have been on the USA Today bestseller list, and she has also had titles on the New York Times printed list, Publishers Weekly list, and the Waldenbooks paperback fiction list. She has received two starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, and Romantic Times has awarded seventeen of her books 4 1/2 stars. Madeline is a Ph.D. in Art History, and she teaches at the college level. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.


Here is her story...

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since I learned to read. My first masterpiece was a play typed on an old Underwood typewriter in my family's basement. I think I was 6 at the time. However, I have been seriously committed to writing fiction for about fourteen years.

When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?

I guess I should explain that I never expected to make a living at writing. However, there was a clear moment when I decided to aim for publication and that was also around fourteen years ago. That decision meant that I committed much more time to my writing, and worked at completing novels within about 9 months, which was what I figured published writers had to do.

What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?

My parents always supported my interest in writing. I was married with two sons when I made the big commitment, and my husband was very supportive too. I'm not sure he thought I would succeed, because the odds were against me, but he encouraged me to give it a shot and helped me find the time to do so.

What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?

For fiction it is historical romance and historical fiction.

Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?

I had a day job, and I still do. I could quit the day job, but choose not to. Getting out in the world helps keep me grounded and helps "fill the well" so I have new experiences and lots of human interaction to draw on as I write.

Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?

I never took a writing course as such. I did read many books on writing when I was much younger. For my romances, I just sat down and started writing the first one. However, my first romance was not my first novel. I had completed two before that and they were my "writing courses." I learned a lot just by doing.

Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?

When I wrote those two earlier novels I did have critique groups. I did not have time for one when I started writing my romances, plus I was living in a new area and did not even know how to find one.

Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?

I use one for a couple of reasons. First, I value my privacy and do not want to show up looking and feeling sick to pick up a prescription and have someone recognize my writing name (I have this nightmare of that happening!) Also, I do have that day job, and I like to keep my two lives and worlds separate.

How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?

I landed an agent who thought it would be a slam dunk. It wasn't and it took her over two years to sell my first book. I was in a state of shock when it finally happened. It was hard to accept it was real.

Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?

No. As I said above, I have two novels that were my training works. Even when it came to romances, I did not sell the first. I first sold the fourth one that I had written.

How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?

My first romance written was eventually published. By the time it was, I had probably worked it through five or six drafts, and had substantially cut its length and altered the story somewhat. It was still the same story and the same characters as in the first draft, just tighter and clearer and less self-indulgent.

Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?

I mostly just read the group blog in which I participate, The Goddess Blogs

As for industry blogs, I tend to surf around and follow links recommended by people. I do not follow any one blog day in and day out.

Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?

I got an agent first. I knew it would be a more direct way to get editors' attention.
If you signed with an agent, how did you go about the process of finding your agent/publisher?
I bought a book that listed agents, and searched through it for agents who charged no fees and who had a track record of selling romances. Then I began querying them.

Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?

Lots of agents rejected me. Just about every publisher did too at one time or another. I would get very depressed. After a while, though, instead of getting depressed I would get mad, LOL. But it was hard, and I never forget how hard, and I have a place in my heart for any writer going through that.

What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?

I think it is about talent for the good agents and editors. (There are some that only look for trends, but they are not interested in a writer for the long term, I suspect.) They are looking for story tellers, first and foremost---writers who can tell interesting stories with interesting characters in interesting ways.

What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)? Where do you see the industry going?

This is such a big topic that I am going to avoid it, LOL. I have lots of opinions, but no crystal ball. I am skeptical of anyone who claims to know how this will all shake out.

Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?

I think some should. I do not think that a new writer with one completed manuscript who has been rejected should, necessarily. While a wonderful achievement, that first one may not be ready for publication of any kind. See my comments above about my apprenticeship novels.

How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US? Do you think this trend is similar in other countries?

I can't speak about other countries, because I just don't know. I mourn the loss of bookstores here. Hanging out in a bookstore is one of my favorite things, and my husband and I spent many hours doing so the first few years we knew each other. So I find all the closings really sad.

Are your books available in print or in digital format?

All of my books are available in both print and digital formats.

What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?

Write and read and write some more. Do not obsess over publication at first, just let it rip and enjoy yourself. Don't pull your punches by trying to write like this famous author or that; write without second guessing yourself so that you find your own voice.

What are you working on now?

I am beginning a new series. The first book, The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne, was just published in March, 2012. I am at work on the second book.

What is/are your favorite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?

I read reference books a lot. I do not read fiction much when I am deeply into writing a story.

What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?

There were a lot of them. I discovered romances and went on a long reading binge, and eventually began forming my own story after being inspired by many authors.

What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?

Among heroes, the most fun were my bad boys--Castleford in Dangerous in Diamonds, Ewan in Lord of Sin, and Ian in Lord of a Thousand Nights. The most challenging was Julian in The Romantic, because he was a quiet man.

How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?

I have absolutely no secret or advice on the juggling of all these responsibilities. I often drop some of those balls, and chaos is right around the corner for me.

Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?

If I can write all day, I start the day with a scrambled egg breakfast. Other than that, I don't have much in the way of rituals.

Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?

Hopefully I will still be writing and selling my stories, and readers will still be buying them. Having made all the bestseller lists, to require more than that for happiness would be a little ungracious, in my opinion.

What's your website URL?

Are you on Facebook?

How do you connect with readers?

Through my web site and facebook and twitter, mostly. I send out email newsletters near my release, and I have a smaller snail mailing list too.

Latest Release:

Book One of the Fairbourne Quartet
Mass Market Paperback
March 2012 (03-06-12)
Jove Books; ISBN-10: 0515150460
ISBN-13: 978-0515150469

A woman running a prestigious London auction house? Preposterous! But that is exactly what Emma Fairbourne intends to do when her father dies, leaving her the reins of this fabulous enterprise. Of course, she is not addlepated enough to do this openly and scare away her wealthy collectors. So she and her friend concoct a deception, hiring a handsome and charming front man who will do her bidding...

All would have proceeded smoothly—if it weren’t for the maddening interference of Darius, the arrogant Earl of Southwaite, who has been her father’s “silent partner” and now shares ownership of Fairbourne’s. An earl, of course, has no interest in running an auction house—and Darius is certainly not interested in allowing Miss Fairbourne to run it either, her ludicrous scheme notwithstanding. Clearly the business must be sold, especially since Darius suspects that Fairbourne’s has been involved in shady activities that could embroil everyone associated with it in crime and scandal.

But the headstrong Emma is like no other lady he has ever encountered, refusing to follow his dictates. He finds her infuriating, but her direct speaking and lack of artifice create a powerful attraction as well, one that that has him following his inclinations to seduce her into surrendering to him about Fairbourne’s, and in every other way imaginable.

Read an Excerpt here.

~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love... and a little Mystery.