Chatting with Molly Kate Gray

Romantic suspense author, Molly Kate Gray, dropped by for a chat about writing, the appeal of southern men and her favorite way to waste an afternoon.  A fan of things that go bump in the night, Gray writes romantic suspense with a Southern drawl.  Here are her answers to my Top 5 questions:

MN: Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” How much of what you write stems from your experience?

MKG:  I’m from a small town, so I think that gives an authentic feel to my setting.  I’m familiar with the “everyone knows everyone else’s business” aspect of small, country town life.  Other than that, most of the story’s from inside my head….except for Tara’s creepy ex-boyfriend – a high school boyfriend of mine provided the inspiration for a few of his character traits.

MN: Once you have your premise, what’s your process?  Are you a plotter or a “pantser” going with your instincts as you write?

MKG:  I really don’t fit exactly fit either category.  My first two scenes I write are always my finale and the climax for the story.  If I don’t know who’s going to be in those two scenes and how they’re going to happen, I don’t know what elements I need to introduce along the way.  After that, I plan out the rest of my “five big scenes” that will be the guideposts along the way for the story.  Beyond that, I don’t do a lot of extra planning.  I’m not one for character interview sheets or sketching out how each act will unfold.  I like to let the story itself lead me as I write.

Since I work with romantic suspense, though, it is important to know what elements are vital to a story’s end.  I think pulling a rabbit out of a hat in the “who done it” scene is cheating and unfair to the reader.  Everything that will be important in the ending of my story will be mentioned (or hinted at) at least once along the way.

MN: What or who inspires you to write romantic suspense?

MKG:  I think romantic suspense is kind of an adult version of Nancy Drew. When I was a teenager, we had a very reclusive woman who lived next door to my house.  “Dana” was probably in her early 30s, but I never saw her outside and no one ever seemed to visit her.  One night, I was home alone, and something made me look out the window.  Dana’s house was pitch black – except for what appeared to be beams from multiple flashlights sweeping through the house.  I watched for a while before closing the blinds.  A day later, a team of FBI agents came to my house and wanted to know if I’d seen anything unusual at Dana’s house, and then I realized that something was very wrong.  My dad and I went to peek in Dana’s windows that weekend, and I’ll never forget how completely torn up the house was.  Every drawer had been emptied onto the floor – holes were in the walls – something…not good had happened there.  We never saw Dana again.  I always wanted to be the person who could put all the pieces together and solve the crime.  Writing romantic suspense gives me the chance to live out that fantasy.

MN:  What is it about southern men that makes your heart melt?

MKG:  Um, I’m married to a Californian, so….  I think that I write about Southern guys because they’re what I know.  I also like the idea of a genteel Southern man – polite, honorable, would run into a burning house to save his dog, etc.

MN: George Clooney or Brad Pitt.  Why?

MKG:  Looking guiltily from side to side – Ian Somerhalder.  Sorry, the other two guys are attractive, but nothing beats Ian’s blue eyes.  The fact that he seems to be a true Southern gentleman, loves animals, and is passionate about the environment – he’s just all kinds of perfect.

MN:  What’s your favorite way to waste away an afternoon?

MKG:  I’m a mom of a middle schooler and a high schooler.  I don’t really have a lot of time to waste. If I had an afternoon where I didn’t have any commitments, I have to admit that I’m a huge Vampire Diaries fan.  I’ve watched a few episodes until I can practically quote them from memory – it’s a nice way to relax.  Also, I love it when I have the chance to sneak in some time on Twitter to chat with my friends.

MN:  And, (only if you’re comfortable revealing this) – Is Molly Kate Gray the name you were born with? If not, why did you choose it?

MKG:  As you might have guessed, Molly Kate Gray is not my given name, but Gray is a family name.  I think I’ll leave it at that, after all, I do write suspense.

MN:  Thank you!

About MKG’s Small Town Secrets:

Miller’s Grove’s most eligible bachelor, Josh Owens, could have a different date every night of the week, so he doesn’t understand why he’s drawn to Tara since she’s obviously not interested in him. Tara Sullivan is angry that he’s stolen the coveted prime-time anchor position she’d been promised.

A stranger begins preying on the single young women in Miller’s Grove, and the story’s assigned to Tara. As the number of victims grows, Tara reluctantly accepts help from Josh. As he researches his top suspect in the assaults, he unearths events in the past that more than one resident of Miller’s Grove wants to keep hidden.

Together they discover a web of conspiracy and lies involving the most powerful family in town. Josh and Tara put their reputations at risk in the hope of exposing the truth and, perhaps, finally bringing Tara peace.

Website:  www.mollykategray.com

Buy Small Town Secrets:  Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Small-Town-Secrets-ebook/dp/B008OJW1H4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1343577387&sr=1-1&keywords=small+town+secrets+molly+kate+gray

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/small-town-secrets-molly-kate-gray/1112305025?ean=9781440551352

iTunes:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/small-town-secrets/id547699949?mt=11

5 Questions with Author Kristina Knight

A week after my baby girl was born, I found out my debut novel would be published by Crimson Romance, a division of Adam’s Media.  In a few short weeks, two of my lifelong dreams had finally come true!

Twenty-five authors participated in the launch of the new romance imprint, and for many, June 4th, 2011 marked the beginning of a new, long-awaited chapter in their writing careers.  Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to author Kristina Knight.  Her book What a Texas Girl Wants is a perfect blend of witty family drama and steamy romance – and left this girl wanting more!

Here are her answers to my top five burning questions:

Méline:  Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” How much of what you write stems from your experience?

Kristina:  Great question. I think a lot of what I write stems from my experiences – not necessarily my work experiences, but I draw on events from my life. My mom tells me I’m like an actress because when I’m writing an emotional scene I totally go into my own history to get into a similar emotional place. That doesn’t mean I use those personal experiences, though, in the writing just my own emotional reaction. Music also helps me get into that emotional place, sometimes, so music plays a big part in my process.

Méline: Once you have your premise, what’s your process?  Are you a plotter or a “pantser” going with your instincts as you write?

Kristina: I’m a hybrid – I call myself a pant-lotter. I was a total pantster when I started out writing, but after writing myself into too many corners to count, I adjusted a little. Now, I write an outline of where I *think* the book will go and start writing. Very rarely do my outlines match up with the final book, events change and sometimes even the sequence gets messed up a bit, but it does help me get an idea of where I want to go and what I want to explore in each book.

Méline: What or who inspires you to write romance?

Kristina:  My love for the genre. I’m a sap, according to my husband. I cry during music videos, movies, commercials. I should seriously buy stock in Kimberly Clark because I’m certain my use of Kleenex totally keeps them in the black. I love reading about two people falling in love, coming to terms with their wants and needs and becoming ‘whole’. Writing them is the same – I get to experience that falling-in-love feeling from my own love story again, I’m reminded how lucky I am and I always learn something through the process about myself.

Méline:  What is it about cowboys that makes your heart melt?

Kristina:  What doesn’t? The cowboys I’ve met – and there have been many, I’m a transplanted country girl! – are heroic, funny, sexy, silly, loyal and perfectionists. They know what they want and they go after it, even when someone tells them no. What’s not to love about that? Plus, they really know how to fill out a pair of blue jeans.

Méline:  George Clooney or Brad Pitt.  Why?

Kristina:  George from any of the Ocean’s movies. I just love a smart guy. And the way he looks in a tux doesn’t hurt, either.

ImageAbout What a Texas Girl Wants:

Kathleen Witte is a down-to-earth girl. She has to be, with the family ranch on the verge of success. After seven months of keeping it all together by swearing off men, however, Kathleen needs a bit of fun in the sun. Waking up with a husband she can’t remember isn’t how she planned to blow off steam.

The last thing Jackson Taylor wants in his life is a down-to-earth girl. He has four weeks of freedom in which to find his birth mother. He’s done well avoiding commitment until now, so when he wakes up on a Mexican beach with Kathleen his first reaction is curiosity. When he spies the matching wedding rings on their left hands curiosity turns to concern.

Neither Jackson nor Kathleen want to stay married, but when her family shows up, they have no choice. Once back in Texas, however, can they keep this all-business marriage from turning into an all-consuming love?

Think You Have a Book in You?

Chances are that if you haven’t already, writing a book is on your bucket list.  According to a recent survey 81% of Americans want to write a book before they die.  But few will actually follow through.  In fact, only 10% of them will ever start one and only 5% of those wannabe novelists will finish it.  And of those thousands of completed manuscripts, only 2% will end up on bookshelves.

I posted these numbers to my Facebook profile a while back and reactions to these assertions were very telling.  Some of my friends gave the stats a happy thumbs up, secure in the knowledge that if they chose to, they would surely be amongst the 2% of writers whose books would end up on bookshelves.  My writer friends, who are members of the elite group of people who have started and finished at least one book, proudly listed just exactly how many they’d written eager to share the details of their dedication to the craft.

Then there were the bloggers, journalists and non-fiction writers who wanted to know if writing dozens of non-fiction articles “counted” – after all, they’d written just as many pages as the fiction writers, and, finally, there were the doubters who were rather put off by these claims – surely they could write a book if they tried.  They just hadn’t had the time to do so.

So why do so many people want to write a book? Some feel they have ideas or a message that need to be shared.  Others want to leave a legacy of thoughts and ideas that will remain long after they’re dead, and, as it turns out, most have an idealized idea of what the writing life is like and imagine themselves making their own hours, writing in cafés or under a palm tree in a sunny destination, cocktail in hand.

I must admit, a part of me has always belonged to the latter group.  The idea of the writer’s life appeals to me.  I like sitting in my pajamas, coffee cup in hand, imagining beautiful, spunky heroines and sexy, to-die-for heroes.  And I do, on occasion, sit in a café to write, all the while soaking in the hangout’s colorful vibe.  I’ve even had the good fortune of writing while sipping cocktails under a palm tree.

In fact, in the last 10 years, I’ve written just about everywhere I’ve been.  Waiting rooms, buses, planes, cafés, on the corner of the kitchen table and, yes, ocean side.  But the reality is that I’ve done most of my writing in my home office, butt in chair for hours on end, after working well over 40 hours at my day job while others slept, relaxed or socialized. There’s a difference between loving the idea of doing something and actually doing it.

Writing a book is slow, hard work, and a terrible return on investment.  It took me two years to write my latest book and so far, I’ve made a whopping 10$ from my fiction for a short story I contributed to an anthology.  And yet, there’s nothing I’d rather do.  And in a few short weeks, I will join the ranks of the 2% of writers whose books make it onto bookshelves and I couldn’t be happier.

A true writer is someone that can’t not write.  It is someone who writes for the pleasure of losing themselves in the worlds they create.  Think you have a book in you?  Then start writing.  And if you lose yourself in the world you’ve created without expecting anything more than the fulfillment of giving the voices in your head a home, you’ll know you’ve found your true calling.

Méline Nadeau’s début novel Hot Off the Press is available for preorder on Amazon.com.  http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Off-The-Press-ebook/dp/B008195HTG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336605558&sr=8-1

 

Hello world!

I’m a writer, television producer, avid photographer and collector of vintage cowboy boots.

My articles have been published by a variety of national news and entertainment sources including The Ottawa Sun, The Kingston Whig Standard, and Urban Male Magazine and I’ve produced multiple television series for networks such as CMT Canada, Teletoon and Cosmopolitan TV, to name just a few. And my debut novel, Hot Off the Press, is now available on Amazon.com!

I’m originally from Ottawa, Canada where I studied Print Journalism and I have a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA.

My work has taken me all over Canada, the US and the Caribbean where I’ve produced interviews and TV shows featuring celebrities, designers and musicians as varied as Kris Kristofferson, Marc Jacobs, 50 Cent and Jon Bon Jovi.  But at the end of the day, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than at home, surrounded by my loved ones.

I divide my time between Toronto and Los Angeles where I enjoy writing, photography, yoga and spending time with my man, screenwriter, Russ Cochrane, and infant daughter, Chloë Echo.

This blog will feature my musings about the craft of fiction writing as well as interviews with various authors.