One of the best things about this whole writer gig is getting to know other writers, especially through groups like A Round of Words in 80 Days. It allows me to get to know writers not only in my own set of interests, like fantasy and science fiction, but also areas that are a little newer or foreign to me, like romance. Elaine Jeremiah is one of those romance writers, and I’ve invited her to interview with me to celebrate the release of her latest book, Reunion of the Heart, which has one of the cutest covers I’ve ever seen. So please, grab yourself some coffee (or some tea, since we’re jumping across the pond for a bit), settle in, and get to know this wonderful author with me.
L.S.: So, tell us a little bit about yourself, Elaine.
Elaine: Hi there!
A bit about me… hmm… well I live in Bristol, South West England with my husband and our golden retriever Dug. I’m currently looking for work doing admin. When I’m not looking for work I’m writing or promoting my writing.
I also love reading and I’m actually finding at the moment that I’m reading fellow indie authors’ books. There’s so much great stuff being written by indie authors right now. It feels a little weird when I go into a bookshop and I don’t see any of the authors whose books I’m really enjoying on the shelf!! Doesn’t feel right somehow.
L.S.: It can be a little surreal sometimes, yeah. Out of curiosity (and a chance to shout-out to our fellow indies), who are you really enjoying in particular lately?
That was a really great novel with a strong heroine, Detective Sydney Valentine who narrates it. At the moment I’m reading Slave Again by Alana Terry, a Christian suspense novel set in North Korea and China. It’s fantastic, so exciting, gripping and well written.
L.S.: And, speaking of romance, you have a newly released book in that genre, too, right? Tell us a little about that.
Elaine: It’s called Reunion of the Heart and it’s about what happens when a young woman returns to the school where she was very unhappy for a reunion there. She sees the now grown up boy who made her life hell – he’s different now and Anna is surprised by the direction her life takes. After the reunion she begins to realise that her life will never be the same again.
I thought a reunion would be an interesting idea to explore for a story, the whole notion of returning to somewhere you’d been as a kid and seeing your now-grown-up fellow school pupils, thinking about what you would make of them, what they would think of you.
L.S.: I totally skipped out on my ten year reunion, which was a few years ago. Have you been to one yourself?
Elaine: No. I was invited to one too actually a few years back but I didn’t want to go. I had a miserable time at school and I didn’t want to go back there. I said to my mum I would have been curious about seeing what my ex fellow-pupils looked like as adults, but as she said they would’ve been scrutinising me too and that wouldn’t have been nice!
But as I said before, I think revisiting your past in some way is interesting idea for a story and I felt it worked well in the story I tell in ‘Reunion of the Heart’.
L.S.: It does seem like a great way to work out those sorts of feeling and almost envision a version of the experience that works out much better than reality would have. Do you draw from personal experiences in your writing often?
Elaine: As regards your first comment, I entirely agree with you – with fiction you can write a version of life that is as you would like it, you can mould and shape the story to be how you choose. I think that’s one of the great things about being a writer, you can tweak what you’ve written until you’re satisfied with it, you can create a world that is as it should be. Unfortunately real life isn’t like that.
I do draw a fair amount from my own life experiences – I think every writer does to a certain extent. But my heroines are usually a lot braver than me and say how they feel, they’re not afraid to speak their mind which is something I struggle with! However, I can identify with people who’re struggling with life and so I often write about characters who’re going through tough times.
L.S.: And what about the heroine of “Reunion of the Heart?” Does she fit that braver and struggling mold? Tell us a little about her.
Elaine: Well although my heroine Anna is quite a shy person, she is brave enough to dump her boyfriend and chuck him out of her house at the beginning of the story after he cheats on her. She’s changed a lot since school and has the guts to tell Will – who she first meets after many years at the school reunion – to back off and leave her alone. She doesn’t trust him to have changed since school when he bullied her, and she’s not afraid to tell him so.
I think Anna finds her feet as the story unfolds; she gains in confidence and becomes surer of what she wants in a relationship. She doesn’t want to settle for second best or have her heart broken all over again.
L.S.: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing “Reunion of the Heart?”
Elaine: The research. I never enjoy that as much as writing the story itself. I had to research literary agents and how they work, as well as the publishing business because my heroine Anna is a writer and comes into contact with agents and publishers. I also had to find out about jewellers and how someone could become one and own their own jewellers. My hero owns a jewellers so I needed to get it right.
L.S.: And what was the most rewarding part?
Elaine: I think for me the most rewarding part was developing the blossoming relationship between my two main characters. When I sent ROTH out to beta readers, a common comment was that I needed to make it more romantic! So I tried to do that and have Anna and her love interest (I won’t say who in case I spoil it!) together for more of the story and to show more of their relationship as it develops.
I actually ended up spending a lot of time with my two main characters in my head because I was enjoying writing their story so much.
L.S.: What’ the most romantic thing you’ve ever done or had done for you?
Elaine: The most romantic thing that someone’s done for me was when my husband and I were in Paris on our honeymoon. We were sitting at a restaurant eating alfresco and he gave me a necklace, a white gold heart pendant on a chain. So that was lovely.
L.S.: That sounds almost picture-perfect! What’s next for you, Elaine?
Elaine: Well in my non-writing-world I’m currently job hunting. Writing-wise I’m working on a romance which I’m tentatively calling ‘Teaching Mr Leavis’. It’s about a young woman who’s a teacher and her love entanglements! I’ve actually set it about 20 years ago because I’m not at all au fait with how technology works in schools nowadays, how things are done and so on. That may sound a bit daft, but I want to get things right and it just felt easier setting the story 20 years ago when I was at secondary school (for 11-16 yr olds here in the UK). I can remember a lot about that time and it feels more natural setting it then.
L.S.: Do you write mostly romance novels, or do you have other genres you like to write, too?
Elaine: At the moment I’m writing romance novels, but in some ways I’m still trying to find my genre. I’m not sure that romance is something I want to write forever. My first novel was a bit hard to define as a genre, but was basically a family saga. I like to write stories that have issues/characters in them that I care about. I’ve also written over 100 pages of A4 of a story about a teenage girl who has a nervous breakdown. So I’ll probably go back to that at some stage.
I also wrote a long fantasy story for older children which I never finished. The reason I didn’t finish it was that I made the mistake of starting to go back through it and amending a lot following the advice from other people, before I’d finished the first draft.
That really killed it for me – I just lost all enthusiasm for writing it and gave up. I may revisit it sometime. My advice would be before you decide to change what you’re writing – finish the first draft!
L.S.: I’m a HUGE advocate of just finishing a draft before going through and changing things, too, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. We get so bogged down in perfecting it that we run out of juice to finish it! What’s your writing process like? How long does it usually take you to churn out a draft?
Elaine: Well I’ve only written a couple of books so far but it’s taking me about a year overall from beginning to plan to publication. To complete a draft I’d say maybe six months? I’m not entirely sure! This one I’m currently working on will probably take a bit longer though.
As for my writing process – I’m somewhere in between a plotter and a pantser. This is because I do make a plan when I start, but I don’t necessarily stick with it all the way. I do tend to stick to the ending though.
L.S.: So far, have you felt that your stories stick to the plan pretty well, or do they take on a life of their own when you’re writing? I always find things go off in unexpected ways, which is all part of the fun.
Elaine: A bit of both really. Generally I have the ending that I planned, but I do tend to deviate quite a lot from the plan between the beginning and the end.
The story I’m working on at the moment is an example of that. I made quite a detailed plan for what would happen as the story progressed, although I hadn’t planned that many scenes so I needed to expand on what I’d planned anyway. But now I’m writing it, different scenes keep coming into my head and the story’s evolving quite a bit.
It will most likely end how I planned – it’s how it gets there that’ll be different.
L.S.: Anything else you’d like to share with my readers, Elaine?
Elaine: To conclude I’d like to say that as an indie author if you want to be successful, it’s really important to be patient and persevere. Success won’t come overnight. I haven’t been wildly successful yet, but I’m hanging in there!
Different people have offered me the same advice which I’ll share with you: if you think about it ebooks aren’t like traditional books in that they’re not going anywhere. Once you upload a book to Amazon, it’s gonna stay there. It’s not like there’s a rush to sell a million copies or your book will be pulled from the shelves. So just keep plugging away at it – if you’re a good writer you’ll get there.
And remember – the more books you publish the more chances you have to succeed.
Thanks for some great questions! 🙂
L.S.: And thanks for some great answers!
So, if that didn’t convince you to hop on over to Elaine’s blog or to Amazon to check out Reuinion of the Heart, well…your loss! Thanks to Elaine for interviewing with me. If anyone else is interested in doing an interview to be featured on my blog to talk about your own writing and works, please just let me know.