Romantic Journey: Thanks for stopping by today, Gail. Let’s dive right in. Could you tell us how you first got published?
Gail Roarke: I Got Serious (as a writer mentor puts it) back in March of this year after many years of writing for my own amusement. I started writing and submitting stories then. I was (and still am) submitting to science fiction, fantasy, mystery and erotica magazines, both online and printed. I discovered the existence of epublishers, Cobblestone Press among them. I spent some time looking through their website, reading blurbs and excerpts from stories, and decided that some of my stuff would fit there. So I submitted Flying High, an erotic short about superheroes. I got an email back about a month later from an editor saying that they were considering buying it but needed to be sure it was available, that it hadn’t been submitted anywhere else. I wrote back immediately–literally, within about five minutes–say that it was definitely available.
I didn’t hear anything from them again for two weeks. Apparently, sending that email to me was one of the last things the editor did before leaving for two weeks of vacation! I spent those two weeks on pins and needles, but finally got an email with a contract offer. I worked with an editor to get the manuscript into final shape and it came out in September. My second story came out in November and a third should be coming out in late December or January, all with Cobblestone Press.
RJ: Do you have another job? If so, what is it?
GR: Not any longer. I worked as a secretary in the campaign department of a local non-profit for fifteen years. In April of this year, the HR rep came to my desk and asked me to a meeting with the president and her. I knew what was going to happen right then. And sure enough, I was out the door, walking papers in hand, within half an hour. I was a little surprised; I’d survived a couple of previous rounds of cuts, but not this time. But I got a good severance package after so many years with them, so after consulting with my spouse, I’m working full time at writing while we have that cushion
RJ: How would a typical work day unfold? Do you clean first or write first? How do you let your family know when you are in serious writing mode?
GR: I get up every morning and drive my spouse to work. That serves two purposes: it gives us the same commute time together we had when we both were working downtown, and it prevents me from sleeping all morning. I’m a nightowl by inclination. Left to my own devices, I’d be noctural and we’d never see one another.
Once I get home again, I putter around on the computer, checking email, netsurfing, and maybe doing a little promo (posting excerpts from my published work in various forums). Eventually I settle down and start writing. I write in timed 60-minute intervals, using a kitchen timer. I never check my word count until the end of each hour, so I don’t get distracted by that issue. On a good day, I write 3-4,000 words. I want to work up to a higher daily output, but that’s more than enough to do a story a week, which is my long-term goal.
Since my desk is in the corner of the dining room, I’ve had to learn to write despite distractions. Generally, I put on headphones and listen to music to drown out the television in the next room. I try to remember to announce, “I’m putting on my headphones,” so my spouse knows I won’t hear any questions or comments aimed in my direction.
RJ: What is the biggest blooper you’ve written?
GR: Probably my first novel. I participated in NaNoWriMo last month. It was the first time I’ve done that. I can write short stories, but tackling a novel was an intimidating prospect despite my knowing that novels are where I really need to go in the long run to make a career of writing. So I jumped in with both feet. And I did it, I completed a 50,000 word novel. It will never see the light of day again, mind you–but I learned a lot from writing it. The next novel will be better.
“In her experience, most men never just kissed her. They were thinking about what they were going to do next, or comparing her to other women, or otherwise weren’t completely focused on the kiss. Victor wasn’t like most men. He was entirely present, with nothing on his mind but enjoying this kiss, sucking all the juice from this moment.” –from Flying High
I really like that because I think it conveys the single-minded attention our hero is giving the heroine.
RJ: What are your five favorite books? What lessons have you applied fromthem to your own writing?
GR: Oh, it’s always so difficult to pick just five. Any book that makes the cut to stay in my library is one I’ll reread. But I’ll pick five that leap out at me after perusing the stacks.
- On Stranger Tides – Tim Powers (pirates and voodoo in the historical Caribbean)
- Black Steel – Steve Perry (space opera)
- The Silver Mistress – Peter O’Donnell (a Modesty Blaise novel)
- The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson (science fiction in a world changed beyond imagining by nanotech)
- Tribute – Nora Roberts (really, just the one I’ve read most recently)
Tim Powers shows me that the world is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we CAN imagine, a useful thing to keep in mind when wondering if my plot is too strange to be plausible.
Steve Perry writes straightforward sex and violence, and never forgets that his job is to make you glad to spent your money on his book instead of that six pack you could have bought instead.
Peter O’Donnell writes some of the best action scenes ever, and his characters–heroes and villains alike–are unforgettable.
Neal Stephenson shows us a world unlike anything that’s ever existed–and peoples it with people who, despite living in such an environment, are still humans with recognizable desires and motives.
Nora Roberts is teaching me how to move effortlessly from one point of view to another and back again while never confusing your reader–something I long thought was impossible.
RJ: Are you a chest or buns woman?
GR: Decisions, decisions. I’ll have to go with buns, if for no other reason than that it’s easier to ogle them without getting caught at it!
RJ: Who’s your fantasy man?
GR: Gary Oldman? If you have to pick one, pick the one who can be anybody–Dracula, James Gordon, Sirius Black….
RJ: If your ship were sinking and you could grab one thing on the way to the lifeboat, what would it be? Go on instinct here; don’t let common sense interfere with you as you grab your hairdryer or laptop instead of food to take to the desert island.
GR: Much as I’d be tempted to take my laptop, there’s nothing on it that can’t be replaced. All my files are backed up religiously. It would have to be my box of photographs. Old family photos, photos of the first person I ever kissed, old lovers. Those I can’t replace and would miss terribly.
RJ: That is so nice, Gail! Again, thank you for visiting with us today. Before you leave, could you tell us where else our readers can find you online?