Episode 19: Finishing What You Start, with Lori Ryan

Lori Ryan is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes romantic suspense and contemporary romance with steamy love scenes and characters you won’t want to leave in the pages when the story is over. Host Patricia McLinn talks with Lori about overcoming anxiety, working with others and finishing her stories.

You can find Lori on:

*her website,

*Facebook and

*Twitter

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

lori ryan authors love readers podcast

Episode 18: Overcoming Others’ Doubts, with Julia Kent

Julia Kent is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who specializes in romantic comedy. She likes to push contemporary boundaries. Her titles include the newly released  Shopping for a Billionaire’s Baby, Random Acts of Crazy, Seriously Obedient and Merry Random Christmas. Host Patricia McLinn talks with Julia about responding to negative feedback.

You can find Julia on:

*her website,

*Facebook and

*Twitter

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

Episode 17: Analyzing the World, with Yvonne Lindsay

A typical Piscean, Yvonne Lindsay, also an award-winning and USA Today bestselling author, has always preferred the stories in her head to the real world. Which makes sense since she was born in Middle Earth (that is, New Zealand). Married to her blind date sweetheart and with two adult children, she spends her days crafting the stories of her heart. In her spare time she can be found with her nose firmly in someone else’s book. Host Patricia McLinn talks with Yvonne about analyzing the world and how you can use it.

You can find Yvonne on:

*her website,

*Facebook and

*Twitter

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

yvonne lindsay authors love readers

Episode 16: Telling Other People’s Stories, with Mary Jo Putney

Mary Jo Putney is a bestselling American author of more than 40 novels, mostly historical and contemporary romances. Her stories are noted for psychological depth and unusual subject matter, such as alcoholism, death and dying, and domestic abuse. Host Patricia McLinn talks with Mary Jo about her love of history and how she tells people’s stories.

You can find Mary Jo on:

*her website,

*Facebook and

*Twitter

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

authors love readers mary jo putney

Episode 15: Finding Inspiration in Everything, with Mark Leslie

Mark Leslie is a writer, editor, professional speaker and book nerd with a passion for craft beer. He has written many horror and speculative fiction novels, as well as short stories and poetry. Host Patricia McLinn talks with Mark about drawing from experiences in our past and everyday life.

You can find Mark on:

*his website,

*Facebook and

*Twitter

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

mark leslie authors love readers

Episode 14: Writing Is an Ever-Changing Process, with Julie Moffett

Julie Moffett is a bestselling author of historical romance, paranormal romance and mysteries. She knows several languages and almost joined the CIA before becoming a novelist. Host Patricia McLinn talks to Julie about the ever-changing writing process and how she prepares to write a story.

You can find Julie on:

*her website,

*Facebook and

*Twitter

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

julie moffett lexi carmichael authors love readers patricia mclinn

Episode 13: A ‘What If?’ at the Heart of Stories, with Ann Christopher

Ann Christopher is an award-winning author who likes good food, great stories and killing off her characters. Host Patricia McLinn talks with Ann about her process for moving from a “what if?” question to a completed novel.

You can find Ann on:

*her website,

*Facebook and

*Twitter

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

Ann Christopher, Authors Love Readers, podcast, author interview, book talk

Episode 12: Romance Is Hope, with Lisa Hughey

Lisa Hughey talks with host Patricia McLinn about her move from California to New England, how research leads to plot development, and her thoughts about characters after her books are finished.

You can find Lisa on:

*her website,

*Facebook and

*Twitter

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

Authors Love Readers with Lisa Hughey

Patricia McLinn [00:00] Hi, welcome to this week’s Authors Love Readers podcast, where we delve into the stories behind the stories. We’re asking authors questions. Some of them fun. Some of them serious. And from their answers, you’re going to learn things you never knew about the people who write the stories you love. My name is Patricia McLinn. I’m your host and designated question asker.

Lisa Hughey [00:23] I’m Lisa Hughey and I’m an author who loves readers.

Patricia McLinn [00:27] Now, let’s start the show.

Hi, and welcome to the Authors Love Readers podcast for the week. This is Lisa Hughey visiting us today. Um, I haven’t known Lisa as long as a lot of the other authors I’ve talked to so far, but we met at a Novelists, Inc. conference.

You know, that might be, uh, an ongoing thread of how I know these people. We hit it off, and had really interesting conversations. So I’m looking forward to continuing that, especially because I get to ask the questions. And the first question is going to be to have Lisa tell us a little bit about what you write.

Lisa Hughey [01:06] Hi, Pat. Thanks for having me. My name is Lisa Hughey and I write, um, almost everything. I write romantic suspense, romantic thrillers, paranormal romance, and I’m branching it out into contemporary romance a little bit more now.

Patricia McLinn [01:22] Did you get a lot of advice to not do that, to focus more on one genre?

Lisa Hughey [01:27] You know, I think when you’re, especially when you’re starting out, that’s, I think that’s solid advice, and I adhered to that. So I started with romantic suspense, and I had, I want to say seven or eight books in that genre. Then I had this paranormal that I had written that I really liked, so I continued on with that series.

And, um, I, actually, the reason I started contempt was I did a shared world with some friends.

Patricia McLinn [01:58] Oh.

Lisa Hughey [01:59] And so even though that wasn’t my genre, I really wanted to do this with a group of friends. So I did that and then wrote a follow-on novella, um, to that same, in that same world. And then, you know, last year was kind of a rough year and I wanted to write something happy, so even though maybe it’s not the best career move, I didn’t care. Honestly, I want to write, so I’m happy., Lighter, happier.

Patricia McLinn [02:24] And did that help?

Lisa Hughey [02:26] Yeah. Yes, well, so I actually have been working on the series world and haven’t written that much in the world. I had a, I did a, um, a book in a, another shared world called, um, Camp Firefly Falls. And in that book, I introduced this, um, This new contemporary series. And so I’ve been playing around with the, all the characters in the series, but haven’t written much of the books. There’s going to be five books, and I’m working on book one right now.

But yes, it was great. It’s been a lot of fun because even though my suspense isn’t like super dark, I do a lot of research that gets into darker things and I may brush over it in terms of like the plot, but, you know, if you start reading a lot of dark stuff, it can impact you. And the world’s been kind of dark in the last year or so. I wanted to go the opposite and I think it, I think it was good for me personally.

Patricia McLinn [03:20] I got a lot of advice, um, from people, especially earlier in my career to, to do the same thing, you know, to stay within a narrow bracket of what I was doing. And I didn’t want to. I kept being told I was pushing the envelope. And I said, What envelope and where, and where is the edge? So I empathize with that a lot. And my question then is how, what response have you gotten from the readers? How do they feel about it? Do you find you have different readership for different things that you’re writing or people following you from one to the other?

Lisa Hughey [03:56] Definitely different readership, which I found out, um, I released, um, in 2016 I released two in a paranormal suspense. So not, paranormal romantic suspense, um, it’s like, uh, remote viewing, but still in my suspense genre. And, um, my readers did not follow. They were not interested in those books at all, which was—

Patricia McLinn [04:23] Hmm.

Lisa Hughey [04:24] —news to me that was a little bit of a fail. But what just, you know, it’s fine. I tend to write like light paranormal. Like it’s not, I don’t create like this whole crazy and there’s no vampires or werewolves, it’s, it’s more like a paranormal overlay of my, of existing suspense plots. And, um, my readers follow me there. But I just did a survey, um, my last newsletter, I sent out a survey asking people to rank, like what of mine they do read. And I think my suspense people have carried over into my regular contemporary romance.

Patricia McLinn [04:59] Aah, that’s interesting.

Lisa Hughey [05:02] Which that’s good. Since the suspense is where more of my core readers are anyway, and, you know, I probably shouldn’t keep writing the paranormal, but I like it. I like it’s, you know, it’s I find it fascinating. So I’m going to keep doing it, even if only like a hundred people read them.

Patricia McLinn [05:18] Well, there, you know, there should for, shouldn’t quote for business reasons, but then there should for, um, keeping you fresh and interested in the writing. And I think when you’re doing a fun project, a project that’s fun for you, I think that carries over to everything that you’re writing and sort of effervesces all the other work, that you’re working on.

Lisa Hughey [05:43] That’s a good word. Yeah, I would agree. I think that as much as, like I said, I didn’t, my suspense readers didn’t necessarily carry over, I loved writing those books. I find it’s a fascinating subject, you know, remote viewing is like the idea that you, you basically like leave your body in one place in your mind travels somewhere else. And it’s actually based on the CIA program that existed in the seventies.

Patricia McLinn [06:06] Umhmm.

Lisa Hughey [06:07] And I basically recreated it in, uh, you know, two-thousands. Uh, and it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun to read. Like I read books by people who have supposedly done this remote viewing, and they’re not like the guy who wrote the one book I read, it’s not a woo-woo guy, he’s a, he was military, I think he was a Marine. And then he worked for the CIA. Like not somebody that you would think of who would even believe that that was possible. So it’s, it’s fascinating.

Patricia McLinn [06:36] Well, it sounds to me like what writer, what writers do all the time. Our bodies stay in one place and our minds go all over the place.

Lisa Hughey [06:45] Yes, so true.

Patricia McLinn [06:49] Okay, let’s ask you some quick questions to let readers get to know you better.

Lisa Hughey [06:52] Okay.

Patricia McLinn [06:53] Um, uh, I’ll give you an easy one first. What’s your favorite color and why?

Lisa Hughey [06:59] My favorite color is green. I think it has to do with the fact that nature, most of nature is green. I like being outside. I like plants, even though I kill them. I just, I find, I find green, very soothing.

Patricia McLinn [07:13] Oh, that’s great. Do you have a favorite taste?

Lisa Hughey [07:16] Salt.

Fear of open heights and telemarking as a teen

Patricia McLinn [07:18] Ah. You know, there I’m surprised at how many of the authors are going to the salt. I thought a lot more of us would be toward the sweet, but okay. Do you have any strong fears and have they shown, have you used that then in books?

Lisa Hughey [07:34] I am terrified of open heights. So I’m not great in the—

Patricia McLinn [07:39] Uh.

Lisa Hughey [07:40] —and no, I can’t even, I can’t write about that. Like I, I get vertigo. I don’t know. No, I can’t, I can’t write about it even.

Patricia McLinn [07:49] Can you access some of that fear to, to use for other fears and in your books? Or is it so visceral that you just steer clear?

Lisa Hughey [08:00] Actually, yes. So that I can do. So I’ll think about how I feel when I’m on the edge of a mountain, like a lookout or something, I’ll take that, cause I, I mean, I literally have like that flight reaction.

Patricia McLinn [08:14] Okay. Have you had any surprising jobs in your life?

Lisa Hughey [08:18] Surprising jobs. So my very first job, I think I was, I was 12 or 13 and I, I was, it was like the precursor to telemarketing, but that’s what I was doing. I was sitting up in this attic in this old house with a telephone and a phone book, you know, with paper and a pen.

And I would call, I was cold calling people from the phone book to see if they would come into this dress shop. Um, this woman sold like designer clothes made specifically for people, so they were custom, and she was trying to get people into her shop for appointments. And that’s what I did. It was awful.

Patricia McLinn [09:02] I bet it was.

Lisa Hughey [09:03] It was horrible.

Patricia McLinn [09:04] Wow.

Lisa Hughey [09:05] It was before telemarketers. Like it was literally like before telemarketers were a thing, so, you know, people were surprised that you were calling and, it was a crazy way. I can’t, I can’t even believe she had us do that when I look back on it.

Patricia McLinn [09:18] And if you sound like your age, I would imagine that will throw some people off too.

Lisa Hughey [09:23] Yeah, because I was young.

Patricia McLinn [09:24] And that’s such a specific it’s crazy.

Lisa Hughey [09:27] It was a nightmare.

Patricia McLinn [09:28] So telemarketing was not your future.

Lisa Hughey [09:30] No.

Patricia McLinn [09:31] Okay. So from still sticking with your childhood, though, did you have any books that really, really opened the idea of stories to you, that really made you love them?

Lisa Hughey [09:44] Oh, you know, I loved to read, I don’t remember super early, but Nancy Drew, Pippi Longstocking. And then, you know, as I started reading, uh, more adult books, fairly young. Uh, my mom loves romance, so I was reading her Harlequins like her, um, Presents, when I was like thirteen.

Patricia McLinn [10:08] Oh yeah. When you were, when you were younger, did you use to fret about anything or multiple things that now you say, Oh, for heaven sakes, what was I worried about?

Lisa Hughey [10:21] I used to just always be polite, even if somebody was rude to me or, or, you know, kind of like if you got the wrong thing in a restaurant, I’d just smile and eat it, cause I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to make waves. And now I won’t do that. I, I, as a matter of fact, last week I just had my hotel room moved because it was this ridiculously small room. And I thought I was paying for a room, like not a closet. And I would’ve just said, Oh, well I guess it’s all they have. And I, I was, I said, no, this is not what I’m paying for.

Patricia McLinn [10:54] There’s a, there’s a great book. This isn’t quite the same thing, but there’s a great book called, um, Women Don’t Negotiate, Women Won’t ask, I think that’s it. It’s the gender divide on negotiating. And it’s a really fascinating book. One of the things I always thought that I was moderately assertive, and when I read it, I realized I wasn’t especially always.

And the other thing that, really kind of hit me was that it said that the younger generation and the, she taught the, um, author taught at Wharton business school and she was using her students for some of the studies. So these are intelligent, you know, business oriented young women and they were still making the same mistakes.

They were still not negotiating, not asking. And it hurts them throughout their careers. Especially in negotiating the very first salary, uh, because then, so, yeah, it tends to be, um, subsequent, uh, raises are based as a percentage of that initial salary. So you’re always in the hole. So I highly recommend that to anybody. Um, I may give it a reread myself, see how I’m doing.

Lisa Hughey [12:16] You know, I think we’re taught to be polite. You know, we’re taught not to make waves, be polite, be nice to everybody. And that’s fine as a general, you know, like treat people with kindness. But it’s not okay if you’re just getting walked over, you know, like walked on all the time. And I, I do think that we do are, our daughters are disservice by making them too nice.

Patricia McLinn [12:40] Well, and I, I believe that you can be polite while you are also standing up for yourself.

Lisa Hughey [12:46] Right.

Patricia McLinn [12:47] You don’t have to be nasty. Sometimes I want to be nasty if they pushed me, if they’ve hit my, my temper, but most of the time I find if, if you are adamant, but polite that things will come around the way they should be, you know, like with your meal. You know, if you ordered the wrong meal comes.

I had you as a kid. Now I’m going to ask you a high school type question or teens. Did you have a song at that point in your life that you thought just, This is me, this, this speaks to me?

Lisa Hughey [13:21] So, you know, I actually, I thought about that question a lot. I hope it’s okay for me to say that you send us questions, so we have some idea.

Patricia McLinn [13:27] Sure.

Lisa Hughey [13:28] And I couldn’t necessarily—

Patricia McLinn [13:30] And then I spring other ones.

Lisa Hughey [13:32] Yeah, exactly. Just to throw us off. I prepared, Pat. Um, so my thing is I love music. Pretty much all kinds. I think the only thing that I’m not, the only type of music that I’m not crazy about is jazz. And I apologize to jazz musicians everywhere, it just doesn’t really work for me. And like super angry German Bogner classical. Besides that I like, I like everything. So I was trying to think if I had a specific song and I, I just can’t, I couldn’t think of anything that really worked.

Now in college, I had a group of friends and, um, Tina Marie’s Lovergirl was our anthem. We made sure it got played at every party we went to, and we all danced together. It’s still, if I hear that song, I think of my friends from college.

Patricia McLinn [14:25] Ohh, that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. I have one from college is Starry Starry Night. Actually it was earlier than college, I think. But there is something about that song that I just felt was speaking right to me.

Lisa Hughey [14:41] It’s a beautiful song.

Patricia McLinn [14:42] It is. It is. And from college then, we use the old Beatles song There are Places I Remember.

Lisa Hughey [14:50] Oh yeah.

Patricia McLinn [14:51] Is that the title of it? I’m not sure that’s the title, but that some of the lyrics.

Lisa Hughey [14:56] Right.

Patricia McLinn [14:57] And we did that in our final party. Our parting party. And so that has a lot of meaning to me too. Yeah. Well, those are great songs. Really important question here. Are you left-handed or right-handed?

Lisa Hughey [15:13] I’m right-handed.

Patricia McLinn [15:15] On your right hand, is your ring finger or your index finger longer?

Lisa Hughey [15:19] Oh, okay. So, now this is weird, when I looked the other day, they were basically the same length, but now my ring finger is a little longer. So I don’t know what that means.

Patricia McLinn [15:30] You know what, sometimes it’s the angle and especially if you, so put your palm away from you.

Lisa Hughey [15:35] Yeah. My ring finger is just slightly longer.

Patricia McLinn [15:38] And now here’s the, the other part of the question. Is your left hand the same way as your right hand?

Lisa Hughey [15:44] Yes.

Patricia McLinn [15:45] Okay.

Lisa Hughey [15:46] What’s the significance?

Patricia McLinn [15:47] I don’t know what it means. I have no idea.

Lisa Hughey [15:52] Super wisdom to be is imparted. I’m going to learn something.

Patricia McLinn [15:55] I’m just, I’m just curious, that’s all. I, somewhere back in the, way in the recesses of my memory, it says that in hand reading left, or palm reading, left hand is what you started with and your right hand is what you’ve made of yourself. But I have no idea what the significance of the length of your fingers is. Maybe somebody will tell us. So I’ve just been going around asking that nosy question just for the heck of it.

Okay. So I have this, I have this bizarre desert Island in my head where you get, you can play movies, but you can only play three movies forevermore while you’re on this desert Island for however long you’re captured there. So, which three movies are you going to take to my strange little desert island?

Lisa Hughey [16:48] Um, so I’m going to take Little Miss Sunshine. National—

Patricia McLinn [16:52] Mmm.

Lisa Hughey [16:53] National Treasure and Indiana Jones, the first one.

Patricia McLinn [16:57] Okay. I can see a connection between this.

Lisa Hughey [16:59] The second two. Sure.

Patricia McLinn [17:02] Yeah. So what do you see a common thread with all three in, in your mind, is there?

Lisa Hughey [17:17] Not with all three. No.

Patricia McLinn [17:09] You just like it. Good. Okay.

Lisa Hughey [17:11] I love a Little Miss sunshine. I think that, I think it’s brilliant.

Patricia McLinn [17:14] There all, well, upbeat isn’t quite the right fitting word, but, you know, I think of this quote from Jessica Tandy, and I’ve never been able to find it like online to confirm it, but I heard her in an interview say, and this is a paraphrase, that she wanted to make movies that when people left the theater, they were glad to be a member of the human race.

Lisa Hughey [17:37] Oh.

Patricia McLinn [17:38] And I thought, Yes, yes, yes, yes. That those are the kinds of movies I like to, to watch. Those are the kinds of stories I like to read. Those are the stories I want to write. And I can see that as being a thread with those books.

Lisa Hughey [17:53] Yeah. Yeah.

Patricia McLinn [17:54] They, are those movies—

Lisa Hughey [17:56] Yeah, I like that.

Patricia McLinn [17:57] That they appreciate the human race.

Lisa Hughey [17:59] I think, um, all three of those movies too, there’s like a sense of hope at the end, which is pretty much why I write romance, obviously. Um, that’s pretty much the definition of romance, right? Hope, hope for the future.

Patricia McLinn [18:13] Yeah, I like that. So as long as we’re talking about that, do you have, do you have a motivational, upbeat quote that, that you like, that you repeat?

Lisa Hughey [18:23] Uh, yes. Um, mine is, every, everybody’s path is different and another one might, might be, um, comparison is the thief of joy.

Patricia McLinn [18:34] Oh, who said that?

Lisa Hughey [18:36] Oh, shoot. I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt, but I could be wrong.

Patricia McLinn [18:41] That’s a great one.

Lisa Hughey [18:42] It might’ve been Teddy Roosevelt. I can’t, isn’t it great, I think that whenever I, when I, whenever I have that, like temptation to compare whatever, somebody’s kids or my career or whatever, I think about that, and my path is completely different than their paths. So of course our results are going to be different at this moment in time.

Patricia McLinn [19:06] Yeah, my mom always used to say to me, if we’re comparing myself to somebody, you know, Oh, they got to be on the pompom squad, which I did eventually get on, but not the first year I tried. And she’d say, Okay, but do you want her whole life? I go, Well, no, I just want this, you know, come on, give me a break. And she said, no, it’s a package deal. And I’d say, Oh, darn. I thought that was totally unfair.

Lisa Hughey [19:40] Yeah. That’s smart.

Patricia McLinn [19:43] Yeah. Yeah. So here’s a question from a reader and I’m going to read it as she wrote it. Where do your stories come from? I know one author who dreams her stories, another has a character suddenly taken up residence in her head. So how are your beautiful stories born?

Lisa Hughey [20:02] I love that question. So I actually, um, use things that are happening in the world quite a bit. A lot of times that, especially in my suspense plots, there’s always a kernel of truth. Something that’s happened or something that’s speculated that’s happened. And it’s just provides that little jumping off point.

And then of course, I ignore whatever happened in real life and, you know, make up my own circumstances, but I’ll, I’ll start with something that, that actually happened in, typically in current day, but not always. And then I also think with, with that thing that happened, what’s a good character match for that event or that situation. And then I kind of go from there.

Patricia McLinn [20:47] Okay. So that, that leads into the next question about how you take it from that spark, that, that initial thought and develop it into a book. So your, your next step is looking at the characters.

The mystery of the code breakers in War World II

Lisa Hughey [21:00] And the what-ifs. So, as an example, um, my first thriller, I have a series called, um, Black Cipher Files and the first book in that series, Blowback, has current day espionage characters, but it came, the whole idea of these characters came from a research book I was reading called Body of Secrets. It’s a, non-fiction about the national security agency. It’s a fascinating book that runs through the history of how it was formed and various, like operations or world events that they, they were involved in.

And, um, I read this, it might’ve been a paragraph or a page about, uh, US-British joint task force, um, during World War II captured, uh, this castle in Germany, in Nazi Germany. They captured this castle and it was literally like code breakers, there was, you know, people sitting at machines breaking code, but here’s the cool part. So they captured all those people and it was a, it was a race between, um, the US-British allies and Russia, who was actually also our ally at the same time to get to, to get to these German code breakers because even though we were allies with Russia, it was rather reluctant.

Lisa Hughey [22:15] So we got there first, we captured these people and there, they disappeared all the records about what happened to those people are still, still to this day classified. I was like, well, what happened to those people? Where did they go? So I started thinking about that and I started thinking about, Okay, so if they’re, if they’re gone, they had to have put them somewhere. And if it’s classified, then somebody somewhere must know something like their descendants. There must be something with their descendants, something.

So I, I took just that and started thinking that my current day espionage characters would be the descendants of those code breakers. And so there’s actually like a mystery surrounding. The code breakers and then a suspense plot with the current day people.

Patricia McLinn [23:06] The mystery of the code breakers, is that carried through the whole series then?

Lisa Hughey [23:10] Yes, it’s a trilogy. And you find out like each, in each book, you find out a little bit more about what happened to these people. Again, it’s all, it’s all made up. It’s still classified. I have no idea what has actually happened to those people, but I found it fascinating that it—

Patricia McLinn [23:26] It is fascinating.

Lisa Hughey [23:28] When I was writing the first one it was classified and it came up for, I guess, I think it’s Congress that has to declassify the information and it came up in 2012, and they still voted to keep it classified. So, there’s something in those records, whatever it is.

Patricia McLinn [23:43] Wow.

Lisa Hughey [23:44] Right?

Patricia McLinn [23:45] Pushing 70 years later.

Lisa Hughey [23:46] Yeah, I’ mean—

Patricia McLinn [23:47] It’s going to be fascinating when they are declassified. Have you ever written anything where you thought you were making it up and then you found out it was there, there was truth to it, whether it happened, you know, for whatever reason?

Lisa Hughey [23:59] I don’t think, I don’t think that’s ever really happened. I don’t know. I mean, it might be, might be kind of funny if it was, but not as far as I know.

Patricia McLinn [24:07] I had, um, just a small thing. I had a character, the hero of, um, Prelude to a Wedding, I thought I was making up this occupation that he was an antique toy appraiser. This was, you know, 30 years ago. And then lo and behold, not only was it that there an occupation, there was an association of antique toy appraisers.

Lisa Hughey [24:29] Right.

Patricia McLinn [24:30] Who knew? Not me. I didn’t know, but clearly they did. So, that’s my small example of, of that happening where you think, Oh, I’m going to just totally make this thing up. Nope. Already exists. Which of your books has been the easiest to write? Just a joy?

Lisa Hughey [24:50] So, it’s actually not a full-length book, but it’s a novella. It is called One Silent Night, and it’s, that’s the one that’s in the shared, shared world. Um, I have a group of friends, there are seven of us, and we wrote, um, we created this fictional town called Snow Creek in California. And there’s like a little tiny bit of magic in some of the stories, but, um, it’s centered around Christmas and, um, there’s seven different stories. And I wrote this story.

I, I tend to be more plot-driven, I think. I mean, I’m character-driven, but not super emotional. And I wrote this story, it was, um, a couple that was getting divorced, um, because they’d had major infertility issues, and they have to, they spend Christmas together because her mother’s dying and she doesn’t know that they’re getting divorced. It’s was really emotional and really intense. And I had no idea I could write a story that emotional. And it just like flowed out of me. It was a, it was an amazing experience. And, um, I, I love that story still.

Patricia McLinn [25:55] Do you think it affected your writing subsequently?

Lisa Hughey [25:59] Yeah, because I didn’t, up until that point, I’m not, I’m not very angsty. I tend to write characters who already, are fairly solid in their sense of self. You know, they’re not, they may be unsettled in some way, but they’re not, they’re not struggling just with their own humanity they, they’ve already kind of got that down. So I don’t write super emotional stories. They’re, you know, they’re happy and there’s good things, but they’re not super emotional. And I realized after writing that, that I could write something that was more emotional. And I think that, um, I think that my books have gotten better because of writing that story.

Patricia McLinn [26:35] It always fascinates me how one story or one book can push us in new directions and help us grow as, as writers. So, your most recent book, what, what is that?

Camp Firefly Falls, Semi-Charmed Life, returning to camp as adults

Lisa Hughey [26:48] So, my most recent book is called His Semi-Charmed Life. And it, that is also part of a shared world. That’s the Camp Firefly Falls, which is, um, super fun concept. Basically all the stories are set at Camp Firefly Falls, which is a summer camp for adults. Um, so there are adult things that happen. Um, and it’s just, it’s just a really fun. It’s like, you know, going back to summer camp as an adult, which is a lot more fun than, you know, when you’re a kid and your parents made you go.

So, I had a lot of fun writing that story. And the, the, the premise of that story is that these two people actually met at camp 20 years ago. Penny, the heroine, was nine, and Diego, the hero was, um, 15, and he was a counselor, and she was sort of a spoiled little kid. And, um, they have this interaction. And it sort of changes both of their perspectives.

So she’s spoiled and very well off. And he’s first-generation Puerto Rican with kind of a tough, you know, beginning. It, it shifts both of their perspectives and forms how they, they both approach adulthood. And then they end up meeting back at camp 20 years later. And it’s just a, it’s a really fun story.

Patricia McLinn [28:08] Yeah. It sounds like that would be pretty, um, toward the joy side of the writing continuum. Have you had any books that were really difficult to write?

Lisa Hughey [28:17] Well, the, the third book, the third book in the, um, Black Cipher Files trilogy was really hard. I wrote those books over probably six years, you know, I would go back and forth. Each book has their own plot, like, but then there was an overarching like story that had to be answered. And I had to tie everything in, and I had to make sure that the timeline worked, and then everything that I had set up in the other two books made solid sense. And, the timeline of the ancestors.

And so that was really hard to make sure I got everything in that was important and still make it interesting. And, and like the suspense, like you, you needed to, you know, be rooting for these characters. And every time I was writing something and I was thinking, Oh God, but did I remember to put this, you know, X, Y, and Z in? And it, it was, the book was a lot of work. It was a lot of work.

Patricia McLinn [29:15] Uh, huh. Did you find that the readers reacted to it well?

Lisa Hughey [29:20] Yeah, actually I think it’s my highest, you know, as far as reviews go, it’s my highest rated book of all time.

Patricia McLinn [29:28] Terrific. There seems to be a thread that as hard as, when a book is hard for us, the readers don’t necessarily recognize or, or get that feeling of how hard it was for the author.

Lisa Hughey [29:45] Right.

Patricia McLinn [29:46] And often respond really well to it. And sometimes the ones that were like, Oh, this is so much fun to write, for the author, the readers I like, Yeah.

Lisa Hughey [29:55] Yeah, exactly. Yes. Yeah. Well, I had a book that I wrote. I, I, uh, I’d been thinking about the character for a while and I think it’s probably from a, um, a character arc and a plot arc, one of the most technically perfect books I’ve written. I really, my, um, my readers, weren’t crazy about it. They didn’t hate it, but they weren’t in love with it either. And I was really surprised because I was like, this book is really like, uh, like I said, almost technically perfect in terms of my character arcs and my story arcs and everything else, and the readers didn’t respond nearly to things that were much harder to write.

Patricia McLinn [30:34] Hmm, that’s, that’s I think, um, uh, as I said, a trend and I, it would be interesting to know is if there’s something that comes through in the books that are difficult to write that, that the readers pick up on subliminally. I don’t know. I just, I find that very interesting.

Okay, and a reader asks when you finish a book, do you miss the characters? Do you think about them afterwards?

Lisa Hughey [31:01] Yes, absolutely. I, uh, I do. I, I’ll think, Hmm, I wonder where they’re at like what, and I’ll think about that. Like, okay, you know, are they going to have babies? Are they not? Are they, you know, moving in together? Depending on the story. So, yeah, I do definitely.

Patricia McLinn [31:19] Has it ever made you go back and write another story about them or connected to them?

Lisa Hughey [31:24] So, not about them, although in the, um, the very end of, so I have a, a series called, uh, The Family Stone. There’s seven books. They’re shorter. Some of them are almost novella length, like 30,000 words. And then some are closer to 50. I love, I love this. I started with a blended family. There’s um, four siblings. Um, the two oldest were, their mother was married to their father. Who’s a complete bastard. And then the third brother, his mother was like a Vegas dancer and basically dropped the kid on the father’s doorstep and took money and left.

And then the fourth sibling is a sister. Her mother got pregnant when she was 18 with this bastard father. And she ended up raising all four of the kids. And then there’s, uh, there’s uh, a surprise baby, who’s an adult by the time they find out about him. And a couple of peripheral characters who get their own stories, and the mother gets her own story.

Patricia McLinn [32:23] Yay, sounds like she deserved it.

Lisa Hughey [32:25] Yeah, oh, I, you know, I love her book. So the very last story I do an epilogue, which is the wedding of the oldest brother. And, um, his heroine. And that was, that was really fun. Like, I didn’t need to add it, I could’ve just thrown in a, you know, a few lines or whatever, but it was, it was really fun to write the wedding.

Patricia McLinn [32:49] Umhumm.

Lisa Hughey [32:50] And there were, there were some unanswered things from their story that I, I sort of closed off. They could’ve stayed unanswered, it wouldn’t have impacted the reader in any way, but, um, I, I tied up some loose ends at the end of the seventh book.

Patricia McLinn [33:02] Yeah, you just wanted to go back and spend more time with them.

Lisa Hughey [33:07] I did. I did. Well, they’re fun. And it’s, so I I’ve, I’ve toyed with writing a Christmas story with the whole family together. I just haven’t had a chance. So that might be next Christmas.

Patricia McLinn [33:17] Do you celebrate when you begin or end or publish a book? Have you ever?

Lisa Hughey [33:24] I’m so bad. I don’t. I used to, you know, like there’s some people, you know, buy themselves a purse or whatever. I, I just don’t, I don’t really do that. There’s, there’s always more to do. And so I find that I just want to get onto the next thing.

Patricia McLinn [33:40] Hmm. Do you have ideas that have never jelled? So do you have the drawer of whether that, that’s a physical drawer or a mental drawer of, um, half finished or unpublished stories?

Lisa Hughey [33:53] I do. I have some things out there that are just not ready to be done yet.

Patricia McLinn [33:58] Because your writing isn’t quite ready for it or because it doesn’t, why are they not yet ready to be done?

Lisa Hughey [34:05] I just think I’m not ready to write them. I, you, you know, you, you find like all of a sudden be like, Ooh, you know what? That’s, I’m not ready for that yet. I need to wait until I’m in a place where that, that story just, I can’t stand but not write it. If that makes any sense.

Patricia McLinn [34:20] Oh, yes, to me.

Lisa Hughey [34:24] Yeah. I know. I don’t know if readers understand that. Sometimes it’s, uh, you know, you just, you get to the point I like to think about a story for a little bit before I actually start writing it. Cause then I, like in the back of my brain I think, is it Jenny Cruise calls it the girls in the basement, something like that. Like there’s, you know, you’ve got all these things sort of percolating around, but they need, they need to sort of simmer.

Patricia McLinn [34:47] I think that’s Barbara Samuel.

Lisa Hughey [34:50] Is that who it is? Yeah. So I, I, uh, I’m a firm believer that it’s better if it sort of simmers in the back of your brain. So I do have some things out there that, um, I think I’ll write eventually, but I’m not ready to write them yet.

Patricia McLinn [35:03] Are there any that you initially thought, Well, that’s a really good idea, and then as you sort of thought about it, it, you just realized it wasn’t going to come together or do you hold out hope for all of them?

Lisa Hughey [35:15] I kind of hold out hope for all of them.

Patricia McLinn [35:18] Me too. I always think that there’s going to be a way to work this somehow, sometime.

Lisa Hughey [35:22] Exactly. It’s my innate sense of optimism.

Patricia McLinn [35:26] What is the favorite part for you, of the writing process?

Lisa Hughey [35:29] Oh, I’ve loved this question. You know, it’s funny. I love that. the beginning, like right in the beginning is really fun. Just that, you know, there’s so many possibilities. There are so many different directions you can go in. And then I also love the part where the story goes a little slower at first, in through the middle it can be a little slower, trying to figure out exactly how you want to position things for the end.

But then there’s like that burst at the end where, you know, you’re just sort of vomiting outwards, cause things are going so fast, like your, your fingers almost can’t keep up with, you know, what’s happening in your brain. And I love that feeling. But I also like revision too. Like I like going through and taking all that vomit, which is a horrible word, but it’s so appropriate.

Patricia McLinn [36:15] It is.

Lisa Hughey [36:16] And making everything pretty and flow and it’s a different part of your brain, but it’s, uh, and it’s, uh, it’s a different process, but I like, I like both sides.

Patricia McLinn [36:27] It sounds like you like the whole thing. What, what part do you not like?

Lisa Hughey [36:31] I think, I feel like middles are always a little tough and it’s striking that balance of making sure that your characters, you know, I have an idea of where I want them to end up obviously, but sometimes making sure that they make the right decisions to make that where I want them to end up believable and, um, where they should end up can be a challenge.

Patricia McLinn [36:55] Yeah. And the middle, I think, it just struck me because you were talking about at the beginning there are all these possibilities and, and my process was really weird and different. So when I talk about beginning, middle, and end, it’s not necessarily the beginning, middle, and end of the book. It’s the beginning, middle, and end of writing the book for me. But anyhow, the middle part is where you’re eliminating possibilities.

Lisa Hughey [37:23] Right.

Patricia McLinn [37:24] You have to narrow down. You, you can’t have it go all the possible directions. And I, I don’t like that. I want to keep the doors open as long as possible. And it usually, for me, comes down to I’ve set a deadline. I’ve promised the readers and I have got to let go of things.

Lisa Hughey [37:45] Yeah.

Patricia McLinn [37:46] That’s the only way I will do it. So that’s, that’s. My new theory about the middle, just from what you just said. I’ve established a middle theory.

I have another question from a reader that I wanted to ask you, and this, it possibly all ties together with another question. That reader asks, What is your favorite place to write and why? Does it have an inspirational view? And I also want to ask you then if you have a routine for writing?

Lisa Hughey [38:12] I don’t necessarily have a favorite place to write as in a specific concrete place. I love to go to a hotel and write.

Patricia McLinn [38:22] Hmmm.

Lisa Hughey [38:23] And I started doing this. It’s been awhile, maybe 10 years ago. I, I had, uh, an agent who wanted to read my manuscript and I wanted to just get it perfect before I sent it to him. And so I checked myself into a hotel for two and a half days. I literally didn’t have, um, them clean my room and I spent, you know, 60 hours minus a few hours for sleep, just polishing.

Patricia McLinn [38:49] Wow.

Lisa Hughey [38:50] And I love that. It’s I get I’m so productive because there’s, there’s nothing else to do. There’s, you know, I can’t go do laundry. I can’t go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea. And then, you know, an hour later when I’ve, I’ve like cleaned my sink and organized my spices.

I think I love to go to a hotel and write. And when I can, I’ll do it, especially at the beginning. Like if I can start a book in a hotel, cause sometimes it’s starting as the hard part. You’re, even though, there’s so many possibilities, how do you, how do you choose? Like where am I going to go? And it’s easy to get sidetracked or walk away because I’m not sure what I want to do. And if you’re in a hotel, you’re not going to walk away, there’s nothing to do. So, um, I really like doing that.

Patricia McLinn [39:36] And, and people are bringing you food and, you know, you don’t have to—

Lisa Hughey [39:40] Yeah.

Patricia McLinn [39:41] You don’t have to clean.

Lisa Hughey [39:43] I go out pretty much like maybe once in the morning, get a cup of coffee and, uh, I might go out in the afternoon and get like an ice tea. Um, but otherwise I will, and sometimes I’ll sit in a restaurant, I’ll take my, my planner, my, you know, like my Moleskine book or my I’m using Leuchtturm now actually, and a pen and make notes while I’m eating. But besides that, I’m in my room, and I usually get up at six in the morning and I work until anywhere between like ten-thirty and midnight, go to sleep and do it all over again the next day.

Patricia McLinn [40:16] Wow.

Lisa Hughey [40:17] And I love that.

Patricia McLinn [40:18] I was stunned, I went to a writer’s conference last year or the year before where I didn’t know, I don’t think I knew anybody or I only knew a couple of people, um, which is fairly rare for the writer’s conferences I go to mostly. And, and usually for that reason, they are horrible for me trying to get any writing done because I’m out talking with people, visiting with old friends or meeting new friends.

And this conference, I was on a tough deadline and I would go to sessions and, you know, talk to people and be with people, but then I’d go back to the room. And if there wasn’t a session that interested me, then for that hour I would write. And then I go back and I go to another session and then I’d come back. And I was stunned at how productive I was.

Lisa Hughey [41:08] Yeah.

Patricia McLinn [41:09] And I think some of it was the focus for some, for me I know some of it was having the limited time. I’m very deadline responsive. But I also think it was somebody else made my bed. Somebody else—

Lisa Hughey [41:21] Right.

Patricia McLinn [41:22] —you know, dealt with the food. I was, it’s always a sign that the writing isn’t going well when my house is in really good order. When I get to the point where cleaning closets seems better than writing, I’m in deep trouble.

Lisa Hughey [41:35] Exactly. That’s funny. And then I, you know what, I’m sorry, I forgot the second half. What was the second half of the question?

Patricia McLinn [41:42] About a routine, of a routine. Do you have a routine?

Lisa Hughey [41:45] Well, I used to, I just moved. So I moved from the San Francisco area to Boston area. My whole writing life has been turned upside down by that. So my old process was I would get up and go straight to work. Try not to look at Facebook or Twitter, Instagram, anything. I just get up and work for an hour, hour and a half.

Um, I actually had to have a Keurig in my office, so I’d make myself a cup of coffee and try and get some words on the page. And then once that was done, then I might check my social media and maybe do some business stuff. And then I go back to writing, but I would, I’d put in like eight to ten hours where I just pretty much was in my office and then I’d pop out and get lunch or whatever on the days that I write regularly.

But now I moved and, um, I’m still setting up my office. It’s a good thing this is not video too, cause it’s still kind of a mess. And I actually started working out with a trainer, which I’m immensely grateful to be doing. And so that has changed my, it’s sort of changed it because that is my solid commitment three times a week. So now I don’t really have a process. As a matter of fact, today, I woke up at six-thirty and I wrote for an hour and a half before I went to my training appointment, which I normally don’t do, I’m not an early riser at all.

Patricia McLinn [43:14] I don’t know, I’ve heard six o’clock a couple of times to me, that’s a very early hour.

Lisa Hughey [43:18] Actually, since I moved to the East Coast, I get up between seven-thirty and eight most days. But the last couple days, you know I’m, I’m deep in the middle of writing this book and I’ve been waking up early cause I can’t wait to get words on the page, which is a fantastic feeling.

Patricia McLinn [43:32] Ahh. But are you offering seven-thirty to eight as being a late riser?

Lisa Hughey [43:37] I feel like it is. Yes.

Patricia McLinn [43:39] No.

Lisa Hughey [43:40] But you stay up late.

Patricia McLinn [43:42] No.

Lisa Hughey [43:43] You’ve sent me an email at two-thirty in the morning. I was like, Holy cow.

Patricia McLinn [43:46] Yeah.

Lisa Hughey [43:47] I’d been asleep for three hours at that point.

Patricia McLinn [43:49] Yeah, I’m a night owl. I’m definitely a night owl. So seven-thirty or eight is early rising, way or early rising for me. I’m, I’m think, I’m, you know, up with the larks, if I’m up at ten, so very different approach. Okay. Question about how, you said you’re setting up your office now.

Lisa Hughey [44:09] Yes.

Patricia McLinn [44:10] So what, what is your office going to look out on? Or does it have any view?

Lisa Hughey [44:14] Part of the reason that we moved to the East Coast was, well, it’s a little cheaper out here, which is nice. California’s lovely, but it’s expensive. And then we really wanted to live by the ocean. So I, right now I’m actually looking out on Ipswich Bay. Now, that’s because it’s winter and all the trees in front of me don’t have leaves.

Patricia McLinn [44:32] Oh, yeah.

Lisa Hughey [44:33] There are actually two or three houses in front of my house before you get to the Bay. But, um, because of, because it’s winter, I can see a little bit of water right now. I have seasonal views.

Patricia McLinn [44:50] And are you finding that, are you finding that inspiring seeing the, the water?

Lisa Hughey [44:54] Yes. And even not, not necessarily from my house. I mean, it’s very nice that I have this little blue and I know it’s the water, but, um, I live, uh, I live kind of on a, um, so I, so I live in Gloucester, which is in theory, a little bit of an island. And so I can, depending on how I drive home, I see water constantly. If I take the long way, the long way home from training, I think it’s four miles instead of two and a half or something. The views are stunning. It’s just, it’s beautiful. And I think it, it’s very peaceful and I love it. I love it. I feel really blessed that I’m able to live here.

Patricia McLinn [45:33] And Lisa and I have talked about, it just so happens that Gloucester is my dad’s hometown and, um, we’d have family reunions there. And my second book is set there. I actually, uh, fictionally added, uh, another beach. So, which the people should be really grateful for because that property is very valuable. So I added to the beach shore, the shoreline on, uh, in Gloucester. I have to get there, we should have a writing retreat there.

Lisa Hughey [45:06] Oh, it’s so beautiful here.

Patricia McLinn [46:08] It’s a really cool area. Well, that’s going to be interesting to see how you adjust and what changes you make. Did you leave a community of writers behind in California?

Lisa Hughey [46:19] I did.

Patricia McLinn [46:21] That’s hard.

Lisa Hughey [46:22] That’s probably one of the, well, and I had a very good group of friends. I lived in California for 26 years. Great group of personal friends, and then I had a great group of writer friends, and I miss them. I FaceTimed with a few of them, which has been nice. I think that’s like, uh, technology’s amazing.

One of my goals for the beginning of next year is to branch out. There are some writers in Massachusetts, so that’s nice, but there isn’t anybody very close by. Whereas in California, I had coffee with one of my writer friends at least once every two weeks, sometimes once a week.

Patricia McLinn [46:57] That is nice, yeah.

Lisa Hughey [46:59] Just depending on her, she had kids in school, so it was, um, sort of dependent on her kids’ lives. But, and I, San Francisco has a very, very active, uh, romance community and great, great group of women. So, um, I’m going to miss them.

Patricia McLinn [47:14] Yes. And, and build up a new group now.

Lisa Hughey [47:17] I belong to Romance Writers of America and New England has a chapter that is relatively active. So I’m hoping—

Patricia McLinn [47:23] Oh, yes.

Lisa Hughey [47:24] And I have met some people who live around here, so, um, once I start going to those meetings, I’m hoping I’ll make some more connections with people here.

Patricia McLinn [47:32] Oh, I’m sure you will. That the New England chapter conference in the spring is, is really good. I’ve spoken at it a couple of times. Really enjoy those folks. But it is hard when you’ve had a great group close by to, to venture away from that. I often think a lot of my closest writing friends are far across the country and far-flung so, beyond the country too. Uh, but as you said, technology is wonderful.

Lisa Hughey [48:03] Yeah, it’s amazing. And I think, um, I’m really lucky. I, I go to, um, I think I’ve been a NInc two years, Novelists, Inc. conference, two years in a row, and that’s been amazing. I also do a conference, they call it an unconference, so there’s, it’s not really structured, and I’ve been doing that in San Francisco and I’m going back, which is nice. So I’ll see my friends.

Patricia McLinn [48:24] I want to go to that. I haven’t been able to get in on the registration.

Lisa Hughey [48:30] It’s, it’s very small. I think 40 people. It’s a, it’s a, but it’s a great sharing of information. I think it’s just, it’s great.

Patricia McLinn [48:36] So, well, I hope I can get there in the future. Hope I can fit in among the 40. Maybe they’ll take 41.

Lisa Hughey [48:44] I hope so.

Patricia McLinn [48:45] Okay. Before you wanted to be a writer, what did you want to do? Or did you always want to be a writer?

Lisa Hughey [48:50] I don’t know that I really aspired to be a writer per se, but I wrote a lot when I was younger. I was a French major in college, which is not particularly employable. I actually was going back to school. When I started writing, I was going back to school to be an interior designer. Because I love, I love like furniture and colors and I love like putting together a room. I think it’s really a fun thing to do and messing our, I change things around and, you know, new pillows or whatever I love doing that.

This is funny cause I, and I hadn’t really thought about it, but I was reading through your questions and you ask about that. I have a really hard time setting a scene when I’m, I have to force myself to add the setting later. I frequently don’t put any setting details in, which I find—

Patricia McLinn [49:36] Huh.

Lisa Hughey [49:37] —really funny because I love interiors.

Patricia McLinn [49:40] Yeah.

Lisa Hughey [49:41] And I love color. I think color can affect your mood. I like all this stuff, and I thought, I love doing all that stuff and I never write settings, not through first pass, unless I’m struggling with the book.

Patricia McLinn [49:53] That’s interesting.

Lisa Hughey [49:54] And if I’m really mad, I’ll write a whole bunch about the setting and then add those details in later. Otherwise that’s a third or fourth pass.

Patricia McLinn [50:00] Huh.

Lisa Hughey [50:01] I know. Isn’t that funny?

Patricia McLinn [50:03] That is really interesting. Do you think it, is it so, like, are you writing, setting, like if it’s a really ugly room, you just don’t want to deal with that or, or is it any kind of setting?

Lisa Hughey [50:15] So, I actually, what I find is that if the, if like, if it’s an ugly room or, um, you know, I wrote a, I wrote a scene, like in a nasty, like motel room, You know, dirty seventies, carpeting and things like that. Like if, if it has some impact on the characters, then yes, but like, I, that stuff goes in right away. But if it’s just sort of a generic like room or restaurant, I find that I don’t put any details in, and then I have to layer those in later.

Patricia McLinn [50:44] I have a question that sort of touches on that, that comes from a reader that it has to do with the visual aspect. And she says, um, When the cover image doesn’t match the character description, and this reader says that’s a pet peeve of hers, how does it feel for the author?

Cover for Dangerous Game in the Black Cipher Files trilogy

Lisa Hughey [51:01] Really bothers me. I do my own covers. I don’t design my own covers, but I typically pick the couple. And I actually have a, um, book that I wrote called Dangerous Game. It’s a follow-on to, um, the Black Cipher Files trilogy that features a secondary character who I loved and I, she needed a happy, happily ever after.

The hero is Korean. So it’s a Korean hero and an African-American heroine. And I searched for days for a couple. And I could, I couldn’t, I could not find a Korean man and a black woman. I looked for days. I looked, uh, I was hitting websites. I, I looked at like seven websites could not find it. So I finally had to pick a, um, I picked a dark-haired Caucasian guy who was not looking at the, you know, his face is not forward. So you could sort of like—

Patricia McLinn [52:00] Uh huh.

Lisa Hughey [52:01] If you squinted in a dark room, pretend that he’s Korean. And it was really disappointing. And I got reader to push back on that cover. And I, and I said, I’m really sorry. Like I wanted, there’s a, I kind of based the hero on this Korean actor named Won Bin, uh, who’s in a Korean action-adventure called The Man from Nowhere and he’s, he’s gorgeous. And that was the, he’s who was in my head as I was writing this character and to have to settle for this, you know, perfectly attractive Caucasian guy was really frustrating. So I, I told—

Patricia McLinn [52:36] But not the right guy. Yeah.

Lisa Hughey [52:38] Yeah, yeah. There’s nothing wrong with him, but I couldn’t, I could not, uh, I couldn’t find that couple. I still like to think about, I think I should keep looking and if I ever find a good couple, then redo that cover. Cause I, it bothers me.

Patricia McLinn [52:54] And that’s one of the joys of being an indie author that we can do that we have the control of being able to go back and change things. And—

Lisa Hughey [53:02] Yes.

Patricia McLinn [53:03] Yes. So keep, keep looking.

Lisa Hughey [53:06] I am. I am. I’m looking.

Patricia McLinn [53:09] You said you got to reader push back on that. Have you had other encounters with readers? Have you had the, if you have good stories about talking with readers?

Lisa Hughey [53:20] Yeah, so this is kind of fun. I, uh, on my most recent book, uh, Diego is this, His Semi-Charmed Life. And, um, Diego is Puerto Rican. He basically starts out kind of a rough beginning. And after this encounter with Penny, um, he sort of expands his horizons of what he, is possible for him. And he ends up becoming a very successful businessman, which is when they meet again. And, um, I had a reader send me a really lovely note. Um, Diego reminded her of her father, who had passed away.

Patricia McLinn [53:55] Oh.

Lisa Hughey [53:56] And his story was he came from, uh, Puerto Rico and, uh, started his own business and ended up being very successful. And she just said, you know, Thank you for reminding me of my dad. I admired him. And it was just, it was a really, really touching letter. It was nice, so…

Patricia McLinn [54:13] Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful.

Lisa Hughey [54:17] It was really neat.

Patricia McLinn [54:19] And how, uh, how generous of her to take the time to, to let you know that. If somebody has not read any of your books, they’re new to you, which book would be the best starting place do you think?

Lisa Hughey [54:32] So I would say one of two places. If you like longer, more intricate plots, Blowback, which is the first book in the Black Cipher Files series, is a good place to start. And, um, if you like Kindle books, that book is free right now. Um, it’s not always free, but it so happens to free right now.

If you like shorter, um, shorter, little bit shorter books, um, that are a little bit lighter, there’s definitely a suspense plot, but it’s not super involved or convoluted. My Family Stone series is, um, the first book is Stone Cold Heart, and that is always free on Kindle. And then if that is not a standalone, I don’t have that as a standalone paperback. It’s a, like anthology the first five books. So that would be a little more expensive.

Lisa Hughey [55:23] But if you, um, if you like Kindle books, the Stone Cold Heart is free. And that book features the sister, the youngest sister, Jess, who is a former FBI sniper. And the hero is, um, an SAS officer, he’s British, and they’re working on a, um, tropical island that’s had an earthquake. They’re doing disaster relief and a few other little things on the side. But it’s a fun book. It’s an interesting book.

Patricia McLinn [55:48] That’s great. And really helpful to readers. And if, Readers, if you’re interested in the print books, you can also always ask your library to get them to order them, and then they would be available to you and other readers too. I love libraries. So put a little plug there.

Do you have any of your books, so you’ve got loyal readers, people who’ve read everything you’ve written, but maybe they’ve missed one. Do you have a book that’s kind of a hidden gem?

Lisa Hughey [56:19] The sixth book in the Family Stone series is Queen of Hearts. And that is actually the story of the mother, who, she’s, she’s only 45. So she’s a little older for typical romance heroines, and she’s raised four kids. When she comes into the house she’s 25 and, um, her stepson, if you will, is 14. So she’s, you know, she’s, she was, had kind of a tough life.

She has her own book is the sixth book of the Family Stone series. And I love that book. It’s really fun. You know, she’s been a mom for so long, and everybody thinks of her as a mom and she like, she wants passionate romance and a sex life, and she ends up getting together with a former, um, commanding officer of the, um, Jack, the oldest brother. So there’s actually some really funny scenes in that book because, you know, they think of her as their mother and, uh, you know, when he finds out they’re together, that—

Patricia McLinn [57:18] Yeah.

Lisa Hughey [57:19] And the way he finds out is somewhat amusing. So I, I had a lot of fun writing that book. And a lot of times people will say, I don’t really want to read an older heroine, but it’s a really fun, funny book. And I, I love that she’s sort of rediscovering her own sexuality after suppressing it for years. So…

Patricia McLinn [57:36] That’s terrific. That sounds like a great book. I hope people will search it out. So, what have I not asked you that I should have or that you would like to answer?

Lisa Hughey [57:50] You didn’t ask what I like to read and I love to read. I mean, I think most writers do, although I could be wrong. So I read a lot of romantic suspense, um, when I’m not writing it. And then I read contemporary romance. Um, actually love dystopian romance too, with the, you know, futuristic, the world’s in a horrible place. Uh, and, um, then I also, I read a decent amount of non-fiction. I like non-fiction that’s inspiring.

My favorite book that I read last year, that was non-fiction or this year, I guess you would say, was the Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, who’s the showrunner for Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder. Can’t remember she, she’s showrunner for four shows, I think, something crazy. She’s yeah, she’s an amazing writer, but that book is phenomenal. A big plug for it. I think it’s a, if you’re ever thinking that you’re afraid of doing something, then reading that book will inspire you to just go for it. So I think that’s, that’s probably it.

Patricia McLinn [58:55] Tell everybody what your, um, how they can find out more about you and your books.

Lisa Hughey [59:00] Okay. So, um, if you go to my website, www.lisa, L I S A, Hughey, H U G H E Y.com. And all my books are on there. There’s a fun little 20 things you didn’t know about me and—

Patricia McLinn [59:18] Oh, cool.

Lisa Hughey [59:19] And some other stuff.

Patricia McLinn [59:21] I’ll have to go look at that. See what I don’t know about you. We can do another, we can do another interview and I can ask nosy questions about those things. And we will, we will have the URL in the show notes for folks. So that will be much easier to get to. Although if you are smart, you wrote it down really fast.

Okay. Now my very favorite part is the, what I think of as the epilogue, and these are either or questions. I’ve had many people try to cheat, but they’re either or. So, you can have cake or ice cream?

Lisa Hughey [59:59] Cake, no question.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:01] Cowboy boots or hiking boots?

Lisa Hughey [1:00:04] Hiking boots.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:06] So I think I might know the answer to this one, mountains or beach?

Lisa Hughey [1:00:10] Beach.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:11] You don’t want those, those heights, right?

Lisa Hughey [1:00:15] Yeah. Yeah. That was pretty, that’s pretty clear from where I moved and what I’m afraid of.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:20] Day or night?

Lisa Hughey [1:00:22] Uh, day.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:24] Toenail polish or bare toenails?

Lisa Hughey [1:00:27] Toenail polish. I had a pedicure yesterday.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:30] Leggings or sweats?

Lisa Hughey [1:00:32] Leggings.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:34] Dog or cat?

Lisa Hughey [1:00:36] Cat. But only because I’m allergic to dogs.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:39] Oh, oh, I feel so sorry for you. Sorry.

Lisa Hughey [1:00:44] Oh, you know what, I love my cats. My cats have been fun, so it’s fine, but I love dogs too.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:49] Um, okay. Which is eerier to you, an owl hooting or coyotes howling?

Lisa Hughey [1:00:55] Coyotes. As a side note, I have coyotes in my yard now.

Patricia McLinn [1:01:00] Oh.

Lisa Hughey [1:01:01] So we’ll hear them at night sometimes.

Patricia McLinn [1:01:03] It’s a very disconcerting sound, but I think the howling can— Okay. Whoops, we can, the owl hooting, net the howl looting. Um, okay. Sailboat or motorboat?

Lisa Hughey [1:01:13] Sailboat. Can you tell that iffy? I’m not sure. I think I like the idea of sailing.

Patricia McLinn [1:01:23] Have you not been?

Lisa Hughey [1:01:25] I have never been sailing. I’ve been on motorboats, but I’ve never been sailing.

Patricia McLinn [1:01:28] Oh, so you’re going to have to do that in Gloucester.

Lisa Hughey [1:01:33] Yes, but my husband wants motorboat and he’ll probably get his way on that one.

Patricia McLinn [1:01:38] Okay. Gardening or house decorating?

Lisa Hughey [1:01:40] House decorating.

Patricia McLinn [1:01:42] Paint or wallpaper?

Lisa Hughey [1:01:44] Paint.

Patricia McLinn [1:01:45] Good china or paper plates?

Lisa Hughey [1:01:47] Good china.

Patricia McLinn [1:01:48] And this is the last one. Save the best for last or grab the best first?

Lisa Hughey [1:01:54] Grab the best first.

Patricia McLinn [1:01:56] This has been a lot of fun, Lisa. Thank you so much for joining us and we hope all of you will come back next week for a new author and their stories behind the stories. Have a great week of reading, happy reading.

That’s the show for this week. Hope you enjoyed it. And thank you for joining Authors Love Readers podcast.

Remember, you can always find out more about our guest authors in the show notes, and you can find out more about me at www.patriciamclinn.com. You can also send in questions to be asked of future authors at podcastatauthorslovereaders.com

Until next week. Wishing you lots of happy reading. Bye.

 

authors love readers lisa hughey

Episode 11: Being at Home With Ourselves, with Emilie Richards

Emilie Richards writes about romance, life and the bonds between women. She talks with host Patricia McLinn about her careful plot development, advance planning for novels, and love for books of all genres. She also shares touching advice on living life authentically and interacting with readers.

You can find Emilie on:

*her website,

*Facebook and

*Twitter

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

Authors Love Readers with Emilie Richards

Patricia McLinn [00:00] Welcome to this week’s Authors Love Readers podcast, where we delve into the stories behind the stories. We’re asking authors questions. Some of them fun, some of them serious, and from their answers, you’re going to learn things you never knew about the people who write the stories you love.

My name is Patricia McLinn. I’m your host and designated question asker.

Emilie Richards [00:23] I’m Emilie Richards, and I’m an author who loves readers.

Patricia McLinn [00:27] Now, let’s start the show. Hi, this is Patricia McLinn. I’m delighted to have Emilie Richards here today for this edition of Authors Love Readers podcast. I got to know Emilie when she moved to Arlington, Virginia. Mm, some number of years ago when I was living there, already living there. And Emilie was a very well established, very well known romance author, very hot, very much respected.

And it was my pleasure and delight to get to know her. And then she and Diane Chamberlain and I, um, all lived in the area. All of us had dogs and we all understood that. So we’d get together once a month, uh, and have dinner together and talk writing and the business and, and all the vagaries of, um, being an author. And now none of us live in the area. We’ve all gone different directions, but we stay in touch.

Patricia McLinn [01:25] Um, the other thing I wanted… I was thinking about this beforehand, Emilie, is the workshop that we did at a Romance Writers of America national conference called Writing from the Inside Out or the Outside In. And it was, it was such a clear delineation of how differently we approach things.

Emilie Richards [01:47] Boy, that’s the truth.

Patricia McLinn [01:49] And we’ll probably, we’ll probably get into this again later, but, uh, I remember very vividly that Emilie had this very neatly typed out talk and followed it, and you know, was all organized. And I had mine with arrows crossed out and little added notes to the side and, you know, move this here and change that.

And that’s very much how, the difference in how we create. But I know you. Let’s let the readers and the listeners know you a little bit more. So we’re just going to do some fun questions here. Do you have a favorite color and why?

Emilie Richards [02:32] Well, Pat, you and I’ve had this discussion. I love purple and hate orange, and you love orange and hate purple.

Patricia McLinn [02:38] Yup. We do.

Emilie Richards [02:41] And why do I love purple?

Patricia McLinn [02:43] We’re opposites in many ways.

Emilie Richards [02:44] I don’t know, there’s just something calming. And it goes to me, it, to me, it’s almost a basic, a neutral, it goes with everything.

Patricia McLinn [02:50] No. But I wish that it did, you know, that’s interesting. Because purple is calming, and I liked the vibrancy of orange that, you know, you may have hit on something there. Um, okay, favorite tastes.

Emilie Richards [03:03] Favorite tastes. Oh, salt and vinegar potato chips.

Patricia McLinn [03:06] Have you held any surprising jobs?

Emilie Richards [03:10] You know, the, when, when I saw that question, I thought, Man, I did have one that was really strange. I worked as a temper— A temp, um, during college in the summers. And I got assigned to the NRA, to their mailroom. Cause I was living in Washington, DC.

And I would have to open up the envelopes. All this money would fall out. People were just, just so involved and so supportive and they would send these dirty dollar bills. It was, it was a real eye-opener for me to work there for the, I was there for three days and I remember them very well.

Patricia McLinn [03:45] Wow. I had never heard that story, so that is a great, great new story. This is one of the great things about doing this podcast is learning more things about people I know.

Emilie Richards [03:57] That’s good.

Patricia McLinn [03:58] So that, that’s really fun. Yeah. Um, do you have any strong fears and do you use them in books?

Emilie Richards [04:05] You know, I am afraid of high bridges. And which is one of those odd things since I grew up in Florida and I’m living here now, again, uh, and there are, as you can imagine, a lot of bridges. And I know where the fear comes from because my parents used to fish on bridges when I was a child. And so they put the fear of God into me about, you know, being careful when I was on the bridges with them.

But have I ever used it in a book? I would have said no, except that I just re-edited one of my older romances. And there’s a scene in the book, which is off-scene, but it’s discussed where somebody drives off of the high bridge and dies. So I guess I have used it.

Patricia McLinn [04:43] Do you, do you access the, the feeling that you get on a bridge to, to, uh, convey other, to convey character’s fear?

Emilie Richards [04:53] Probably not consciously.

Patricia McLinn [04:56] No, but maybe underneath. I always remember. I, I was Out West and was across this bridge over, really a gorge. And I had seen a sign where it said 900 feet. You know that it was 900 feet below, and then you went a little farther onto the bridge and there was a sign that said, No Fishing. Which made me laugh. I couldn’t imagine having, you’d have to have 902 feet of line.

Emilie Richards [05:24] I love that. I bet you didn’t have a photo of that.

Patricia McLinn [05:28] I know, I know. It was the days before having a camera all the time with you.

Emilie Richards [05:34] You know what’s interesting, Pat, it, just an aside is that I’ve talked to two other well-known writers, both of whom are afraid of bridges, and both of them live, one lives in here in Florida and the other lives in South Carolina. So I don’t know if there’s, you know, if this is a common fear among writers or if I just happened to run across the only two who are, but I thought that was interesting.

Patricia McLinn [05:53] Now, I don’t like where you cannot tell where the road goes. And sometimes that happens in, on bridges. But I had somebody tell me that was not, that was not a fear that was a rational reaction.

Emilie Richards [06:06] I like that.

Patricia McLinn [06:07] Well, I suspect that it’s because that person also felt the same way about it.

Emilie Richards [06:13] I know exactly what you mean now.

Oz books and rewriting Gone with the Wind ending

Patricia McLinn [06:17] Can you share with us a childhood book that addicted you to stories?

Emilie Richards [06:21] Well, I was a huge fan of the Oz books. All of the Oz books. And our library was like a one room library for, the children’s room was one room where I can, I can picture, I can just picture it so clearly the way it smelled and the way the books felt that these Oz books were all first additions with the original illustrations.

And they were just, I just, I couldn’t, I couldn’t get enough of them. I read them. I reread them. I checked them out. I read them again. And I think that a lot of my love of stories started there.

Patricia McLinn [06:53] Those were, I read those. Actually, my sister read them out loud to me. She was home from college and I was in second grade, I think. And I had back to back, I had the measles and then the mumps or the mumps and then the measles. And so I remember all those stories where the scarecrow was running Oz, right?

Emilie Richards [07:12] For a while he did. Yeah. First started life as a boy and turned into a girl. He actually started as a girl, turned into a boy and then turned into a girl. I mean, there was just all these little twists and turns and fun things.

Patricia McLinn [07:25] Yeah.

Emilie Richards [07:26] I just loved it.

Patricia McLinn [07:27] Yeah. Do you have any stories that you can remember from your pre-author days that you mentally rewrote the ending for? Cause you thought it just wasn’t right.

Emilie Richards [07:37] Well, I think the classic one would be Gone with the Wind. I think every romance person in the world had came up with their own scenario of what happened after Rhett Butler stormed out of the house. And I just, I, that’s, that was the first thing that leapt to mind was how many times and how many different ways I rewrote that story.

Patricia McLinn [07:56] Do you have a favorite?

Emilie Richards [07:58] Favorite way in the way it ended?

Patricia McLinn [08:00] Yeah, in a way you ended it?

Emilie Richards [08:02] Well, probably not. I think the fun was in doing.

Patricia McLinn [08:06] That’s, that’s a really insightful thing about writing too, that you need to have the fun and the doing.

Emilie Richards [08:13] Exactly. If it’s not fun, there’s no point.

Patricia McLinn [08:15] There are a lot of, I often say there are a lot of easier ways to make a living, including, you know, some bad jobs, but…

Emilie Richards [08:22] Easier, but not as much fun.

Patricia McLinn [08:24] True. How about, Emilie, have you had things that like earlier in your life, you really, that really got to you, you know, maybe you fretted over them. You gave them a lot of thought and now you think, Eh, you know, who cares.

Emilie Richards [08:40] I think this is incredibly boring, cause I imagine almost everybody listening can identify with this, but that whole sense of needing to fit in and always feeling like I was always a step ahead or a step behind or a step to the side, maybe. Um, uh, and I think part of that is, is being the kind of person who turns into an author.

Um, I was always analyzing things and looking for details and trying to figure things out or rewriting scenarios in my mind. Um, and that’s probably not the easiest way to fit in. Um, now, of course, I don’t really care. Because I found my group of people I want to fit in with, but also it’s just not, it’s not a driving force in my life. I am happy with who I am. Um, and I wish I had been happier with myself and understood myself better as an adolescent, but that’s part of what being an adolescent is.

Patricia McLinn [09:32] Oh, very true. Very true. And you touched on that part of being what an author is, the kind of person an author is. How do you think authors are? I’m guessing you do think authors tend to be different from—

Emilie Richards [09:46] I do.

Patricia McLinn [09:47] I want to say normal people.

Emilie Richards [09:50] You can say normal people. I do think we’re different. And I, and I think it takes us many, many years to realize that not everybody thinks about the world or analyzes the world or tries to figure out what’s happening in everything that, in every incident in their life, what’s behind it and how they can twist it around to make it work a different way or, or fantasize about it.

That’s just not something everybody does. And I think once you realize it, it is a little different. Um, and that’s a really, that’s kind of an interesting moment in your life when you go like, Oh, I’m doing this because I’m a writer. And that’s a good feeling, really.

Patricia McLinn [10:27] I remember when my second book came out, it was set in Gloucester, Massachusetts, which is my dad’s hometown. And my sister-in-law, um, had read it and she, and we’d spent time walking the beach in Gloucester at various family reunions. And she said, Now, I know why you were noting all those details, you know, I never understood why you would say, Oh, look at that house and, and see how the, the ocean goes this way around here and that way around there.

Emilie Richards [10:59] It is important to you and not necessarily so to her. And I’m sure you stored it up and used it.

Patricia McLinn [11:03] Yep. So it finally made sense, sense to her. And I was like, Oh.

Emilie Richards [11:09] I really think that if everybody could take who they are and understand it and understand that it’s okay. And then it probably is going to figure into their future. It would help so much, but just the moment you realize that all those things that you’ve thought and done, we’re really helping you become the person who can, in this case, write books or for someone else play the piano or teach math in college or whatever. Those are the things that made you that person. I think we’d all be a lot more relaxed with ourselves.

Patricia McLinn [11:38] Wouldn’t, isn’t that the truth and, and appreciate those things. And as you said, as an adolescent, they make you different. And that’s really hard to appreciate as an adolescent because you want to be just like all the other people, but then those are the ones that you build on to create a life.

Emilie Richards [11:55] And I think if you’re lucky as an adult, and you feel good about yourself, you can look back on that and go, Oh, that wasn’t as bad as I thought that was all part of becoming who I am. And that’s great.

Patricia McLinn [12:05] Yeah. And this sort of segues from that, you know, being an adolescent and learning those lessons, do you have, do you remember sayings, your mother or your father using that you can hear yourself coming out with now?

Emilie Richards [12:19] Well, I hate to get political, but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear comes to mind. So yeah, I find myself—

Patricia McLinn [12:29] Okay.

Emilie Richards [12:30] —I find myself saying that a lot these days.

Patricia McLinn [12:31] Do you have, I do, I know, bad habit words when you’re writing?

Emilie Richards [12:36] Yeah. The one that just comes to mind right away is thing. I just, and I use it so much in speech. I say thing. And when I go back and edit, there are so many things in my work I have to get rid of all the things.

Patricia McLinn [12:52] And I, I have previously admitted that mine, just and really are very bad for me and very comes in to. And then I go back and I think, There is no way I use this word this many times.

Emilie Richards [13:04] I know.

Patricia McLinn [13:05] How’d it get in there?

Emilie Richards [13:07] We can actually sort of do a count using our work, our word processing programs, and that’s a frightening thing.

Patricia McLinn [13:13] It’s horrifying. It’s absolutely horrifying, especially because at least I’m conscious of it. I know which ones are my bad ones. And then there’ll be an additional one or two that crop up kind of ad hoc in each book. Yeah.

Emilie Richards [13:29] The book that I just, I just edited, uh, I first had, uh, a professional editor look at it because I liked the story, but I knew there were things wrong with it. And she, she must’ve taken out 500 incidences of the word, you know, terror, terrified, terror-stricken. And yes, she had every reason to be afraid, but it did get pounded down in the book. I don’t think I normally do that, but in that book, I just, I apparently liked the word and used it many, many times.

Patricia McLinn [13:59] We all do it. We all do it. Those of us who are good, take them out.

Emilie Richards [14:08] And somebody’s got a better eye than we do to take them out, of course.

Patricia McLinn [14:12] Yes, that helps. Okay. What three movies are you going to take with you to my wonderful desert Island that, oddly, will let you play movies but only allows you to have three.

Emilie Richards [14:25] This is one strange Island. Okay. Well, I mean, having already told you about my Oz, um, uh, experiences, I would have to say the Wizard of Oz, which I never, ever get tired of watching. I love the Wizard of Oz. I really do.

Then I was looking for something more recent and I couldn’t come up with anything too recent, although I just saw Coco. Uh, the, the Disney cartoon and it, it was just fabulous. I wouldn’t mind having Coco with me.

But the one that came to mind was, uh, an, an odd romance called Monsoon Wedding, which is set in India. And I just loved that movie. And I think I would love having that movie and watching it over and over again. I just, there was so many, so many interesting things and so many, so much honest emotion, and I really loved it. So, I guess that’s three right there.

Patricia McLinn [15:16] That’s terrific. Okay, we have a question here from, um, a reader. And I’m curious about this, cause I know, I think I know what it used to be in Arlington, but I’d like to hear, and, uh, now that you’ve left Northern Virginia. Um, what is your favorite place to write and why? Does it have an inspirational view?

Emilie Richards [15:37] Oh, that’s a great question. The le— The less inspirational view, the better. When we, when we moved into this house, which is in Florida, there was a beautiful den in the back of the house with a gorgeous view of, uh, a pond and woods and no houses. It’s just gorgeous with all kinds of birds and alligators. And I loved it.

And I absolutely tr— I, everybody said, you have to use this as your study. And I kept thinking, I’m not sure. But I gave it a try, and about two years later, I said, I cannot write in this room. It was too distracting. It was also too close to the center of things going on in the house.

And so I secluded myself in the front bedroom, which actually has two doors between me and the world. It was a lot of work to move and it was the best thing I ever did. And my view is the side of my neighbor’s house which doesn’t even have any windows. And I just love it. It’s perfect.

Patricia McLinn [16:33] I had, I had a choice in this house of whether to be at the front of the house or the back, and I chose the back and I do have windows, but I look at the top of trees, you know, into trees. So I knew if I, if I had that room in the front, I would be watching all the activity—

Emilie Richards [16:52] Absolutely.

Patricia McLinn [16:53] —on the street and everything. The downside is I managed to choose the how, the room that is the coldest in the winter and the hottest in the summer.

Emilie Richards [17:03] Oh, that’s too bad. That’s too bad.

Patricia McLinn [17:04] But no distractions.

Emilie Richards [17:06] Yeah. And the distractions are big for me. And I know that they’re people who really want to be in a beautiful environment, but I find that what I really want to look at is my video monitor. And that’s all I want to see. I don’t want to be thinking about anything else I just want to do that.

Patricia McLinn [17:21] So do you watch the words as they appear on the screen? Do you need that visual?

Emilie Richards [17:26] I do. And I go, I don’t know if you do this, but I go back and edit. I know, I’ve, I’ve read all the books that say you shouldn’t do this and I don’t care, it works for me. I go back and edit sentence by sentence over and over again as I write. I don’t want to leave something that I’m uncomfortable with in any way, because then it inhibits me from moving forward.

So I just get, I work and work on sentences until I have them the way I want them. And of course, there’s many more edits that happen during, you know, until the book is published. At a certain point I know it’s good enough, and I’ll move on. But until then, I really can’t move on.

Patricia McLinn [17:57] Yeah. I, I’m changing things around. I’m not, I’m probably not as polished as you before I move on because I write out of sequence. And so I’ll, I’ll jump around. I will, if, if something’s really flowing, but I, I know I don’t have the right word or I need a little something, I will use brackets. And WD is my thing for, you know, look for a better word or check CHK or, you know, I do different things to, to alert myself, but always in the brackets to come back to.

But if I could not cut and paste, I could not write. I have to be able to move things around and you start, I don’t understand how people can dictate because you start thinking along one line and then you realize, but where I ended up in this paragraph is really where it should have started and I have to cut, you know, then cut and paste and move that I…

Emilie Richards [18:50] And then—

Patricia McLinn [18:51] I do not know how I could dictate.

Emilie Richards [18:52] —you have to do it right then while you’re thinking about it, instead of saying, Oh, I’m sure I’ll catch it later. No, I won’t catch it later because I won’t go and get any farther. Cause it will still be on my mind.

Patricia McLinn [19:01] That’s a really good point that you have to, you kind of have to, it has to clear the hurdle in your mind and then you can keep moving on. So another reader asks, question that is, uh, well, it’s going to be a two parts. First part is from the reader and the, where do your stories come from? And she says, I know one author who dreams her stories. Another has a character suddenly taking up residence in her head. So how are your beautiful stories born?

Emilie Richards [19:30] Well, you know, everyone is different and I think that’s insightful in itself that, that we, we have to realize that we’re not going to do everything the same way every time. Um, and so if you’re, if you’re hope, if you’re waiting to dream it, you may not dream it. If you’re waiting for a character to take over a conversation in your head that may not happen.

You have to really, I think, yeah, you have to be on the lookout for story everywhere. But you know, the old, what if thing is, I don’t know how many times somebody has said something to me and I think, well, that’s interesting, but what if, and then I’m off and running.

Patricia McLinn [20:07] Ummhmm.

Emilie Richards [20:08] And that can be a snack, a little snippet of conversation. It can be an article in the paper, which is a great source. One ads are wonderful.

Patricia McLinn [20:19] Oh, fascinating.

Emilie Richards [20:20] There’s just all these things and you just, you can, um. But that’s how my stories were born and sometimes it’s a character or sometimes it’s an event. Sometimes it’s a setting. And interestingly enough, the last book I wrote called The Swallow’s Nest, which came out this summer, it was really the story of the nesting behavior of swallows. And that sort of just suggested the entire story to me. So you just never know.

Patricia McLinn [20:42] Do you find that a book is easier or harder to write depending on where the story came from initially?

Emilie Richards [20:49] No. I don’t. I think, I think that whatever, the, the initial idea is, and whatever the catalyst for that story was, you, you know, you, your mind takes over and you do so much twisting and turning. And how about this? And no, or maybe they would have done that, no.

So it it’s almost like the idea. In fact, an awful lot of times, the idea itself is, is just, doesn’t even show up in the story. I mean, the catalyst that, the thing that got you thinking to start with doesn’t even end up in the book. I think that that’s important for people to know that you don’t really have to use it, you have to use it to help you, help you move forward in into a story.

Patricia McLinn [21:29] Have you ever used the same catalyst in more than one book?

Emilie Richards [21:33] Ooh, that’s a good question. Have I ever used the same catalyst? Well, in the sense that I’ve done a series, I did a series about quilters. And quilts, uh, set in the Shen, the Shenandoah Valley and the quilt that features in each story really has a lot to do with the story that the way that it’s peace or whatever. And so that I use the same, uh, sort of the same basic catalyst, although each one was a little different.

Quilting, music educator, music therapist

Patricia McLinn [21:58] Is there anything that you’re really good at that some people might not know you’re really good at?

Emilie Richards [22:03] Probably not. I mean, I’m a mediocre—

Patricia McLinn [22:06] I know, I know, quilting.

Emilie Richards [22:08] I’m a mediocre quilter.

Patricia McLinn [22:10] You are fabulous quilter.

Emilie Richards [22:13] Well, I like quilting. I like quilting and I really enjoy the process a lot. I also, I also really like music. I started out, my plan was to become a musician and uh, at one time a music educator, another time a music therapist. I pursued both of those and realized that I didn’t love it enough and you really have to love it a lot.

But I’ve had a lot of fun recently because I had an opportunity to get to know some, some young people who are on their way to the top in the music field. And, um, and so I’ve been able to draw on some of my old experiences and that’s really been fun. So I would say music more than quilting because I wrote about quilting, but I’ve never really written about music.

Patricia McLinn [22:53] Do you think you will, write about music?

Emilie Richards [22:56] Probably not. For the same reasons I didn’t, um, I didn’t pursue it as a career. I probably, I did write actually I did write a book about a, um, a singer songwriter, a popular singer songwriter, and that was fun, but that was a whole different, that’s a whole different genre than I was involved with.

Patricia McLinn [23:12] I was thinking that, um, people have said to me, Oh, why don’t I write about newspaper journalists or, you know, people particularly at the Washington Post. And, uh, especially people would say that, uh, you know, Write a romance set in there. I said, It’s not romantic, it’s work. You know, What are you talking about?

Emilie Richards [23:31] You know, sometimes you know too much, don’t you?

Patricia McLinn [23:33] Yeah.

Emilie Richards [23:34] You know too much to be able to fudge.

Patricia McLinn [23:36] Yeah. That’s really true. So I want to go back to the, to the idea of, uh, the catalyst. How many books, how many titles have you had published?

Emilie Richards [23:48] Oh, uh, I think it’s 75 at this point.

Patricia McLinn [23:51] Oh, wow.

Emilie Richards [23:52] Yeah. Lots and lots. Romances, mysteries, and most recently women’s fiction. And that’s single title women’s fiction.

Patricia McLinn [24:00] Have you found with the different genres or at different stages in your career, have the catalysts been different or harder to come by, or I I’m just wondering if there’s an ebb and flow in, in your career or in the genres you’re working on with how the ideas come?

Emilie Richards [24:19] I don’t think so. I think the ideas are there and you have to decide how you want to slot those ideas and you know, whether, whether this would make a better mystery, whether it would make better women’s fiction, whether it would make a good romance or whatever you’re writing at that moment that you particularly like.

So you you’ll sometimes toss out good ideas, good catalysts cause you know it won’t fit where you are at that moment. But I think honestly, you can take a catalyst and you can turn it and twist it. But yeah, no, I think it just all depends on what’s going on, in terms of what you’re writing and how you, how you want to frame that catalyst and change it.

Patricia McLinn [24:57] Okay, so when you have the idea, you have that catalyst, then how do you go from that initial spark, ahhaha catalyst spark, to a book?

Emilie Richards [25:10] Well, I think you start thinking about the idea and all the possibilities. And for me, that includes writing them down. I have what I call a scenes and revelations file and I imagine scenes using whatever the idea is. And I just put them in there. I imagine things that characters will learn from the process of, uh, the story throughout the story, and I put those in there.

Um, and I, that takes long time to do, we’re not talking about something you do overnight it’s weeks and weeks of that. You know, you’re just, you’ll be washing the dishes and suddenly you’ll say, Oh wait, you know, I can just see her saying this and this happening and you write it, try to write it down.

And then I, so that’s, I get, uh, I get pages of those scenes and those revelations. And then I start kind of putting them in an order like, this would happen first and there would be something that would need to happen between this and this, and oh, maybe it would be this and I’ll add things. So that’s kind of the way I work.

Patricia McLinn [26:07] But you’re doing, you’re doing that during the writing process or during—

Emilie Richards [26:11] No,that’s before, that’s before—

Patricia McLinn [26:12] Right. Okay.

Emilie Richards [26:14] That’s before I start. Yeah. And yeah, because by the time I know this is very different from the way you work, but by the time I sit down to work on the actual story, chapter one, scene one, I have already got pages and pages of ideas that I have taken and put into, and put into order. And then I write them into a synopsis. Uh, which isn’t even it, which is a requirement if you’re working for a traditional publishing company, but I would do it anyway because I like, I’m one of those very few authors that love to write a synopsis.

And I like telling the story and then finding the holes at this point, uh, and putting it all together and then I’m more or less divided into chapters either in my head or on paper. And then I start writing. I don’t start writing until I have everything organized. That doesn’t mean I don’t make changes. It doesn’t mean that my characters don’t make changes.

But when I sit down to write, I feel very secure that I have something to do that day. Uh, and that I’m going, I’m going towards an ending that I like that I’m moving and that there’ll be things happening in the middle of that are important. So for me, that’s really important, but I do all that work upfront.

Patricia McLinn [27:24] Have you had this process from the beginning or is this something that’s developed over writing 75 titles?

Emilie Richards [27:31] I think the scenes and revelations, I was doing an informal version of that for years, I think, but I institutionalized that probably 15 or 20 years ago. And started doing it that way. So I think I’ve always written this way.

I think I’ve written this way that maybe it hasn’t been as sort of scheduled and figured out, but I’ve always written, I’ve always been organized. I’ve always wanted to know where I was going. I, I really think if I just sat down and started to write I’d still be working on my first book and it would be nine million pages long.

Patricia McLinn [28:03] But what a great read it would be.

Emilie Richards [28:08] I don’t think so.

Patricia McLinn [28:11] Well, working with this sort of process, do you have an unfinished projects or things that you, you put aside that just didn’t quite gel for you?

Emilie Richards [28:21] I’ve had unfinished, let’s say I’ve had ideas. I’ve had the, a new book, I’ve had the last book of series two different series that I have, I had, I knew there had to be one more book. And my publisher didn’t agree. So I have those—

Patricia McLinn [28:35] Ohhh.

Emilie Richards [28:36] Yeah. I know. Those two books are, uh, you know, up in the air. There was another book it’s actually part of one that I just edit, part of the series I just edited in one of my really old romance series, because, uh, the, the person who was the hero in that book, had it had had a drug bust in his past. And they said, I couldn’t write about somebody with a drug bust in my past, in his past.

So there’ve been, you know, and that was very well thought out and had a synopsis for that, and they just couldn’t, they couldn’t see their way around that. So every once in a while, I’ve, I’ve been stymied by publishers, uh, which is fine. I appreciate that they have their own, um, their own rules and their own, um, thoughts about how these things should go.

Um, I’m delighted that we now have independent publishing so that if we don’t agree, we can do things on our own. And I’m delighted so that some of the ideas I’ve had in the past we’ll we’ll show up now.

Patricia McLinn [29:30] Oh, great.

Emilie Richards [29:32] Yeah. And I’m working one of those now, so that’s really fun.

Patricia McLinn [29:35] That sort of leads to another question from a reader who asked if we miss characters when we finish a book, and think about them?

Emilie Richards [29:45] And do we miss characters?

Patricia McLinn [29:47] Yeah.

Emilie Richards [29:48] Every once in a while. And it’s funny, the last book I wrote, I did not miss those characters, even though I liked the book. But the one before that, I really, really miss those characters, one in particular. And I just really wanted her in my life again, and I was so sorry that she wasn’t going to be there. Um, it took me a while to get over that, that is a strange event, but it does happen.

Patricia McLinn [30:10] Do you think you might ever come back and write another book that would allow her to come, come back into your life?

Emilie Richards [30:16] No.

Patricia McLinn [30:17] No?

Emilie Richards [30:18] I really felt like I told that story and I, and there really isn’t another story to tell. So I had to say goodbye to her, but you know, that’s okay.

Patricia McLinn [30:25] You’re tougher than I am. I’d find a way to sneak her in. Okay, this is a sort of out of the blue question, but I’m curious about the answer. What’s the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Emilie Richards [30:39] The best money I ever spent as a writer was the first time I went to the Romantic Times conference. It was in New York City. I had just sold my first book, and I was going to meet my editor and my agent in New York. And I was so, I was so scared, oh my gosh, you know, I had, this was a dream I had of selling book. Now not only had I sold it, I was going to go and be with other authors and meet these professionals who were in charge of my life, my professional life.

But it was, it was a great, it, it really made a difference. I found that meeting people face to face and having conversations with them really increased my flow, both with my agent and my editor, and was just probably the best money I’ve ever spent. And I found it in years to come, going to conferences remained the most important thing I could spend money on.

Patricia McLinn [31:35] And is that for meeting the industry professionals?

Emilie Richards [31:39] Not anymore. It was for many, many years, now it’s more for getting information about the changing publishing, uh, market and the whole publishing world. And you can get that best in person from your fellow writers and from other professionals who speak at conferences. Um, I don’t really need to meet with my editor and my agent so much as I need to learn, you know, what I should be doing to enhance my career.

Counseling, mother of four, New Orleans, writing

Patricia McLinn [32:05] I want to go back because I’m not sure I know the answer to this. And now, you, you said you wanted to be in music or possibly music therapy. How did you get from there to starting to write?

Emilie Richards [32:15] I did get a master’s degree. I finished my, my undergraduate in American studies, and then I got a master’s degree in marriage and family development, which included mostly counseling classes. So before I even graduated, I got a job working as a therapist or a mental health worker in a, in a mental health center. And I did that for a couple of years. And then I, I did a couple of other social service positions.

We tended to move around. At the last move, uh, and we usually, I usually had a baby when we moved so that I wouldn’t be in a situation where I really couldn’t go out and look for work until the baby was older and this was the fourth move like that. And I decided that I really needed something I could do at home just for me, because I was, I had four children.

Emilie Richards [32:58] My husband was a minister and he was away a lot. We weren’t living near the church, so we didn’t have much of a community. And I know I needed something to do. So I started writing, actually my, oddly enough, Michael came home from doing a funeral and said, he’d met this woman who was making her living writing fantasy games scenario. Now how I jumped from fantasy game scenarios to writing romances is a long story. But, uh, I, it was like, it was the proverbial light bulb going on over my head and I said, This is what I want to do. I want to write.

Uh, and since I had no idea how to do it, I went to the library and got every book they had on writing. This was in New Orleans and there was a nice shelf full, and I read them all. And I just started writing. I wrote a children’s story, which was published. I wrote a confession, which wasn’t published. I just tried a lot of different things. And then the romance market was just beginning to really blossom about then. And I discovered that and decided that was a great place to try my hand. And I never looked back.

Patricia McLinn [33:59] A lot of your romances had, have a lot of depth to them, but did you find that going from the romance to the single title, how, how was that as an adjustment? How did that affect your writing?

Emilie Richards [34:15] That’s a great question.

Patricia McLinn [34:17] Or call on different writing from you?

Emilie Richards [34:19] It really didn’t. Because back in the day, when I started writing romances, we had whole lot of latitude in terms of subject and the way that we explore things. So I was really writing women’s fiction within the romance genre, I think. And of course it had more love scenes and more romance. Um, the relationship between the man and the woman was paramount, but I always had a lot of other things going on too.

And eventually I got to the point where the other things were taking over and I needed to move out of that. But it just felt like it was a training ground for a single title too. I mean, I, I didn’t feel like it was a hugely different thing. Although the first single title I wrote was a, really more of a his, sort of a historical family saga about civil rights and, um, in Louisiana. And so that was—

Patricia McLinn [35:07] Tell us the titles. Share the title with us.

Emilie Richards [35:10] I, that was Iron Lace and Rising Tides. It was, we broke it into two books because it was about a thousand page manuscript. So when I went into single title, I did it with a vengeance—

Patricia McLinn [35:21] Yes.

Emilie Richards [35:22] —thinking it was going to be incredibly different from what I’d been writing. But what I learned was it really wasn’t, all the same rules applied, it was just longer. And I could explore other facets of women’s lives other than the romance. And I love that, but I felt like I had great training in that romance genre.

Patricia McLinn [35:38] It’s, as not the writer, as a step back from that, looking at your books, I think there’s a lot about the relationships among women. Are you conscious of that? Would you agree? Not agree?

Emilie Richards [35:48] Absolutely agree. I mean the Shenandoah Album novels, which are about quilters in the Shenandoah Valley, it’s their relationships. Also their relationships with men and their individual lives.

But then I wrote a series of four books, which should have been five. And for the guy, about a group of women in Asheville, North Carolina, who specifically banned together to help other women. It’s called the Goddesses Anonymous series. And so that really is about their relationships and the way that women relate to other women.

Patricia McLinn [36:15] Yeah. The, the, the network of the women is the, the web that brings the books together. And then the women have these individual lives, of course.

Emilie Richards [36:24] Right.

Patricia McLinn [36:25] That often include men.

Emilie Richards [36:27] They often almost always do. And, but there’s always some sort of social issue too. Although I don’t, I don’t ever set out to say, I’m going to write about homelessness, so let me come up with a story. I never do that. That just sort of evolves in a, in my books. I come up with the relationship and the things I want to explore with that before I get into all the other facets.

Patricia McLinn [36:48] Do you do a lot of research?

Emilie Richards [36:50] Oh I do tons of research.

Patricia McLinn [36:52] Do you like it or dread it?

Emilie Richards [36:54] I love research. I really, really love it. I don’t love it when I can’t find the answers. And that’s rare, but sometimes it just the most frustrating thing in the world. And that happened to me recently. Can I tell you that one real quick?

Patricia McLinn [37:09] Oh, I’d love to hear that. Yeah.

Emilie Richards [37:10] The Swallow’s Nest takes place, this is the book that came out last June, uh, takes place in San Jose. And I went out to San Jose twice and researched. And I, it has, uh, a whole legal issue in the background of the story. It’s a child custody novel, and I had all this stuff online about child custody.

And I’d realized after, oh, weeks of working on this, that I really didn’t know what I was doing. Even though I had all the statutes, I had all the, had so many, uh, resources. It just wasn’t making sense to me. And I was literally pounding my head on the computer screen. I finally decided I had to talk to a lawyer, a lawyer, a family law attorney in that area. And I started contacting people and they just ignored me. Nobody even answered my emails.

Emilie Richards [37:56] And I started I’m thinking, I’m going to have to hire somebody, you know, have to pay their, their three hundred dollars an hour or whatever, to talk to them about this. And I, and I sent one more email out and this lawyer got back to me and said, I would love to talk to you. This really sounds like fun. And it turns out she wants to be a writer too. She wants to do some writing. So she, I called her and we were on the phone, we were on the phone for two hours, it was just, it was magnificent. She was the nicest person ever to take that much time with me and to straighten me out, it made all the difference.

But until I was able to have that conversation with her and get my, my questions answered. I was so frustrated and that does happen sometimes. Mostly you can get answers, but sometimes you have to really go to the mat to find them.

Patricia McLinn [38:45] But finding a source like that always makes me feel like that scene in Rocky at the top of the steps. Like, Yes—

Emilie Richards [38:53] You do a lot of—

Patricia McLinn [38:54] —you feel like punching the air.

Emilie Richards [38:55] —research for your books too, so you must’ve had a similar kinds of experiences.

Patricia McLinn [38:59] Yes, I love it. And I love, I do a lot of the initial research online, but then I find talking to people is, gives it a depth and aspects that you’d never think of. So I love doing that.

Emilie Richards [39:13] And the little anecdotes come out of that. You may not use that exact anecdote, but it certainly inspires things that you can use.

Patricia McLinn [39:21] Yeah, that’s wonderful. Was the rest of the writing process with the book, where would it put that book in your joy, a joy to write continuum?

Emilie Richards [39:32] It was way down at the bottom. Because of that, you know, and here’s the thing I have discovered and I think you probably have to, is how much pain you go through with an individual book has nothing to do with how good it is.

Patricia McLinn [39:47] Yes.

Emilie Richards [39:48] Uh, so you’ve suffered and you really sort of hate the book by the time you’re done. It’s not going to show the, the, again, readers are not going to see that they’re going to see the book that you carefully crafted. And even when you were tearing out your hair, you were still doing what you needed to as a professional to write a good story.

And then the books that sort of write themselves and you think, Oh, this one’s going to be a hit, people like it, but no better than the one that you tore your hair out over. So, you know, you don’t know, you just keep working.

Patricia McLinn [40:16] So which of your books would you say was the highest on the joy to write continuum?

Emilie Richards [40:22] Oh, I would say, uh, recently would have been When We Were Sisters. And first, and I think part of the reason is that I wrote it in first person and, um, from three different points of view, And which is why I loved writing my, I wrote a five book mystery series. The Ministry is Murder mysteries, and they were all in first person. And I absolutely loved writing in first person.

Patricia McLinn [40:43] A lot of fun.

Emilie Richards [40:44] They were, and I wanted badly to write The Swallow’s Nest in first person, but I couldn’t, I tried, it didn’t work. I knew it wasn’t working. And so I had to go back to third person, the new book I’m about to write called The Perfect Daughter, which, uh, is another Mira, that’s my, my publisher is, is going to be in first person. Uh, and that I’m really looking forward to writing this book. And I think that’s been part of the reason why.

Patricia McLinn [41:07] Why do you find in first person that—?

Emilie Richards [41:09] Well, I think it’s that you can really, you’re really so deeply into the character’s head that they really begin talking through you. You know, they don’t really, we know that, but that’s how it feels. And, um, and it, it just, it puts you in a different zone. For me, it just puts me in a new zone and all kinds of things come out that I never knew that I had thought or experienced and they just show up. And it’s just, it’s just, it’s sort of regulatory. I, I just really enjoy it.

Patricia McLinn [41:38] When you were writing the book with the three first person sections in it, did you have any tricks or, or things that you did to help you shift from one to the other? It would, it would feel sort of like playing multiple roles in a play.

Emilie Richards [41:54] You know, that’s a, that’s good to ask. And I’m not, I’m not sure that I did. I might have needed to more, but I just sort of, it was just clear to me that it was time for this new person to speak and I would just sort of jump into their head, and there I would be. I do think that when you do that, you have to be careful that you’re making it clear to the, to the reader that someone else is speaking now, they’re in someone else’s head. There’s ways to do that.

Patricia McLinn [42:22] So this is a little change. I’m curious about this. What is your relationship with reviews?

Emilie Richards [42:28] You know, I have been really lucky with reviews and I do think it’s a lot of it’s luck. Reviewers tend to like me. I think reviewers sometimes like me better than readers do. And I just, reviewers and editors like my work. And so I have had mostly good reviews and that’s been, that’s been great. When I get really bad reviews, there’s, there’s sort of two categories of bad reviews.

There’s the really wretched, crotchety person who wouldn’t like it, no matter who had written it. And then there’s people who are very insightful and they see things that I didn’t in the book, you know, problems. And they can be really helpful if you can divorce yourself from that, you know, from feeling aghast that somebody didn’t love everything you did. You can learn some things about your writing. There are helpful. So I would say that my re my relationship with reviews is really pretty good.

Patricia McLinn [43:22] Now, you said you thought maybe reviewers liked your books more than readers, but I’ve been at events with you and you have incredibly loyal and delighted readers and delightful readers. Do you have any stories about interacting with your readers?

Emilie Richards [43:38] You know what I really liked the most when, when I, is when I get emails or where people will tell me at events that something I wrote has changed their life in some way. And I think we’ve all had this. I don’t, I, I don’t think it’s in any way me, I think it’s something that happens when readers put themselves into a story and something that is happening with the characters rings a bell for them. And they suddenly realize that, Wow, this is, this is relevant to my life, and I have been thinking about my life in the wrong way, just like this character has.

Um, and so I just, those moments are so wonderful because I, I sometimes feel like, you know, I write because I love it so much and I should be doing more for other people, but I’m doing all this for myself. So when I get in a situation where somebody says your book changed my life, And they give me specific, um, examples, it just, it’s just wonderful.

I think, Oh, maybe I haven’t been wasting their time. I just, I’m just, you know, for all the frolicking around at the computer that this really has meaning for people and that, that’s really special.

Patricia McLinn [44:50] That is terrific. And, and the idea that it can go on, you know, that you’ve written the book it’s been out now, but it could be read 20 years from now—

Emilie Richards [45:01] Yeah.

Patricia McLinn [45:02] —and have an effect on people. So that’s—

Emilie Richards [45:03] That’s an odd thought, but yes.

Patricia McLinn [45:06] Yeah. With a women’s fiction, in particular, what would you say is the biggest thing that people think they know about the genre that they’re wrong about?

Emilie Richards [45:16] Boy, that’s a good question. I am not sure I have an answer to that. I think people, well, you know, Pat, I don’t know, it just sort of, there’s all kinds of women’s fiction. There’s chick lit and people who like chick lit believe that, you know, people who are looking at it from the outside, think it’s all froth and silly and it has nothing to say to people and, and they may feel that way about the more serious kinds of women’s fiction too. Um, I think it’s, I think women’s fiction is more a commercial women’s fiction.

Is probably more transformative than people like to think it is. It’s not just an, it’s just not a breezy read. It can be, but it can also be nitty-gritty and really help people deal with things that are going on in their lives. And I think that’s probably something people don’t think about when they hear the word, the words women’s fiction.

Patricia McLinn [46:09] That’s a really good point. Yeah. But I don’t think of it as necessarily frothy at all.

Emilie Richards [46:14] But you’re in, you’re in the business.

Patricia McLinn [46:16] Well, that’s true.

Emilie Richards [46:17] Yeah. Yeah.

Patricia McLinn [46:18] Good point.

Emilie Richards [46:19] Yeah.

Patricia McLinn [46:20] Okay. Let’s hear from another reader who says, um, When the cover image doesn’t match the character description and the reader acknowledges that that’s a pet peeve of hers, how does it feel for the author?

Emilie Richards [46:34] Oh, it’s just ghastly. It really is. Um, although I have to say that these days I rarely get people on my covers. Now the last two covers for my, um, women’s fiction have had, um, women on them, but I’ve been given the joy of helping pick out the models cause they’ve done cover sheets. So they do look like my characters. I’ve made sure that.

Um, but boy, in the old days, when I, when you would just, they would just plop a cover in front of you and say, this is your cover. And you’d look at it and you go like, This person is nothing like my person.

Patricia McLinn [47:11] Yeah.

Emilie Richards [47:12] That was depressing. Especially with men, it was worse with men. When, when you’d have a really sexy, gorgeous guy that you’ve been writing about and the slob shows up on your cover. And I haven’t, I swear I had a guy that looked like Johnny Cash, but not young, you know? And I was like, Okay. Really? And there was nothing we could do about it.

Patricia McLinn [47:35] Nope. I had a, um, a rodeo cowboy and, uh, he was a bull rider, who tend to be wirey, and this guy on the cover is like a Sumo wrestler.

Emilie Richards [47:47] Oh, wow.

Patricia McLinn [47:48] I was like, What? What? The bull would just give up when he sat on it.

Emilie Richards [47:55] But you know, it’s almost like you’re breaking the trust of the reader when you’ve been telling the reader that this guy was gorgeous and he looked like this and he did these things. And then you’d see the guy on the cover and you think, She must be a total doofus to fall for that guy. That’s not really what you want your readers to think.

Patricia McLinn [48:15] No, that, that is not the optimal impression. And that I, now that I’m bringing my books out myself, almost all of mine have objects or flowers or something, landscapes on the cover.

Emilie Richards [48:31] I applaud that.

Patricia McLinn [48:32] That’s mostly because I just don’t want to be so frustrated trying to find people who are not quite right. So I have low tolerance for frustration, and this might actually be somewhat of a segue to the next question from a reader. So if you could write a book with any author alive or dead, who would you want to work with and why?

Emilie Richards [48:53] Oh, well, I’d like to work with JK Rowling.

Patricia McLinn [48:56] Ohh.

Emilie Richards [48:58] Wouldn’t that be fun? What an incredible vivid imagination, um, ability to see the world in a different dimension. And also just apparently a very astute caring, alert kind of person. I just, I just think that would be fabulous. I’d love that. I’m a big Harry Potter fan anyway, so that would be super. I’d love that.

Patricia McLinn [49:20] You may have already answered it, but let’s see if we can get more. What do you read for fun?

Emilie Richards [49:24] Oh, boy, I read everything. Um, and this year for fun, and this has, maybe not everybody’s idea of fun, but I’ve been reading books for the Better World Bookstore reading challenge for 2017. They put out, they put out a list, I think there’s, I’m looking at it right now, maybe, maybe 15 or 20 books on this list.

Things like read a food memoir, read a book you picked based on the cover. Read a book based on a fairytale. I’m reading one on, based on Hansel and Gretel right now to finish this list. I want to finish it by the end of the year. And that’s great because it’s got me reading a really wide variety of genres. I’ve read, um, everything from the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to Riders of the Purple Sage.

Patricia McLinn [50:10] Wow.

Emilie Richards [50:11] So I do really read all over the map.

Patricia McLinn [50:14] So you find that fun even when it is a book like Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

Emilie Richards [50:19] I picked that because I felt I really needed to read it, and it fit perfectly in the category. Uh, it was a national book award winner. We needed to read one. Um, you know, nobody’s looking at them, nobody’s ever going to see my, my answers here. This is just for me and gave me a chance to read across a wide variety of genres and to pick out some books that I wanted to read, but didn’t have a good excuse to read before, like The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

It’s been really fun. I’ve really enjoyed it. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it so much. I’m going to, I’m going to start my own reading challenge in 2018 with my readers, and I think that’s going to be neat.

Patricia McLinn [50:54] Oh, that should be very interesting.

Emilie Richards [50:56] We’ve been putting together a list of, of, of, uh, because it’s 2018, we put together a list of 18 different categories that people can, you know, they can choose books for. And, um, not that they have to read them all or they ever have to do this at all, but we just thought, and we meaning a group, a group of my readers thought that it would really be fun to do so we’re going to try it.

Patricia McLinn [51:18] So they’re contributing some of the categories?

Emilie Richards [51:20] Yeah, absolutely.

Patricia McLinn [51:22] Oh, cool.

Emilie Richards [51:23] I gave him my ideas and they, and they suggested, made suggestions on those. And then it came up with some new ones. So it’s been, it’s been kind of a back and forth. It’s been fun.

Patricia McLinn [51:30] That sounds terrific. Um, uh, I love that idea. Somebody who has never read any of your books, where is the best place or a couple best places for them to start to be introduced to you as a writer?

Emilie Richards [51:43] I think you should probably start with my most recent books and move backwards. Um, but if they have a specific and that would be The Swallow’s Nest and When We Were Sisters. Um, but books before that, there were four books that were all part of the Goddesses Anonymous series. Um, and if people like connected books, that’s a good series.

Uh, then there were the Shenandoah Album series, and then there were some books, two books that were connected that were set in Cleveland. So, or if they liked mysteries, there’s the whole mysteries, um, too. So—

Patricia McLinn [52:13] Those are fun.

Emilie Richards [52:15] Yeah, those are fun, they’re a little different. And they were very, I did those just for the joy of it and they, they really were joyful to write.

Patricia McLinn [52:23] Yeah. How about with your, your loyal readers, are there books that you think they might have overlooked that they, know just haven’t gotten to as much?

Emilie Richards [52:33] I bet we’ve all had this experience. I wrote two books a long time ago for Avon. Once More with Feeling and Twice Upon a Time. And the idea was that two women are in, both in a car crash. And when the one woman wakes up, she’s in the other woman’s body. And to me, this was such a great starting place for a story and all the things that could happen if you wake. And I used to, as a kid, imagine what it would be like if I close my eyes and when I opened them again, I was, I was someone else. What would that feel like?

Um, and so I really loved those books. I still do. There, um, I put them there, I put them up as eBooks and I don’t think they ever got the play they should’ve gotten. And I wish, I wish more people read and appreciated them. But, you know, we don’t know because it’s our books. We don’t know if they’re. You know, if that’s something that’s really going to appeal to readers, even if it appeals to us.

Patricia McLinn [53:28] I’m going to nominate one here. Whiskey Island. I always loved that book.

Emilie Richards [53:35] I don’t think that was ever a book that, when I go back to Cleveland, that’s the book everybody talks about because it’s set in Cleveland and it’s a historical saga. I loved that and the next book in the series called The Parting Glass. And Hey, I think, I think I got the idea for that title when I was at your house, didn’t I?

Patricia McLinn [53:54] From the, yes, playing that song.

Emilie Richards [53:57] Yeah. Yeah, The Partying Glass. I went, Oh my gosh, there it is, there’s the sequel.

Patricia McLinn [54:01] Yep. It’s such a, it’s such a wonderful song too, but those are great books. And I don’t hear as much about them, I think, as your more, more recent single titles, so maybe that’s why. I haven’t been to Cleveland, so likewise.

Emilie Richards [54:14] You know, they’re old now they’re older so that you don’t really hear much. And they’re not, they’re not out anymore. They’re, they’re only, they’re not only eBooks, but they are just eBooks at this point. So they’re not, they’re not in print.

Patricia McLinn [54:26] But if people read eBooks, they should grab them.

Emilie Richards [54:30] I thank you. I hope they do.

Patricia McLinn [54:32] So I hope they do tell readers where they can find out more about you and your books.

Emilie Richards [54:35] Okay. Well I have a website and it’s easy. It’s my name, emilierichards.com. And then I’m on Facebook with a, it’s called the Emilie Richards Reader Page. And I also have a reader’s group called Read Along with Emilie Richards on Facebook, which is fun cause we just talk books and there’s nothing else going on except talking books. And I’m on the usual places, Twitter, Instagram, all those things.

So I’m easy. And then, uh, I blog twice a week and, uh, I offer giveaways on my blog and I have what we call the Sunday Inspiration blog, which I do with my husband. And it’s usually just something inspirational for people to think about for the week. And that’s really, that’s really been a well followed by people. They enjoy that.

Patricia McLinn [55:20] Well, and I will say, we will have all the URLs on the show notes, but in case you’re listening and not going to look at the URLs, be aware that Emilie is spelled with an IE at the end of Emilie.

Emilie Richards [55:33] Yes. Thank you, Pat.

Patricia McLinn [55:35] Um, define that. Journalist, the journalist coming out, and thinks and thinks there’s 48 ways to spell Daryl.

Emilie Richards [55:44] And who knew, right?

Patricia McLinn [55:46] Yes. So you’ve talked a little bit about, um, your most recent book and when is the, when is the next Mira coming out? What was it, the other daughter, no.

Emilie Richards [55:56] The Perfect Daughter.

Patricia McLinn [55:58] The Perfect Daughter.

Emilie Richards [56:00] And, I’m on longer space between deadlines. I asked for that, and so I can do some independent things too. And, um, so I don’t think we have, I don’t think we have a date. I don’t think it will be, I know it won’t be out in 2018 cause it’s not due till the end of the year. So it will be out sometime in 2019, probably in the summer.

Patricia McLinn [56:18] Okay. To, to make that clear, though, there may be some other releases that you’re doing independently, um—

Emilie Richards [56:25] Yes.

Patricia McLinn [56:26] —during 2018. Oh, good.

Emilie Richards [56:28] I’m putting up some of my backlist. And I’m also doing a Shenandoah Album anthology of novellas about the characters in the Shenandoah Album series.

Patricia McLinn [56:37] Oh, that’s terrific, yes.

Emilie Richards [56:39] I’m hoping to have that out around Mother’s Day. That’s my plan.

Patricia McLinn [56:42] And I will give you my very, very favorite journalist’s question. Is there something I should have asked you that I haven’t or something that I didn’t ask that you’d like to answer?

Emilie Richards [56:52] Wow. I think you plumbed all the depths there. You did a great job. It was really fun.

Patricia McLinn [56:56] Well, we still have more fun here because this is my very favorite part. These are rapid-fire either or questions. You have to pick one or the other. And, um, let’s see, cake or ice cream?

Emilie Richards [57:09] Oh, cake.

Patricia McLinn [57:10] Day or night?

Emilie Richards [57:12] Day.

Patricia McLinn [57:13] Cowboy boots or hiking boots?

Emilie Richards [57:15] Hiking boots.

Patricia McLinn [57:16] Toenail polish or bare toenails?

Emilie Richards [57:18] Toenail Polish.

Patricia McLinn [57:20]Dog or cat?

Emilie Richards [57:21] Dog.

Patricia McLinn [57:22] Tea or coffee?

Emilie Richards [57:24] Coffee.

Patricia McLinn [57:25] Cruise or backpacking?

Emilie Richards [57:27] Cruise.

Patricia McLinn [57:28] Mountains or beach?

Emilie Richards [57:29] Beach.

Patricia McLinn [57:30] Sailboat or motorboat?

Emilie Richards [57:32] A kayak.

Patricia McLinn [57:36] Yeah. I thought you were going to make it all the way through. Gardening or house decorating?

Emilie Richards [57:42] Gardening.

Patricia McLinn [57:44] Paint or wallpaper?

Emilie Richards [57:45] Paint.

Patricia McLinn [57:46] Best china or paper plates?

Emilie Richards [57:49] Paper plates.

Patricia McLinn [57:50] Mustard or ketchup?

Emilie Richards [57:52] Mustard.

Patricia McLinn [57:54] Uh, and this is the last one. Save the best for last or grab the best first?

Emilie Richards [58:00] Save the best for last.

Patricia McLinn [58:02] But there was a hesitation there.

Emilie Richards [58:04] Yeah. It’s situational.

Patricia McLinn [58:09] Well, that was great. Thank you so much for taking this time and joining us on Authors Love Readers, Emilie. Uh, it was a delight, and I hope all the listeners will come and join us next week when we talk to another author, have a great week of reading.

That’s the show for this week. Hope you enjoyed it. And thank you for joining Authors Love Readers podcast. Remember, you can always find out more about our guest authors in the show notes, and you can find out more about me at www.patriciamclinn.com. You can also send in questions to be asked of future authors at podcastatauthorslovereaders.com.

Until next week. Wishing you lots of happy reading. Bye.

authors love readers emilie richards

Episode 10: Stories Are Everywhere, with Chris Taylor

Australian author Chris Taylor and host Patricia McLinn dish about Chris’ writing romantic suspense novels set in Australia for North American audiences. Chris talks about her “hot and steamy” novels, making sure that her language and plot lines work for North Americans, and about being a full-time author, former lawyer and mother of five.

You can find Chris on:

*her website,

*Facebook and

*iBooks.

Thanks to DialogMusik for the instrumentals that accompany this podcast.

authors love readers chris taylor

authors love readers patreon

Authors Love Readers with Chris Taylor

Patricia McLinn [00:00] Hi, welcome to this week’s Authors Love Readers podcast, where we delve into the stories behind the stories. We’re asking authors questions. Some of them fun, some of them serious, and from their answers, you’re going to learn things you never knew about the people who write the stories you love. My name is Patricia McLinn. I’m your host and designated question asker.

Chris Taylor [00:23] I’m Chris Taylor, and I’m an author who loves readers.

Patricia McLinn [00:27] Now let’s start the show. Hi, welcome to Authors Love Readers podcast. This week, we have Chris Taylor joining us from, as you will soon hear, Australia. Chris and I met two years ago, I think, so you’re, you’re a pretty recent one at the Novelis Inc. conference.

And we just hit it off and saw each other again this year, because this brave soul traveled all the way from Australia to come to the Novelis Inc. conference and join up with all the other writers, uh, writing in popular fiction. Chris, tell us a little bit about what you write.

Chris Taylor [01:05] Hi, Pat. It’s so lovely to be here all the way back in Australia and we are baking in the heat down here. I know you guys have probably all rugged up for winter, but I tell you what—

Patricia McLinn [01:15] Yes.

Chris Taylor [00:] —I am sitting in the air conditioning.

Patricia McLinn [01:20] I have an Afghan over my lap because I’m chilly.

Chris Taylor [01:26] And I have sweat dripping down. No, just kidding. But it is so hot.

Patricia McLinn [01:29] So Chris, tell us a little bit about what you write.

Chris Taylor [01:32] So I write romantic suspense, but it’s set in Australia. So, um, very early on in my writing career, I was told to write about what I know. And even though I had written, I had read a lot of, um, American stories and loved American stories, um, I, I knew about Australia. I live here. And so I based all of my stories in Australia.

Patricia McLinn [01:56] Do you think there’s any difference between US written and Aus— or set, um, romantic suspense and Australian set romantic suspense?

Chris Taylor [02:08] I’m not sure that there’s any difference in the story as such or even really the setting. Uh, it’s more just the, the language. And even though I, I try hard to make it, um, you know, North American friendly, and I have a North American editor who makes sure the phrases that I use are something that you guys can actually understand.

Uh, every now and then I will get it a note in the margin back from her. And, and it’ll be something that, you know, we say all the time and she’ll say, I know that, I get this from the context, but I have never heard this before. And you know, after 25 books, I still get that occasionally. So that’s always funny because I try really hard to make sure that you guys can understand it.

Patricia McLinn [02:48] Is there a phrase you’re particularly aware of that North Americans don’t get that you use a lot?

Chris Taylor [02:55] Oh, man, I should’ve come up with one off the top of my head. Um, there are always some things, you know, and it’s, it’s really common sort of things down here. I mean, apart from the language differences, like boot, a boot for us is your trunk and, uh, you know, we, we use a torch as in something like you call a flashlight and, um, you know, that the sidewalk is our footpath and, you know, just words like that.

But, but there are definitely, um, sayings and I’ll, I’ll um, I’ll think of one when we finish I’m sure. But my editor will say, this is an Australianism. She calls, she calls it an Australianism. I, you know, I get it from the context, but I’ve never heard this before.

Patricia McLinn [03:36] I’ve heard, um, that Australians tend to shorten a lot of things. Do you see a lot of words or phrases?

Chris Taylor [03:45] Yes, we definitely shorten names. Like we’d never call anyone by their real name. You know, if it’s Michael it’s Mick. If it’s, yeah, no, it’s true. And we didn’t realize it was an Australian thing until, you know, you kind of start traveling and, and meeting other people. And, but we always shorten people’s names. I don’t know why.

Patricia McLinn [04:03] Before we started the recording, we were talking about that Chris never goes by Christine and I, um, sometimes go by Patricia for writing, but I always wonder why I use that because it makes me feel like I’m in trouble. And, uh, but you couldn’t get much shorter than Chris and I couldn’t get much shorter than Pat. So…

Chris Taylor [04:25] I totally relate though, Pat, you know. All my, all my childhood if I was in trouble, my mother would be going, Christine, you know, and that, that’s the only time I got called my full name. I don’t know what it is. It’s a, it’s a parent thing, I think. But, um, no, definitely, well Chris, I chose Chris deliberately, um, because it was, um, you know, an androgynous name really.

And I, I had read somewhere that male readers will pick up a book by an unknown author. They’ll pick up a male author. If it’s the author is unknown to them before they’ll pick up an unknown female author. So I thought, well, this gives me a bit each way, and them in the male market. And, uh, and it has absolutely worked. I’ve, I’ve got quite a lot of male readers and, and often they write to me and say, Dear Mr. Taylor, and then they will tell me how they’ve never read a romance book, but they picked up one of mine because my covers are certainly not, they don’t, you know, I write romantic suspense and it’s probably 50/50.

So my covers, certainly I’ve got no bare chests or anything like that, you know, they, they’re more a thriller cover than a romance cover, so they pick them up and then there’s, I’ve never read romance and now I’ve read the whole series. And it’s funny that they assume I’m a man. Even though I, you know, I mean, I go by Chris, but in the back of the book, you know, I, I certainly, um, you know, confess that I’m a, I’m a wife and mother and et cetera, et cetera.

Patricia McLinn [05:39] Let’s let the readers get to know you a little bit better with some fun questions here. I think they’re fun, you may not. Do you have any surprising jobs that you’ve held?

Chipping cotton and giant spiders

Chris Taylor [05:53] Oh, I had the usual jobs as a, as a teenager, waitressing and I worked at KFC for a while and that sort of thing, but one thing you guys might not do over there, I’m not sure, but, um, it’s cotton chipping. So what that is, I live in a cotton growing area. It’s one of the main crops grown here.

And as kids, well, you know, teens into our college years and whatever, you would go cotton chipping in the summer, which is actually hoeing out weeds on the, in the cotton. So you’ve got a hoe and you’d walk up and down the rows for eight hours in the heat and you chip out weeds. But it was good money. And I met my husband that way when I was 15. So, you know, I have a fondness for cotton chipping.

Patricia McLinn [06:36] That’s a great expression. I had never heard that.

Chris Taylor [06:38] Yes. Well, we used to get backpackers a lot, obviously as backpackers and sometimes they would chip out the cotton because that’s what it was called, cotton chipping. So they would be going around, chipping out all the cotton instead of the weeds.

Patricia McLinn [06:50] Do you have any strong fears and do any of them have to do with cotton? And do you use them in books?

Chris Taylor [06:57] No, nothing to do at cotton, but, oh my goodness, yes. I, I am terrified of spiders. Probably not to the part of it, to the extent of a phobia. But although when I was younger, I certainly probably did have a phobia. And only just the big black ones. Like not daddy long legs, not every spider, but anything that looks fearsome. And yes, I have used a gigantic man-eating spider in one of my books.

Patricia McLinn [07:22] Which book can you tell us the title?

Chris Taylor [07:26] It hasn’t got a title as yet. It’s, it’s one of my most recent books. Um, and yes, my protagonist gets hunted by this enormous spider. And it gives me shivers just to write it.

Patricia McLinn [07:41] I guess, if you can scare yourself, it’s a good sign. Right?

Chris Taylor [07:45] Yes, that’s what I figured.

Patricia McLinn [07:47] Okay. So what’s your favorite taste?

Chris Taylor [07:49] Okay, so I am a sweet person, you know, you’re either sweet or savory. I will skip the, uh, the main meal every time and go straight to dessert. So, um, I love salted caramel anything, but salted caramel ice cream is my absolute favorite.

Patricia McLinn [08:04] Ohh, good choice. Favorite color. And why? Do you have associations with it?

Chris Taylor [08:09] Okay, so it used to be green when I was younger and I’m not really sure why, but I just did love that deep forest green color. But as an adult, it’s become red. And I wear a lot of red and I know it that’s a bit corny because I write romance and stuff like that, but I just, I love, you know, beautiful, deep, red color.

And it does remind me of love and romance and passion and all that kind of stuff. And in fact, my, my bedroom has these deep red curtains and I’ve got a beautiful red throw on the bottom of the bed and you know, that kind of stuff.

Patricia McLinn [08:42] See, now that I’m writing mysteries too, I also think, Oh, deep red curtains, they wouldn’t show blood as much.

Chris Taylor [08:47] I’m hearing you, Pat. These things are important.

Patricia McLinn [08:56] Do you have a— I know. I know. Do you have a childhood book that. Got you addicted on stories that, that really opened that world for you?

Chris Taylor [09:06] Look, I was always an avid reader. I spent an hour each way on a bus with no air conditioning and vinyl seats in the heat and all the rest. And I loved to read, so it was a way to fill in the time. And I must admit, even from a young age, I loved mysteries and romance. I used to read The Famous Five and, and The Secret Seven and Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. And I always wanted the Hardy Boys to get with Nancy Drew and they never ever did.

Patricia McLinn [09:30] I know. What was the problem there?

Chris Taylor [09:32] Exactly.

Patricia McLinn [09:33] It was a natural.

Chris Taylor [09:36] Absolutely.

Rewriting Gone with the Wind. Steel Magnolias, Eight Seconds, and Good Morning Vietnam

Patricia McLinn [09:37] Any of those stories that you read in your, in your pre-author days, did you, um, decide they did not get the ending right. And at least mentally rewrite it. I am always curious about this because I think this triggers something for a lot of writers when we’re quite young.

Chris Taylor [09:55] Yeah. Well, I, I’ve got to say Gone with the Wind. I probably read that when I was about fourteen, I guess, something like that. And, uh, oh my goodness. You know, Ashley Wilkes, really? I mean really just, and then the whole, the, all the stuff they go through and, you know. No, I definitely had to rewrite that. I was just so disappointed, and I have read the sequel, and you know, it’s never as good and all the rest, but you know, that is one book that I absolutely loved, but absolutely hated the way it all went, went in the book.

Patricia McLinn [10:25] So how did you end it?

Chris Taylor [10:27] Well, of course they get together permanently and they love each other and all the rest. My goodness, you know, we all knew they did. It’s like, For God’s sake, wake up to yourself. So I make sure that I get that happy ending. You know, even though all seems lost, of course we know they got to get together. That’s how it has to be.

Patricia McLinn [10:44] I don’t know. I thought they were both kind of stinkers. Um, I, I know that’s, um, not the popular opinion, but that was my view on both of them.

Chris Taylor [10:55] She was a selfish, spoiled little brat, but she did grow, you know, there was that character growth, where at the end, of course, when it was too late. But he always loved her and was much more mature and it just broke my heart that he just didn’t give her that one last chance, you know, that he gave up on them because he still loved her and he just, she wore him out. But, you know, come on. I’m getting angry.

Patricia McLinn [11:20] I, I would have been with Rhet. I would have said, Bye, honey.

Chris Taylor [11:24] I know, she didn’t deserve him all the way through, but towards the end, when she finally woke up to herself, you know. I guess she, she’d got to the point where… No, they did deserve each other, but anyway, it wasn’t to be.

Patricia McLinn [11:35] So, okay. I’ve got to ask you now, because I, I suspect, I know one that will not be on the list. What three movies would you take to my strange little desert island that somehow lets you plays movies, but limits it to three. Well, we get to play three.

Chris Taylor [11:52] Wow. I am a huge movie buff. Um, and I was trying to think of my all-time favorite movies. There are just so many, you know, there are so many, but some that, um, came to mind, Steel Magnolias. I absolutely love and adore, you know, it’s just a beautiful movie and I know it’s an old movie, but I’m old too, so, you know. Oh, I love that movie. Still love that movie. I actually own that movie and watch it, you know, quite, not often, but you know, it’s a beautiful movie.

I also love Eight Seconds. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that one that came out in, um, oh, it was probably the early nineties.

Patricia McLinn [12:25] Yeah.

Chris Taylor [12:26] Again, I’m showing my age here. Um, and it ha—

Patricia McLinn [12:28] It’s about Lance Frost, right?

Chris Taylor [12:31] About Lane Frost. Yes. And I ac—

Patricia McLinn [12:34] Lane Frost.

Chris Taylor [12:35] And I actually used that rodeo kind of thing in one of my books and, um, uh, you know, and it just, it that was the inspiration for that. But, um, uh, so at the time Luke Perry of course was on 90210 and was the hottest thing out. So, and then he did that movie and it was just as beautiful as it. And I own that movie and I have watched it a few times and I still cry.

And the other one, I, the other one I chose. I mean, I could’ve chosen anything with Robin Williams in it because, um, you know, he was just such a brilliant actor and always had just brilliant stories. Uh, but so I put Good Morning Vietnam on my list, because that was another inspirational movie that I love to watch, and so it’s on my list.

Patricia McLinn [13:16] Can you see a thread connecting those movies?

Chris Taylor [13:19] I love the good stories. I love inspirational stories. I love stories that move you and what you to be a better person.

Patricia McLinn [13:28] Okay. And when you say old movies, girly, I love movies from like the thirties. Those are old movies. Those are classics.

Chris Taylor [13:40] I agree with you. I’m a move buff too.

Patricia McLinn [13:42] Is there a saying from your parents that you remember them using all the time and now you hear it coming out of your mouth?

Chris Taylor [13:50] One of the ones, I mean, there are lots of different ones. I think my mother was very big on sayings. Um, uh, but one of the ones that she used to say when, uh, you know, if you’re trying to get something by her, she would say, I didn’t come down in the last shower. I don’t know if you guys use that, but…

Patricia McLinn [14:08] No, but it’s wonderful.

Chris Taylor [14:10] So yeah, I remember her saying that quite often, you know, when we’re kids, I’m one of six. Six girls. So, you know, there are plenty of kids around, and, um, I remember her saying, Oh, I didn’t come down in the last shower as if you know how to, you expect me to believe that. And I have used that in a couple of times.

Patricia McLinn [14:24] Turned it on your kids now, huh?

Chris Taylor [14:28] That’s the way it goes that’s, that’s the, the story of life.

Patricia McLinn [14:31] Are you left-handed or right-handed?

Chris Taylor [14:35] I am right-handed.

Patricia McLinn [14:36] Okay. On your right hand, which is longer your index finger or your ring finger?

Chris Taylor [14:43] Now this is a really weird question, I have never, ever looked at my hands like this before, but you know what, it’s my ring finger. I don’t know what that means about me or says about me.

Patricia McLinn [14:52] I don’t either. I don’t know what it means. I’m just curious about it. I think it’s, it’s interesting that it’s, that it differs for people. Who knew.

Chris Taylor [15:01] Does it really? I didn’t know that either. So, okay.

Patricia McLinn [15:04] Yeah. And sometimes it differs from one hand to the other, for some people, it doesn’t for me. And I have no idea. There’s, there’s probably some significance to it.

Chris Taylor [15:15] It doesn’t for me either, but my left hand, but the index finger is a little bit less short than the ring finger on the left hand. There’s less of a difference.

Patricia McLinn [15:22] So that they’re closer on the left-hand than they are on the right hand.

Chris Taylor [15:26] Yes.

Patricia McLinn [15:27] I thought in my, in my, um, palm reading days, wasn’t it your left-hand is supposed to be what you’re born with in your right hand is what you make of yourself.

Chris Taylor [15:38] Wow. That’s interesting.

Patricia McLinn [15:40] Except that I don’t remember, I don’t remember anything else from that. That’s it. That the extent of it.

Chris Taylor [15:47] That’s totally unhelpful, Pat.

Patricia McLinn [15:49] We’ll have to do some research on it. And as long as I brought up the R word, let’s go ahead and talk about it. Because writing romantic suspense in particular, you must have to do a lot of research. How do you do it?

Chris Taylor [16:01] Uh, yes, well, I’m, I’m lucky that I, I had a medical background, uh, at one stage I was a nurse for a few years. And I also was a lawyer for a lot longer years, so I had a legal background and I’ve done, so I’ve done a medical romantic suspense series and I’m in the middle of a legal series at the moment. So I do call on a lot of past experience.

And I also have, um, a, your equivalent to the FBI. We’ve got the AFP, which is the Australian Federal Police, same kind of thing as the FBI. Uh, and so I’ve, I have one of their, um, retired supervisors or superintendents, on my speed dial and he answers any technical questions about the police and that sort of thing, because I often have a police investigation going on. And in fact, my hero or heroine is quite often a police officer or a detective.

Chris Taylor [16:49] So that’s really handy. I also have, um, a contact in the state morgue. So I’ve done some, you know, some scenes in the morgue and that sort of thing. And as a nurse, I actually watched autopsies. So I, I have been inside there and seen all that happen. So that helps.

I’m not, I’m not some… I love. I love, I love historical romance, but I just could not spend all that time on the research to get it right. And I’m someone who has to be right. So I just, I will not go there because I just know I just, I’m too impatient for the story to begin. And I just love to get in it and start writing. I don’t want to be pulled out all the time or spend months doing the research ahead of time. So I’ve stayed well clear of historical romance, even though I absolutely love it. Love to read it.

Patricia McLinn [17:29] How did you develop these connections with, uh, the retired gentlemen from the AFP and your other, your other sources?

Chris Taylor [17:38] So, I’m lucky, one of my sisters works for the Australian government. She’s a diplomat. And so the federal police are based in Canberra. I mean, they have offices around in the other capital cities, but their headquarters are in Canberra. So she knew this fellow through her work because she often deals with the federal police.

So she got me into contact with him and he was, I haven’t actually ever met him face to face, but we’ve spoken on the phone and I email, you know, every book I write to him about something or other. And it’s always just, Hi, Hey, guy, what do I do? And blah, blah, blah, what would happen if blah, blah, blah. And he just talks back. He hasn’t heard from me for a month or two, and then, you know, and he’s just straight back with the answer. So it’s really handy.

Chris Taylor [18:15] And as for the, um, the state morgue, I actually called them, um, you know, and explained I was an author and whatever, and that I needed, you know, could I speak to somebody about this? And, uh, anyway, they said that they would, um, you know, get, get someone from their media department to call me back. And so, you know, within ten minutes or so I got a call back and I explained again, who I was to this fellow, and he said, Yes, I know I’ve looked you up.

So they actually, they actually did a bit of a search because I guess I get calls from crazies and that kind of thing.So they’d gone and they looked at my website and whatever, and realized I was, you know, legitimate, often writing, you know, crime kind of novels. And, uh, anyway, so he he’s been very helpful as well. I, I, I write to him, email him or, uh, speak to him sometimes when I’m dealing with that kind of stuff.

Patricia McLinn [19:02] Well, those are great sources, because I find sometimes that when you find somebody like that, who will enter into the what if they are precious. I, I did a course in forensics at a place in North Carolina a few years ago, and the guy was great. He was also telling us a lot of times what usually happened and I would be saying, Yeah, but what if? And he’d say, Well, but that doesn’t usually happen. And I’d say, Yeah, but what if, and he felt at one point, he, he said, Don’t ever go into crime, you are the devil’s spawn. *Laughter* I know, writers think that’s a great compliment. My family wasn’t as impressed.

Chris Taylor [19:49] That’s funny.

Ideas from true crime and songs, obituaries for the living

Patricia McLinn [19:51] Okay. On behalf of a reader, I am going to ask you, uh, her question and she says, Where do your stories come from? I know one author who dreams her stories. Another has a character suddenly take up residence in her head. So how are your beautiful stories born?

Chris Taylor [20:08] Okay. So, um, they’re not necessarily character driven. I-I’m usually inspired. I watch a lot of crime, true crime TV. I-I’m obsessed with that a bit, I think in fact, my husband, just, yeah, he does think I’m obsessed with it. And, um, uh, so I, you know, cause truth’s often stranger than fiction, so often I will see something that will just it’ll spark an idea., and I start thinking, Well, how did that happen? Or why did that happen? Or what if this had happened, you know, you start asking all those questions and you know, from there I can get a story.

Sometimes it’s a song that inspires me that I just, like I’m listening to, um, I have discovered Gretchen Peters. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of her—

Patricia McLinn [20:46] I haven’t.

Chris Taylor [20:48] —but she’s been around for a long time, apparently. But I’ve just discovered her. She’s a country sort of, um, uh, singer, but she has the most amazing stories in her songs. And so I’m, I’m listening to one at the moment called Five Minutes, about, and it’s, you know, it’s about this girl who’s working in a diner and she’s on her break, a five minute break, you know, and she’s thinking about her past, and the boy that she loved and they’ve split up and she’s got a daughter to him that, you know, they, they haven’t seen each other for twenty years or something, I think.

Anyway, it’s just, and she’s thinking, and then the owner of the diner, you know, she knows he likes her. She could always have a relationship there, but he’s not this guy who, you know, she’s still thinking of. And it, oh man, there is a story there. I am going to definitely write a story backed from there. You know, it just it’s so, so emotional, and so sad and all that kind of stuff. And I like to tap into the emotions. I mean, even though I have the suspense going, the romance is just as strong.

Patricia McLinn [21:40] I like, I like songs too. And I have a couple songs that have grown out of, actually songs, um, sung by Hal Ketchum. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him.

Chris Taylor [21:52] No, I haven’t heard of him.

Patricia McLinn [21:54] And that, wonderful storytelling songs. So I totally understand that. The only drawback is, start with this idea and then you have to turn it into a book. So how do you do that? How do you start taking that, that story you’ve heard in a song, how do you create it into a book?

Chris Taylor [22:15] Yeah, it is, it’s strange, but that’s part of the magic, isn’t it? That’s the part I just totally love, coming up with a new idea and totally building this amazing story about it. So another example I was listening to, I love country, I love country music, like I could listen to Nashville radio all day and often do. But, um, I had, I was listening to a song by Alabama called I Believe. And it’s a song about this fellow, who’s lost his wife, you know, she’s died. But he could still feel her, you know, he says, I still feel you.

And so my very first book was inspired by that. And I could see this guy standing, you know, kneeling down by this headstone and he’s crying and he’s touching the headstone and it’s cold, but he can still feel her. He can still feel the warmth. And that is the scene in my very first book. It’s one of the very early scenes is this grieving husband. And he’s actually, the detective in the story, goes from there, but man, I could see that so clearly. And it was just, yeah. Just just beautiful is great.

And I just love that whether I connect through a song or just something I’ve seen or even read, you know, sometimes I read this obituary in the paper, once in our local paper, it was an obituary, only the person hadn’t died. It was just so weird. Yes. They weren’t dead. Someone had written their obituary, but they weren’t dead. And so I thought, Wow, what is going on there?

Patricia McLinn [23:29] Were they, were they somebody well known in the community?

Chris Taylor [23:33] No, not well known in the community. At least I didn’t know them. And I live in a fairly small community. I mean, some people would have known them, but there was something going on there that, that they’d written their orbituary, likely someone else had written there orbituary. Think, Wow. That is that’s, that’s weird, there’s something going on there. That is a story.

Patricia McLinn [23:51] Newspapers write, um, obituaries for famous people ahead a time, and then kind of fill in details, but they have them ready to go basically. But it doesn’t sound like that was the same situation.

Chris Taylor [24:03] No, this was just in the classifieds. So someone had just paid to put this, it was like an ad in the classifieds, but it wasn’t an obituary. Like it was only a small square, you know, with stuff on it, but it wasn’t that small, but it was, it wasn’t a huge page or anything, it was just in the classifieds. And it was just these few paragraphs about this person, only they weren’t dead.

Patricia McLinn [24:22] Okay, we got to use that in a book.

Chris Taylor [24:27] Oh, definitely. I haven’t used yet, but that is definitely going in. That is just, Wow, what is going on there? They obviously hated each other.

Patricia McLinn [24:35] Well, you get dibs on it because you, you read it, but I really liked that. When you, when you finish up a book, this is another question from a reader. Um, do you find the miss characters? Do you think about them a lot? What, how they are going on from the end of the book? Um, and, and then I, uh, I want to add the question of, and has that thinking, if you do think about them, has that ever led you to write another book?

Chris Taylor [24:58] Yeah, so I write series, so I do myself in that series and there are usually like nine or ten books, so that there’s a reasonable length of time where you’re immersed in there. I, one of my, my first series was actually based on a family. So there were, there were so many brothers and a couple of sisters there to make up the books. And so I did revisit the characters and you just, you do that, they’re like your family. I know that sounds weird, but you just feel like, you know them, like they’re people that you know. And you know, so when things happen to them, you feel for them and, you know, and you like to hear back from them.

So, I did a novella, Christmas novella in the first series to revisit all the people that were, it came up as book seven. So you’d already met six of the brothers and sisters. And so I revisited each one around a Christmas theme, and, oh, that was so nice. You know, it’s like catching up with old friends.

Patricia McLinn [25:49] And, you said you feel bad for them when bad things happen to them, but you are making those bad things happen to them.

Chris Taylor [25:55] I know.

Patricia McLinn [25:56] How do you feel about that?

Chris Taylor [25:58] Oh, it’s so weird, it is. You know, it just happens. You, you would understand as an author that, you know, the story just takes you to certain places. I’m, I’m a planner. So I do plan quite a lot of the story out beforehand. I don’t just sort of get an idea and run with it. Um, so I often know, you know, a lot of it, but every now and then it just, the story just takes over or the character just takes over and does something that’s so surprising that you, you think, Oh wow. And it could be good or bad, you just have to go with it because that’s, that’s what the story needs. That’s what they’re telling you it needs anyway.

Patricia McLinn [26:30] What, that planning that you do before a book, what does that look like?

Chris Taylor [26:34] Okay, so it depends on how much time I have, um, for my deadline. So I, but generally, if I have, you know, I write fairly fast, so I publish every couple of months, generally. So I allow myself about three weeks to write a first draft and then I edit it and probably take me a week to go through and do a full edit. And then it goes off to be edited back and forth. It goes through three passes back and forth between my editor and, and me. What was the question again? I’ve lost my train of thought.

Patricia McLinn [27:03] What, how you’re planning?

Chris Taylor [27:05] Oh, the planning.

Patricia McLinn [27:06] What, what your planning looks like, what you’re doing.

Chris Taylor [27:08] Yeah. So I would, uh, write a rough draft, hand-write a rough draft chapter by chapter, just in point form.

Patricia McLinn [27:15] Hand-write?

Chris Taylor [27:16] Hand-write in point form. So it takes me a couple of days probably to hand-write, just, in point form chapter by chapter. But I find that I’m, I’m more efficient if I take that time because I’ve got five kids and so I’m often called away. And so I can just come back to my, my plan, I, you know, my summary really, and know where I’m at. I don’t have to go back and read, you know, where, where I was heading. I know where I’m at. I can just look straight down at where I leave it open on my desk and, um, you know, and then I just continue on. So I just find it. But it’s more efficient that way, because I get interrupted fairly frequently.

Patricia McLinn [27:50] When, when you have books where the character takes off on a different direction from you, are those, are those a joy to write or are those harder to write? And what would, which of your books you’d say was the easiest to write?

Chris Taylor [28:03] Okay. So, um, but it doesn’t happen all that often. I guess I keep them under control pretty well, but, um, every now and then… I wrote one about a serial killer. The, the man was a serial killer and they had two children, him and his wife. And she was meant to be totally oblivious to all this stuff going on. And then all of a sudden there’s a scene towards the end where the wife turns up with the chainsaw, you know, by his side, she walks in on him and he’s thinks he’s been sprung. But in fact, she’s, she’s, she’s part of it, you know, she’s… And I thought, um, I know it was too much, too much. I can not do that to those poor children. They cannot have two serial killer parents. So I had to, I regret that I did not let her come in and do that. And she was never meant to be there.

Patricia McLinn [28:46] So it was only to save the children, huh?

Chris Taylor [28:50] No child should have to go through life like that, with two serial killer parents.

Patricia McLinn [28:54] But okay. Your most recent book, how much, has that, say there’s a continuum of easy to write, joy to write, versus, Oh my gosh, um, this is, this book is going to kill me. Where in the continuum did the most recent book come in?

Chris Taylor [29:11] Um, it wasn’t too bad. It was another romantic suspense. Um, I, I have my series mapped out ahead of time. So I have nine books in the series. I’ve got all the titles chosen, and when I was doing this sort of planning, I, I would come up with an idea and just write a few lines down on each book. So, um, I already knew, you know, as I kept to each book in the series.

I know what the theme is. I know what the main story, I always know what the black moment is. For people, for readers who, who don’t know that, that expression, it’s where, um, particularly in romance where you think all is so wrong they’re never going to get back, they’re never going to get together. You know how they’re so far apart, that’s never going to happen, but that’s the black moment where you’re just in total despair that they’re ever like, like I was with Rhett Butler, don’t worry, I’m still in despair.

Chris Taylor [29:59] And then of course, you know, we resolve it and they get back to, they get together and, and that’s what, that’s the happily ever after we promise in a romance. Um, but, but, you know, so sometimes, the current book has, has, um, yeah, it’s flowed pretty well. I’ve um, recently started using dictation software. So, in fact, you guys inspired me at Novelis Inc. conference, when you are, you’re all talking about, um, Dragon Dictation software and how much, um, more efficient it was than all the rest.

And I tell you, I have been quietly impressed. So it, it’s making me think differently. I think I’m using a different part of my brain, which is weird, but it just feels a little bit different to be dictating a story rather than typing it and seeing it coming up in front of me. But it definitely is quicker.

Patricia McLinn [30:44] How do you make changes on the fly on Dragon? Cause if I couldn’t backspace, delete, and cut and paste, I would be in big trouble.

Chris Taylor [30:55] Yes. I’m with you on that. And I have only just started using the software on the latest book. Um, but what I have been doing, because I feel that way too. I have been dictating just like a thousand words at a time. So for about ten minutes, it takes me to do a thousand words, and then I transcribe it and then I’m editing it straight away. So, because sometimes as I’m speaking, I agree, I’d like to backspace and delete or change something. But I don’t. I just keep going until I do the thousand words, and then I just edit it straight away. So the thought or the deletion I wanted to make the correction is still fresh in my mind. So that’s how I’ve been dealing with it. I’m not sure how other people do.

Patricia McLinn [31:30] I was contemplating trying, um, dictation on things like emails because it’s not as precise for me as writing.

Chris Taylor [31:40] Yeah. Well, when you watch the, um, the YouTube videos and things on that, you know, write composing emails and stuff with dictation software is just so easy. You know, it’s like open mail, new mail, send, send mail to Pat, you know, whatever. And it just pops the address in and all that stuff. It’s just like, Wow.

Patricia McLinn [31:54] I might have to try that. But speaking of editing, have you edited, ever edited something out of a book or had it edited, edited out by someone else, that you still regret that you think, ah, I wish I’d left that in.

Chris Taylor [32:13] There is actually, and I’m sure the, the edit was made for all the right reasons. So I write generally for the North American market, because it’s just, you know, from a business point of view, it’s a lot bigger market than the Australian market. Just, you guys have got a lot more people than, than we do. We don’t read, but you know, there’s a lot, it’s a numbers game.

So I was writing this book where this guy had, he was a returned army officer. And he had PTSD, undiagnosed PTSD. You don’t realize this right until the end, but anyway, he had had an affair. Okay. So there were a lot of reasons why, in fact, you find out that he was part of his, trying to break this terrorist cell in Indonesia and stuff, and, and to keep his cover and basically saved his men, he, you know, he sleeps with this Indonesian girl. Who’s also a spy, you know, my editor made me, no, I could not use that. It was not acceptable to have the hero. Have had been unfaithful to his wife.

So I had to get rid of that, which it was, it was just so, yeah, I did. I mean, I still had PTSD, but he wasn’t unfaithful. He just, he still walked out on his marriage, but not for those reasons. So, um, but I still really loved that story. It was such a beautiful love story and I’ll write, I like to write really real and, you know, that happens sometimes, but no, my editor felt that it was not going to be acceptable to an all American audience, that a hero is unfaithful no matter what, the reason. So that went, and I do mourn the loss of that.

Patricia McLinn [33:38] Do you think it would have been acceptable to an Australian audience?

Chris Taylor [33:41] Most definitely.

Patricia McLinn [33:43] Oh really?

Chris Taylor [33:44] Yes.

Patricia McLinn [33:45] Why do you think there’s that difference?

Chris Taylor [33:46] Well, I don’t know, I was guided by my, um, North American editor, um, that, that, that kind of thing wouldn’t go down well in, in North America. In Australia, I dunno. I think we are just more, um, not accepting, but we were just less, gosh, I don’t know what the, what the word is. It would have definitely been acceptable in an Australian audience. We would have understood it. And understood the reasons.

And even though, you know, it comes good in the end, of course, they still love each other and they, you know, and we realize all this stuff was going on. But, you know, and it’s, I think it’s a beautiful love story, but, uh, yes. I don’t know why I think that that definitely would have been okay in Australia that it wasn’t okay over there.

Patricia McLinn [34:26] Now, other than the, the story where the wife of the serial killer shows up to join in, um, which of your stories has surprised you the most? And how did, how did it surprise you? And did you learn anything from that for books that, that followed?

Chris Taylor [34:43] Wow. The one where the wife turns up, that was my first, um, well that was my first book published. And so it was my first book because we always, we all write books well, before we got to publishing, uh, stage, but I guess that was the first time I had had a character take over like that. And it was like, Wow, how did that happen? Like, I’m the one writing this stuff.

So I guess, in later books, um, it didn’t happen as often, but every now and then, and I just gave myself the permission to let that happen. You know, I accepted that sometimes that happens that the characters take over where until then, you know, I hadn’t thought in those terms, you know, as, as you say, I’m the one putting the words there, what do you mean that the characters taking over?

It sounds really strange to somebody who’s never done it before, but after that experience, I realized, you know, that’s sometimes that can happen. And sometimes it’s okay. Sometimes it’s not like I had to get rid of it because it just was too much for those poor children. But, you know, sometimes they go that way.

Patricia McLinn [35:38] Well, I’ve told this story before, but, um, I had a murder mystery that I was writing, uh, that came out a year ago, um, called Look Live. And I was ahead of schedule, which I rarely am. I’m tootling along with this book and thinking, Oh boy, I’m going to be finished ahead of time. And then looking at the screen, what do you know? The person I thought was the murderer ended up dead.

Chris Taylor [36:05] I love that. I love that.

Patricia McLinn [36:08] Oh… I thought, Uh, oh.

Chris Taylor [36:12] Now what do I do?

Patricia McLinn [36:13] This is a problem. So I got the book out on time, but I was not ahead of schedule. I had to do some real rethinking and it, and it never occurred to me to make him undead.

Chris Taylor [36:24] Yes. Yes.

Patricia McLinn [36:25] He was dead. That was it, there it was.

Chris Taylor [36:27] It’s something I think that readers think is weird because, um, you know, like, we’re the ones writing the story. I mean, I know sometimes, so I haven’t been able to write the climax that I often have, you know, people getting killed or chased or whatever, you know, there’s always a threat that their life’s in danger.

And often I can’t write that late at night. I do write late at night. But I can’t write those scenes at night because I’m so scared. You know, it’s just, it’s like for goodness’ sake, I’m writing it. I know how it’s going to work out. Okay. You know, what’s going on here, but you know, it’s like, that’s the way it is.

Patricia McLinn [36:59] So are there other ways you think writers are different from normal people?

Chris Taylor [37:04] Normal people, yeah, that’s right. But we’re so far left of normal aren’t we. Um, I think that we just, I do think we think differently and I see stories everywhere, you know, and like, I, I wouldn’t say I’m a particularly observant person, but I just, I see stories in people and in actions and, and just, you know, sitting on a train or whatever. And you just see a comment or overhear a conversation or something. And man, my mind’s already off. Where I don’t know that normal people think like that.

Patricia McLinn [37:31] You know, uh, uh, a lot of the authors are saying this. And, I just had this thought, we’re making a lot of normal people really paranoid about being watched and listened to by writers since they’re out in their normal lives. And you’re in, you’re going to be in a book.

Chris Taylor [37:51] I often get emails from people who, because, you know, I write, I write a lot of murder and death and you know, stuff like that. There’s always chasing. There’s always, you know, the adrenaline pumping stuff and I, I will get emails every now and then from people who, cause sometimes I use the real names, real suburb names and things, especially in Sydney and whatever. And you know, I’ll get people saying, Oh my goodness, I live there. I live in that suburb. I’m still looking over my shoulder.

Patricia McLinn [38:14] That’s one of the things I feel bad about. My mystery series is set in Wyoming. So I managed to pick the least populated state in the United States. And I am rapidly depopulating it further.

Chris Taylor [38:28] Uh, yeah. Yes, one book at a time.

Patricia McLinn [38:33] That’s right. But sometimes multiple bodies. So how do you think you have changed and evolved as a writer? Since you, say not just since you started, but say since you were first published.

Chris Taylor [38:49] Um, well, it’s, it’s like anything, any profession, I think. That the more you do do and the more hours you spend on it, the better you get. So I’m definitely more efficient. Um, I’m definitely less wordy. You know, like some of my earlier books were a hundred-twenty, a hundred and ten, hundred and twenty thousand words just for, you know, an ordinary fiction novel, which should have been around, you know, eighty or ninety.

So I’ve learned to, I’m much more efficient with words and I love that. You know, I love that. I can just have a few words, a few words in a sentence and say exactly the same thing that I might’ve had ten words in before, you know, it just, and it just comes up more easily. And I think like any job, you know, the more, the longer you’re at it, the better you get at it. So that’s one of the things that has changed for sure that I’m better at it. And I’m more efficient at it.

Patricia McLinn [39:35] You have a writing routine that you follow?

Chris Taylor [39:38] Yes. Well, I, I write full-time. I’m lucky enough to write full-time. So it’s my job. So, you know, I’m, I’m in front of my desk by nine in the morning after my kids have gone to school and, you know, I’ll have a quick lunch break and I’ll be back again. You know, like, like I would a job and I sit here till four, when my kids get home from school, this is in between, you know, obviously, sometimes there’s interruptions and I have to go and buy food and stuff every now and then, which is an annoyance, but…

Um, generally, yeah, look, I worked seven days a week as well, and I often do more work, you know, after the kids have gone to bed, I’ll do another two or three hours then. So, um, but the good thing is it doesn’t feel like a job, you know, when you’re really into it. There’s nothing like being really into it and just, so immersed.

Patricia McLinn [40:19] And when it comes, just kind of its own, which doesn’t happen all the time, unfortunately, but it is lovely when it does.

Chris Taylor [40:27] Yes. Now, a lot of the time it is, it’s just getting that story down. But I think the more, more, um, prep I do earlier on, the more I get to know my characters, before I start to write the easier it is. So even though I chafe at the delay, you know, whether it’s two or three days where I’m just writing things out. In the end I think it’s, it’s more efficient because I don’t have to, I don’t have as many pauses where I’m thinking now, you know, what, what would they do here or what, what happens next?

Patricia McLinn [40:52] Now, uh, a reader wants to know what is your favorite place to write and why? And does it have an inspirational view?

Chris Taylor [40:59] Well, I, I generally write from my office when I’m home. Um, I, I use one drive on my iPad so I can go flip between the iPad and my desktop. But generally, I like to sit in my office and I do have a lovely view. I live out of town, so I’ve got a very nice rural view of the mountains and I’ve got a nice pool in my backyard that I look out over. So I have a water view, I guess.

Um, so, and often I’m the only one home, you know, when my husband’s at work, my kids are away. So it’s often just me. I don’t need to have music and stuff going. Like a lot of people need something going on. I can just sit here in total silence. I’ve got enough voices going on in my head. I don’t need anymore.

Patricia McLinn [41:39] You need one of those floating desks for your, for your pool. So you can just paddle around.

Chris Taylor [41:45] That would be nice.

Patricia McLinn [41:47] So have you ever had a situation that, a reader wanted to know about this, when the cover image didn’t match the character description, have you run across that? And then she said, if you have, she wants to know how it feels for the author.

Chris Taylor [41:59] Okay. So I, I’m lucky because I am an Indie, um, um, published author. So I, I have a lot of input into my covers. Uh, and I have used the same cover designer all the way through, so they really, they get, they get me in my, my, my books. So I, I mean, occasionally I have tweaks of course, that the, the hero doesn’t look like he should or is too young looking. I mean, man, I’m 45, everyone looks young now to me, but, um, you know, I don’t know, he’s too young. He looks like he’s—

Patricia McLinn [42:27] Go away.

Chris Taylor [42:28] You know what I mean. But I’m lucky in that way. I haven’t ever had a cover that totally mismatches, but I certainly sympathize with author friends who have. Because you know, you’ve got this person in your head and they’re a certain way and they look a certain way, they’ve got certain, you know, um, mannerisms and just some sort of bearing or whatever. And you get just turn, you get something that’s just nothing like that. And I can understand how ghastly you must feel about that.

Patricia McLinn [42:52] Now a lot of your characters… Hmm. I shouldn’t say a lot, but, um, you’re writing in areas where it tends to be male dominated, more males working than, than women, than females. Um, how do you approach writing about, from the point of views, especially of the opposite sex?

Chris Taylor [43:13] Okay. So I love to write from the male point of view. I don’t know why, but I guess, if I have a choice say from running single point of view, and I have a choice, I will often gravitate towards a male character, which is weird because I have no brothers.

So I grew up with five sisters. So obviously I had a father, but, um, you know, I, I didn’t have a lot of male influences such and I love writing the male characters. I don’t know whether I get it wrong. I think I probably make them a little bit too emotional. I can always tell a book that’s written by a man, but you kind of don’t even have to tell me the author, I, you know, I just can tell from the style.

And in, particularly if there’s any sort of emotional scenes, you know, you can tell it’s been written by a man. Uh, but so I probably am a little bit emotional, but I guess, you know, the people who read my books do tend to be women too. So, you know, we, we get it, we get that.

Patricia McLinn [44:01] So this question is sort of out of the blue, but I, I’m interested to hear the answer. What’s the best money you’ve ever spent as an author?

Chris Taylor [44:11] Okay. Um, I think on my covers, you know, um, they say a, Well, you can’t judge a book by the color, but we often do in this day and age of digital books, you know, we, we, we, we have the covers in front of us.

Unlike, you know, in the old days, when you had to go to a bookstore, I guess you saw covers too, but, um, most people shop online now I think, so the covers are really important. And particularly if you’re looking for just a read, you know, you’re not actually searching for a particular author. And I think the covers are really important.

And I probably spend on the upper end of the scale. Not the most expensive for sure, but more than some, um, on my covers, but I have had a lot of feedback on the covers that they, and, and, you know, even from digital retailers that the covers are stand out and that, you know, they’re, they’re attractive to readers.

Patricia McLinn [44:58] Do you have a favorite cover of yours?

Chris Taylor [45:00] That’s hard to say, cause I do like all my covers, but, um.

Patricia McLinn [45:04] Or one that’s gotten particular, a particular amount of feedback.

Chris Taylor [45:08] Probably, um, my, my hospital series, which it features sort of a part of the building on, on all the, of the fictitious hospital I set in Sydney, but, um, they, they’re kind of darker and grittier and edgier those books and the covers are all sort of reflective of that, I think.

Um, and they’re nice and glossy, some I’m doing a matte, some series I do are matte and I love matte, the matte cover as well. But, um, the glossy, the glossy really, that talks to me.

Patricia McLinn [45:36] Now you said that you have had some books set in the legal, against the legal background—

Chris Taylor [45:42] Yes.

Patricia McLinn [45:43] —right? And you were a lawyer. Were you a criminal lawyer?

Chris Taylor [45:46] Yes, I, I did a bit of everything in my early days. I worked for the, um, director of public prosecutions, which what do you guys call it? You know, the district attorney’s office, that kind of thing.

Patricia McLinn [45:58] Right.

Chris Taylor [45:59] So I did purely criminal law there on the prosecution side of it. Um, but when I moved to, um, the country, that was in Sydney, I lived in Sydney. When I moved to the country where my husband lived, I became a country lawyer. So in a country practice and I did a bit of everything and then I was a defense lawyer. So that was really weird because I, you know, you’re on different sides of the bar table. People probably don’t even realize, but you know, the defense sit on the left and the, and the prosecution sit on the right. And so all of a sudden I was on the other side of the table and it just was, so even though you’re already, still a few meters apart, it was just so weird to do that.

But yeah, I did defense criminal lawyer for a few years and also did a lot of commercial work and, um, you know, conveyancing and did a bit of everything in the country.

Patricia McLinn [46:44] So if you weren’t writing, would you go back to the law?

Chris Taylor [46:47] Yes. I would.

Patricia McLinn [48:48] And now that sort of surprised me because a lot of, there are a fair number of authors who are departed lawyers, escaped lawyers. Um, so that’s interesting. So what, what made you switch from law to writing?

Chris Taylor [47:00] Well, I always loved writing and I used to do that on my weekends and things, especially before I had children, I would be writing kind of Harlequin romances and things. Um, it was only later I got into the suspense.

I did try and write Blaze, um, but I just could not contain the word count. You know, I was always had too many secondary characters and too many plots going on. So I realized fairly, fairly quickly I was a single-title writer, and I didn’t even know that term until I started talking to other writers, you know, but, um, anyway, so I, I, I was always writing.

I just love criminal law, not so much the other stuff, but, uh, I love the criminal law. I’ve always been fascinated with that. And I think that, that’s why I’ve, uh, you know, I write about it because it, it’s, it’s fascinating, you know, what makes a person get to that point.

Patricia McLinn [47:46] How do readers respond to especially your criminal stories, do they, or, or any of your romantic suspense, what sort of feedback do you get from readers? What sort of interaction do you have with them?

Chris Taylor [47:59] Yeah, so I, I think the book that I get the most, um, response from is one that was on domestic violence. So it was in the medical series and the husband was a doctor, you know, very well-respected doctor, uh, at the hospital. And she was a nurse, the wife, and of course behind closed doors, we realized it’s so different to the, you know, the public persona that he was, he was showing everyone.

And I get a lot of response from that, you know, because I think there’s a lot of people out there in those situations. And I get a lot of emails from readers who, or, you know, sometimes it’s the daughter saying my mum was in a situation or one was, My mum is still in this situation, which was so terrible. So heartbreaking. Yeah.

Patricia McLinn [48:43] Oh, dear.

Chris Taylor [48:44] Yeah. But, but I think that that one has touched a lot of people. I get a lot of letters about that, about domestic violence, which just, I like to do, um, issues that draw attention to things I think need more attention, you know, more public awareness. So that was definitely one I, I felt, I felt for a long time that I needed to get out there and I get a lot of response from that one.

Patricia McLinn [49:04] I have a question that a reader posed, I think is intriguing. I’m very interested to hear what you have to say. If you could write a book with any author, alive or dead, who would you want to work with and why?

Chris Taylor [49:19] Well, see my favorite author, well, I have two favorite authors, one, and one, one’s alive. One’s dead. So one of them is a historical romance author by the name of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Now, she was one of the first, um, romance novels I read, I think I read her first book when I was about 13 or something.

Totally, totally loved her books. She just had the most amazing characters, such beautiful men, you know, and just lovely characters that you fell in love with. So she is somebody I would love to written with. Um, just because she just could tap into the, you know, into emotions so well.

The other one I love, um, and he is, again, one of my, is up there with her, my favorite author, is Richard North Patterson. So he has a couple series. And, again, he’s a guy who writes from a male’s point of view, but how, his guys are just so great, so lovely, you just, you know, you fall in love with them. His, um, male characters and, and he always has a fantastic story that goes with it. So I would love to write a book with him.

Patricia McLinn [50:23] So you’re looking at these authors, not just that you enjoy their work, but what you could learn from them.

Chris Taylor [50:28] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Their characterization and the way that they just, you know… Richard North Patterson, especially his, you know, he writes contemporary drama sort of stuff. Um, you know, one’s a political series, another one’s a legal series. Um, he’s got other books, but there is the ones that I love. He taps into the real situations that anyone can relate to. And some people would have been in. And, and they react in a real way. You know, I always really liked that.

In fact, I, when I first discovered Sandra Brown, and she is one of my, my inspirations, um, she was the first author I had ever read that, you know, where it was a bit of swearing, people reacted in a normal way, you know, in a way you would expect. And it wasn’t sugar-coated, you know, and I thought, Wow. I was just blown away the first time I read one of her books.

Patricia McLinn [51:16] Now those books are sort of in your same genre. Is that what you read for fun or do you go outside your genre?

Chris Taylor [51:22] I do read a lot of that kind of stuff for fun, especially from, from authors that I really enjoy, but I also, I mean, I love historical romance. I love contemporary romance. I, I, you know, I every now and then I’ll read an autobiography, but not really for fun. It’ll be just something I’m interested in or some person, you know, I’m interested in to know their life story, I’ll read that for. But for fun, it’s always, it’s always romance in some form.

Patricia McLinn [51:45] So somebody who has never read any of your books and we’ll say this from the North American market, since it’s the, the bigger one, what would be a good place for them to start? Which book would be a good start for them?

Chris Taylor [51:59] I was given some advice that, um, at a RWA conference, actually, I can’t even remember who said it, but this was before I was published, so it was really timely for me. They said that you had no control on where a reader might come into your series. So I write series, I like to write series.

Um, and, but they said, you’ve, you know, you might have book four on sale or something, and someone gets that one. And if they can’t understand and enjoy that story on its own, without having read all the other, other books, um, then they may not go back and fill in the gaps, you know. Where if you, if you write it as sort of a standalone story within the series and they enjoy it, you know, as, as its own book, then you’re more likely to get them to, you know, go back and read or, or pick up another one.

So I took that on board. So my, I’ve got three different series at the moment. And each one is a standard line story. I think you get more out of it if you’ve read them in order, because there is some reference back to previous characters. And so you’ll realize that these ones have just had a baby or these ones aren’t doing so well or whatever, you get a bit more out of it. But you can still enjoy any of them.

Chris Taylor [53:02] So, the first series is really a detective series on a, on a family. Um, the second one is a bit darker, a bit grittier, is that the hospital series. So I deal with topics like domestic abuse and organ donation, you know, the, yeah, I think kind of controversial things that one’s about illegal trafficking, you know, organs. Um, so it’s a little bit grittier.

Uh, that the third series, the legal series is a lot of courtroom drama stuff. So it really depends on what you, what you like to read, I think. I think you can tell that I’ve written them all there. They’re very much stamped with my, my voice. Um, and, uh, you know, they’re fairly hot and steamy. Most of them are.

So, um, I would recommend any reader starting, pick a series and start at the, the first one, because I just think you get a little bit more enjoyment out of it, but, but really they could come in anywhere and enjoy it If it’s their kind of story.

Patricia McLinn [53:56] I was at a mystery conference in Indianapolis last fall, and a reader came up, we were doing book signing and she came up with, I think it was the fourth book in the series. And I said, Oh, you know, have you read the other books? And she said, No, I’m going to start here. So there is a proof, at least one person out there is doing what you were told about. Okay.

Chris Taylor [54:21] I would never do that. I have always, you know, gone and tried to find the first one because that’s just me, I like to do that. Even if the others are on sale, I’ll still start with the first one. But apparently, you know, some people don’t, they just, they dive in and see if they’re going to like it. So, yeah.

Patricia McLinn [54:37] Do you have any, any of your books that you have a sense has been overlooked and not, not as, read as much that even your loyal readers might, might’ve missed some?

Guns, snakes, murder

Chris Taylor [54:49] One of the stories that is very close to my heart is the eighth book in the first series. So it’s called The Defendant, and, um, it’s, it was inspired by my son, who was twelve at the time. And in Australia, well probably over there in the States, I don’t know what your age limit is, but in Australia at twelve, he can get a gun license. So my name is on the permit. So you still have to be under supervision of an adult, et cetera, but you can actually get a gun license at twelve. And we live out in the bush and, um, uh, you know, my husband’s got guns and, and, you know, I’ve even got a gun license. Um, he goes to the range every now and then. We’re not hunters, but you know, we’ve got guns.

And so my, my twelve-year-old was really, really keen to get his license, you know, when he turned twelve. And so he did, he got his license and of course, then he just wanted to shoot everything in sight, you know. I had a snake at the back of my back door on the concrete steps and, you know, he’s tearing off to the shed to get the 410 shotgun, you know. I’m like, Oh my God, you know, like his mentality was like, Let’s shoot it. Let’s shoot it, you know?

Chris Taylor [55:49] And anyway, so that inspired that book. It’s a very sad story. Uh, you know, like that twelve-year-old actually shoots somebody dead. For good reason, you know, for good reason. Terrible scene between, uh, you know, with his mother involved. Um, but this is the story is basically on a trial of this child. Because he, he wouldn’t, he, you know, he, it comes down to intent.

In Australia, if you, if the prosecution can prove that the boy intended to kill and knew that what he was doing was going to kill or had a fair chance of killing. Well then, you know, you can be charged with murder. And, um, so he was, in this story. He was in the book as it unfolds there. But I have had comments from the North American readers going, Wow.You know, it’s so different over here. You know, this, this kid would never have been charged with murder and blah, blah, blah.

But I write in Australia, so I follow Australian law and, um, you know, that, that definitely would have happened. And, and, uh, anyway, but that’s a book I think that not a, I don’t get a lot of feedback on, so I’m not sure whether it’s not being as widely read as it, as I wished it would because it’s, it’s a great story. And, um, uh, you know what, but that book is close to my heart.

Patricia McLinn [56:54] Tell us how people can find out more about you and your books.

Chris Taylor [56:58] Well, I’m, I’m on all the digital retailers. At iBooks and Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and, um, uh, you know, I’ve got them all up there on my website, um, which is just www.christaylorauthor.com.au

Um, and people could just click on them go to different links to buy. Uh, you can also order paperbacks off Amazon and CreateSpace. So, uh, you know, they are, they are available.

Patricia McLinn [57:25] And we will include the URLs and the show notes. So it makes it easier than when you’re trying to catch something that’s being spoken and you’re trying to remember the URL. So, folks, you’ll find them in the show notes.

One of my very favorite journalism questions is to ask if there’s something I should have asked that I haven’t, or if you’d like to answer something that wasn’t asked.

Chris Taylor [57:48] Oh, Pat, you’ve done very well. I mean, it’s been a real pleasure to be here and see your questions. Um…

Patricia McLinn [57:56] Not done yet. We’re not done yet. So now we have, this is my, my perhaps favorite part where we talk about, uh, Or we do either Ors. Okay?

Chris Taylor [58:05] Okay.

Patricia McLinn [58:06] You just gotta answer fast. You gotta right through these. Uh, cake or ice cream?

Chris Taylor [58:11] Ice cream.

Patricia McLinn [58:12] Day or night?

Chris Taylor [58:14] Night.

Patricia McLinn [58:16] Cowboy boots or hiking boots?

Chris Taylor [58:19] Cowboy boots.

Patricia McLinn [58:20] I think you’ve already answered this one. Appetizer or dessert?

Chris Taylor [58:24] Oh, definitely dessert.

Patricia McLinn [58:26] Heels or slippers?

Chris Taylor [58:58] Slippers.

Patricia McLinn [58:29] Mountains or beach?

Chris Taylor [58:31] Beach.

Patricia McLinn [58:32] Dog or cat?

Chris Taylor [58:33] Dog.

Patricia McLinn [58:34] Sounded not totally sure.

Chris Taylor [58:36] No, definitely a dog. I’m not a cat lover. I have five cats. I have five cats, but they belong to my five children, and, um, yes. Yes. They all live outside.

Patricia McLinn [58:47] Okay.

Chris Taylor [58:48] I’m not against cats. I just can’t stand the fur they leave everywhere.

Patricia McLinn [58:51] Hey, I have a Collie you want to talk fur. Okay. Um, sailboat or a motorboat?

Chris Taylor [58:57] Ah, motorboat.

Patricia McLinn [58:58] Leggings or sweats?

Chris Taylor [59:00] Sweats.

Patricia McLinn [59:01] I’m not sure this particularly applies to you, but well, we’ll go for it anyhow. Which is eerier to you, an owl hooting or coyotes howling?

Chris Taylor [59:10] An owl hooting or a coyote howling. Okay. So I’ve never heard a coyote howling because we don’t have them here in Australia. Um…

Patricia McLinn [59:18] That’s what I wondered.

Chris Taylor [59:21] But I can imagine it sounds quite eerie and lonesome. I mean, I’ve seen it on movies and things like that. Uh, so I think I’ll go coyote.

Patricia McLinn [59:29] Okay. Gardening or house decorating?

Chris Taylor [59:32] Wow. I’m not keen on either. I love a nice house and I love a beautiful garden, but I’m, I’m not, you know, I’m not naturally inclined towards either, uh, if I had to choose, I’d say garden.

Patricia McLinn [59:47] Well, then that may be a hint to what your answer will be to the next one. Best china or paper plates?

Chris Taylor [59:53] Yeah, paper plates.

Patricia McLinn [59:57] Mustard or ketchup?

Chris Taylor [59:58] We call it tomato sauce. Um, tomato sauce, definitely ketchup.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:03] Okay. So the last one, would you save the best for last or grab the best first?

Chris Taylor [1:00:08] Wow. I think I would save the best to last.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:12] Well, thank you so much, Chris, for taking the time to be with us today. Really appreciated it. And I hope that the listeners will come back next week to meet a new author. And in the meantime, have a great week of reading and we’ll see you next week on the Authors Love Readers podcast.

Chris Taylor [1:00:33] Thank you so much, Pat. It’s been fun.

Patricia McLinn [1:00:36] That’s the show for this week. Hope you enjoyed it. And thank you for joining Authors Love Readers podcast. Remember, you can always find out more about our guest authors in the show notes, and you can find out more about me at www.patriciamclinn.com. You can also send in questions to be asked of future authors at: authors@podcastatauthorslovereaders.com

Until next week. Wishing you lots of happy reading. Bye.