Today we welcome multi-published author Laura Browning to Heroines with Hearts!
Tell us about “Santa’s Helper”.
How is it different than your other books?
Santa’s Helper is my first attempt at a holiday-themed story. I tried to play off some of the ideas of the holiday such as the spirit of giving. In this case, the heroine is filled with it, but has to show that through little things. Jack, the hero, is in need of it and far more able to carry out his efforts to be generous. In addition to the idea of a holiday story being a departure for me, it is also a departure in that it’s a single title. I tend to write series playing off secondary characters from previous stories.
What got you interested in writing?
My interest in writing began with my interest in reading. I’ve read voraciously ever since I learned how to do it on my own. I used to retell stories to myself at night to make me a part of them in some way. Eventually, that translated into a love of writing, and even determined my course of study in college. I was a journalism major.
How long have you been writing?
Somewhere, there lurks a handwritten copy of the gothic romance I completed at the age of sixteen. Tabitha and Gareth – those are the heroine and hero. It was filled with all sorts of angst and gothic romance clichés. It was really awful, but of course, my mother adored it. There are also a couple of short stories completed for English classes – some of which got someone else a wonderful grade (Oh please, don’t let any of my students see that!) and earned me some extra cash.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, gothic romance aside, the first book I got published wasn’t actually the first one I wrote. Winning Heart, which just came out in July, I originally completed six years ago. I didn’t choose it as my first attempt at getting published because it was a little non-traditional. It arose out of a “What if?” question that popped into my mind about foxhunting, which plays a role at the beginning of the story.
What comes first, plot or characters?
This is a tough question for me because I usually come up with a what if kind of an idea that gives me the initial start to a story, then I begin to develop who the characters are and that normally takes the idea in a different direction than I might have initially envisioned. Sound disorganized? Yes, it is. It’s a very inefficient way to write that I can only manage to carry off because I write extremely fast.
How do you come up with the titles for your books?
I hate that part. Most of the time, my manuscripts don’t get titles until I’m about ready to submit them somewhere. In their initial forms, they normally have the hero’s name on them, don’t ask me why. The exceptions to that would be The Silkie’s Call and The Silkie’s Salvation. Both those titles are very plot descriptive.
What is the hardest part of writing?
Most of the time, an initial draft is the easy part of the process for me. The hard part comes in stepping back from it to look at it critically. Sometimes that critical look involves a major rewrite. For example, the original version of Winning Heart I completed in first person point of view, decided I could never sell it that way and rewrote the entire thing in third person. I had to add in additional scenes from the hero’s point of view and rewrite some scenes because they worked better in a different point of view.
Do you have an interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if this is a quirk or not. I can write anywhere. It must be a leftover from working in a noisy newsroom for so many years, but I’ve sat with a laptop at baseball practices writing at the same time I was carrying on a conversation with someone. I write on laptops, desktops and my netbook. Thank God I have only a basic cellphone or I’d probably find some way to write on that too. I have a flash drive that lives with me. Everything’s on it. Everything’s portable, and it’s always with me unless I’m sleeping or in the shower…lol.
What have you learned from being a published author that you wish you knew before you were published?
Having someone critique your work will always feel a lot like the cat scratching you, and the cover artist will never see your hero exactly as you do.
What’s the best writing advice you ever received/read?
The best advice I ever read was from a writer, I don’t remember who it was now, talking about a friend of his who never got published because he kept trying to make his current manuscript perfect. Sometimes you just have to say it’s good enough and let someone else decide if it’s ready to publish.
Any advice for new writers?
Two things. Keep at it. Practice improves your writing, and that should be one of your goals is to make each story you write just a bit better than the last one. The second thing I would tell new writers is this: to be a published writer you must submit your work to a publisher. Don’t do what I did which was to keep writing for years without every attempting to publish. Once I made the decision to make my writing a business, I found a publisher.
You have several series out. Tell us about the “Silkies” books. Is the seal concept something you came up with on your own, or is there a myth or a history behind it?
Ah, I love the Silkies. You’ll also see this spelled as Selkie; I found both doing research, so yes it is a mythology primarily of Celtic and Norse origins. Most of the mythology has tragic endings of separation and Silkie children being stolen from human homes. My introduction to them came through a ballad Joan Baez recorded on an album when I was just a kid. “Silkie” is her version of The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry. It’s a very sad song, and I guess reaching back to my childhood roots of not liking unhappy endings, I changed the whole idea.
Your other series is the “Brotherhood of the Guardians”. I’m always a sucker (no pun intended!) for a good vampire story. Is there anything about your vampires that make them different from the ‘usual’ or are they more like traditional vampires?
My vamps are good-looking, rich and run a financial investment empire—oh and they kick rogue vampire butt on the side. I’ve truly twisted this mythology and spun it off the idea that vampires are really the offshoot of Cain. This twist is something that takes a while to come out because they also have the ability to transform humans, and my initial vamps were all changed, not born.
What made you decide to write a series?
I get so attached to my characters, I don’t want them to go away. I blame this on my mother’s decades-long addiction to “Days of Our Lives”. It must be in my genetic code.
What is one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
Is it true that romance writers create the man of their dreams? Absolutely. I don’t think I’ve had a single romance hero belch, scratch or turn off my chick-flick so he can watch Swamp People.
Where can we find you and your books?
You can find me at www.laurabrowningbooks.com, www.laurabrowningbooks.blogspot.com, on facebook and also on twitter at LauraBrowning4.
My Books are available at The Wild Rose Press, Lyrical Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.