Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Welcome, Florence Case!

Today we’ve got a visitor! Everyone extend a warm welcome to Steeple Hill author, Florence Case. And there’s a prize! (Read to the bottom to get the details. Okay, technically you could just scroll down... but you'll want to read this interview. Trust me.)

I’ve known Flo for four or five years now and she’s a super warm and supportive person and I’m absolutely thrilled to see her in print again! Her backlist includes three historical romances under the name Florence Moyer, for Pageant Books and Kensington, and five category romances, under the name Hayley Gardner, for Silhouette Yours Truly and Silhouette Romance.

In addition to being an author, Flo has worked as a freelance editor, and has taught romance writing classes and completed manuscript critiques for the Writer's Digest Magazine School. These days, she’s happy to be focused back on the side of publishing she most loves—creating stories.

Her latest novel is DEADLY REUNION, a February release in the Steeple Hill Inspired Suspense line.

Flo, thanks for stopping by to visit and congratulations on the release of DEADLY REUNION. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

Yes, I've always wanted to be a writer from the time I was about ten years old and wrote my first, two page short story. It was a mystery involving children and what was in the trunk in their attic. I wish I could tell you what it was in the trunk, but I've long since forgotten most of the details except that my teacher told me it was a very good story. Then, when I was thirteen, I started writing heroines for my favorite television heroes in westerns or in detective shows, or, if they were older heroes, giving them daughters who would go through danger and have a younger colleague of the hero's rescue them. I think now that's called fan fiction, but back then, I had no idea.

I did this all through my teens, then started writing short stories in college and during my early twenties. I received a couple of great rejection letters for those stories.

Thinking I would spend my life in the Northeast, I got my Bachelor's degree in German from Montclair State College (now a University) in NJ, hoping to get a job as a bilingual secretary, which paid well back then. As it turned out, I married a wonderful guy and moved for his new job to the deep South, where they don't speak German. But it didn't matter, because all I ever wanted to do was write fiction.

I began to pursue that dream, and like most writers, had some successes and a few heartbreaks. Basically, I wrote my million words long before my first two books were published by Pageant Books in 1989.

Where do you get your inspiration? Characters first? Plot? Dreams? Divine intervention?

Oh gosh. I'm convinced Divine Intervention was behind DEADLY REUNION, because lots of that book was unplanned. I would write something down and not know why, and then a couple chapters later, the "why" of it became so clear. It would happen again and again. But generally, I would say my main inspiration comes from situations that grip me and won't let go.

For DEADLY REUNION, for instance: What happens if a murderer is set free, and later it's discovered he is indeed guilty, but due to double jeopardy laws cannot be retried without new evidence--but even more frightening, he's found God and is going to YOUR church? That's what I started with. As I dreamed up characters for the situation, it changed somewhat, but I think the intensity of the fear that would grip someone in the initial situation is still there.

You’ve written in several sub-genres, what led you to try inspirational romantic suspense?

The romantic suspense part is easy to explain, so I'll tackle that first. I've always put, or tried to put, a mystery or danger into each of my books. This was easier to do with historical romance, but I had to hold back, and rightly so, with my straight category romances I wrote for Silhouette, which needed to have the focus on the relationship, not on a mystery. I decided to try not holding back and seeing if I could break into romantic suspense.

The decision to go into the inspirational genre was really tough for me, and to be honest, I fought it. My faith in God is important to me, and I was afraid I would get something wrong, such as writing characters that do not glorify God, or worse, turn non-believers away from God, which would horrify me. But I kept feeling like I needed to write characters who are more focused on God than those I'd been writing, and who have faith that comforts them in times of trouble. At the same time, I wanted to keep them "real", with questions about God they cannot answer, and doubts that pop up, and faith that wavers, because these things happen with believers' lives sometimes. Fortunately, Steeple Hill let me do that.

James Bond or Austin Powers?

Love this question! The movie previews I saw for Austin Powers didn't do a thing for me, so I skipped that movie. The three James Bond flicks I've actually sat through, I think I knitted or read a book and just looked up when there was shooting or some sort of explosives. (I have no idea why movie violence is so interesting to me. In real life, firecrackers going off can send me running straight for the house. I double check--okay, triple check my doors every night to make sure they are locked. You get the idea.) For fantasy or fictional heroes, I think I'm more into police detectives--in which case give me Robert DeNiro in any detective role. I love watching the intensity in him when he's facing the bad guys. I also loved Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue. They are both powerful, 'get it done' guys that don't take any nonsense from anyone. (And I don't care if they have a little bulk on them.)

Tell us more about DEADLY REUNION.

I believe this is my favorite book I've ever written. Angie Delitano, a police officer, was betrayed by her former fiancé, a lawyer who got his client, a man she is positive murdered his wife, off scot free at her expense. To be fair to Boone Walker, he did warn her he would do anything to free the man. And now that the murderer is free and engaged to marry her sister, she is determined to stop the wedding. There are just two problems at the opening of the book--she stopped her sister's first wedding, so her family is barely talking to her and barely trusts her, and on her way to dig up some evidence on the murderer, someone threatens Angie's life. So in order to accomplish her goal, she must go to Boone Walker, because, just like with his clients, she knows if he promises to help her, he will do anything it takes to do just that.

What’s next for you? What are you working on?

MISTLETOE AND MURDER, coming out in November 2009, is my work in progress. It's probably better if I don't talk much about it, but it involves a city, Christmas, and a heroine and hero who, the closer they get, the more the villain wants to kill them both.

It sounds just as fabulous as DEADLY REUNION! I’m curious, are you the Florence Moyer that the EPIC award is named after?

Yes, that’s me. When the internet seemed to be getting more and more popular in 1997, I got the idea to put out the call to other interested authors to form a small email group that later became EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection, to investigate the young phenomenon of ebooks. I just had a feeling that ebooks would be big. During the next couple of months, the group expanded and went official, with board members. To help make us more professional, (and because this was before yahoo groups, and a lot of emails were going astray), I bought a program for my computer that would take in emails and distribute them, including in digests if people wanted them. I ran that for a while. I also learned html coding and set up the first web site with graphics that another member sent me.
Later, I dropped out of the group, as I was primarily interested in traditional publishing, but EPIC remembered me by making the Florence Moyer Service Award at their annual conferences. Of course, not being in EPIC, but their having the award named after me, has a strange side too. A couple years or more after I left EPIC, I met up with a member at an RWA conference, who'd heard of me because of the award, and who'd thought I was dead.
Uh, not yet.

That’s hilarious. (About the being mistaken for dead, I mean.) Good on you for all that hard work for EPIC. Wow. (Always wondered how writers survived before Yahoo Groups.) What are your favorite books, movies, TV shows?

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series--because I was born and raised in Jersey, and that's where her books are set. Anything by Lisa Scottoline because she's funny and sophisticated at the same time. Movies and TV shows: All the LETHAL WEAPON movies because of the camaraderie between the two main characters. Anything with Robert DeNiro in it, and almost anything with Clint Eastwood.

TV shows: 24 with Keifer Sutherland (love Chloe), and Prison Break because of the camaraderie, and I thought it was neat that one brother would go to prison to break his brother out. And anything like Forensic Files, 48 Hours, Snapped--basically any true crime show.

I look at the above list and go ugh, people are going to think I'm violence happy. I'm not, honest. I think the thing is I like to see lawbreakers caught and the good guys get happy endings. But just in case there are more doubts, here are two more movies I loved: RADIO, based on a real story about this mentally handicapped young man whom a high school coach befriends and really helps. Having a handicapped young adult son, this movie is heartwarming for me. And CHRISTMAS STORY, because we've all been kids with that kind of wish. (Mine was for a Barbie doll when I was six.)

I love CHRISTMAS STORY, too. What’s your favorite thing about being an author? Your least favorite?

My favorite thing is being able to stay home. I don't have a least favorite, unless it's writing something and it not selling. I try to learn from it, but it's basically sad.

What’s your #1 piece of advice for aspiring authors?

Read. I know it sounds clichéd, but I'm a firm believer in this. I lost my first publisher to a buy out by a larger publisher, who closed down the paperback line I had sold my historical romances to. (After they were published, fortunately.) I broke back into publishing only when I spent three straight months reading fifty category romances in a row, and marking down what worked and didn't work for me in them. It helped me develop a feel for how to write a category romance.

What’s your favorite drink?

Ice tea. No sugar. I used to drink tons of it, but had to cut down on caffeine. Years ago, in my wild days, I used to love tequila sunrises, but drinking gave me migraines the next day, so I had to stop.

I want to thank Maureen and Drunk Writer's for having me. I enjoyed the interview.

We loved having you Flo, and the next time I see you in person, the iced tea’s on me.

**One lucky commenter, chosen at random, will receive a copy of DEADLY REUNION.**

Comment by Friday the 13th at midnight to be eligible. Winner’s name will be posted on the weekend.


Barrie said...

Am I actually the first commenter on this fantabulous interview!!? And I'm with you on Austin Powers. Not for me. Here's to a great release!

Alli Sinclair said...

Great interview, ladies! Flo, your writing is wonderful and I look forward to reading your next release. And sorry, Barrie and Flo, I do love Austin Powers (and James Bond ain't bad, either).

Lisa said...

I wanna be Flo when I grow up! :-) No seriously, writing, editing, teaching? That's a wonderful career! I love Evanovich too, even though I've never even been to Jersey! And I'd love to win a copy of Deadly Reunion!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, wonderful interview - one of the best I've read. And that reminds me - I've got to get to DEADLY REUNION - on top of my TBR pile.

Kimber Chin said...

That is so cool about the EPIC award being named after Flo!
That organization has been so influential!

Great interview!

Anonymous said...

Flo, wonderful interview. Thanks for guesting on DWT.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I've heard that one million word rule before. Wonder how close I am?

Flo, so nice to read about your writing experiences. My best for a successful release :)

Flo Moyer said...

Thank you everyone for the nice comments. I was so wordy on the answers and you were all great to read through it. I've been terrible not getting back here till now to read them--have been nuts with a book deadline.

Lisa, I just read Plum Spooky not long ago. It had some really funny writing in it--definitely worth reading, I think. I just saw you won the drawing--hope you enjoy DEADLY.

L.A. Mitchell--I heard the one million rule a long time ago. Thought it was pretty interesting myself.


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