Hello, Scribe Fans! We have a very special guest with us today: Laura Moore, whose novel TROUBLE ME released Tuesday from Ballantine Books. Laura is giving away a copy of TROUBLE ME to one lucky commenter, chosen at random, so get your comments in before midnight, EST, on March 30, 2012. Talk to us, Laura!
LM: I’ve always been a romantic. But I didn’t grow up dreaming of writing love stories or any kind of stories. I was too busy riding horses and hanging out at my stable to spend time curled up with a pencil and paper. Though I devoured books, I kept my own imaginings and stories locked in my head (this was probably why so many kids teased me for being a space cadet). It wasn’t until I was married, the mother of two, and pursuing a graduate degree in art education that I sat down and tried to write one of the stories I’d dreamed up. Using one of my art education class notebooks, I began writing the opening chapters. The story in my notebook became Ride A Dark Horse and was published in 2001.
I think the first romance novel I read was Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. I was about thirteen when I read it. For a girl raised on Jane Austen and P.G. Wodehouse, it was quite an eye-opener. In terms of writers who influenced me, the list is pretty long: Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, Catherine Coulter, LaVyrle Spencer, Linda Howard, Sandra Brown, Karen Robards, Susan Elizabeth Philips, and oh, yeah, Nora Roberts. They were the authors I searched for, whose titles I hunted down, a challenging task in the pre-internet era.
Inspire the as-yet-unpublished among us and tell us how the sale of your first book came about.
LM: My background is in art history and art education so I came to be published in romance fiction by a whole lot of luck. I didn’t know anything about the industry—absolutely nothing. But my brother happened to know a literary agent, Elaine Markson. He suggested I send her my manuscript and ask her where I might send it next. Imagine how novel a query letter that was!
Well, when Elaine got back to me, she told me that although she didn’t represent any other romance authors, she wanted to represent me. She then warned me that she really only knew one editor who worked in romance. So she and I decided that she’d send the manuscript along to Linda Marrow, who was then at Pocket Books. Linda was kind enough to offer me a two-book deal. Definitely a fairy tale beginning, right? As I said, I was extraordinarily lucky.
Describe your writing day for us.
LM: I get up at 6:30 am, have breakfast, and walk Hardy, our dog. Upon my return I throw a load of laundry into the wash and run around straightening up the house. I only mention this because I’m weird and there’s no way I can sit down to write if things aren’t basically organized. By 9:00 I’m at my computer. I try to work for three or four hours without wasting too much time checking and replying to emails, surfing the net in the name of ‘research’ or surfing the net just because it’s there. It terrifies me how much time I can waste on the net. I’m almost at the point where I’m considering buying a second computer that has no internet connection on it…Is any else feeling like they’ve become over-connected?
Sorry, I digress.
After lunch I’ll try to get a few more sentences onto the screen. Then at 2:30pm Hardy, without fail, will remind me that we need another walk. Sometimes I manage to squeeze in another hour of writing either in the late afternoon or evening, but my prime writing time is really that morning block of hours.
Of course, when I look at that description I realize how few of my days actually follow that schedule. Since I also teach English there are days when I can’t get any of my own work done. Then too I have to factor in the the days when I hit a boulder-sized obstacle in my plot or I realize something is terribly wrong with my character and I can’t quite put my finger on the problem. That’s when you can find me furiously cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, grocery shopping, doing just about anything to avoid my work in progress.
Your dog’s name is Hardy? Ahem! Nice! Are you a plotter or a pantser?
LM: I’m pretty much a pantser. I begin with a broad outline of my story, which contains the key plot points and a rough sketch of my heroine and hero. Then I pretty much try to connect the dots. It’s not very efficient, I know.
When I wrote my Rosewood trilogy, the first series I ever undertook, I had to be a little more organized because I wanted to make sure the plots and subplots meshed. The trilogy required me to keep lists, make timelines, and write a lot more scene sketches, all the things my right brain finds extremely objectionable. Luckily by the time I got to book three of the trilogy, Trouble Me, I really knew my characters and where my story was going. I guess the eight hundred plus pages I’d written leading up to Trouble Me sorted out some of the unholy mess in my mind.
When you are writing, how aware are you of romance character archetypes? In Remember Me you paired a born-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks uberhunk with a glamorous, born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-her-mouth heroine. Was that a conscious decision, or did it happen organically or intuitively as the story unfolded to you? How about archetypal plots?
LM: Never met an archetype I didn’t love.
Actually, when I began Remember Me I didn’t set out with the idea of making my heroine a spoiled, misunderstood princess and my hero a bad boy uberhunk. Archetypes were the furthest thing from my mind. I simply fell in love with an ad campaign for St. John that featured the actor Olivier Martinez (he’s just become engaged to Halle Berry). For those of you who don’t know Olivier Martinez, watch The Horseman on the Roof. You’ll thank me.
Just to show you how incredibly superficial I am, my idea for Margot, the heroine in Remember Me,came from another ad campaign, this one starring
Amber Valetta. I developed a huge crush on her (though not quite as big as the one I had on Olivier) and decided she really needed a love story. Because everyone, beautiful supermodels included, needs a love story.
Snaffle bits. Baker blankets. Longe lines. Your Rosewood trilogy is set on a Virginia horse farm. Are you an equestrienne, or did you just do your research really, really well?
LM: I used to ride and compete in horse shows but unfortunately I’ve had to put my riding on the back burner. I’m hoping that some day I’ll sell enough books to be able to afford a horse again. It’s a commitment that can’t be undertaken lightly.
I do try to research my stories really thoroughly. One of the earliest positive reviews I received for Ride A Dark Horse came from The Chronicle of the Horse. I was over the moon because you really can’t fool horse lovers or professionals in the business. I agonized over the details in Night Swimming too, which is a story I wrote about a marine biologist who tries to save an endangered coral reef in her hometown. Before Night Swimming, I’d done some scuba diving but there was no way I could have written the descriptions of the reefs and the signs of a massive die off of the coral without the interviews and research I conducted.
Here at the Scribes we talk about the Doubt Monster rearing its ugly head. Do you ever have doubts or uncertainty about your work? How do you slay that dragon and get on with your writing?
LM: I have doubts all the time. It’s part of my character. I also think it’s a fundamental part of being an artist. So yeah, when the words aren’t coming, I’m often visited by the foul-breathed doubt monster that settles on my shoulder and laughs hysterically over my puny attempt at putting words on a page. My emergency remedy? Chocolate…lots of it.
Over the years I’ve learned to ignore the monster’s cackles and sniggers by trying to be nicer to myself, give myself rallying pep talks, and even little pats on the back if I manage to write a halfway decent scene. It helps but I don’t kid myself that I’ll ever be able to vanquish the foul dwimmerlaik. Sorry. I’m a huge Tolkien fan and I haven’t been able to use a word like dwimmerlaik in years!
Glad I could give you an excuse to use “dwimmerlaik” in a sentence! Click here, readers, if you want more information about this nasty thing. Laura, do you have any pets? Tell us about them.
LM: We have a cat named Zevon (after Warren) and a dog named Hardy (after Thomas) and I love them madly. My plan is one day to sell a lot of books and buy a horse. If I sell lots and lots of books I’ll buy a farm.
I bet you’ll have that horse and farm sooner than you think, if you keep writing such wonderful books! When was the last vacation you took? Where did you go?
LM: Last year I took a trip to England. It was lovely. All the gardens were in bloom and the oilseed rape was bright yellow on the hills. I have family there so that made the trip even more wonderful.
What’s your junk food of choice?
LM: Popcorn with just a touch of salt.
Confess. What’s your favorite reality show?
LM: When I was writing Remember Me, the first book in my Rosewood trilogy, I made my heroine, Margot Radcliffe a fashion model, and since she liked to watch Project Runway, I got hooked on it too. Those characters can be such bad influences.
Now that the Rosewood Trilogy is complete with TROUBLE ME, (yes, I’m sniffling a bit here! Need Kleenex and a new Laura Moore novel, stat!) what’s next? Can you give us a hint, or is it a Secret? The Scribes love Secrets!
LM: I can only give you the sketchiest of sketches because I’m still figuring out some of the details. It’s a new series (the working title is the Silver Creek Series). The setting is a California guest ranch that is populated by horses and cattle and some really fine looking men in chaps and cowboy hats. And there may be some pesky goats, too.
There’s also in the first book (and I can’t tell you its title because it’s a secret) a lovely heroine. From Queens, New York, Tess is a city girl through and through. She’s also a widow and she’s come to the Silver Creek Ranch to escape a bitter secret and unhappy memories. Determined to make a new life for herself, she’s vowed never to fall in love again and leave herself vulnerable to heartbreak. Ward Knowles, the eldest son of the family that owns and runs Silver Creek, has made much the same promise…
As soon as I have more secrets to share about the series and Tess and Ward, I’ll let you know!
Thanks for being here today, Laura. Readers, here’s a little bit more about her:
Laura’s books have won the following writing awards in the single title category: Laurel Wreath Contest (Volusia County RWA); Maggies Award (Georgia RWA); Holt Medallion Award (Virginia RWA); Winter Rose Award (Yellow Rose RWA), The New England Bean Pot Reader’s Choice Award (NECRWA) and The Write Touch Reader’s Award (WISRWA). Her books have been translated into German and her Rosewood Trilogy will soon appear in Slovenian. All of the above thrill Laura to no end.
For more about Laura, please visit her at: www.lauramooreboooks.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100003660821403.