April 15, 2011. Tax Day. I hope you filed already, because I've asked a great guest to visit today. I'm welcoming a fellow Wild Rose author, Alana Lorens. I've asked Alana a ton of questions, and she did an awesome job answering them. So, let's get to the interview.
1) Alana, welcome. Can you tell us a little about your story Secrets In The Sand, a blurp?
After a run of bad relationships, Lily Pearl Evans has finally become an independent woman, the owner of the Sassafras Social Club, a quiet little bordello. In the New Mexico desert town of Chaparral, she works for herself, sets her own rules, and is determined no man will hold her back again.
Gene Nicholas worked for more than a decade to achieve his dream to be a doctor. Wanting to share his gifts with those less fortunate, he leaves south Florida to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders in Mexico.
When Gene provokes a showdown with the local Mexican drug cartel, he becomes a man with a price on his head. On the run, he ends up on Lily’s doorstep--a mystery man forced to conceal his past to protect them both. With the cartel’s dangerous web drawing tight around them, can Lily and Gene survive a drug lord’s revenge?
Secrets In The Sand sounds AWESOME! I love a good suspense, as you well know. What inspired you to write the story?
Years ago my husband and I were members of a role playing game on the Internet, and these two characters were characters we developed and played. The characters of Gene and Lily were as potentially mismatched as they are in SECRETS IN THE SAND, but somehow they found their way to each other, and in this story, they did as well.
How cool. That is the first time I've heard of character development through a game. LOVE IT! Can you describe your heroine? Does she look like someone you know physically? Did you give her some of your character, values, and aspirations? What makes her special?
Lily’s a redhead, late thirties, deep blue eyes, with legs still worth a second look. She’s a little vain about signs of getting older, and vulnerable still from her mother abandoning her when she was a child. She likes to dress up—even though she isn’t one of the sex workers at the Club, she still wants to feel beautiful and sexy. When her aunt left her the house that she turns into the Club, Lily realizes she can be independent of any man and take care of herself, build her own security. Like me, she works hard, and tries to build a family out of those close to her.
I love reading about more mature characters. Now tells us about your hero. Does he look like someone you know physically? What are his best traits? What are his flaws? Did you fall in love with him while writing the story?
Gene is in his mid-thirties, a doctor who worked his way through many years of school, determined to save people after his brother died as a young boy from a sudden illness. His brown hair is cut close, and he’s got wide brown eyes that readily show his emotions. He cares deeply about his patients—this is what gets him in trouble in the town where he’s working through Doctors Without Borders. The local drug lord abuses one of Gene’s young patients and kills her. Gene acts to save the rest of the village without thinking about the personal consequences. Once he lands at Lily’s, he turns that caring and compassion on the young women who work at the Club as well as Lily herself. Throughout the story, though, he’s always just a little unsure he’s able to lift himself to the next level, to do what needs to be done, and this insecurity is definitely a flaw. But in the end he comes through big time. I’ve always been in love with Gene since my husband created him. He’s noble, brave and dedicated, but not too proud to get down on the floor and roll around with a baby or a dog when it’s called for.
Did you have to do special research for your story?
I had to learn about the southern area of New Mexico, and also a little bit about the drug cartels across the border. My one big investment was a visit to Radio Shack to find out how to locate a cell phone in the desert using a GPS. It was easier than I thought!
How many books have you written? And, which is your favorite and why?
I’ve probably written about 18 full-length manuscripts. SECRETS IN THE SAND is one of five I have signed contracts for in the last year. Three are part of an urban fantasy series from Dragonfly Publishing, Inc., THE ELF QUEEN, THE ELF CHILD and THE ELF MAGE; one, SECOND CHANCES, is a women’s fiction with romantic elements that will be out next year, and SECRETS is out this week from The Wild Rose Press.
That being said, my favorite story is a post-apocalyptic young adult book I’m still searching out a home for. It’s got a love story, survival, some violence—all the good stuff.
Tell us a little about your writing process. What comes first, plot or characters?
Definitely plot. When I get into the “what if?” mode, then I kick around some likely combinations of where the story might go. Next step is to choose some characters to handle the plot. I love the naming process. Sometimes that takes me the longest time, to make sure I’ve got interesting names that really fit the vibe I’m looking for. Fleshing out the characters with positives and flaws both, to keep things interesting comes next. Then we begin at the beginning. I may outline a chapter or two ahead so I can see where I need to go. The only time I’ve outlined a whole book before is when I’ve written for NaNoWriMo, which I’ve won twice. There you don’t have a lot of time to run by the seat of your pants!
Do you feel it’s important for an author to read outside of the genre their write and why?
It’s important for a writer to read. Period. Certainly reading across genres, especially these days, will help you, because the lines between genres are growing thinner and thinner. They have gardening mysteries and sci-fi romance and chick-lit thrillers—you’ve got to keep up with all of it!
I have to agree. Very important to write and read everyday.
Do you have a list of craft books that you think should be included in a writer’s study guide?
I don’t. I have been fortunate enough to take some classes with the wonderful Margie Lawson, including her Master Immersion class last fall in Colorado. She has a real gift for teaching the way to release emotions into your work.
I've bwwn Margieized too. Love her.
Okay. Let me ask something personal. When you’re not writing, what are some of your hobbies?
I garden a lot, running a community garden for the folks in my father’s apartment building. I also love to travel, and since my kids are spread out across the country, we’ve been able to see quite a bit of it, from the redwoods in California to Washington DC to Florida and more.
What is next for you?
I’m busy writing the third volume in the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, which is scheduled for release in 2012. Hopefully after that I’ll be able to get into a new project—I have some interesting ideas for a paranormal romance I’m dying to get to.
It's wonderful to learn more about you. Thanks for coming by today.Thanks, Autumn, for inviting me to meet your readers, and best wishes for your writing in the future!