Can you tell us a little about yourself?
How much space do we have? ;-) In a nutshell, I’m a former office manager/software tutor/theme park games hostess/aerobics instructor. These days I’m a writer/workshop tutor/website designer/mum. Of course I’m a Gemini, which I think explains the multiple jobs.
When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I first remember being encouraged to write in year 5 when my teacher read my short story aloud in class (it was about horses and he gave me top marks for using the word ‘cascading’ which apparently, was quite advanced for an 11 year old
Then I moved on from horsey stories to sheikhs and pirates, which reflects what I was reading at the time. I wrote a few wall bangers on the work commute when I was 18-20.
Joining RWA in 1994 was really the turning point for me, which opened my eyes to all the technical stuff like voice, point of view, scene and structure, plot and characterization. I entered a few contests, then submitted to Harlequin Temptation in 95, which was promptly rejected.
Fast forward to 2006, where I’d entered close to 90 contests and submitted (and been rejected) full manuscripts. I got the call from Silhouette Desire in September, so it only took me twelve years of serious yes-I-want-to-be-published writing to get there.
Are you a panster or plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influence you most? What's your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?
I’m more of a scener – I see full scenes in my head, write them down then attempt to string them all together in some cohesive, logical format. Sometimes this works, sometimes not ;-) Which is where Document Map becomes invaluable – I can see my scene summary at a glance and if it needs to be moved, changed or deleted.
My characters definitely influence the story most – if they’ve had a certain upbringing, had experiences and been through life-changing events, then that will definitely shape the story. However, sometimes I want a story to go one way, which gets me thinking about what type of character I need to ensure that direction. So sometimes each influences the other!
As to my writing process - I do characters sketches: physical characteristics, life influences, family dynamic, etc. The more I know about my character’s back story, the easier the story comes to me.
Then I draft up a synopsis, around 6 pages or so, then the first three chapters. I fiddle and tinker with that until it feels right, then, after I submit that to my editor, I write the rest of the book. Sometimes I’ll write my ‘itching-to-be-written’ scenes first, sometimes not.
My first draft is generally my only draft, because I edit as I go. And by this time, my editor may come back with some concerns or ideas which I look at.
It’s also important for me to get the whole story down without going back and editing every single time I sit down to write. So when I come to a roadblock (could be a missing fact, could be a clunky sentence, could be something that just doesn’t read right) I add a comment flag in Word, type in the issue, then keep on going. When I address all those little flags, I’m happy with my story :-)
I also have a list of my frequently used words (rather, overused!) and I flag those within the story. Then when I’m in the last stages of writing, I’ll revisit those words to see if I can use a better one.
Tell us about your new release.
It’s called PROMOTED TO WIFE? and it’s out in the USA mid-March, Australia/NZ mid-April. I had heaps of fun writing this one, especially all the dialogue and the secondary characters, where we revisit the Prescotts (the hero’s brother Cal had his own story in The Magnate’s Baby Promise).
My hero, Zac, is a step down from the ultra-alpha – he’s so sweet, I love him to bits! And Emily is definitely shades of everywoman, with all the doubts and insecurities we sometimes stress about. I also loved writing Emily’s sister AJ who nearly hijacked every scene she appeared in. Of course, I have to give her a story of her own!
Here’s my back cover blurb:
Running a multi-billion dollar company meant long hours for Zac Prescott. Thankfully, his super-efficient assistant made the workload almost bearable. Theirs was a strictly professional relationship… until the night Emily Reynolds finally let her hair down. And the tycoon took full advantage by stealing a kiss.
Suddenly, all Zac could concentrate on was his once plain-Jane secretary. Too bad that after the kiss, she'd quit! Could he lure her back with better prospects… and add some pleasure to the job description? Or was Emily looking for the ultimate promotion...to wife?
Despite the ‘wife’ mention, the story isn’t about the hero thinking the heroine is after marriage :-)
What’s the most unusual place you have visited?
A few – the night in a Valencia youth hostel that was an old converted stable. The torture instrument museum in the basement of an Innsbruck castle. The long, dark walk to a restaurant in the middle of nowhere in Austria that reminded me of A Werewolf in London when the guy got bitten. Think open rolling hills, no street lights, mist and snow and a tiny country road that went for ages. Creepy!
Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you'd like to use in a future book?
I’d love to do a dark story with a damaged, tortured warrior hero who’s running (both physically and mentally) from terrible secrets from his past. Of course, that’s not Desire material :-) Which is why I’ve got this space opera/fantasy/erotic story fermenting in my head, a story that tackles the huge issues of love, betrayal, revenge and getting your heart’s desire. And growing up with the original Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr Who, et al, I adore those kinds of fantastical elements.
This book is such a labour of love, though, and I’m working on it in between my Desire commitments (and of course, now I’ve committed to it out loud, I’m sure my writer friends will keep me on track and ensure I finish it
Thanks, Paula, for allowing me to interrog--umm, I mean, interview you!
For more information on Paula, head on over to her website, or to follow her blog.
Paula's other books: