Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interview with author Mary Sullivan

Jonel, thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’m happy to be here today!

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I lean more toward being an introvert than an extrovert, so writing works very well for me. I used to be a darkroom printer before computers came along and changed—drastically—the way photographs are printed. I liked working in my own private space and it seems that I’ve continued the tradition with writing! I’ve learned that writing can be isolating, though, so I try to get out regularly to engage with other authors, family and friends.

I’m a puzzle fanatic—can’t get enough of them—cryptic crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, variety puzzle books. I see my stories as puzzles, too. When I start a new story, I ask myself how I’m going to structure the novel for the best effect and how the plot will run. In writing a new story, I’m not only solving a puzzle, but also creating it!

Q ~ What’s something that you never leave home without?

My driver’s license and my health card. If any happened to me, I could be identified. Sounds morbid, I know, but I would want my family notified quickly if I were in the hospital, especially if unconscious and unable to call them myself.

Also, I like to carry some cash. When I take my long weekend walks, I sometimes want a snack on the way home. I have to be careful that I don’t undo all of the positive effects of walking by piling on calories, though. I have SUCH a weakness for potato chips. LOL

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read?

Definitely romance, including contemporary and historical, but I also love thrillers and mysteries. I’ll read anything by David Baldacci and Lee Child.

Q ~ Can you tell me about your ideal reader?

S/he likes heart-warming stories about families and children. Even though I also can use a lot of gritty plot points and realistic character development, I like writing warm, funny moments. So I guess I like readers who are open to a wide spectrum within one book.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?

For as far back as I can remember, I have been a daydreamer, but never thought of writing down my stories. Then I read LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory and loved it. It was the first romance novel I had ever read. Up to that point, I had carried all of the prejudices against romance that most people do. This book was a revelation, warm and wonderful. After I read all of Spencer’s novels, I knew I wanted to write romance.

Q ~ Who are your biggest supporters?

My writing ‘family,’ all of those fellow published and aspiring authors who understand how much more difficult the job of putting together a good story is than readers can possibly know.

Q ~ When you write, do you lay out a solid outline before beginning, or start writing and iron out the kinks later?

I do both. I have to write a synopsis to sell the story to my publisher, and use that as my outline, but there is leeway there. My editor understands that things will change as I work my way through the book and get to know my characters better. Sometimes characters beg me to change their internal conflict or motivations and, at other times, a weird thought will jump into my head when I’m partway through the book that will change everything, like, ‘Oh my goodness, why didn’t I see right from the start that this story needs the heroine to have a long-lost twin!” LOL

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?

I have to read the news in the local papers every day before I start writing. It’s amazing how many writing ideas I can pick up. My go-to-snack is popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast. The closer I get to my deadline, the more antsy I get and the more I need to snack. Thank goodness I stand up to write these days or my waist would be expanding!

Q ~ Why did you choose to write contemporary romance as your primary genre?

I discovered Harlequin Superromances. I like many of Harlequin’s categories, but particularly like that Superromances are long enough to develop a really good plot and strong character development. Plus, I enjoy a good subplot in a book and Supers are long enough to allow me to develop one in each book.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release No Ordinary Home?
No Ordinary Home started with an odd premise that I grew to love. The heroine has been living on the streets for six years waiting for money that she is owed to become available to her. Her backstory is that she was a child star who ran away from the relentless glare of fame and the never-ending intrusion of the paparazzi. The hero, Austin Trumball, is a character who was a child in one of my other novels. Many, many readers emailed asking me to give him his own story…and so I did. It’s twenty years later and he is now a deputy sheriff in Ordinary, Montana, and a salt-of-the-earth, no-nonsense guy who loses his head and his heart to the heroine.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?

For me, it was the scene in which the heroine cuts the hero’s hair and realizes that, more than money, fame and adulation, the thing she has missed the most in her self-imposed exile is touch. The longing to hold Austin and be held by him becomes intense. It’s kind of a bittersweet scene because she knows there can never be anything between them, but she wishes she were a normal person with a normal background, and could just follow through on her impulses and let the relationship grow naturally.

Q ~ Of the works you’ve written, which is your favourite? Is there also a character that holds a special place in your heart?

It’s very hard to choose a favourite, because each story has a ‘character’ of its own, and they are all different. Having said that, I have a soft spot for my first published novel, No Ordinary Cowboy, because I loved the hero, Hank, so much. The affection that developed between him and one of the young children he brings to his ranch to recover from cancer was a pure joy to write.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?

I just sold two more Superromances to Harlequin, both of them set in my fictional town of Accord, Colorado. I love writing my series about my made-up towns because I get the chance to give minor characters from earlier stories their own happy endings. The books will come out sometime next year. You’ll see Aiyana Pearce from Always Emily in one story and Noah Cameron from In From the Cold in another.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be genuine. Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t imitate a successful author’s voice. Use your own voice in your writing and in your promotion and let yourself shine.

~ Mary Sullivan ~
Mary Sullivan grew up amid the cultural pop and fizz of an urban cosmopolitan center. Despite this, she writes about small fictional towns in Montana and Colorado, and populates her stories with cowboys and ranchers. After she discovered Harlequin Superromances, she knew she wanted to write her own heartfelt stories of love, hope, relationships and happy endings. Harlequin published her first novel in 2009. The Ordinary, Montana, series has won both awards and great reviews. Her eleventh Superromance, No Ordinary Home, comes out in October of 2014.

She loves to hear from readers!  Connect with her via her websiteFacebook, or Twitter: @MSullivanWrites.

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