Welcome and thanks for treading the boards with us today!
1. Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing?
I'm inspired by all three. With people, I don't directly use them in my writing. I tend to create new characters who blend lots of different people's traits. Places and experiences I directly transfer to my writing.
The Virginity Mission is an invented story but uses a place I've been to (Daintree rainforest and river) and a scientific expedition that I went on. The same number of people are in the story that were in my real life experience but none of the character traits are real - I invented the characters to make the story more interesting. Although, there are bits of all sorts of people, including myself, in the characters.
2. Please share one of your favourite moments of inspiration with us.
Inspiration comes in all forms and times but the most consistent moment is when I'm asleep or almost asleep. I have a notepad and pen by my bed and I've learned to capture these flashes because if I don't, they're gone. And yes, I can write with my eyes closed and it's decipherable (after years of practice!).
3. How did you come up with the idea of The Virginity Mission?
When I was young I went on a scientific expedition to the Daintree (in North Queensland). It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life - tough, fun, challenging - and I thought it was perfect for a story. Enough time has gone by that I was able to fictionalise fact. Sometimes if there's not enough distance from the experience then I struggle getting away from the facts - and often facts don’t make a great story!
4. How do you come up with your characters’ names?
Mostly they pop into my head as I'm writing or thinking about them. Sometimes I go searching the Internet for a name. I always check newspapers for fun names and try to remember any that might work.
5. What is your favourite holiday?
Lord Howe Island is my favourite holiday destination. I love quiet spots, beaches, snorkelling and diving. Currently I'm writing a fun erotic story set there. It's the most magical destination.
6. Do you read reviews of your books? What do you do when you read a not-so-nice one?
I’ve had two short stories published. One was in an anthology with 68 other stories. I read reviews, desperately wanting someone to say my story was the best - no one did, because it's not. But I learned from that. I can waste a LOT of time wishing for the impossible, or I can write and keep improving. So I don't look for reviews, I don't really want to read them (because I feel sick worrying) and I'm not tough enough to read the bad stuff.
7 How many times were you turned down before you finally got published?
The Virginity Mission was rejected 6 times before being accepted by Escape Publishing. I've submitted a few other stories over time mostly with rejections...but a few "wins" along the way kept me going (contest judges giving great marks or feedback, a contest final, a short story acceptance).
8. What reason(s) did the publishers give for their rejection of your manuscript?
I've not been given a reason for any of my rejections. Some have been form letters, others have been that long long silence until the time limit expires (or there's still silence years later!).
9. Who do you most admire and why? OR If you could meet anyone and spend an hour with them alive or dead who and why?
10. What is your favourite book of all time that you can reread a hundred times, and it still feels like the first time?
It's rare that I re-read a book, although I keep my favourites because I think one day I will have time to re-read!
11. What do you need to set the mood for you to write?
A bit of time - seconds will do!
12. If there is one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing a book in that specific genre, what would it be?
I'll try anything! I have tried a few genres and mixed genres. I'm not good at world building, so fantasy would be difficult for me, although I enjoy reading it and am jealous of people who can build magical worlds.
13. How many blurbs did you have to write before the final one?
Ha ha! I am useless at blurbs. I wrote gazillions and they were terrible - even I knew that! I got help from a friend, which included a very long phone call, but in the end Escape wrote my blurb! Thank goodness because it sells my story. Mine only told my story. Subtle difference but important.
14. What are you working on now?
I have four stories written that need editing and rewriting. Two are erotic romances (one novella, one novel) and two are women's fiction. I also have a whole slew of ideas screaming to be written.
15. Would you like to share an excerpt from your writing or a photo or music link that inspires you?
I thought you might like to meet Mac, the heroine of The Virginity Mission. This excerpt is when she’s introducing herself to the group she’s allocated.
“I’m Mac. Willow MacIntosh really but no one calls me anything but Mac. I hope you will too.” I hate my name. It sounds prissy and girly. Plus when you’re tall, curve-free and bony, Willow is a dumb name. I can’t believe my parents landed me with such a weird moniker. I’ve been known to completely ignore anyone who calls me anything but Mac. From the nods I receive from the group, I guess everyone will call me that.