Interview with Micole Black on the Micole Writes Romance Blog:
Most writers tend to know from the start that one day they want to be a “writer.” A lot of them, like you, go to school and start a career geared towards that goal. When was the first time you realized you wanted to write for the characters stories running around inside of your head?
The writing part started for me in the 10th grade when a high school English teacher told me I had talent. That was news to me! The following year, I sacrificed band class (sadness) to take the journalism class that teacher was offering the same period as band. I was never sorry I did that as I went on to major in journalism in college and worked for several years as a reporter. I continue to use skills I gained during my journalism years every day in my current job as the communications director for a national organization. The characters appeared a little later. In 2002, I started having long conversations with a character named Jack. He was the start of it all. (More below about Jack!)
What steps did you take to follow your dreams?
First off, I wrote every day for a lot of years. Seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year. I did that until I had developed a good habit of daily production. In that time, I wrote seven books. The seventh one, Line of Scrimmage, was the first to be published. The first three books I wrote, the one featuring Jack and the two that followed, are still my favorites, and I hope to see them published someday—or I’ll do it myself. I really think readers will love those books. I also queried a lot until I found an agent who sold Line of Scrimmage. I was very determined and very focused on my goal. I think that made a big difference for me. I continue to be just as determined, but I don’t write every day anymore—except when I‘m on deadline.
What’s one thing that you know now that you wished you knew when you started your journey as a writer?
I wish I had known more about what happens after you get The Call and what questions to ask. I know what questions matter now, and that’s really important.
Every author has something different to give to their reader with their work. What do you think makes your writing unique?
I like to write about regular people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. I’m a big believer that much of life happens in the gray area between black and white. I love to delve into that gray area. One of my favorite of my books, The Fall, is about a prominent doctor who falls in love with his best friend’s girlfriend. Such a simple premise but with far-reaching ramifications for everyone involved. I love the notion of a man who thinks he knows himself and what’s important until he meets The One and everything he thought he knew becomes irrelevant. I’ll be posting The Fall to Amazon soon. I hope readers will check it out and enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it. Much of my darling Jack’s story involves gray area, too. That’s where all the fun happens for me as a writer.
In the past I have asked my guests to share a favorite character that they have created and why, but in reading your piece “The House that Jack Built,” you answered that question for me. Can you share with the readers your story about Jack?
Ahhh yes, my beloved Jack Harrington! Here’s the story: The first character to take up occupancy in my mind as a living, breathing human being, was a handsome, successful architect named Jack Harrington. Jack and I ran around together for a long time before I ever put fingers to keyboard to tell his story. I wanted to write about a man who has it all—a wife he still adores after twenty years of marriage, three beautiful daughters he'd do anything for, and a life most people would envy. That life is turned upside down when his wife is hit by a car and plunged into a coma. I wanted to show Jack's struggles to rebuild his life as he becomes the custodial parent for his daughters—two of them teenagers with all the accompanying issues—and I wanted to show his conflict when he finds a new love. These issues make up the core of my first book, "Treading Water," which led to two sequels, "Marking Time," and "My Side of the Street." It's "Treading Water," however, that is the book of my heart.
Since I finished "Treading Water," I've thought of my writing as "The House That Jack Built," tying into his career as an architect and the unexpected building blocks that came from "Treading Water." As I was finishing "My Side of the Street" in July 2006, I decided to drive out to Chatham, Massachusetts, so I could finish it in the town where it was set. Yes, this was a huge indulgence, but it coincided with the halfway point of summer vacation and my kids were driving me nuts. I had earned this night away! The first thing I did when I got to Chatham was drive around to check out the four streets I had chosen from hundreds on a map to place my characters' homes. I figured if there was, say, a cement factory on both sides of the street, the people of Chatham would know I hadn't bothered to come out there and check. I am pleased to report there were houses on all four streets, but on the corner of the fourth street, there was something else—a red house with a sign on the side that said, "The House That Jack Built." No, I am not kidding, and yes, I sat there and cried. If ever there was a "sign" that I was on the path I was meant to be on, there it was. It was without a doubt, one of the most amazing moments of my life, and I will never, ever forget it. You can view the photo of the house and read the second part of the story at www.mariesullivanforce.com/writing.php.
After hearing this story, you can probably see why I want so badly to share these three books with readers. In the next year or so, I hope to get them out there!
What are you reading right now? If nothing at the moment then what do you like to read when you have time?
I recently started a Book Club on my blog (http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot.com) where we feature a new book every week and invite the authors to come out and interact with readers. Most of them offer up at least one giveaway book. Well, Robyn Carr of Virgin River fame is going to be our guest on Dec. 16. As a thank you for having her, the lovely Ms. Carr sent me PROMISE CANYON, the first in her new Virgin River trilogy, out in January. I can’t wait to dive into this book as the Virgin River series is one of my all-time favorites! I’ve also been reading a lot of romantic suspense lately (for the book club), but that is unusual for me. I tend to not read that which I write. That’s why I read a lot of historical romances. Lisa Kleypas is my favorite. I often say that she could write the phone book, and I’d read it. I love every one of her books.
Give us a glimpse into a writer’s life.
My writer’s life is so weird! LOL! I work all day from my home in RI for a company in Virginia. I started with them 15 years ago when my husband was stationed with the Navy in the DC area. When we moved to Florida 12 years ago they asked me to stay on as a full-time telecommuter. I’ve been doing that ever since—from the time my kids were babies until now when the oldest is in high school and the youngest in middle school. So that’s my day job. Around 5:30, I quit work to make dinner, manage homework, drive kids here there and everywhere, make the next day’s lunches, fold laundry and wrangle the crazy puppy. I’ve gotten really good at getting all the chores done very quickly! Speed folding? I’m your girl.
When ALL of that is done, I write. Usually from about 7:30 to about 10 or 11—or until my eyes give out. On any given day, it all depends on whether or not it’s happening. If the word aren’t coming, I quit trying and work on my website or blog or fool around with my friends on Facebook.I also make sure to save a little time at the end of every day to read (yes, I am hard on my eyes!) I’m lucky that my kids are a little older now and like to have downtime of their own, so they are very good about accommodating my writing time at night and on weekends. The only time my schedule deviates is when I’m on deadline—then I force myself to write whether it’s happening or not—and when I travel for work. No writing gets done then. I’ve learned that I need to be at home to be productive. Quiet hotels don’t work as well for me as my own crazy living room. Funny story about this oddity of mine: when I was recently on deadline for FATAL CONSEQUENCES, I was traveling for work and had time at night after my commitments, but it was just too damned quiet in the hotel room. So I turned on the show Parenthood and the chaos on the show was very similar to my house. I wrote 3,000 words that night. See? I told you I’m weird!
Do you have any advice on writing, getting published, or finding an agent?
Perseverance is key. You can’t ever give up. This business is so fraught with hard knocks that you just have to hang in there and keep trying and keep perfecting your craft. Another thing that I think is really important is being open to criticism. SO MANY aspiring authors have asked me to tell them what is wrong with their book, but so few really want to hear it. If nothing seems to be working, if you’re getting rejection after rejection, ask a published author to tell you why and then LISTEN to what they say. Few people find themselves published due to luck alone. It’s a lot more complicated than that, and being open to the truth can make the difference between stop and go for a new writer.
Where can we find out more about you and your books?
You can find me on my website at www.mariesullivanforce.com, my blog at http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot,com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Force/248130827909 and on Twitter at twitter.com/marieforce. You can find my books on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Marie-Force/e/B001JS34LY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 and my Fatal Books are available via http://ebooks.carinapress.com under the Romantic Suspense tab.
Marie, thank you so much for the interview. It has been a pleasure having you at Micole Writes Romance.
It was great to be here! Thanks for having me!