We welcome the last fortnight of 2015 with the fifth instalment in our Creative Process series. This time we chat with another published romantic author, Julia Daniels.
What type of environment do you need to write?
I have two wonderful teenagers in my house. I thought when they finally reached this age, they would be less needy of my time, but I was wrong! I try to be wherever they are, because I want to be around them as much as I can before they leave home!
So, to avoid distractions and still be somewhat accessible, I wear headphones and listen to music to drown out the noise from their video games and whatever Netflix show my daughter happens to be watching. I create a playlist for whichever book I am writing at the time, with a certain theme to the music. For example, when I wrote Master of Her Heart, I used a lot of British tunes, classical music they may have listened to at the time, or music with lyrics that reminded me of scenes from the book or mini-series. It usually puts me in the right frame of mind as I write, too.
How do your ideas come to you?
My ideas usually start with the characters. I think about what odd situations I can create for them to fall into. Mr. Thornton is hard to manipulate much, he’s pretty perfect the way he is, but Miss Hale… now she definitely needs her head adjusted from time to time!
My latest idea came about in such an odd way. A friend of mine develops cross stitch, rug hooking and needle punch patterns. She was selected as a finalist in a contest Martha Stewart was running at her website for “Handmade in America” products. Well, my friend didn’t win, but the company that did is a family-run sock manufacturer in a sleepy town in the south. Alarm bells went off in my head and immediately I had Thornton as a sock manufacturer in the south and Margaret a snooty gal from the north. This one will be a contemporary novel. I cannot wait to write it!
Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do?
I started using a new software called Scrivener that lets me skip around. So, on the current book I’m working on for my upcoming Mill Master’s series, I had all these scenes way later in the novel suddenly popping in my head. With this software I can add whatever I want and not get lost in the storyline.
Usually, I have the major plot points and characters in my head from start to finish, but there are often scenes and incidents that suddenly appear as I write, so I have to be flexible to let the characters lead the story!
Which do you find easier to write: dialogue or description or are the equally hard/easy?
Good dialogue is the key to a good book! It shows the interaction of the characters, and characters are the driving force of the book. Description, of course, draws the pretty picture of the scene, but without strong characters and snappy dialogue the book falls flat for me.
I am not a big fan of erotica or sexually explicit romance. That’s not to say there won’t ever be flush-worthy scenes in my novels, but sex for sex sake won’t happen. I’m also not very comfortable with child abuse or graphic incidents of harm to animals or people.
What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories?
Go for it! I’m hungry for new stories, and new authors. Remember there is no “grade” associated with your submission and the comments I have received are very kind and supportive. Take a risk, you will be really glad that you tried! Just make sure you are willing to keep up with your stories. I get super frustrated when I get addicted to a story and then it’s never updated.
Oh so many! The Little House on the Prairie Series, Sarah Plain and Tall, Pride and Prejudice and of course North and South (although I do like many of the adaptations better!).
Visit Julia’s official site: https://juliadaniels.wordpress.com
You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. To purchase Master of her Heart or any of Julia’s works, go to AmazonUS or AmazonUK.
Sample the first chapters of her latest North & South story, “Milton’s Mill Master: A Variation of North & South”, on Wattpad.
ETA: Julia’s posting a Christmas story that will serve as an epilogue to her North & South novel “Master of her Heart”. You can find it on Wattpad: “A Mill Master’s Christmas”