SMP: Rose, welcome! Tell us all about you! What would you most like your readers to know?
Rose: Well, here are the basics: I’m a wife, mother, medium, massage therapist, instructor, and author. I’m a product of my conservative and disciplined Catholic school education and my liberal heart, and my own diverse spiritual path influences everything in my life, including my writing. I’m an avid supporter of the arts and enjoy performing in live theatre when I can, and my life is filled with books, music, art, and film. I think I’d most like readers to know how sincerely grateful I am for their time and energy. To write for an audience is a dream come true, and I feel truly blessed and honored that they invest some of themselves in reading my work.
SMP: Are you one of those writers born with a pen in your hand and ideas flitting through your mind, or did your interest develop later?
Rose: I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. My first book was actually produced when I was in the first grade. It was a story about my dad, who worked as a railroad engineer, and I wrote the text, drew all of the pictures, and bound it myself. My first grade teacher was so impressed she asked to keep it, which I allowed. How do you say no to a nun? Naturally, this upset my dad, so I made another copy for him. I’ve come a long way in the writing process since then, but I hope I’ll be writing for a very long time.
SMP: We hope, so, too! So, how long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
Rose: My very first manuscript is still on my hard drive. It took about two years initially to finish it, and it needs a major revision. I still think I can make something out of it someday, so we’ll see. The story for that book emerged from my experiences in college as a theatre major, and the characters still have a special place in my heart. I hope to whip it into shape so that it can find an audience.
SMP: Early Vanden Eynden? Looking forward to that one! Okay, tell us about your writing process. Soft lights and music? White noise? Child-and-pet confusion? Locked in a room alone? What sets your writing mood and pushes you forward?
Rose: I prefer to write when I’m alone in the house, which is sometimes challenging. I share my life with my husband, two teenaged sons, and a dog, so it can get a little crazy. I’m a morning person, so I like to get up and get started. On the days when I can write, I usually start by 7:30 a.m. and work on and off until about 2 p.m. Sometimes I’ll exercise when I need to take a break, which also helps me to clear my head and think about upcoming scenes and dialogue. I usually write with music in the background, generally instrumental, but I have created projects while listening to everything from heavy metal to rap. Musical choices depend on the tone and the subject matter of the writing. When I get stuck, I get up, walk around the house, and talk to myself. I always need to have a Diet Coke or a glass of water nearby, plenty of gum to chew, and the dachshund close at hand (for petting and general encouragement).
SMP: What a cutie! Pets provide the best encouragement. So, what are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
Rose: As I mentioned, I have a whole novel written revolving around characters in a college theatre program. Much of that was inspired by my own college days. I have a published short story that is based on a childhood friend and a dangerous pastime from her teenage years. Another of my works-in-progress is about a young woman searching for her biological mother, who turns out to be a professional medium. I myself am a professional medium, and I was adopted when I was 11 days old. I’d say lots of my themes come from my own life experiences.
SMP: Life truly does provide, doesn’t it? How about “Literary Inspiration?” Throughout your life, what novels have lifted you, made you think, “Someday I want to create something like that….”
Rose: MERLYN’S RAVEN, my new novel, grew out of just such a sentiment. I began reading Arthurian literature in my high school English class, and it enthralled me from the start. I read everything I could find connected to Arthurian legend, and its romance and adventure still inspire me to this day. Publishing a novel that incorporates Arthurian characters in a unique way is a dream come true for me. I hope MERLYN’S RAVEN will be a worthy addition to the Arthurian legacy.
SMP: It’s really one of the most romantic literary journeys of all! So, leet’s talk about romance. How do you set the mood for your characters, what do you draw from that helps your H/H achieve oneness with each other? And how much conflict do you give them, along the way?
Rose: I definitely think the answer to these questions comes from the nature of the story you’re telling. In MERLYN’S RAVEN, my heroine, Gwendydd, and my hero, Myrddin, are very young. Neither has been in love before, nor have they experienced romantic passion. They are each other’s firsts, and this tentative and innocent longing has to infuse the story. To try to make this real, I spent a lot of time thinking about my younger days and my courtship with my husband. I met him when I was sixteen and he was eighteen (just like my two characters—imagine that!), and I fell head-over-heels for him almost immediately, just as Gwendydd does for Myrddin. I really tried to focus on drawing up those intense feelings of first love and sacrifice when writing from Gwendydd’s point of view. I hope I achieved this in the book.
SMP: A unique perspective, going from the angle of youthful lovers. You mentioned writing at a young age. What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
Rose: I gave up writing for a many years because there simply wasn’t time for it. I was busy with infant twins, making ends meet, and other occurrences in my personal life. In 2000, my mother died, and I joined an online writing community on a lark. I met some of the most wonderful people there, and we wrote and shared our work with each other. I realized just how much I’d missed creating stories, and I also received so much encouragement that I started believing in myself as a writer again. That was a real turning point for me, so much so that I submitted some short stories that were eventually published. I also wrote three nonfiction books, and I finally grew brave enough to submit my novel. I’ve come a long way!
SMP: You have, and you should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished. Obviously, writers face many challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
Rose: My biggest challenge is time, I think. It’s hard financially to be a full-time writer, so I maintain my own business, and this has many challenges of its own. To me, having many facets to my life is important, and I don’t want to give any of them up. I just need to be very careful about balancing all of my commitments so none of them suffer needlessly. This does affect my writing in that I don’t create as fast as some authors do. Hopefully, the waits in between my works will be worth it to those who read them.
SMP: Wow, a busy lady! What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
Rose: The most thrilling part of the process, for me, is when the idea first hits you. It can literally be like a lightening bolt from the heavens, and it’s quite exciting when it happens.
I’ve had ideas come to me when I’m in the middle of client meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and at other times when I can’t take a moment to record the inspiration. This is when I just pray that I’ll remember it. I’m blessed that I usually do.
SMP: What aspects of the writing process do you find most challenging?
Rose: Writing is a solitary business, and it’s sometimes challenging not to goof off when you’re supposed to be working. No one is hanging over you asking you to finish your manuscript unless you’re on a deadline, which doesn’t seem to happen too much in the fiction world. For me, this translates into being more disciplined when I have the chance to sit my backside in the chair and write. I am easily distracted by email, Facebook, and the Oreos calling to me from the kitchen. I have to tune everything else out and allow myself to get lost in the universe of the story. It’s wonderful when it happens, but it’s not always easy to stay on track.
SMP: How do you begin a story? Do you just sit down with an idea in mind and start writing, or are you a person who wouldn’t dream of starting without a detailed outline, character sketches, and pages of research data?
Rose: I’ve learned a new word in the last few months: “pantser.” This is apparently someone who doesn’t plan out her writing and flies by the seat of her pants when creating. This is me in a nutshell. Most of the time, an idea will occur to me, or a character will start speaking in my head, and I’ll write it down. Then I’ll jot down other information and ideas as they come to me, but I usually don’t outline at all. I have a general idea of where the story is going, but I let the characters lead the way. This can sometimes get me into trouble, but usually all the rough spots in the story work themselves out at some point. Right now, I’m working on a piece that started as an idea, and I actually tried following an outlining procedure I learned about in an online writing class. So far, it’s going well, so maybe I’ve found a new technique that works for me. Time will tell.
SMP: Who or what sparks the ideas for your stories?
Rose: Anything and everything can conjure up an idea. I subscribe to Roald Dahl’s approach to life and apply it to writing: “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” There is magic in the most mundane situations, and anything can be crafted into a good story.
SMP: Exactly! A story comes from everywhere, doesn’t it? Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
Rose: My latest project came to me out of nowhere. It’s a young adult dystopian novel, and it’s very different from anything I’ve created before. I’m quite excited about how it’s progressing. I’m hoping to have a first draft completed in the next several months. I also have plans to revise that first novel languishing on my hard drive and to complete the story of the woman searching for her mother. Another idea is currently germinating in my head, but it’s too early to even mention that one.
SMP: We asked Rose if she wanted to offer anything off the top of her head, be it a joke, an anecdote, a recipe…you get the idea. Not surprisingly, our Rose gives us a touch of her fabulous humor!
Rose: All right. This interview seems very serious. Time to lighten it up just a little with a favorite joke:
Three strings are walking down the street and stop outside a bar. “Let’s get a drink,” one says. “I don’t know,” says another. “I hear this bar is pretty rough on strings.” “I’ll give it a go,” says the first string, and he walks into the bar. The bartender takes one look at him and says, “Hey, get out. We don’t serve strings in here.” The bouncer comes over and promptly throws the string out on the street. The second string says, “Well, I’ll try,” and walks in. He doesn’t even make it across the room before the bartender yells, “Hey! Get outta here! We don’t serve strings!” The bounces tosses the second string out the door. The third string looks at his friends sitting in the gutter. Then he shakes his head until his hair is unruly and sticking out in hundreds of directions. “Here I go,” he says, and he saunters into the bar. The bartender watches him keenly as he makes his way over to the bar. The bartender leans on the counter, looks at him closely, and says, “Hey, aren’t you a string?” The string clears his throat and says in his most authoritative voice, “Nope, I’m a frayed knot.”
Rose: HA! Come on! That’s GREAT literary humor there! A pun—a play on words!
SMP: Rose, you’re our one in five billion! Thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Rose’s debut novel, MERLYN’S RAVEN, actually releases today! We’re so happy for her, and encourage everyone to head to Soul Mate Publishing and grab their copy.
Here’s the lovely cover and the blurb for MERLYN’S RAVEN:
~Falling in love is the ultimate magic. For Gwendydd, a young woman in 5th century Wales, it seems an unobtainable fantasy. She dreads the day her chieftain grandfather will marry her off to increase his allies among the warring tribes of Britain. When she meets the mysterious and handsome druid apprentice Myrddin, Gwendydd realizes just how difficult falling in love can be. The ire of her disapproving grandfather is not her only obstacle. Myrddin’s clairvoyant visions of a king who will unify the battling tribes and bring peace to the land become a dangerous obsession that threatens to obliterate their union. Can Gwendydd support her beloved, the man destined to become the world’s most powerful enchanter, King Arthur’s legendary Merlyn? Or will her devotion destroy her and everything she holds dear?~
Since this is Rose’s release day, you can find her debut novel at Soul Mate Publishing:
In the next few days, you’ll also find MERLYN’S RAVEN at Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
Rose has chosen to offer a downloadable copy of MERLYN’S RAVEN to one lucky commenter. Please include your email address in your comment if you wish to be entered in Rose’s giveaway.