SMP: Ann, welcome! Tell us all about you! What would you most like your readers to know?
Ann: I’m a mom, a wife, a professor of English, and a romance writer. My first published novel is The Billionaire’s Bauble, and it was written to fulfill a lifelong dream. I sign exact English, and I enjoy cooking Italian, French and Puerto Rican cuisine. I am avid about the outdoors: gardening, hiking, cycling, and all water sports.
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?
Ann: I am a reader first and a writer second. Raised an only child by extremely sheltering parents, books were my best friends. I started writing poems and stories in middle school and started publishing in college–but only short fiction, essays, and tons of poems. Novel writing came much later.
SMP: When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
Ann: This process started two years ago. I wrote two Tudor historical romance novels before I tried contemporary romance. The first two are yet to sell, but the contemporary sold quickly. I am revising those historical romances now.
SMP: How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
Ann: I’d say my process is almost fast but not quite. I know some writers draft books in a few weeks, and I am awed by that drive and agility with prose. The first book, the historical, took eight months to write. I wrote every day—usually twelve hours at a stretch. The story emerged quickly, but the fine-tuning took a long time. I edit as I write, so I’d get about a chapter done a week. The book that’s published, The Billionaire’s Bauble, emerged more rapidly, but from start to finish it took maybe four or five months.
SMP: 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?
Ann: I sit in the center of the kitchen, next to the wood stove, pit bulls at my feet, looking out at a pond and over 100 acres of contiguous forest. If I stand up, I see a creek and waterfalls. Prime writing territory. The domestic world recedes when I write, but my family has full access, though they tend to respect my craft and offer few interruptions.
SMP: What are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
Ann: Falling in love, lovemaking, mutual adoration, personal and career success—my husband and I are the underlying characters in every story. I wouldn’t know what true love is or how to write it except that I live it every day.
SMP: Literary Inspiration: throughout your life, what novels have lifted you, made you think, “Someday I want to create something like that….”
Ann: Anything by Philippa Gregory, Jackie Collins, Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, Jude Deveraux, Diana Gabaldon.
SMP: Let’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?
Ann: I start with a conflict and let my characters work their way out. As they try to overcome the initial conflict, my theme emerges through additional problems the couple faces in their quest for personal fulfillment. Love and happily ever after are the final outcomes whether they know they want it or not. My first priority is to create stories that are emotionally gratifying.
SMP: What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
Ann: Signing a contract with Soul Mate Publishing was a shining moment, but the best one was when my son revealed to me he’d told his teachers his mom was a published author. He’s just a little guy, and his praise means the world to me because it’s so sincere.
SMP: Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
Ann: Computer, dictionary, pens, paper, and coffee. I can’t do what I do without those tools.
SMP: Writers face many challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
Ann: My biggest challenge is letting go of a story. I always want to do more, write more, revise more. Saying “done” is the hardest moment of the process.
SMP: What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
Ann: Getting to know my characters and falling in love with them is the very best part of writing. I care for them with sheer abandon, and because I control their destiny, I fret over every aspect of their lives. I feel like my characters are alive in some alternate universe, and I want to provide them happiness, joy, and love.
SMP: What aspects of the writing process do you find most challenging?
Ann: Marketing the book, getting the product into readers’ hands, is by far the most difficult part of writing and publishing.
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?
Ann: I spend a week or more developing my characters so I know them inside and out. I understand their motivations, their fears, their dreams. I know what street they lived on as a child, their pets’ names, the favorite foods they consume, their hobbies and obsessions. Then I begin imagining the cute meet. I put them together in several scenarios and when one feels right, once they tell me what they want, and I have that scene clearly drawn in my mind, I make a brief outline. Then I’m off to the finish line.
SMP: Who or what sparks the ideas for your stories?
Ann: Dreams, musings, nature, God—they direct me to my stories.
SMP: Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
Ann: I’m still slaving over those historical romances. I do have a couple of contemporaries contracted and forthcoming, but I am determined to finish those Tudor romances so my couples can realize their destinies.
Determined to land an executive position at Grant Oil, Sloane Porter, an educated, independent woman with goals for the future, refuses to consider the option of returning to her home in New York and the life she’d left behind. But when she arrives in the CEO’s office with a stellar resume in hand, can she ignore the fact that in a moment of weakness, she’d kissed this man in a Fairbanks bar two years earlier? Can she remain indifferent and land the job, or will the man who has haunted her dreams steal her heart and change her life forever?
SMP: Ann, thanks so much for visiting with us today!
Ann’s wonderful novel, THE BILLIONAIRE’S BAUBLE, can be purchased jere:
Ann Montclair’s Website: http://www.annmontclair.com
Ann will be gifting one lucky commenter a free electronic copy of The Billionaire’s Bauble. Please include your email address in your comment!