I’m a sucker for romance and a well-turned phrase. I dream of being able to do it myself, thus I write romance.
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?
I actually tried to write my first play at ten and I had no idea what I was doing, but that should have been a clue that I would be a writer.
When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and my mother had lung cancer I realized life was too short to do things you hate. I was done with retail and decided to concentrate on writing. It took a while to hone the skills to where I had the courage to submit my work. The last two years I felt like I could do that.
How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
Oh God. A year? It was an agonizing process. I wanted it to be so much better than it was. This wasn’t the one I submitted to Soul Mate. I’m talking about my very first manuscript. It’s still in the back of my desk drawer too.
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?
Sometimes I hate quiet. I can write with the TV on. I guess it’s sort of a white noise thing for me. Music is okay; just my music. Old school R&B is good. Not hub’s Led Zepplin. Hub and son are both good about leaving me alone. It’s usually a quiet experience with a few interruptions.
What are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
I think we all try to use our own lives in our books; it helps us work through stuff. I’ve used the loss of parent, moving. The fear of failure. If you look it’s in there.
Literary Inspiration: throughout your life, what novels have lifted you, made you think, “Someday I want to create something like that . . .”
I’m a huge fantasy geek! Love Tolkien, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, I love Marion Zimmer Bradley. Every summer for years I used to re-read The Mists Of Avalon. You would think I’d be a fantasy or paranormal romance writer but I find it very intimidating, though it did make me realize I wanted to create that kind of magic in my own way.
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?
I think a little friction adds to the heat. It’s a fine line though. Too much and you turn her in to a harpy and him in to a controlling jerk. I never want my heroine to wait to be saved. She has to have an agenda, a goal. It should be something that is almost opposite to the hero that way the conflict arises naturally. There must be a respect between them. The hero has to want her but he has to respect her too. Compromise is key. A goal is good, but if neither gives in or compromises there is no romance.
What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
Publishing my first book with Soul Mate Publishing! That was the realization of a dream. I could then legitimately call myself a writer.
Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
A picture of me walking down the street in Paris, (another dream realized), my books on grammar and romance writing, they’re important for obvious reasons. I have books from my favorite authors and signed ones from those I’ve met. That lets me know what’s possible. I’ve got this great thing called the Observation Deck. It’s a deck of cards that has instructions and inspirational exercises on them. It’s great when you’re stuck.
Writers face many time-constraint challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
I’ve always been good about writing short works on a deadline. I got a degree in advertising and wanted to be a copy writer so that part’s built in; it’s the longer works that require more effort to stay on schedule. I will work straight through and take fewer breaks if I have to. I do my best work in the morning so if it means I have to get up earlier than usual to get it done then that’s what I do.
What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
Knowing that this character, this unique being is something that came from my imagination. That’s really cool!
What aspects of the writing process do you find most difficult?
Editing. I’m not as good at catching my mistakes and seeing where things need to be cut or re-worked.
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?
The first few paragraphs just come out. I can’t detail a whole story before I begin writing. I have to have somewhere to start. If I have three or four pages, then as it begins to take shape I fill in the details. I have the specific plot points in my head but in between stuff is organic and I have to let that stuff flow. I may know that the hero’s grandmother is going to die halfway through the book, but I don’t know what his reaction will be or how it will affect his feelings toward the heroine.
Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
I’m toying with the idea of a story about chocolate taster. I also have one I’m working on, about a romantic lifestyle consultant.
How about revealing your literary “Bucket-List?”
I would love to do a sequel about my couple from Culinary Seduction’s trip down the aisle. I’m fascinated by food so I would love to do a whole series of foodie/chick-lit romances, maybe even include some recipes. I’m a huge Smokey Robinson fan. If there were a way I could do a retro-vintage romance (I think I just found the title for my book!) where the heroine goes back in time and falls in love with a young Smokey I’d love to do that too!
Merritt’s Debut Book with Soul Mate is CULINARY SEDUCTION:
Food is the new sex and cheftestants Andrea Claire and Danny Miller are battling it out to see who becomes the new high priest or priestess. The two face-off in a contest for hosting duties of new show called CULINARY SEDUCTION.
Chef Andrea Claire is a woman who knows what she wants, and what she wants is to build her own culinary empire. Hosting the show would give her the injection of cash she needs to finally get a store front for her catering business and provide her the credibility she seeks. Her food is infused with her warmth and passion. Bad boy chef Danny Miller’s bold flavors and state-of-the-art techniques in molecular gastronomy set him apart from the pack. Hosting the show would raise the profile of his restaurant and allow him to pay what he owes the bank and his grandmother.
Will his talent be enough to garner him the win? Or will Andre’s seductive on-camera personality and obvious passion for cooking win out? Their on-air chemistry is undeniable. The test kitchens at CULINARY SEDUCTION have never been so hot.
BUY LINK: AMAZON:
Merritt, thanks so much for visiting with us today!