Layne, welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself. 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 live with my husband on the east coast of Australia in a beautiful part of the world. I have a university degree and I work full-time. I’ve always had a love of the written word and voraciously read anything I could get my hands on. I certainly wasn’t born with a pen in my hand and didn’t really try my hand at writing until much later in life. I do have a lot of ideas flitting around my head but they’re incomplete. I have to extract them bit by bit and dissect and rearrange them and then work on them again.
When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
It was probably about ten years ago now. I’d just finished reading a most woeful book and happened to say to my husband it was so bad I could have written a better story, (joking about that bit of course!) He turned to me and said “Well, why don’t you?” I’m always up for a challenge, so I did, and I found that I absolutely loved it.
How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
My first manuscript, Desire Unleashed was about a team of Navy SEALs. It was meant to be a short story of about twenty-five thousand words just so I could get a feel for the craft, but one hundred and five thousand words later I had book one in my Desire Series. The story emerged slowly and it took about ten months to complete and much longer to find a publisher. After a lot of automated rejections one publisher gave me some very good feedback. She said the story was great and she liked my voice but there were other technical issues that needed addressing. As a novice writer I wasn’t even aware that I had a voice! Links were also provided. I followed the links and consumed all the information and then of course I could see what she was talking about, so I set to work rewriting turning telling into showing and including more dialogue. That took about another few months of hard work and it was probably another year later before I received my first contract.
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.
I’m a bright lights, white noise, and confusion writer. Ninety per cent of the time the TV is switched on and the laptop is in my lap (where else!!) More recently, the new puppy is scurrying around my feet or trying to get into my lap, which makes typing a challenge. I’m quite organized and driven. I treat my writing as a second job, that way I can’t slack off. Funny enough, it’s the characters that push me forward. As strange as this might sound, they all have their own personalities and want their story to be told. Often if I can’t sleep I’ll think about where I’m up to in my writing and new thoughts emerge which may enhance my story or indeed take me in a different direction.
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?
First off they must have instant chemistry, even if they antagonize each other, the attraction must be strong. Most of the time, although I create rather extreme conflict, it is always a believable scenario with the characters more alike than they originally thought possible. I always have internal and external conflict for both and even though the resolve comes together for their mutual benefit and happiness, it usually takes some time!
Writers face many time-constraint challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
A full-time job and family commitments keep me pretty busy. I’m lucky that I have a supportive husband who likes to cook. During the week he mostly prepares the evening meal, which frees me up to do some writing. As I said earlier, I treat writing as my second career. I put in three or four hours work at night and more on the weekends. Generally. I begin by going over the previous chapter and tweak or make changes then spend quite a bit of time writing new material. Most evenings I also do some promotional work.
What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
When I type “The End” it’s always with a sense of accomplishment and excitement, but I think probably the most exciting aspect of the writing process is when the contract lands in my inbox as it validates my work as an author.
What aspects of the writing process do you find most difficult?
I enjoy my work very much, but funnily enough the most difficult for me is creating an outline for my story and sticking to it. Organizing chapters and how I want everything to unfold, is easy enough. But then nine times out of ten when I get into the nitty gritty something happens and all my good strategies go out the window. The characters take on a life of their own and I just have to go with it. It can get very infuriating, but in the end it’s much easier to follow where the story leads me, than to fight it!
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?
If you’d asked me this question a few years ago, I would have said I just sat down and started writing. Now however, I try to be more organized. I do a character and appearance sketch for all the individuals, and a rough draft of the direction I want my story to go. Research is vital. I find out relevant facts about where the book is set, the time it is set in, all this information, I believe, is needed for credibility.
Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
At present I have two books on the go. I’m about thirty thousand words into each one. Desire Rekindled is the 3rd novel in my Desire Series and will finish up between two hundred and fifty and three hundred pages. It is a little different from the other two in as much as it has both paranormal and historical elements to it. I’m quite excited about it and hope my readers enjoy all the twists and turns. The other book I’m working on is a wolf shifter novella, the second book in my Heritage Series and as yet untitled. It also has a lot of unexpected surprises.
How about some faves of yours?
There are so many wonderful authors out there, but I do love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series and Shannon McKenna and of course JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood Series.
Layne’s current release with Soul Mate, Obsession Down Under:
Aspiring author Jessica Butler-Reid has never done anything exciting in her entire life. The daughter of a Minister and his aging wife, she sees her life heading down the same tedious predictable path as her mom’s, organizing church fetes, bazaars, and bake-offs. But when she innocently posts a help request on an Internet forum for some technical advice with her book, her life is changed forever when Australian cattle rancher, Whip McGregor, answers the call.
She embarks on an adventure of a lifetime, but little does she know her decision to accept his offer of a two-week paid vacation to the land Down Under will jeopardize more than one life and have far-reaching consequences neither she nor Whip could have foreseen.
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Layne, thanks for visiting with us today!