I’ve been doing lots of interviews this summer in conjunction with the release if It’s You, and my attendance at various writers conferences and book festivals and thought I’d share some of the questions (and answers!) from the interviews. You might already know this stuff but a few of you might be new readers and find it interesting!
- You’ve just had your 50th book published in June. What has changed in the 15 years since you sold your first book?
Besides the massive transformation of the publishing industry? I’ve changed. I’m a very different woman now than when I sold that first book back in 2000. I’m stronger, more confident, and more resilient, too. I’m also less interested in being out, ‘visible’, then I used to. When I first sold, I was so excited to be a published author, and I’m still very proud of my work, but I’m ready for my work to speak for itself. I don’t feel the same need to go everywhere and do everything.
- And yet you created Tule Publishing.
Tule wasn’t a calculated move. It certainly wasn’t intended to get as big as it did. It grew very quickly and I think it grew because there were writers who wanted and needed a place that valued their ideas, voices, and stories.
- So how did Tule get started?
Three years ago I was firmly entrenched in ‘traditional publishing’ when I began to worry about my fellow author friends. It was late 2012/early 2013, and I became aware that I wasn’t the only author exhausted by the changes in the industry and bruised by the publishing rhetoric that sales were down ‘due to authors not writing good enough books’, or the right kind of books
Writers weren’t being told the truth. Writers didn’t create the problems in the industry—the economy did. When the 2008-2009 recession hit, it impacted all areas of the economy, resulting in one of the US’s biggest book chains closing, and the other downsizing. Print runs shrank. E-books were on the rise. Amazon was changing the nature of the game. The industry was shuddering and changing, but it wasn’t the author’s fault.
Frustrated that smart, creative, successful women were getting the short end of the stick, I reached out to my three of my closest author friends, CJ Carmichael, Lilian Darcy, and Megan Crane and asked them if they’d want to do a special project with me, something fun and creative that would allow us to work together and enjoy being smart, creative, successful women, and well….Tule Publishing was born.
Montana Born, Tule’s first imprint, launched Sept 2013 with the Copper Mountain Rodeo series with the Holiday imprint, headed by Kelly Hunter, launching in 2014. In the past two years Tule Publishing has expanded to four imprints, with the goal to continue publishing fantastic stories by gifted writers, and in so doing, delighting readers while satisfying authors’ desire for creativity, freedom, and commercial success.
That’s the how and why of Tule, but now, two years into it, I’ve stepped back, handing the day to day management over to the Tule team. I meet with the team weekly and get daily updates when big things are happening, but with three incredibly competent publishing professionals running the show, the team doesn’t need me getting in the way.
- So essentially Tule Publishing was founded because you felt a need to support writers?
Because I love books, readers, and writers. I can’t imagine life without stories.
- Let’s talk about books, then. What kind of stories did you love when you were a child?
Series. I really passionately loved connected books, stories about a little girl, or the girl and her family. My two favorite series when I was young was the Little House on the Prairie series about Laura Ingalls, and Louisa May Alcott’s series about the March family (Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Under the Lilacs, etc). I loved that Jo, from Alcott’s Little Women, was a writer. Looking back, I think I was also loved inspired by Laura Ingalls who was also a writer. Being a writer definitely seemed to be the way to go!
- Do you remember the first romance novel you read?
It was probably a Barbara Cartland romance. I would have been 13, and it was probably something like the The Impetuous Duchess. I was in heaven. Within months of reading everything I could find that Cartland had written, I stumbled across my first Mills & Boon romance while living in Europe with my family. It was sweet but had such emotional intensity and I was hooked forever. Now this is what I wanted to do.
- How old were you when you know that you wanted to be a writer?
Young. Really young. I’ve always written stories. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t make up stories in my head. I wrote down my first story in Kindergarten and it was a short story about a Christmas Elf. I wrote my first picture book in second grade (my friend Laurie Johnson illustrated it for me) and my first young adult novel in fourth grade. Writing was my ‘gift’ and I took it seriously, from walking around with a notebook as a little girl, to spending recess sitting next to my classroom wall writing, to entering poetry and essay contests. I don’t know why, but writing is as natural as breathing for me. I have to do it. I want to do it. Not that it’s ever been easy for me. I actually find writing quite challenging…maybe that’s the attraction!
- When did you first sit down and start to write? How long after that before you were published?
I got serious about being published in romance in college. I’d been published in national magazines while in high school, but started writing my first ‘adult’ romance the summer between high school and my freshman year at college, and continued working on that romance my first year at UCLA before submitting it to Mills & Boon as a sophomore. That story, Struck Out in Love, was rejected, along with many others. I finally got my first sale in January 2000. It took nearly 15 years to finally sell to Harlequin, and nearly 15 rejected books before I got I sold The Italian Groom to Harlequin Mills & Boon in London.
- How hard was it to first get published?
Very hard. Very, very hard. 14-15 years. 14-15 rejected books. It took a toll on me. But it also made me resolute….I would succeed. I’d put so many years into it, and so much effort, that I simply couldn’t accept that I wouldn’t eventually make it.
- What authors do you read and/or admire now that you’re an author (and publisher)?
When I read for pleasure, I love historical romance and paranormal, athough historical romance is definitely my ultimate comfort read. I love Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, Lorraine Heath, Joanna Bourne, Anne Gracie, Sarah Maclean…Eloisa James, Elizabeth Boyle, Tessa Dare, Vicky Dreiling, Grace Burrows…gosh, there are so many more, too.
Kresley Cole and JR Ward are two of my favorite paranormal authors, although I wouldn’t be a fan today if it weren’t for Christine Feehan. Her books gave me my love of paranormal.
I nearly always avoid contemporary romance since I write contemporary romance and don’t want other authors voices in my head. With that said, I am a massive Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lisa Kleypas, Sarah Mayberry, Kelly Hunter and Megan Crane/Caitlin Crews fan, so I always read what they write. But my escapist reading will always remain the historicals…. nothing scary happens, nothing violent, either. It’s a beautiful, relatively safe world where the focus is on character!
- You haven’t mentioned any women’s fiction authors or titles, and yet you write it….?
I think because I write it, I tend to avoid reading a lot of it. Also, some women’s fiction makes me sad, and I hate feeling sad when I read. I read to be lifted up…bouyed. I also read to escape. I experienced a lot of tragedy and grief as a teenager and young woman and what got me through were stories that weren’t too dark, but stories of romance, and hope and healing.
Yes. And my novel, The Good Wife had a lot of conflict and loss in it, too, which is why I’m having a hard think about my fiction career. Are my stories becoming too dark, or too depressing? Or are they simply becoming more complex? I don’t know. I do know that my muse goes into those darker corners when I write fiction and spends time in the shadows. It’s not always comfortable for me as a writer. The muse is an interesting thing. After 50 books, it’s begun to fight with me a bit. Maybe that’s why I enjoy writing romance more. It’s a different mindset and the writing is less torturous.
- What is your next romance?
In November I’ll have out my 5th Taming of the Sheenan story, A Christmas Miracle for Daisy, out and then I’m also working on brainstorming and drafting my fiction novel, but its still in the very early pre-writing and rough writing stage so that one will probably be put on a back burner for a bit while I write another romance. I tend to procrastinate when it comes to my women’s fiction because sometimes the character’s intense thoughts and emotions are overwhelming.
- If you weren’t a writer, would you still be teaching, running a not-for-profit or something else?
I would either be teaching, or working in the film industry, as I love making things, creating things, and working on projects that are collaborative in nature.
- You have quite a big library.
I do. I love books. Old books, first edition, rare, interesting, non fiction history, memoirs, beautiful bindings of American literature, anything I find personally interesting…
I think you can tell I’m besotted with books. I’m nothing if not a book girl!
I have a giveaway for you! One lucky winner gets to claim this great Atlanta inspired prize and all you have to do is leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the drawing! Contest ends on Monday with winner announced on Tuesday the 15th.