I’m really excited to have fellow romance author (Robin Van Auken, writing as Madeline Sloane) with us this week to talk about her upcoming project, Incandescent. If you haven’t read her other romance novels, be sure to check them out on her website
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Maybe what you like to do for fun when you’re not writing?
I am married, and my husband and I live in the highlands of Pennsylvania. Our children are grown and pursuing their own exciting careers. My husband and I have a small camper and we like to travel to state parks for weekend jaunts. There, we hike, kayak, sit around the campfire and eat. We like to geocache while we’re on our camping trips, giving our hikes a purpose.
I love travel and try to incorporate that in all of my books. Although the books all include the fictional town of Eaton, my characters generally travel throughout the United States or abroad. Some of my upcoming novels are set abroad, particularly in the U.K.
Do you have a “day job” as well?
I am a writer with twenty years of experience in journalism. I also have degrees in anthropology. In addition to writing, I teach at the college level.
So what made you decide to start writing?
I’ve always loved to read and knew I wanted to be a writer. By the age of twelve, I began writing short stories and poetry. Before I switched to anthropology, I majored in journalism and worked on the student newspaper. I worked for several newspapers, then authored / co-authored nearly a dozen non-fiction books.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I moved into fiction several years ago, but kept it on the backburner since I enjoyed writing non-fiction history. I’ve always been a techie, so when eBooks began to take off, I dusted off my unfinished novels and plunged into writing fiction as career.
What made you choose romance?
I chose contemporary romance because it is a bestselling genre and seemed like a good way to transition into fiction writing. I enjoy reading romance novels, having started as a youth. My mother was an avid reader and always had a big library. I read all her books, including the paperbacks that seemed to mysteriously appear. That’s where I first learned about gothic romance and the Harlequin romance series.
What made you decide to self-publish your books?
I’ve worked with publishers before, so I decided to self-publish my books so I could control all aspects of my new career.
Self-publishing can be difficult. What avenues have you found to work best to market your work?
I do market my books and I’ve used various forms of social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I think about this every day and am constantly trying new ways to promote. There are so many choices and outlets for marketing, and it’s a game that changes all the time. What works for one person, doesn’t work for another.
Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
I do read some and yes, they influence my writing. The reader is my customer and if I’m not doing a good job, then I need to step it up. I consider the well-thought-out reviews only, although I haven’t received any negative or hurtful reviews. I think feedback is critical and since I’m the publisher of my books and I work in a digital format, I take that feedback and use it to improve my books. I don’t change things at the whimsy of one reviewer, but if someone has a valid point and it is within my power to correct it, then I do.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I read a lot of books and I read fast. Most of the books I’ve been reading aren’t the best; most of them are free downloads in my genre because I want to see what other women are writing and reading. There are a few authors I’ve enjoyed and purchased more of their books, like Cheryl Holt and Claire Delacroix. These women are experienced romance authors who have recently self-released their backlist.
Who is your favorite author ?
My favorite author is Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This is a book that I’ve read dozens of times and I never fail to find something new. It’s simple yet intricate at the same time. The story is timeless and the characters are imminently believable.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write something every day. It doesn’t have to be on a book, but it should be something and care should be given to proper grammar and punctuation. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.
Think we might be able to convince you to share a little of your upcoming book with us?
My upcoming book is “Incandescent,” and is my fifth, the second book in my second series that uses the fictional town of Eaton, Pennsylvania as the backdrop. Here’s the blurb:
Anna Johnson is tormented with guilt after her best friend dies in a fire the night of her birthday party. Then her father’s car explodes at a traffic light. State Fire Inspector Aaron Tahir, an arrogant and overbearing man with a dark past, wants answers. That is, until he discovers he wants something more tangible ~ Anna.
Sparks fly from their first meeting and it isn’t long before they’re afire. Were the blazes accidental or, as Aaron believes, were they arson? Is there a murderer loose in the quiet town of Eaton?
What did you find was the hardest part of writing this particular book?
Overcoming the obsessive need to market and promote my current books, and snatch time to write on my new ones.
Did you learn anything from writing this book?
I learned how to be a better editor. Reading and re-reading the manuscript — aloud — is the best bit of advice I can give. I have several editing techniques I use when I work my way through a book, but reading aloud makes the biggest difference.
What was your favorite part to write and why?
My favorite part of my books is the initial meeting between my romantic couple. I love it when sparks fly and initial impressions cloud judgment.
Are there certain characters you like to work with?
I love having a central location that plays a part in my books. I developed a fictional town that appears in each book, and citizens who are constants. These are generally eccentric, kooky characters who bring charm to the story. Not all of my books are set only in Eaton, PA, but somehow the town plays a role. The main characters can be from Eaton and return for visits, or move there for one reason or another. Sometimes, Eaton will be deep background and not even visited during a story, but it, as a community that cares, is a steady theme.
Which of your characters is your favorite?
My favorite character is Katrina Hall, who makes an appearance in several books but is the main character in “Dead Line.” She’s sassy and spunky and confident. Of course, she’s endowed with great beauty, but it is her single-minded determination and selfishness that I really appreciate because these are the faults she needs to overcome. She needs humbling and her hero, Jack DeSoto, has the perfect blend of humor, strength and gentleness that will help cushion her fall.
Which of your characters would you most/least to invite to dinner, and why?
I would like to dine with Clayton Knight, the main character in “East of Eaton,” my second book. He is a professor from Virginia, who specializes in the history of the Civil War. He’s a dreamy, handsome, winsome kind of guy with a lot of smarts and a passion for the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Have you ever been surprised a character that fans love or hate more than you expected?
Absolutely! I have a secondary character in my early books whom readers love, so I had to give him a prominent place and a love interest in my fourth book. To me, he was a foil. A shiny and beautiful reflection. But something about him caught the interest of several women, and I needed to flesh him out.
Thank you so much for stopping in and taking time to chat with us. I can’t wait to download Incandescent. To take a look at what’s coming up or to be sure to join her on Goodreads or on Facebook.