Q&A With Lorraine Heath
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Q&A With Lorraine Heath
Today’s Q&A is with New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author Lorraine Heath. Lorraine has written historical romance and contemporary romance for adults and historical romance for teenagers. Under Lorraine’s pen names Jade Parker & Rachel Hawthorne she writes popular historical, contemporary and paranormal romance for teen readers. Lorraine also writes young adult novels with her son under the name J.A. London.
Q: When in your life did you realize that your calling was to be an author? What fascinates you about writing paranormal, historical and contemporary romances so much?
A: I have always enjoyed writing. When I was in elementary school, I’d write long letters to my relatives. I had penpals. I kept diaries. I began writing my 1st story when I was 7. It was about a fisherman who fell in love with a mermaid. Unfortunately, I never finished it so I don’t know if they ended up together.
My first love is historical romance. I enjoy researching the history and building worlds that reflect life during a certain era. Most of my historical romances are set during the Victorian era. Paranormal allows me to really stretch my imagination and contemporary offers me an opportunity to explore more modern scenarios. I’ve also written historical fiction, not romance, set during WWII. Girls of Flight City is inspired by the history of RAF pilots coming to Terrell, TX to train during WWII. By having broad interests, I’m assured of never getting bored.
Q: What is your advice to anyone wanting to write great historical, paranormal, and contemporary romances? What is your advice to anyone who struggles with writers block?
A: Regardless of what one wants to write, I feel like the author needs to be passionate about the story and characters. We shouldn’t write to trends because they constantly change. We need to write the stories that call to us to be told. Readers can tell when we pour our hearts into a story.
I don’t know if I’ve ever truly experienced writers’ block. Sometimes, however, I may struggle with a scene or have difficulty determining why the story seems to have hit a snag. When that happens, I will usually rewrite the scene from another character’s point of view. Often I may discover that I wrote the scene from the wrong perspective and so it didn’t allow me to move forward with the story. I’ve also found if I’m struggling with the story that taking a walk—especially through a cemetery for some reason—getting a massage, reading a nonfiction book, or enjoying a comfort read will also help to get me back on the right track. I don’t know if this makes a difference, but I don’t write linearly. I have one file. Each scene is separated with a ## . . . and I write scenes as they come to me. For me the story is always fluid until it is finished. This will mean often shifting scenes around, realizing what additional scenes might be needed to further the character development. Because of my process, I have to go through a story several times to get it where it needs to be and I often write scenes I end up not using. Those go into an “extra” file. But I don’t feel any writing is wasted. It all helps me to understand the characters and story. When the story is finished, I go through and determine where I need to have my chapter breaks.
Q: What is your advice to new authors on how to deal with negative feedback whether it’s from unsupportive family and friends, to online trolls and negative reviews?
A: Unfortunately, I think any creative endeavor faces the possibility of criticism. It never gets easy. When the lack of support comes from family or friends, it’s especially hard. But I think what we have to do is learn to ignore any negativity. Even if it’s not in relation to writing. It can all stifle our muse. We should find a support network, if possible, among writers who are more likely to understand the challenges that come with writing. This network can be small and should be comprised of our most trusted allies. We shouldn’t engage with online trolls. As for negative reviews . . . I personally try not to read reviews. My publisher will sometimes send me reviews, but I don’t go looking for them. We can’t please everyone. I try to block out the distracting noise and concentrate on the next story. We can’t control other people’s reactions to what we write. We can only control what we write. So we need to stay true to our creative selves and our stories.
Q: Is it fair to say that the characters and places you create in your novels are based off of anyone you know or places you’ve been? I always find it amazing that when authors create fictional worlds and people, that they use inspiration from real life and real people.
A: I’ve always had imaginary friends. My mom often told me about a time when we were Houston and I was around 3 years old. We crossed a busy street. I began crying because we’d left my friend on the other side. She couldn’t calm me down. Eventually we crossed back over to get my friend—who existed only in my mind. My characters come to me very vividly. Sometimes they may have characteristics of someone I know. For example, my mom was British. When we moved to the States, she lost much of her accent. But when she was angry, it came back in full force. I had a character with that habit. For the most part, however, my characters are simply as I imagine them. I will sometimes base a setting on someplace I’ve visited or read about but it only forms the foundation. My imagination creates the rest.
Q: What’s it like co-writing novels with your son? What would be your advice to anyone wanting to have a friend or a family member co-write a novel with someone else?
A: Writing with my son was both a joy and a challenge. It took longer than I expected because we were melding two different creative spirits. If someone wants to co-write a novel, I think they need to realize communication is key. It is a collaboration, so there needs to be give and take.
Q: If you’re writing a new novel now is it a solo project, a collaboration with your son or both?
A: Currently, I’m working on a solo project. My son is working on his own projects as well. I would love to write another series with him, but at this point we haven’t come up with anything that excites us both. I haven’t written young adult in a few years now. Mostly I’m concentrating on historical romance and historical fiction.
Q: If you were to write in a whole different genre, which genre would it be and why?
A: I would actually like to write a medieval. The first couple of stories I wrote—which will never see the light of an editor’s desk—were medieval. I’m fascinated by that time period.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: Not at this point. Several years back, a TV producer was interested in and had optioned the Dark Guardians series, but ultimately was unable to find a network for it.