A chance to spend some time with your favorite authors in informal surroundings, and listen as they answer questions as only our own Debbie can ask them.
|A self-professed army brat and only child, Teresa Medeiros spent much of her childhood talking to imaginary friends. She's now delighted to have a chance to introduce them to her readers. She wrote her first novel at twenty-one and enjoyed an earlier career as a registered nurse before realizing her dream of writing full-time before the age of thirty. She lives in a log home in Kentucky with her husband Michael, five neurotic cats, and one hyperactive Doberman. |
Teresa, thank you so much for coming into the Den and visiting with me. I have enjoyed your books for years and have so much I want to ask.
After having a career in nursing, what made you decide to become an author?
Actually, I was a nurse and a writer for a very long time. I graduated from nursing school in 1983 and started my first book (LADY OF CONQUEST) in January of 1984. I worked the afternoon shift at the hospital so I could write every morning from 10:00 a.m.-12:30. I wrote and worked full-time as a nurse for seven years, then nursed part-time for two more years before retiring from nursing to write full-time in 1992. I was a very good nurse, but my heart always belonged to the books. It was a wonderful way to put bread on the table while I was establishing my writing career. When I say "Don't quit your day job", I mean it!
How long did it take to have your first book published?
I wrote the book in fifteen months, then sent the entire manuscript off to Avon (ironically enough, my current publisher) where it languished for a year. While I was waiting for the mail jeep to arrive every day, I did a little research on marketing a novel. When the manuscript finally made its way back home to me, I sent out twenty-two query letters to twenty-two different publishers. Some of them wanted to see three chapters, some wanted to see ten, and some never wanted to see me again, but within three months, I had sold the book and signed a three-book contract with Berkley. So I guess the total time was fifteen months to write the book and fifteen months to market it.
All of your books are very detailed in both scenery and culture. How much research goes into one of your stories?
Since I never know exactly which details I'm going to need, I tend to keep stacks of research books at my elbow. The internet is great for looking up that one certain thing you can't find anywhere else, but sometimes it's still like looking for a needle in a haystack. I find Google to be the best on-line search engine. I tend to do a lot of research, but the trick is giving the books the flavor of the time period and setting without bogging down the story. Readers have even less of a tolerance for that than they used to.
You have written both historicals and paranormal books. Which is more difficult to write? Why?
They're both challenging, but I think the paranormal was even more so because you're always trying not to violate your own rules about the magic. By the time I finished BREATH OF MAGIC, which was a historical, a time travel, a contemporary, and a romance with elements of sci-fi, I was ready to pull out my hair (or my heroine's silky black tresses!)
One Night Of Scandal is both fun and romantic, Beauty trying to soften the Beast's heart, and all that. Carlotta (Lottie) and Hayden are so perfect for each other. Did you model them after anyone?
Well, there was a certain picture of Mel Gibson from the first LETHAL WEAPON movie (grin). In Hayden's dealings with his first wife, there was a lot of my dad in him. My mom is manic-depressive and in so many ways, my dad tried to be that stable rock for her, even when it was very difficult. And Lottie is probably more like me than any other heroine I've ever written—overly fond of cake, inquisitive (nosy) and with an irresistible passion for books and kittens.
Lottie is an aspiring writer, with a very vivid imagination. Do I see a little of yourself in her? Women authors in Regency, found it very hard to get published. What advice would have given her about her writing?
I found it very easy to get inside of Lottie's head. When she was writing those funny letters to her friends and family, I could have gone on forever. (But don't worry—I didn't!) Actually, there were several successful female novelists around the time of the Regency—Ann Radcliff, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Shelley, and of course, Jane Austen . We always hear about the Brontes who first published under male pseudonyms, but many women conducted very successful careers publishing under their own names. If I was going to give Lottie any writing advice, I'd tell her to try to engage both her readers' hearts and their imaginations. That can be a very powerful combination—just look at Harry Potter!
You have won numerous awards and been on many best-seller lists. Is there still that “one” award that you want more than anything?
I'm the Susan Lucci of Romance Writers of America! I've been nominated for a RITA, our equivalent of the OSCAR, five times now, but never won. I wouldn't mind having one of those ladies for my mantel. While the RITA is judged by my peers, I especially value my two Waldenbook awards because those represent actual sales. I look at each sale as a reader I may have touched.
So many authors are trying to ‘cross-genres’. Have you ever considered writing a contemporary romance?
Of course I've considered it and I'll probably do it someday. I got my feet wet with BREATH OF MAGIC since most of that book was set in 1996 New York City. I would have to find a compelling plot suited to a contemporary time period. I usually "get" the story first, then choose the time period that would best frame it. I have to confess that I really love the primal power of the historical. In a historical, a hero can snatch up the heroine and whisk her away to his castle on his horse, but in a contemporary, if a hero stuffs her into his Corvette and drags her back to his condo, he'll be arrested for stalking and sexual harassment.
With the popularity of e-books on the rise, do you see any real competition with the paperback industry?
I think there will always be readers like me who want to hold the physical book in their hands. I love the feel of books, the smell of them, the way they feel. I'm delighted that there's another outlet for some of these wonderful plots, but I certainly don't see it presaging the demise of the paperback. I spend all day sitting in front of a computer so when I read, I'm seeking an escape from technology.
Do you have a favorite genre or author that you like to read?
I read widely across the board. I've been on a fantasy kick lately. I just finished George R.R. Martin's A STORM OF SWORDS and started the new HARRY POTTER. After that, I'll probably read some romance to cleanse my palate. Christina Dodd's JUST THE WAY YOU ARE is burning a hole in my TBR pile.
Do you have any hobbies?
Reading, of course! My husband and I do a lot of biking when the weather is warm. I love to play the piano, too. And I don't like to cook, but I LOVE to bake! (Probably so I can lick all those bowls.)
After One Night Of Scandal, what is next on your writing agenda?
I've been hard at work on my next book for the past three months. No official title yet so I’m just calling it "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST meets THE MIRACLE WORKER". I can't wait to officially introduce you to Sir Gabriel Fairchild, my wounded hero, and Miss Samantha Wickersham, the prim nurse determined to heal both his spirit and his heart. I thought of a great tag line the other day: "Is she an angel of mercy or the devil in disguise?" Avon has the book scheduled for summer 2004.
Thank you for taking time to chat with me, Teresa. I’ve had a wonderful time. Good luck with all of your future books.
(resting on the mantel) to visit Teresa's website
Next month...Debbie turns over the Den to our Reviewer Roni, who chats with one of her favorite authors, Lisa Plumley.