Author Spotlight

 

This month, I was given the chance to chat with a wonderful author who took time out of her schedule to visit with me. So, without further delay, letís hear from

Dorothy McFalls

It sounds like writing has always been a part of our life. Did you know that you would be a writer?
Gosh, I think I was born a writer.  It wasnít really a choice.  I just never thought Iíd be trying to make a living with it.  Iím still not sure about that one.  (Laughs) 

I started writing funny little stories and poems in kindergarten.  Stories have always been magical for me.  And the ability to craft my own tales was my way of grabbing part of that magic. 

And then I started public school. (Cue the dark music.)  I loathed English and Literature classes.  The teachers were too rigid.  And I did amazingly dismal work.  There was no way I wanted to devote my life to something that made me so utterly miserable.

Looking back, I realize the trouble wasnít the instructors or the class work.  It was me.  I was passionate about fiction and the story form.  Perhaps too passionate.  I had no clue how to channel that passion.  I ended up frustrated and angry with anyone who tried to help me.  That frustration still rears its ugly head, usually when Iím near the end of a work-in-progress.  That frustration shows up and throws my story into chaos. 

You could say I have this love-hate relationship with writing.  When the words are flowing and the characters spring off the page, I know I have the best career in the world!  Itís the days when I feel as if Iím beating my head against a brick wall that make me question my sanity.  Those are the days when I delete more pages than I write.  I rework and rewrite every scene, trying to make it better, searching for the charactersí voices that have suddenly gone silent. 

So, I guess you could say I suppose I always knew I was going to be a writer.  I was just smart enough to avoid it until my 30th birthday when I could no longer ignore those stories that had been whispering over and over in my head, urging me to write them down.

Do you enjoy being able to write full-time?  Do you ever miss your days as an urban planner?
Yes, and yes!  Getting the chance to write full-time was a dream come true for me.  It took several years of careful budget planning to give my husband and myself the freedom to pursue our creative dreams.  You can read more about our budgeting process at my website (www.dorothymcfalls.com). 

However, with every freedom there is a price.  Writing at home can be very lonely at times.  Iím stuck with no company other than my own thoughts for hours on end.  No one is booking vacations to my head.  Itís not a lovely place.  Itís more like the industrial side of town, with half-completed buildings and old structures that seriously need to be torn down already. 

And I did find urban planning extremely satisfying at times.  It was a difficult profession to walk away from.  I was given the freedom to create several how-to publications for the region, and I got to work with some fabulous small towns in the creation of long-term plans.  Part of the planning process is telling the story of the place.  The process is very similar to crafting a compelling fictional tale, only as a planner I had to stick to the facts.  The plannerís job is to document everything that is good and loved about a community: what works, what is important, and why generations have raised their families in that place.  When that is understood, creating a long-term plan is easy.

Tell us some of your favorites. (i.e. foods, authors, books, movies, music, colors, and any of your other favorites.)
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite food: Chocolate (of course)
Favorite authors: Elizabeth Peters, Catherine Coulter, Kay Hooper
Favorite new authors: Tracy Anne Warren, Sophia Nash, Nina Bruhns
Favorite movies: Gee, this is a hard one.  I must have a happy ending.  I actually get grumpy when I donít get one.  And I prefer comedies.  Itís fun to go to the movies with my husband and get to laugh and laugh and laugh.  Iíve been enjoying quirky Japanese Anime movies lately.
Favorite books: There are so many.  One of my earliest favorites, however, was the Modesty Blaise by Peter O'Donnell.  Modesty Blaise is an ex-criminal turned British spy. I discovered her during my teen years. She was so sexy and confident. Men loved her and women wanted to befriend her. She became my role model!

When writing, do you plan your stories out in advance or do they develop as you write?
Coming from an urban planning background, I do have a certain affinity for planning.  Before beginning a new novel, I usually have a notebook filled with scene ideas, character sketches, and short scenes.  However, all good plans have to be flexible.  When I get into the heat of writing the book, the characters often run off into new and unexpected directions.  Iíve been taken down dead-ends and written into corners more times than I can count.  And then itís back to the notebooks and playing with ideas, figuring out how I might get my hapless character out of some impossible situation and get the story back on tract. 

I donít mind the side roads my writing process often takes me down, though.  Thatís all part of the fun of discovering the story and learning from the characters.  If I didnít have fun with the characters I created for the stories, I doubt Iíd keep writing.

Writing in the romance genre, do you believe in happily ever after?  Have you found yours?
Forgive me for sounding hokeyóbut oh yes, I do believe in the happily-ever-after!  I firmly believe in the happy endings I give my characters.  I know there are many who would scoff at that notion, saying the best anyone can hope for is happily-for-now. 

But, in my mind, keeping a relationship together and crafting an exciting story uses many of the same skills.  Both must keep focused on a common goal.  In a story, that goal pulls the scenes together and makes the plot feel as if itís progressing in a natural manner.  In a relationship, the common goal (whatever it might be) is the glue that holds the couple together. 

Relationships donít remain happy without work.  There might be black moments and times when the goal may evolve and grow as the relationship grows.  These times may not be easy.  But that doesnít mean the relationship has to end.

I know.  Iíve been living my happily-ever-after for the past 14 years.  I entered the dating scene late.  It wasnít until college before I was brave enough to risk my heart.  Luckily (or perhaps it was fate) my first experience with love happened when I met an incredibly sexy and surprisingly well-adjusted college hunk.  We were both in the marching band.  He played trombone.  I played piccolo.  I know, it sounds nerdy, but he wasnít.  I was.

And he had the kindest heart of anyone I had ever met.  So, of course, I married him!  And the rest is history...

Do you enjoy hearing from your readers and what is the best way to contact you?
I love hearing from readers!  I try to respond to every piece of mail or email I get.  The best way to contact me would be through my Dorothy@dorothymcfalls.comemail addy.  I finally have a high-speed Internet connection.  Hello 21st century!

What appeals to you about the Regency time period?  Would you enjoy going back and being a part of that era?
Who can resist a rakish lord in tight pants?  Men in tight leather pants.  Yummy! 

Wait, what was the question?  Oh yes, the Regency period.  That short period of history represented a glittering golden age of romance.  It was a time when the public followed the lives of the aristocracy just like we follow celebrities today.  Crowds would gather to watch the lords and ladies dressed in their finest suits and gowns emerge from their carriages to attend balls.  Gossip columns in the daily newspapers spilled the dirt on the latest scandals.  But beneath the glitter and the excessójust like todayósome very real, very compelling dramas were playing out. 

Although historical romances whisk us away to another place and another world, I believe the struggle to be loved and make our relationships work despite the odds against us is something we all understand.

Would I enjoy going back to the Regency time period?  Me?  Are you kidding?  I donít particularly enjoy camping.  I am too attached to modern conveniences.  And modern medicine.  Donít you dare try and pry my ebook reader out of my hands.  Iíll fight you for it.  And I think I might starve if I didnít have a microwave. 

While the Regency time period is fun to dream about, I think I was born in this time and in this place for a reason.  Iíll leave the time traveling to the more adventurous authors.

How do your characters come to you?  Is there a character you had a hard time letting go of?
Many of my ideas and my characters come to me in dreams.  For as long as I could remember, I dreamed of stories.  Often I have dreams where I donít even play a role.  Gosh, that probably has some kind of scary psychological significance.  So, letís not think about that, shall we? 

Sometimes characters are composites of people in my life.  And no, those characters arenít always cast as villains.  The hero in my debut novel (THE MARRIAGE LIST), for example, was a composite of several important men in my life.  And the hero in my upcoming Regency romance (THE NUDE) was based on my husband.  In fact, THE NUDE was written as a love letter to my husband.  It was a long, 100,000-word love letter with lots of exciting action. 

I have had a few characters that I didnít want to leave behind.  Lady Iona, the heroine in LADY IONAíS REBELLION, was one.  I was fascinated by her fearless attitude and love of life.  She was everything I admired and wanted to be.  How could I let her go?  And yet, the story was over. 

While working on revisions for LADY IONAíS REBELLION, my husband and I adopted a happy, outgoing Papillon puppy.  The name, Lady Iona, fit her perfectly.  So, in a way, I didnít have to let Lady Iona go after all.

How do you promote your work?
Every way possible.  Well, I donít stand on my roof and shout to the world that I have a new book outóIím afraid of heights.  But promotion is important.  I might have just published the best novel in the world, but if no one knows about it, no one will read it.  I give away magnets with my latest book cover on them.  I have contests with the book as a prize.  And I talk about my book to everyone I knowóboth online and in person.  I donít think Iíve bored anyone too much.  People arenít running the other way when they see me...yet.

Does your family support your writing and do they read your work?
Do they ever! And Iím grateful for the support.  My mom has always been a big supporter of my writing.  My dad was my best PR man.  He let the entire town know about my first novel.  My husband lets me know constantly how proud he is of me.  And he enjoys my erotic stories, which makes writing them all the more fun!

How would you describe yourself?
A little blue creature who sits in front of a computer all day.  What?  Thatís not me?  Hmmm... I think I need to work on this self-image thing. 

Letís try this again.  Iím the life of the party?  No?

Oh, I know.  I relate to Charlie Brown a little too much.  Iím often uncomfortable in my own skin.  I hate to say no to anyone.  I want to save the world.  But donít ask me to stay up past 9 pmóI might turn into a pumpkin.  I worry endlessly about stupid little things, but the big stuff I can usually take in stride. 

Bottom line: Iím a work in progress.

How do you celebrate after finishing a book or meeting a deadline?
I reread what Iíve written and wonder how I pulled it off.  Then I start a new book.  Seriously.  I have too many ideas, and not enough time or energy.  When Iím nearing the end of a book, I usually have several new characters swimming around in my head, begging me to start their story. 

It sounds like you are an animal lover?  Do you consider yourself more of a cat person or a dog person?
How can I choose?  My cat (Yoshi) is my muse.  My dogs (Abu and Iona) are my heart.  They are all essential parts of my household. 

Recently, Iíve gotten involved in the sport of dog shows.  What a fun experience!  My Papillon puppy, Iona, isnít a perfect show dog.  She gets tense when she has to stand on the table for the judge. She ends up arching her back and getting into the strangest postures.  But when sheís strutting her stuff around the ring with the other dogs, she positively glows.

I canít imagine doing something like that with my kitty, Yoshi.  He wouldnít enjoy that at all.  But he does enjoy snuggling with me in bed.  He keeps me company while I write.  Heís a cat.  He does all those odd cat things that are hard to describe, but just makes things feel right in the house.

What would a perfect day for you involve?
A perfect day?  Hmm... A new book contract?  No?  A three-book contract from one of my favorite publishers?  Yes, and to have my family and friends close at hand to celebrate with me.  I think that would be just about perfect.  

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?  Any current or upcoming releases?
Thank you, Lori, for this wonderful interview!  You really put me to work with your thought-provoking questions. 

As for what Iíve been working on, my most recent release is a light-hearted and sexy paranormal romantic suspense, Neptuneís Lair.  Playboy Brendan Cromerty isn't looking to fall in love, only save the feisty Dallas St. John from a mystical force threatening to destroy her. But what he discovers about himself and Dallas is more than his take-control heart can handle.

Brendan is part of The Protectors -- an ancient secret society that assists others like them awaken to the mystical gifts theyíve been given.

Jo at Joyfully Reviewed said in part, "The last two chapters gave me tingles and goosebumps and I would have never guessed how the ending came about. Neptune's Lair is a book not to be missed..."

Also, look for The Nude, a new Regency Romance from Five Star/Gale in May 2009!  Itís a sensual romance with a dash of mystery and intrigue.  Iíll have more information on my website (www.dorothymcfalls.com) as its release date approaches.

 

     

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