Author Spotlight

Recently, a very talented author took time out of her busy schedule to chat with me.  So, without any more delayÖletís hear from

Donna McAteer

Have you always known that you wanted to be a writer?  How did you get started writing?
It all started when I picked up a copy of Julie Garwoodís, Heartbreaker.  Silly me, I thought it was just a suspense novel and started reading.  In no time at all I realized it was a romance, and I was hopelessly hooked.  I couldnít get enough of her work.  I quickly fell in love with her wonderful historical tales, the Scottish ones, and particularly her medievals.  I branched out and read any historical romances on the shelves, and in 2001 I decided to try my hand at creating my own romances.   

I read you have a background in art history and painting. How did you get interested in these?  And did you ever consider a career in these fields?
I have a bachelorís degree in Art History and Painting and aspired to be a curatorís assistant in a museum in NY.  I had painted all my life and I still adore art and the human body, so it seemed the natural line of work to follow.  Alas, I never followed my aspirations once I graduated from college.   

I read that you are a respiratory therapist. How do you find time to write with a job and a family to take care of?
Working in a hospital, writing, and running a household is extremely demanding.  Itís a real juggling act to find time for everything, but my writing doesnít take a back seat ever.  I am very motivated with stories that burst out of my head, screaming to be written, and I allocate time to write every day.  Also, the stressful nature of my job makes writing romance a wonderful imaginary outlet of escape. I simply love creating my own stories and charactersóitís so enjoyable. 

Tell us a little about what makes Donna tick.  How would your husband of twenty seven years describe you?
Twenty-eight years as of July 28th this year.  He would say Iím fiercely passionate about my endeavors and I perform them with the utmost of my abilities.  He would say I am a stubborn woman, probably a trait of my Scottish background, yet I am loyal to those I love and fair to everyone around me.  He would say I am a very artistic person and love my children more than life itself.

It seems that you enjoy writing stories set in historical settings. Do you see yourself writing in other genres?  Is there a specific genre you would enjoy trying?
I have already written a romantic suspense, which was a fun departure from the strict constraints and research involved in a historical romance.  That work sits on the desk of a publishing house now and I have high hopes that it will be released soon.  At the moment I am rewriting a regency, but have plans to write a time travel after that and probably a short story that materialized just this weekend. 

If you could travel to any place or time in history, where would it be and why?
I would probably say, medieval Europe.  I simply adore anything having to do with castles, knights, and medieval weaponry.  In my latest release, Heartless Warrior, I believe I mastered the challenge of describing a vivid battle scene and loved elaborating on the armor and medieval weapons. I admire the chivalry of knights in that period and their motto to protect those too weak to protect themselves.  Medieval times were probably not nearly as romantic as we make them out to be, but I would absolutely love to go back and experience it firsthand.

Tell us some of your favorites: foods, movies, books, authors, music, holidays, or anything else.
The food list is a big no-no, but I love pizza and ice cream and if I drink I really like champagne.  I love a really good action movie, and of course anything with historical qualities like Lord of the Rings, Timeline, and wow, 300!  Check out my myspace if you donít believe me.  Authors that I love include, Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsay, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Suzanne Brockmann, Joanne Rock, Bertrice Small, Thea Devine, Susan Johnson, Michael Crichton, and Dan Brown.  But I read just about anything because I love to read. 

As far as music goes, I love to listen to smooth jazz while Iím writing; it calms me and gets the creative juices flowing.  Having a teen at home has gotten me to listen to rock and a variety of other music too. 

In regards to a holiday, I am a Halloween lover all the way.  I go all out decorating my house for this holiday and never fail to carve a ton of pumpkins for the occasion.  Adults come to my door just to see what I have created.  I guess I like the strange and macabre but Iím not into gory or sadistic. 

I canít forget my love of sports.  I am a huge football fan, always have been.  I will watch football at any hour, no matter the team.  Iíve also become quite a huge fan of Ultimate Fighting, or mixed martial arts.  I love the athletic prowess involved in these sports as well as the pleasure I get from watching the male body at its best.  What can I say, I love men.

Do you have one character that it was very difficult to leave behind when you had finished their story?
That would be Wraith, from my medieval Heartless Warrior.  He is the personification of the perfect male to me; powerful, muscular, invincible, yet vulnerable and sweet underneath.  I will probably write a sequel to this story someday soon.  

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Never, never, never give up!!  If you have the desire and the dream to write, pursue it with a vengeance.  Hone your skills and learn the craft, but keep writing.  

Does your family read your books and what do they think of your writing?  Huge supporters, are they?
My husband has read a few and he supports me hugely.  My kids havenít read my work but they are so proud of me and their support is endless. 

Do you have someone that you consider a mentor and how have they helped you with your career?
I donít know that I could name one person as mentor in my career.  I would have to say the ladies of First Coast Romance Writers, my local romance group here in Jacksonville, Florida, have been tremendously supportive throughout my career.  Three writers and critique partners that come to mind for me are Gail Ranstrom, Marianne Lacroix, and Pam Wells.  All three have been instrumental in my career and continue to be even now. 

Do you enjoy hearing from readers and what is the best way for them to contact you?
I love hearing from readers and knowing what they want to read next.  I have an email box attached to my website that is a direct link to me. Just log onto and go for it. 

What would you consider your greatest strength and what would you consider your weakest?
My greatest strength is probably my loyalty to people around me.  My greatest weakness is my thin- skinned veneer when it comes to harsh criticism.  

How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
It used to take me a year to pump out a book, now I have it down to a couple of months.  Of course, when I finally get to quit my day job I will be able to spend my entire day writing.  That is huge goal of mine, which I hope to attain very soon.  Learning the craft of writing and finding my own particular voice has helped the process go more smoothly too.  

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Only that I will never stop writing, no matter what.  Even if the fans stop reading, I will never stop writing.  It is a creative outlet for me, a place for me put down my ideas and it brings me endless joy and a real sense of accomplishment.  It is what I want to do until I canít do it anymore. 

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