Today, I’m pleased to feature an interview with romantic suspense author Chantel Rhondeau, who is here to discuss her new release, Always & Forever, and writing in general.
Thanks for joining me, Chantel, and congratulations on the release of your book.
Thank you for having me here, Michele
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been quite the daydreamer. Does that count? I live out little fantasies in my head all the time! I actually seriously started writing a little over six years ago.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I couldn’t find another book dealing with what I wanted to read about–so I decided to write one.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Hmmm…that’s hard. Until last year, I’d been secretive about my writing; embarrassed at what people would think, I guess. I first considered myself a writer when one of my critique buddies told me what I was doing was great. Since I really admired his writing, I figured he knew what he was talking about. (Thanks, Travis!)
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine?
There is no routine in my life. I write whenever I can fit it in (usually in the evenings or early mornings). I think best outside of my office though, which I use for technical writing in my day job. For fiction, I like to sit with my feet up in my recliner, using my laptop…usually with my cat, Gizmo, curled against me.
How did you come up with the title Always & Forever?
The title actually gave me the idea for the book, which almost never happens for me. The phrase ‘always and forever’ seems like it should be said in a loving way. I wondered what would happen if an abused woman were forced to say this to her abuser, and what her life would be like if she got away from him.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’m not big on messages, but my ideal reader will probably grasp what this book is ultimately about: good prevails over evil, love conquers all, and hope and trust are the most powerful gifts in the world.
Are the events in your book or your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I put part of myself into every aspect of my writing. Always & Forever is fiction, but abuse is an issue very important to my heart. I wish all victims of abuse could find the strength to stand up for themselves and find the support they need to get away.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I changed things so many times, I think I’ve changed all I can! Really though, I hope people understand Lilly, that they get her choices and sympathize with her plight. I hope I did my job as an author in that regard.
Speaking for myself, I always understood her choices. I might not have always agreed with them, but I always understood them.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing is always a struggle for me. Beautiful prose doesn’t fall from my fingers without considerable effort, unfortunately. Many sentences are rewritten several times so they don’t sound awkward, often with the advice of my excellent critique buddies.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I try very hard to connect emotionally with my characters in every scene; to be them in a sense. Lilly and Zach are very complex people, which was emotionally draining at times. However, I think the end result is worth it.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Find strangers who don’t care if they hurt your feelings to look over your work. Critique Circle is a free on-line group where you can find this type of help. Grow a thick skin, ‘cause those first few weeks are going to rip your heart out. Then, look over the advice, apply it, and keep learning and growing. Most of all, keep writing.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
I think you need a basic understanding of sentence structure, an idea of how to show instead of tell, and an overactive imagination with a nagging Muse who doesn’t shut up. However, you can learn all these skills if you want to write a book and don’t possess them right now. There are many great classes available.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Sometimes. Basically, I bore my Muse to death until she starts talking again. Folding laundry, mopping floors, staring at a blank page and refusing to think about anything else. If that doesn’t work, I put my MP3 player on with either classical music or my five-hour recording of water rushing down a gorge. When she gets bored enough, she starts playing nice.
What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing? Why?
Wow! I read so much, it’s hard to pick one book or author that has profoundly impacted me. I’d have to say, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. It’s the story that first started my love affair with the written word. I’ve read it so many times, and I still cry when I read it. It’s an amazing story. Besides, I have an autographed copy! How cool is that?
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Reading (of course), bowling, swimming, playing cards, teasing my kids (usually being teased–little buggers gang up on me), riding horses, driving fast, listening to blasting music, singing (badly, so I do this when I’m alone).
What does your family think of your writing?
They didn’t always like it, but they’re coming around. Now that I’m published, they think it’s pretty cool.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My current WIP is about a womanizing cop who’s falling for a very sarcastic witness. Only problem is, now he’s become the prime suspect in a murder.
Sounds like another great story! Good luck with it.
Finally, do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks so much for taking a chance on my book, for spending your valuable time visiting my world. I hope you enjoy the trip.
Please follow Chantel Rhondeau’s blog hop by visiting http://christina-mcknight.blogspot.com/ on September 21, 2012.
Chantel’s debut release release, Always & Forever, is available from the following retailers: