Author Interview – Joyce Scarbrough
Today, I’m starting something different on my blog. Besides just sharing about my writing experiences or reviewing pop culture, I’m also going to start posting interviews with authors. I think other authors have a lot to share with their fellow authors, as well as their fans.
First up is Joyce Scarbrough. Her latest book is “Symmetry.”
What makes you tick as an author? We want to peek into your psyche.
I’ve made up stories all my life to entertain myself, but it wasn’t until I began plotting my first novel that I realized I had been inventing storylines all those years. And that’s still the way I write my books—I write the stories that entertain ME, the kind that touch my heart, excite me, outrage me, and make me laugh and cry.That’s why I’m always a bit amazed when I hear some writers
say that by the time their book is published, they’re so sick of it that they never want to read it again. I read my books again every other month or so, and even though I know almost every word by heart, they still make me laugh out loud and cry my heart out. And since my characters are real people to me, when I read my books again, it’s like visiting with old friends.My goal as a writer is to never write a book that doesn’t affect me that way.
What works do you currently have published and in what formats?
I have three published novels: TRUE BLUE FOREVER, DIFFERENT ROADS and SYMMETRY. I also have short stories featured in three different upcoming anthologies from L&L Dreamspell.
Which was your first work and what inspired it?
My husband and I attended the same high school 13 years apart (he’s the older one!) so I had always wondered if we would have liked each other if we’d gone to school together since he was a three-sport jock and I was the valedictorian and a band geek. I decided to create a teenage couple with personalities similar to my husband’s and mine, threw in a sports rival for conflict, a wise-cracking best friend for humor, and some muscle cars to make my son happy. TRUE BLUE FOREVER was born!
Has your writing evolved since the beginning and in what way?
Actually, I’ve been trying to get back to the instinctual way I wrote in the beginning. My first book came straight from my heart, and the second one felt as if it were being dictated to me by the heroine. Lately, I’ve felt that I’ve been over-thinking while writing and have been doing my best to take Stephen King’s advice and just let the words flow unhampered on the first draft. Of course, being the obsessive personality, I will still revise it a million times, but I want that first draft to be pure story.
Is there any genre you wish you could write in but don’t feel comfortable tackling?
I would never consider writing in any genre I don’t like to read myself, such as fantasy. It would show in my writing and would be a disservice to my readers.
What about your writing career are you most proud of?
I guess I would have to say all the letters and reviews I got for TRUE BLUE FOREVER from teenage girls who told me they stayed up all night to finish reading it, some of whom had never read a book before that wasn’t required for school. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is for me to know my book introduced these girls to the wonders of reading, something I’ve cherished for as long as I can remember.
What are you most disappointed with?The attitude that some (not all) people have about books published by a small press. However, things they are a-changing, as evidenced by daily news in the publishing world about how the Big Six publishers are gradually realizing the benefits of the small press business model.
How many books would you say you own? Library numbers or just a small collection?
I own thousands of books! When I was a teenager, I used to trade my paperbacks at the local used book store to get more. Now I find myself going online to find copies of the ones I traded and buying them again! I went through a major gothic romance stage when I was 14, so I had to find and buy copies of all those wonderful books by Phyllis A. Whitney, Victoria Holt and Dorothy Eden.
Who are your favorite authors? Does any of your writing reflect that?
I realized recently how much the characters in my favorite books had influenced my own novels. Like the epic loves in FOREVER AMBER and GONE WITH THE WIND, all my books feature couples whose love will never die despite all the obstacles they encounter. My heroines are all strong women like Amber and Scarlett, but most especially Jaycee in DIFFERENT ROADS—she’s a hellion who couldn’t care less about public opinion and who loves her man with the force of a tempest. Inspired by the unrequited love that Laurie has for Jo in LITTLE WOMEN, I gave the heroine in TRUE BLUE FOREVER a best friend who will always love her. And all my heroes (so far) are fearless, macho men who usually fight with my heroines as passionately as they make love to them, like Lee and Jess in SYMMETRY.
Some people say the life of a writer can be lonely. Do you agree? Why?
That may have been true in the past when writers had the luxury of being reclusive, but authors in today’s publishing world have to help promote their books if they want to survive. For someone who hated talking to people I didn’t know or speaking to a crowd, I have learned to introduce myself at conferences to complete strangers and can now talk about my books to a group without batting an eye. I’ve also learned to write my ridiculously long name really fast for book signings!
What is a typical day in your life like?
After jump-starting my brain with coffee, I answer e-mail, respond to writing forum posts, check my Facebook account and try to do something promotional every day. Then I work on editing projects for 2-3 hours and break for lunch. Depending on whether or not my sister hijacks me at lunchtime, I work on my own writing projects in the afternoon until it’s time for my husband to come home, at which time all productivity comes to an abrupt halt! However, if it’s basketball or football season and he has a game, I sometimes get to work at night too. And if I’m in the middle of a book’s climax, I write every chance I get, even if I have to fake an illness to stay home and write.
Have you ever cried while writing one of your books? Which one?
Robert Frost said: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” Not only have I cried while writing all my books, I have laughed out loud and gotten so angry that I’ve thrown writing utensils at my computer monitor.
Of all your books, which one do you think deserves to hit the bestseller’s lists? Why?
No offense, but this is a silly question! I wouldn’t have published any of them if I hadn’t wanted them to be read by millions of readers. However, if we’re speaking of which one has the most widespread appeal, I would have to pick . . . nope, can’t do that either! Sorry!
What works do you have in progress currently?
I’m currently writing a YA paranormal novel that I like to describe as DEXTER meets BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. However, I want to make it clear that there are no vampires in my book. Just a smart-mouthed dead girl with a penance to pay.
What publishing houses have you used?
My first two books were published by Author’s Ink Books out of Burr Oak, Michigan. SYMMETRY was published by L&L Dreamspell based in Friendswood, Texas.
Have you struggled with marketing? In what way?
When my first book was published, I was basically flying blind when it came to promotion, and everything I did was the result of Internet searches for ways to promote. Now that I’m on my third book and have been an active member of multiple writing communities and forums, opportunities for promotion literally fall into my lap every time I check my messages because of the great network of writers I know, several of whom have even published reference books about how to promote. My book promotion library is now well-stocked and referred to often.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Write the stories that entertain you. If you don’t like what you’re writing, it shows. And READ, READ, READ. As Stephen King says: “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the tools to write.”
What would be your one sentence sales pitch on your writing to a potential reader?
“Fiction to touch the heart.”
We want to keep up with you. Give us some contact information.
E-mail me at email@example.com
Readers can find samples of all my work on my pages at Authors Den: http://tinyurl.com/yafjyty
My author page at L&L Dreamspell: http://www.lldreamspell.com/JoyceScarbrough.htm
My blog is called “Blue Attitude”: http://joycescarbrough.blogspot.com
I’m also on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/26q2sdj