Monday, September 22, 2014

Questions Asked of an Author

By Patricia Bradley
photos by Cheryl Meints

The other day I spoke to the Friends of the Iuka, Mississippi, Library about writing and my books. What do you suppose the first question was when I opened the floor up for discussion? It was the same first question I get at every book signing or speaking.

Yep, you guessed it. "Where do you get your ideas?"

I used to dread that question because I really don't know where my ideas come from other than God. Not that I don't want to give God the credit.

But you see, I not only write Heartwarming romances, I also write suspense books where people get killed. I'm not sure it's a good idea to connect my inspirations on how to murder someone to God.

My response that day was: Out of thin air.

And it's true that my ideas come from seemingly nowhere. I will hear a news story or watch a movie and a character will pop into my head. Matthew's Choice is an example. I saw a news clip where someone had reached the pinnacle of his career, and remarked to the reporter that it wasn't quite what he'd thought it would be. 
That started the what if process, and after a lot of what ifs, the story was born. 

Another thing that I get a lot isn't really a question. "You ought to write a book about my life story. It would be a best seller." 

Now why would  those words strike fear in the heart of a writer? For one thing, reality doesn't make good fiction--it's too hard to make it believable. And fiction has to be believable. Life doesn't. People are really disappointed when you don't want to use their story.

Another offer that ranks right up there with the life story is, "I have this really great idea for a book, but I don't have time to write it. Would you like to hear about if for your next book? It's really hard to explain that writing just doesn't work that way.

Another question I get is, how long does it take you to write a book? Again, this changes almost from book to book. Some take longer than others. My first book took five years to write. After I received a contract, I realized I didn't have five years to write the next book. I had to learn how to write faster. In.A.Hurry.

Now, I don't want you to think authors don't like for you to ask questions. They do, but some questions are really difficult to answer, and the answer might be different on any given day--that's why some of these answers are a little tongue-in-cheek.

In fact, if you're a reader, go ahead, ask me any question you'd like. If I can't answer it, I'm sure some of the other Heartwarming authors on the blog can. And if you're an author, what's a question a reader posed that gave you pause?

Oh, and here's a couple of more photos of me at books signings. In the one to the right, I was signing a copy of Matthew's Choice, and someone offered to tell me their life's story for my next book.

And they didn't come just to hear me...by the time I finished, all the cake was gone.


Don't forget to leave a question!

20 comments:

  1. It looks as though a fun time was had by all!

    I always have trouble when someones suggests I write their life story. It's a conversation I never know quite how to get out of because I don't want anyone to think their lives weren't interesting--they usually are--but it don't want to be their narrator!

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    1. My thoughts exacty, Liz! I answered the lady in question with--I think you should write it! :-)

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  2. It looks like a fun event, Patricia.

    I love book signings and chatting with readers.I have received many of the same questions. I have a short post on my website from the summer of 2013 answering questions readers submitted for my newsletter: http://bit.ly/Z90OXI

    As for people's stories, I have a number of friends who hold (or have held) unique and significant positions, thus I am often asking them about aspects of their experiences so that I can fictionalize them!

    Happy reading (or writing, as the case may be)!

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    1. You're so right, Kate. I'm always mining my friends for their experieces, and I do warnt them they may end up in one of my books.

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  3. Pat, what a great signing. And I just finished your book. It's a really wonderful story. I hope a lot of people bought the book. When it comes to people wanting to share a story with me, or their life story, I tell them my contracts state the books I sell have to be made up out of my head. That seems to satisfy them. Where ideas come from is still a puzzle.

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    1. Thank you, Roz! That is an awesome answer, and I will use it. I honestly believe ideas are part of the gift God gives us when he makes us writers.

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  4. I don't know how to answer any of the questions! Probably why I try to stay away from book signing events lol. I was terrified at RWA this year, but luckily Karen Rock was there so I just deferred the tough ones to her;)

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    1. That's always a plus if you have someone you can foist, I mean defer, the questions to. :-) I'm just wondering if we'll ever have the answers?

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  5. Patricia - apparently those questions are gnarly problems for all of us. Good ideas are such a blessing, and it becomes a case of not looking the gift horse in the mouth! Just be glad it fell on you. Pretty blouse!

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    1. Amen, Muriel! And thanks about the blouse. It's one of the last things my mom gave me. I only wear it on special occasions.

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  6. Great post, Patricia! And all these comments from experienced writers make me feel so much better! It is such a blessing when I hear that others have the same thoughts and reactions that I do. My least favorite comments from people go something like this..."How do you find the time to write? I've always wanted be a writer, but I just don't have time." I fall to the incomparable Nora Roberts for my response--"You don't find the time to write--you make time."

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    1. Absolutely Carol. Everyone has the same 24 hours. And we tend to use them dong what we are passionate about.

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  7. Enjoyed reading Matthew's Choice, Pat. Yep, I saw myself and similar situations or reactions in a couple of the characters. Also enjoyed our time at the Iuka Library presentation...learned a bit more about my best writer friend in the process.

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    1. Thanks for dropping in, Cheryl. For everyone, Cheryl is the one who took the photos, and even my cover photo for the romantic suspense books.

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  8. I noticed you're left-handed (so am I) - has anyone ever said to you when you pick up a pen - "You're left-handed." - as if it's something they've never seen before?
    How do you react? I usually say "yes I am".

    Got my copy of Matthew's Choice in the mail today!

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  9. I get that all the time, Marcie! I usually say, "yep and that means I'm in my right mind." :-)

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    1. Well, I hit publish before I finished. I hope you enjoy Matthew's Choice!

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  10. Before I was published I'd check out the author’s selection of several books and ask the author to name a favorite. Yeah, right. It’s like asking her to name her favorite child. I’ve learned they’re all favorites, each one having its own specialty.

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  11. Absolutley, Marion. Sometimes I think my favorite would be a book that just fell into place and came together easily, then I realized that wasn't ever going to happen to me. lol

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  12. That comment "You should write a book about my life" comes at me at the oddest times: in one visit to a doctor, I heard it twice, once from the nurse and the other time from the doctor, and in separate conversations! My confused frown must be a good enough answer to move along because I'm still working on coming up with the right response.

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