Monday, January 25, 2016

Questions Writers Get Asked

by Patricia Bradley

I do a lot of book signings and talks to different groups and get asked many questions about writing. What do you think is the #1 question I get asked?

If you said, where do you get your ideas, you would win the prize (if there was one). My answer varies from: I don't know to: out of the thin air, and even: the news. 

In my first book, Shadows of the Past, I was sitting on my sofa one morning when a woman popped into my head and said, "Someone is trying to kill me."  This after for or five years of not writing a word of fiction or even thinking about it.

Of course, I had to know who and why. And a story was born. I will say that most of my ideas come to me at odd times, like in the middle of the night when I'm half asleep, or when I'm in the shower, and a lot of the times when I'm driving.

Another question I get asked is, do you know how your story will end, or in the case of the suspense books I write, do you know who the villain is? 

When I first started writing, I did know the answers to those questions. In my first Heartwarming book, Matthew's Choice, I knew going in what his choice would be. My last book, The Christmas Campaign, I didn't know until three-quarters of the way through which of the men in her life the heroine would pick. I have no idea why it changed!

But I do think that's one reason I love writing so much. The characters take over the book and tell me what's happening next. And sometimes they demand their own story. 

So readers, what question would you like to ask an author?

And don't forget to stop by your local Walmart and pick up your copies of this month's Harlequin Heartwarming books, discounted 35% this month!
I did. 

26 comments:

  1. Great post, Patricia!

    MIRA suspense author Elizabeth Heiter and I just did a joint interview. Here is one of the questions we were asked that we had some fun with:

    Do you ever take characteristics or nuances from close friends or family when working on character development and if so has that friend or family member noticed and what was their response to it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kate, your reply made me laugh. My sister just prefaced a story by saying "but you have to promise not to write it in one of your books."

      Delete
  2. Love that one, Kate. Would loved to have heard your answers.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not a question, but I hear the comment a lot that "someone should write my life story." In earlier days, I was asked to do that a few times--once when I was working the window at the post office.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How could I forget that one, Liz! I don't know how many times I've had someone say that to me. My response usually is, I wish I could, but...

      Delete
  4. I have a question for you. Do writers have to have a degree in English to write? I've always wondered if you have to know grammar well and have great vocabulary to write a book, or does the editor assist with that. Not sure if this is a silly question, but honestly have always wondered.
    Nice WalMart pic. ( :

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laurie, there are no silly questions!!

      I'm not sure I should tell you this because I wish it weren't true, but not only do I not have a degree in English, but I didn't finish high school. I did get a really good foundation in the 11 years I attended school and I never stopped learning. I used to get the Reader's Digest and turned to the "It Pays to Increase Your Word Power" section and learn new words.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for that very candid response. I always thought a degree in English was necessary, but now I'm relieved to know it's not.

      Delete
    3. I'll join in here--I finished high school, but didn't go to college. I got some of my "word power" the same place Pat did.

      Delete
  5. When I first started writing, I remember asking authors at signings, which book was their favorite. The usual answer was the one I’m working on now. I no longer ask the question because who can pick favorites. It’s like asking which of your children is your favorite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So agree Marion. And the book I'm working on is usually my favorite, too!

      Delete
  6. Great post, Patricia! I never have a specific answer for the question about where my ideas come from either. For me, the places ideas come from are as varied as the ideas themselves, if that makes sense?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, Carol. Sometimes they come from thin air!

      Delete
  7. Wouldn't we all like to know where ideas come from so we could keep going back there! Roz has a theory that there's a common pot of ideas just waiting for us. (Am I right, Roz?) My experience has been that after mining hard for ideas something will just fall on my head. The really good questions is, how do you make the very best of that idea? If you jump on it too fast, you miss things. If you belabor it and work it over and over, it's lost all freshness and appeal. Happy Day, Everyone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent answer Muriel. Ideas seem to just pop into my head and I have a gut reaction, like Yes!

      Delete
  8. Muriel, you are right---I always say there's a big cauldron of ideas in the sky and as it goes by sometimes you snatch an idea out. I say that because I never know where the heck my ideas come from. I just know they aren't as plentiful as they used to be, darn it all. Maybe the cauldron is almost empty.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I loved the Christmas Campaign. Nicole made the right choice.

    My question: after writing several books, does it get easier with practice? Or is it harder to be fresh and original after writing many stories?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Beth. In some ways it gets easier, but in others it gets harder--I know that's a cop-out, but it's hard to explain. I write a lot of series books so some of my characters are already there--it's just finding the right obstacles for them to overcome for their Happy-Ever-After. :-)

      Delete
  10. Fantastic post, Patricia! How relieved I am to hear you don't always know where your story ideas come from. I've never been able to actually pinpoint a source.
    I have a question, why the break in writing? You mentioned, Shadows of the Past came about four or five years after not writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I started working in the abstinence program, Jill. That was a full-time, sometimes 60-hour a week job and didn't leave time for fiction writing. I co-wrote an abstinence curriculum and workbook during that time. Thanks for asking. It was a wonderful time in my life--talking to kids about character, discipline, healthy relationships.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Patricia. I hope I wasn't being nosy. It sounds like the perfect job to help you to become a great writer. :)

      Delete
  11. Patricia, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has characters talking to her randomly. It usually happens to be when I'm driving or showering and can't write it down right away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, Sophia! I've started carrying a recorder when I drive. Haven't figured out the shower deal, though. :-)

      Delete
  12. I know, Sophia! I've taken to carrying a recorder with me. Haven't figured out the shower thing, though. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Patricia, I always get to these so late after work. I have to say-- I'm right there with you at three in the morning with characters waking me up--some of whom I've never met. While I'm driving the ideas come, but my best plot twists come while I'm creaming butter and sugar for cookies or someone's birthday cake . I adore brainstorming with my editor. She's my electric/live wire. So I love that. Love this post!! Great job!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I want to know how some authors write so much in so little time? I feel like a snail next to some people out there! Where do the words come from and please tell me everyone gets writer's block ...

    ReplyDelete