Thursday, March 22, 2012

Interview With Dorothy Love

What should readers expect from your books?

    An early review of BEAUTY FOR ASHES said that it has all the elements my readers expect: romance, mystery, and strong characters who want more from their lives. With all my novels, I blend the historical elements with the very personal stories of women who persevere despite long odds. I'm interested in the ways history and setting influence my characters. I hope readers will enjoy my stories and come away having glimpsed both a vanished world, and a universal truth about who we are. 

When did you decide that you wanted to write?

    In elementary school, when a teacher told me she thought I had talent. After that I never wanted to be anything else. I edited my high school and  college newspapers. But writing is not a very reliable career and so I did the responsible thing ( see above!) and majored in teaching and administrative leadership. I spent almost 20 years in that field before leaving to devote full-time to writing. 

What was your first reaction upon learning that you were being published?

        It was surreal. I'd written and submitted regularly for five years before getting the call from my publisher in New York. For the first few minutes of the call with my new editor I was numb. When the call ended, I think I screamed...and then called my best friend to celebrate. It was an unforgettable moment.

Who is your favorite author and how does that person inspire you?

        It's hard to choose just one. As a Southerner writing Southern historical, I love reading books by several  Southern general market authors including Pat Conroy, Cassandra King, Flannery O'Connor, Kaye Gibbons, Lee Smith, Eudora Welty and Reynolds Price. Among authors in the inspirational market, I love Lynn Austin, Julie Klassen, Tamera Alexander and Robin Lee Hatcher. Two authors who debuted with me, Rosslyn Elliott and Catherine Richmond have written wonderful books, too. 

Which authors do you find your style comparable to?
        Tamera Alexander and Lynn Austin. 

What background noise, if at all, do you have while writing (music, TV, etc)

        I can't have any background noise while I'm writing. Silence is golden until the work day is finished. Then I unwind to The Eagles if I'm in a country rock mood, or Jim Brickman if I just want to decompress. 

Are there any characters that share similar traits or qualities with you?

        I think there's a bit of me in all my books. As the oldest of my parents' four children, I grew up as the responsible one. Like my character, Carrie Daly, I tried--and still try--- to do the right thing. Even when I  don't really want to.  Carrie wants a home of her own, and home is  important to me, too. As a child, I cut out pictures of houses and furniture from magazines and catalogs and pasted them into my wish book. I'm still waiting for my beach house with the amazing kitchen.

What is your favorite genre to read?

        Again, hard to pick one. I read widely in both fiction and nonfiction. Historical fiction is my absolute favorite, but I love some contemporary authors, too. I usually have more than one book going at a time. As I write this, I am reading Robert Hicks' A Separate Country because I absolutely loved his novel, The Widow of the South, based on the live of Carrie MacGavrock.  I'm reading Liz Curtis Higgs' Mine Is the Night, and I'm reading Lisa Genova's contemporary novel, Left Neglected, about a high-powered career woman who wrecks her car while trying to make a cell phone call and suffers severe brain trauma. 

Do you prefer to writing series or stand-alone novels?
                They each have their advantages. I'm finishing the Hickory Ridge series  now,  and what I enjoy about writing a series is the chance to spend more time in a certain town and with a cast of characters I've grown  to love. I've enjoyed watching them change and grow, watching Hickory Ridge evolve over a period of 15 years. It feels cozy and familiar. My next three novels are stand alones, taking place in different locales and in different time periods. I'm looking forward to exploring those different settings and the events that will shape my characters. 

How do you come up with names for your characters?

        I read a lot of diaries, journals and newspapers from the time period and try to choose names that were popular then. Sometimes I find the perfect name in a phone book. Sometimes I use a name just because I love it, so long as it fits the setting and period. 

What advice would you give to those who would someday like to get published?
            Read widely, write every day. Seek out mentors who can help you grow. Avoid the temptation to write a certain kind of book just because it's popular. Readers' tastes change frequently. What's hot today may be cold tomorrow. Look inside yourself and write those books that are a reflection of who you are and what you believe. The more authentic you can be with that, the better your writing will be. Develop your own voice. Don't try to imitate someone else. Better to be a first-rate you than a second-rate someone else. 

Have you taken writing classes or attended workshops?

        I took a few classes and a week-long workshop when I was first starting out. They were tremendously useful, but one learns to write by writing. So that's mostly what I  did. I still attend conferences and workshops occasionally. I don't expect to ever master it all. My hope is to continue to get better with each book. 

What is your educational background?

        BS degree in teaching, a Masters in curriculum and instructional supervision, a PhD in instruction and administrative leadership. Nothing that prepared me to be a novelist. 

Could you give us a sneak peek into your next book?
            EVERY PERFECT GIFT is the final Hickory Ridge novel and will release this coming November. It's the story of Sophie, the girl from the orphanage readers met in the first book, BEYOND ALL MEASURE. Now Sophie is all grown up and back in HIckory Ridge to revive the Gazette, the defunct newspaper. Sophie is attracted to Ethan Heyward, the manager of the new resort in town, but the secrets she is carrying from her past threaten to keep them apart. Are you a marathon writer or do you work on your novels a little bit at a time?
        With this series, my deadlines were 9 months apart, so I maintained a fairly intense writing schedule. I like to have longer stretches of time, rather than working in spurts, because I can stay in my characters' heads easier. And I love to see the pages piling up fast.

As a writer, what are the essentials you just can't live without?

          My computer, of course, but I plan my novels in spiral notebooks using my favorite Pilot G2 gel pens in dark blue ink. Other indispensable are my favorite Thomas Nelson coffee mug, the pillow for my office chair, and my library of research materials. 

Are you a traditional pen and paper author, or do you prefer to do your drafts on a typewriter or computer?
I plan with pen and paper, figure out scene and sequel, and put them in the right order. But I write the actual drafts on the computer.

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

            I love hearing from readers and invite them to contact me via my website, www.DorothyLoveBooks, or friend me on Facebook at I have a twitter account but I mostly interact with readers at Facebook and my website.  On the site, I share writing tips;  my blog, Inside Story is about my writing and the history behind the stories,plus  recipes, and other fun stuff. On the events page, I list appearances, book signings, conventions and other venues where I meet readers.  I'd love to see you there. 

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