Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Interview with Multi-Talented author Connie Flynn

Connie Flynn is the bestselling author of ten romance novels including romantic suspense, romantic adventure, romantic comedy and paranormal romance. With the publication of the "fabulous" and "remarkable" Shadow on the Moon by Penguin/Topaz in March of 1997, critics called Connie Flynn "a talented writer" and "a rising star."

Connie began her career under the pseudonym of Casey Roberts and wrote for Harlequin Superromance. Filled with romance and suspense, these books received their own quiet acclaim, including a spot on the Waldenbooks bestseller list for her second book and a film option offer for her third. She went on to write two shorter romantic comedies.

A member of Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, Connie is active in the local chapters of both organizations. She also teaches independent workshops and gives presentations to local writing on novel writing groups. Connie makes her home in Scottsdale, Arizona, one of the state's rare natives. Every summer she swears she'll move to a cooler climate. Then winter comes and she never wants to live anywhere else.

Hi Connie, it’s great to have you’re here. Start by telling us a little about yourself. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up in Arizona and it was a small hick town at the time. I miss that sometimes. I wasn’t very directed as a kid – I wanted to be a movie star until I realized they had no privacy, so after that I didn’t know what to be until I became a novelist. Someone once said that writers were frustrated actors . . . and maybe that’s true. Where else can I be anyone I want for several hours a day?

How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

My journey has been kind of crazy and it started with my selling my first novel to Harlequin and I have since published ten novels and two short stories. Currently, with teaching taking so much of my time, I’ve been working more on mystery short stories (fun and fast), but am also polishing up several books to take to market.

Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

A little bit of both. I honestly believe that although plotters come in all varieties, no one is truly a pantser. The only difference is that die-hard pantsers plot on the fly. Personally, the longer I write the less structured I am with the plotting steps. I tend to start with a general overview outline, but it most always has major holes. Then I write a chapter of two so I get to know my characters, then I plug the gaps in the outline. I prefer to know the ending well before I get. It keeps me from having that horrible “I’ll never get this done,” feeling and it saves a ton of rewrites.

Are there any particular authors who have influenced you or your work?

The horror writers – Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul – influenced me greatly, which is probably how I ended up being a paranormal writer. But I also enjoyed Taylor Caldwell and Susan Howitz, and, of course, Victoria Holt and Kathleen Woodiwiss. You could say that I have eclectic tastes and that still holds true.

Do you have a favorite book or series?

I absolutely adore Tolkein’s Lord of the Ring series (I reread it twice). Currently, I’m a fan of the Harry Potter series and read everything that Kim Harrison and Charlaine Harris write.

Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

I’m dividing my writing time between mystery/suspense and paranormal and am working, somewhat simultaneously, on a series set in Las Vegas and a paranormal series.

The first concerns a female detective who tracks down criminals and wards off the attempts of the local police to discredit her while also dealing with a card-shark mom and the growing pangs of her teenaged daughter.

The paranormal series features a high-fashion model who must sacrifice everything to accept her true role among a race of inter-dimensional beings charged with preventing psychic vampires from draining human life essence.

When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

I’m an artist – my education was actually in advertising art – and I still like to draw and paint, although I don’t find much time for it, it’s still an enjoyment. Most of my free time -- stolen time is probably a better phrase – is spent with my kids and grandkids and the good friends I’ve made over the years.

Do you write to music or the TV?

Music sometimes. TV never. I’m not crazy about having someone else’s words talking over the ones in my mind.

Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

I’d say I’m pretty ordinary. I don’t have any magic rituals or really weird habits despite the fact that I write about extraordinary people who do.

People tend to see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?

I’m not very hermit-ty, although your image looks familiar as my deadlines close in. I work always at being disciplined as a writer, but it’s never actually true until a deadline looms. The difference always amazes me because the day after I mail the manuscript I’m back to my hit and miss ways.

They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

Oh golly, I’m in big trouble. My work area is crammed with piles of paper and I’m in the process of trying to put some order in the mess. Starting a writing school, teaching for the college, and writing my novels and short stories generates so much paper that I’ve run out of places to store it. Eeek! Help!

You’re presenting two workshops at the Desert Dreams Conference. Can you give us a bit of a rundown on what to expect?

The first class is called Building Characters Who Walk Talk and Breathe. It’s about what you do once you have those delightful core characteristics defined.

o How will your character respond if she gets rear-ended?

o If the hero kissed her without invitation?

o If her mother died?

o If she found out she was pregnant?

This workshop focuses on defining character core values and provides tools for getting those answers.

On Friday night, Linda Style and I will present Demystifying Plot and Subplot, which clearly identifies these often mashed together functions and show you where and when to use each.

I’ve enjoyed speaking with you today, Connie. Is there anything you'd like to add?

After adding Bootcamp for Novelists Online Teaching to my current Phoenix College teaching schedule, I’m finding very little time to write. Teaching is rewarding and my students never fail to delight me, but it’s the creative process that really sends blood racing through my veins, so I’ve decided 2010 is my year.

I’m determined to take more time to finish my own projects.

Learn more about Connie at her website: www.connieflynn.com

3 comments:

  1. Cool interview, Connie! Anyone who gets the chance should definitely attend Connie's workshop. She is such an awesome teacher and writer, you won't be disappointed. I took two of Connie's classes at MCC back in the day and had the privilege of being in her critique group. Her insight is phenomenal.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another Connie student chiming in -- when I joined RWA people kept saying "take Connie's class" and I kept thinking "no need, I've read half a dozen books on How To Write A Romance."

    But after two years I finally gave in and took her wonderful class, and THAT's what got me selling!

    Laurie, embarrassed at having waited so long :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Carrie and Laurie, and anyone else who maybe wanted to post but didn't because they saw I hadn't responded, you have my apology. I'm such a dummy about writing blogs, being on blogs, doing Facebook and Twitter that the books on the subject were probably written for me.

    Thanks so much, ladies, for your comments and compliments. I love hearing good things about my courses and now that my short stories are getting in print, I'm starting to hear them about my writing as well . . . that's my next goal!

    ReplyDelete