The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview.
The pleasure is all mine, ladies. Thanks for asking me!
We would love to get to know you
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
Ah, a trick question (grin)-tricky for me, anyway, because I'm never quite sure how to define myself. Basically, I'm a fulltime author who spends way too much time in front of the `puter (I really need to get out more). I live in the rural southwest, but I was raised in New Jersey, and I've also spent a number of years in both center-city Philadelphia and Florida--so I'm sort of a blend of Yankee and Southerner, city-chick and country-gal. I share my home with a wonderful husband and enough pets to prove we're major animal lovers. Growing up, there were two main things I wanted to be: an actress and a writer. Where the acting urge came from, I'm not sure, but the writing-bug I definitely caught from my mom, who was a fulltime writer and editor. Anyway, shortly after I finished college, writing took the lead, and my first three novels were published in 1978, when I was three (okay, 23, but that seems like a toddler to me now
"Life" intervened shortly thereafter, and I was forced to abandon novel writing for way too long--although, I continued writing short pieces as time allowed, and periodically worked as an editor. I made it back to novelist-status in 2003 when Dorchester published my historical romance, I Do. That led to me becoming the Senior Editor for New Age Dimensions, where I worked until their closing last year, and NAD published my romantic comedy, Every Jack Needs His Jil (which won the P&E poll for "Best Mainstream Novel of 2004"). Most recently, my sci-fi comedy erotic-romance, Samantha White & The Seven Dwarves, was a winner in the 2007 Amber Heat Wave contest, and was released by Amber Quill Press this past June. And I'm an amateur herbalist and have written a couple of herb guides that are currently available from Amazon Shorts.
Besides writing and editing, I've also worked as a model, a belly-dancer, a publisher, the manager of a bookstore, and I ran my own jewelry-making company for several years. And one summer, when I was in college, I worked as a clown at Ringling Bros. Circus World in Florida. It wasn't nearly as much fun as you'd think. except for when I got to ride the elephant.
What's your favorite genre to read?
I'll read almost anything, actually, and have a particular fondness for classic science fiction and fantasy, adventure stories and mysteries, but my overall favorite is Romance, in all its delicious flavors, because it's the only genre where you can pretty well be assured of a happy ending.
What do you do on a typical writing day?
Ideally, I like to start the second I roll out of bed, glue myself to the story, and then stick with it till I drop from exhaustion. There's probably an easier way to do things. but I haven't found it yet.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
With pickaxes, sledgehammers, beating my head against the wall, sweating blood--stuff like that. Basically, I bull my way through the rough spots. Unless the block stems from simple exhaustion (see above answer), in which case, I'll just go to bed and expect the answer to be there in the morning. Usually it is. Oh, yes, and I pace the floor a lot, too-that always seems to help. When I hit a block, it often means that I've taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line. So I backtrack to find the last point in the story where things felt right, and pick it up fresh from there. Blocks are part of the process, I think-inevitable, but never impossible-and the best way past them is to keep on writing. The act of struggling, itself, can be a marvelous goad to creativity. I often find that the scenes I've had the most trouble with, end up being the best ones in the book.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
Gladly. Coming in August, from AQP, I have a contemporary erotic-romance titled Romeo's Revenge.
Here's the blurb:
Twenty years ago, Giorgio and Angel starred in Romeo and Juliet, and their offstage affair ended almost as tragically as the play's. True, he let his father drive them apart, but the secret "Juliet" took with her when she left has kept them apart. Or so she thinks. How could she guess "Romeo" has a secret, too? What IS she to think when he grabs her from their high school reunion and carries her off to his bed? Certainly not that he wants her back. More likely this is the madman's way of paying her back. Definitely, she's in deep trouble now, about to go straight up in smoke as old passions flare to life. Will she find a way past the past? Or will her heart be broken again while the rest of her fries to a cinder? All she knows is whoever said "revenge is a dish best served cold" never had to deal with the scorching Giorgio Lorenza.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
I'm currently working on the sequel to Romeo's Revenge, a contemporary comedy called Tina Takes a Tumble. After that, it's a choice between several different projects and I'll have to see which one screams loudest to be finished first. Waiting in line are three more contemporaries, two space-operas, two paranormals, and one fantasy. Those are just the ones that are already started. I've a dozen or so more still in the early planning stages. I always seem to have more ideas than I have time, but that's better than the other way around, I guess.
In 5 years, where do you see yourself? In general and in you're writing career.
Boy, I really have no idea. I only know that, providing the world's still here and I'm still in it, and publishers are still putting out books, I'll still be writing them.
What do you do for inspiration?
Read, research, talk, daydream, listen to songs, people-watch. Inspiration can come from anything. Sometimes a single phrase will spark an idea. Sometimes it hits me in the form of a challenge. For instance, earlier this year I saw a forum discussion on "reunion romances." One person suggested, jokingly, the idea of reuniting a couple whose romantic history was that they'd played Romeo and Juliet in high school. Ha-ha. All agreed that premise would never work. Which, of course, started me thinking about ways it could work. And that's how Romeo's Revenge was born. Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
None that I can think of at the moment, but then I've been writing long enough to have tried a lot of them already. I often mix genres, too. Many of my stories fall into more than one category. What type of book have you always wanted to write?
A New York Times bestseller might be nice (grin). Seriously though, this question has made me realize something. Which is that I think more in terms of individual stories than types. In other words, I'll tell the tale first, and figure out afterward how to label it. Hmm.maybe that's why I write in so many genres. And here I thought I was just being eclectic. (LOL) What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
I research whatever is needed to get the details of a story straight. With I Do, for instance, that included everything from Highland customs, to Comanches and the Civil War, to medieval castles, the history of the electric light, how high an oak might grow in 50 years, and how a person could have traveled from Abilene to San Francisco in 1883.and quite a few other things, as well. I love research and have tons of reference books (including nearly twenty different sets of encyclopedias, some of them very old and curious). Then there's the hands-on kind of research. Such as, say a character has been kidnapped and gagged and she's trying to scream. What does it sound/feel like? How much noise can one make while gagged, anyway? Gee, I guess I'll have to gag myself and find out, won't I?... I can spend hours online, too, looking up things and crosschecking facts. Study, purely for its own sake, is probably my main hobby. I have broad interests and love learning new things. Besides which, the research often gives me added ideas for the story I'm working on, or inspires a new one. Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
Neither. I write about the same with or without them. The only thing a deadline will do, if it's a tight one, is to make me put in longer hours. But I often put in long hours, anyway, so that's not a big deal.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
I'm very lucky to have been raised in a writing family. Not only was my mother an author, but my older brother is one, too. So I grew up writing and had a lot of help and encouragement right from the start. I'm also lucky in that with my first novel, I didn't have to submit anything. Meaning that I wasn't marketing a manuscript, just my ability to produce one. It's a funny story how it happened:
Back in the late `70s, my mother and brother were writing for a book contractor who was acquiring all sorts of novels for a paperback publisher in New York. I was 23 at the time and unpublished in fiction. In fact, I'd never written any fiction longer than short-stories before. But I wanted a writing career, and if my brother could do novels, so could I, darn it. I called said book contractor and brazenly offered my services as a romance writer. No good. He didn't need any more romances. Could I do science fiction, instead? Not one to let an opportunity slide by, I assured him that "science fiction" was practically my middle name (well, I had read a lot of it). Now this is where the fun starts. He told me that he needed a 50,000-word space-opera-the catch being that he needed it in two weeks. Two weeks? Impossible. I was absolutely certain I couldn't pull that off. But, for some insane reason, I said yes, anyway. Then I planted myself in front of a typewriter and took root. Two weeks later, like a winded relay-runner passing the baton, I handed him a 50K-word manuscript and it was published that year. All of which proves that miracles do happen. If you're willing to meet them halfway. What would you like to tell your readers?
Thank you for reading my books! And I say that from the bottom of my heart, because all of you are the main reason I do this. Writing, I've always felt, is a performance art, and, as with any kind of performance, the audience is a crucial part. A book without readers is like an actor or musician on an empty stage, playing to an empty house-meaningless. It takes at least two to make a book: one to write it and one to read. So, I hope my stories entertain you, that they bring happiness and inspiration. And I hope you all know how precious you are to me. Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I do a little of the first and a lot of the latter. In other words, I have to at least think I know what's happening with a story to get it started, but what I think at the beginning usually turns out to be very different from what I end up with. It's kind of like planning a trip to a foreign land. Even when I know where I'm going, I can't know exactly what the place will be like until I get there, so I never feel locked into the outline, and I always expect the unexpected while writing. For me, that's what keeps the story alive and authentic. Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
With a mother and older brother who were professional writers, growing up in my family was like living in a critique group (LOL). As such, I've never felt the need or desire to join one since. What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
The easiest way is to sign up for my newsletter at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MimiRiserNews (and, as an added bonus, everyone who signs up is automatically entered into a monthly prize drawing).
You can also visit me at MySpace (at the above URL), check out my website at http://www.mimiriser.com and its sister-site at http://MimiRiser.brainuse.com, where I post Free Reads, photos, and other fun stuff.
Thanks so much for the interview. These were great questions and really made me think!
Smiles, Mimi Riser
Thank you for this opportunity!