Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tuesday Special Author Interview: Robin Schone

Author Name: Robin Schone
Website: www.robinschone.com

Genre: Erotic Romance
Latest book in shops now:
The Lover and Gabriel’s Woman

Before we begin this interview, I need to check that you’re still grounded and that your head isn’t swollen from all of your success, so with that in mind, what was the last thing you bought at Walmart, and do you know how much a loaf of bread costs? (grin)

:::tentatively reaching out to touch an electrical outlet . . . Ouch!::: I guess I'm not very grounded, after all. :::looking in the mirror::: My sinus infection is down, so my head is most definitely not swollen this morning. *smile*

Seriously, I don't shop at Walmart's for the simple reason that I do not subscribe to their idea of "family" values, aka, censorship. And I buy very little bread because I'm allergic to yeast, so I really can't tell you how much a loaf costs.

You’re allergic to yeast? How awful!

What were your favourite books as a child?

As a child child, I've been told that I carried around Little Golden Books and demanded whatever unlucky adult who happened to stumble across my path read to me. Did I mention I'm an only child?

Probably my two favorites were "Cinderella" and "Rapunzel." When I was eight years old I read The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White. I had received the book as a Christmas gift, and was enchanted. That following spring my class went on a field trip to see the movie . . . The Sword in the Stone!

Words came to life. I've never quite been the same since. But I was never an avid reader until I turned twelve, at which point I discovered These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. Seeing the movie The Sword in the Stone brought words to life: reading Georgette Heyer brought history to life.

What does a typical day as a writer consist of?

I used to write at night, but have in the last couple of years found that I'm actually more productive when I get up in the mornings around 6 or 7 a.m. So. . . .

I quick dress, drop my husband off at the train station, race back home, nuke a cup of herbal tea, sit down in front of my computer and take care of author business (e-mail, website, etc.). Then, depending upon what stage of the writing process I'm in, I write until noon, take a thirty minute break for lunch (or longer, if something interesting comes on t.v., or shorter, if I'm on a good writing streak), and get back to writing until 5:30 p.m., at which time I pick my husband up at the train station.

If I'm close to a deadline, I will then most likely sit back down at my computer and write until 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. If I'm having problems - or if I'm feeling really pleased about a particular chapter - I'll then go over my day's writing with my husband, who is not only "my best fan" but also "my worst critic."

It's amazing how I can agonize over a chapter for hours or even days, but when I sit down and read it to him, the problems instantly become clear.

Name your top five favourite books of all time.

Blood Games by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Ginny by Marion Chesney
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Aztec by Gary Jennings
The Sun Dancers by Barbara Faith

Which authors are you glomming at the moment? (reading a lot of?)

I don't read a lot of fiction when I'm writing. Right now I'm digging into Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and loving every minute of it. My husband got me hooked on the audio books some years back. One Sunday I was trying to write but couldn't concentrate because of this wonderful, wonderful voice infiltrating my den. If you haven't listened to Jim Dale read Harry Potter, you are missing out on a real treat. Listening to him read is better than watching the movies.

The last author I glommed was Charlaine Harris. I love her Sookie Stackhouse books!

Do you have other close romance writer friends, and if so who are they?

Actually, no, I don't have close writer friends. I'm not a joiner by nature, so I don't attend writers' meetings.
However, I've met wonderful authors through Romantic Times. It was so great at the 2005 convention in St. Louis, Missouri, sitting down over a glass of wine and chatting with Julie Beard, Eileen Dreyer and Shirl Henke.

I adore Christine Feehan and Charlaine Harris, so always make sure I get my hug when we meet. At the 2002 convention in Reno, Nevada I met three fun and zany writers: Renee Bernard, Cindy Cruciger and Cami Dalton.
Cindy and Cami have recently been published, while Renee just signed a three book contract. Seeing their hard work pay off has been tremendously gratifying.

When did you realise that you wanted to write books, and who or what inspired you?

I never wanted to write books - writing is too damn hard! LOL Instead, I wanted to be the first artist to bring paintings to life through chemiluminescence (creating light and color through the use of chemicals).

But alas, I hate math, and in order to study advanced physics, one has to have a strong math background, so the world of art-science lost me. *smile* Also, painting is messy. I hate cleaning up! When I got married, my husband and I lived in a three room apartment. No room for painting there!

Yet, even though writing was 'hard,' I always did write. Always. Poems. Short stories. At the age of ten I wrote a collection of ghost stories. I was exempted from college English on the basis of an essay I wrote.

In college an art instructor told me there was no room for philosophy in painting - something with which I totally disagree. He said if I wanted to tackle philosophical issues, I should write. So even though I totally disagreed with my instructor, he got me thinking.

When I was laid off work in the 80s during the great "Reaganomics" era (I was a marketing research analyst), I thought . . . why not sit down and write the book that had been floating around in my head for some years?

It was a sci-fi love story, and will never see the light of day, as I made every single mistake an author can make, but it ultimately led me to write
Awaken, My Love, my first romance as well as my first published work.

If you could have a one-to-one conversation with a famous historical figure, who would it be with and what would you talk about?

Imhotep (2635-2595 B.C.), the man who designed the first pyramid. I would like to know what inspired him to create a pyramid (the pyramids alone remain of the original Seven Wonders of the World).

But Imhotep was more than an architect: he was a vizier, a poet, a priest, a physician. . . He founded Egyptian medicine. He was revered by Egyptians much as Apollo was revered by the Greeks, but Imhotep was an actual historical figure. I'm fascinated by him. How could one man be so ahead of his time? Of course, I'd have to ask him if he had extraterrestrial assistance. *smile*

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your writing?

I recently saw an interview with Shirley MacLaine - a favorite actress of mine - and she said that she acted because she loved stepping into someone else's shoes. That pretty much sums up why I write.

I love stepping into the shoes of my characters. I love experiencing history as they would have experienced it. My goal is to write in such a manner that my readers may also step into the shoes of my characters, so that they, too, can experience the history and the wonder and the despair and the laughter and the tears and the love. And hope. I think romance should spark a sense of hope, that we can all triumph over adversity and find love and sexual satisfaction, no matter our age or our past or our physical abilities.

How has the romance genre changed from when you first started writing, and which of these changes were you happiest/unhappiest with?

Sex was more taboo when I first started writing. That doesn't mean it wasn't included in romance - some of the hottest sex scenes ever written occurred in the bodice rippers of the 70s and 80s!

However, feminine desire stemmed from love rather than hormones. A heroine didn't know she had a clitoris until the hero showed her the "magic button." I'm glad to see now that the wonderful world of romance is more accepting of women's sexuality.

I'm also very glad to see the emergence of older heroines. Life doesn't end at the age of 30 or 40 or 50 or 60: it's just beginning.

Which of your books is the dearest to your heart, and why?

That's a tough question. Books are like children: each one is special in their own way. I think I love the ones that require the most out of me as a writer. In which case, hands down,
The Men and Women’s Club wins.

Frances is a 49 year old mother and grandmother who must find the woman inside her when widowed after thirty-four years of marriage. At times the honesty between Frances and James completely blew me away. However,
The Lover and Gabriel’s Woman will always hold a special place in my heart, too.

Michael and Gabriel were what they were - prostitutes - and neither of them ever apologized for their past. Mes deux anges- my two angels - forced me to grow both as an author and as a person, and I will always love them for it.

Has anything a reviewer or reader said or written about you changed the way you write?

Yes. And no. I can't write like other people want me to write. Believe me, I've tried, and it just doesn't work. While I do have a sense of humor, I just can’t do light and fluffy. I like realism, and I like dark. For me to write anything else is disastrous. And a sure-fired way to ensure that even more readers throw my books against a wall!

On the other hand, I've received thousands and thousands of letters. A chaplain wrote thanking me for giving expression to women's sexuality. A woman with cerebral palsy wrote asking me to please, please write a book to give people with her condition hope - as I had given hope to Muhammed (a eunuch) in my novella, ‘A Man and A Woman’ - that they, too, may one day find love and sexual satisfaction.

A lobbyist for Planned Parenthood - after reading The Lover and Gabriel's Woman - wrote a letter of appreciation, claiming that she had never read a book that rang so emotionally true. Men as well as women have written me, saying that because of Gabriel's Woman, they have been able to come to terms with their own rape.

These beautiful letters - while they don't change what I write - certainly reinforce my writing.

When was the last time you went overseas and where did you go?

Don and I went to Germany in 2003. Frankfurt. Heidelberg. Bad Homburg. We loved it: the people, the country. It's so beautiful and unpolluted. History lurks around every corner. Imagine, we actually crawled inside two-thousand year old home sites outside of a Roman fortress!

We took the fast train and spent a day in France. Travel was so simple! We both agree that we could very happily live in Europe. The only drawback is the money. Ouch! The Euro was then and is still worth far more than a dollar. For every dollar we thought to spend in Germany, we actually only had .75 cents. *wincing*

Who are your favourite romance hero and heroine of all time?

That's . . . I have no idea. Are we talking fiction or history? If real history, I would say John of Gaunt and Katherine, his common-born lemen whom he did eventually marry.
I read their fictionalized love story in Katherine by Anya Seton when I was fifteen, and instantly fell in love. I also find the relationship between Anne of Austria and the Cardinal Richelieu intriguing. Fiction-wise I really don't think I have an all-time favorite.

What kind of characters would you say you typically wrote?

Human characters. Flawed characters, as we are all flawed. Characters who laugh and cry and ache with the need to be touched and loved, just as we all ache in real life.

If only one person could read your book, who would that be? (as in the person who you would want most to read your book)

The Pope. Perhaps if he read one of my books, he'd realize how vital sexuality is - not only in the lives of women, but also in the lives of men. But I have no doubt that he and other religious clerics already realize that, that's why they try to suppress our sexuality.

Whoa, that’s deep!! Hey you never know, he may just enjoy one of your books *g*

If you had to pick, who would you say has been most influential within the romance genre?

That's a toss up between Georgette Heyer and Victoria Holt. They both shaped romance as we know it today. More recently, Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss. They opened up the bedroom door, allowing a more holistic approach to romance.

What was the last movie you saw?

In the theater? Probably Fantasia. Don and I were surrounded by coughing, sneezing children. Beside us. Before us. Behind us. We both caught the flu, and were sicker than the proverbial dog.

Really, a dozen coughing, sneezing kids would very quickly immobilize an enemy army. Talk about biological warfare. The last movie I saw on television was Calling all you Angels.

Name your top five favourite romantic films.

Does Pleasantville count? Nah, I didn’t think so.
I really can't think of any other romantic films. Gladiator is by far my favorite.

What was the last book you read?

What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank.

Light reading then huh? *g*

Have you ever written a book that you didn’t particularly care for, and do you cringe if you see people picking it up to read it?

Authors have far less control over their books than what readers think. When authors get a copy of their galley (the final copy of a manuscript before it goes to print) they may certainly point out any errors that are in it, i.e., typos, author mistakes that sneaked by both the editor and the copy editor (e.g., the heroine on page 24 may be wearing a red dress, but on page 25 is wearing a blue dress), but that doesn't mean that those errors will be corrected in the final print.

I cringe when I know that a mistake made it into print.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Researching. Writing. Learning.

My computer was recently downed by a vicious worm. I was offline for almost two months. I'd forgotten the joy of being a writer as opposed to being an author. I love losing myself in my characters.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

While I actually do love the business of writing - maintaining a website, for example - it takes up a tremendous amount of energy that could go into writing. So I would say, what I least enjoy about being a writer, is one of the best things about being an author: the day to day minutiae.

As you’ve been there, done it, and have the badge to prove it, what is the number one advice that would you give to aspiring writers out there?

Wow. Let me put my author hat on. *smile*

Write because you love what you're writing, not because you think others will love it.

If you love what you're writing, you'll pour your heart and soul into it, and it is that - heart and soul - that will distinguish your writing from hundreds of other writers.

If you're writing simply to please others - or simply to sell - you'll spend the entire book trying to second-guess what readers will or will not like. That's a great way to write a book that nobody likes, yourself included. It's also a great way to develop an ulcer.

Finally, when’s your next book due out, and what’s it about?

I do not yet have a publication date - Kensington and I just reached a settlement agreement - but expect to have it soon. As for what that upcoming book is about. . . . Frances is a 49 year old mother and grandmother who, widowed after thirty-four years of marriage, must find the woman inside her.

James is a 47 year old widower who has never experienced passion. Together they explore the boundaries of sexuality, and discover an intimacy that forever changes the lives of the men and women in
The Men and Women’s Club.

Thanks so much for your time today Robin, it’s been a blast.

Next week, we’ll have either
Susan Kearney, or Lisa Valdez in the hot seat!

Ciao for now!