Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Author Spotlight - Fiona Harper

Thanks so much to wonderful Riva author Fiona Harper who has agreed to join us today. Thanks so much for being with us today, Fiona!

What is your writing process?

Once I’ve had the initial idea for a story, I start fleshing out the characters. Usually, one character will be stronger in my mind, so I start with them. These days I don’t bother so much with minor details, such as where they went to school or what their hobbies are, but I try and dig as deep as I can to find out what makes them tick. What are the things they won’t compromise on, no matter what? What is their deepest fear? What do they long for in their heart of hearts? If you could get inside their heads, what would be running on a loop in the background – e.g. “I must be perfect” or “I can’t lose control”.

I find script-writing consultant, Michael Hauge’s questions and theories really helpful at this stage ( Then, once I know my characters well, I start to devise a plot that will push them to grow and change and learn their lessons. Essentially, I start with inner motivation and inner conflict first, and then I use the outer motivation and conflict to force them into facing their demons.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?

This might seem a bit strange but I get away from the computer and out of the house. It’s so easy to be distracted by not only all the things that need to be done but emails and social media! I often write a first draft longhand, so I will take myself off to a café (or somewhere else where I have nothing else to do but write) and get on with it.

I use a kitchen timer. I set it for either 30 or 45 minutes and I start writing, and I don’t stop until it dings. Don’t tell anyone – but sometimes I do just go shopping…

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?

Sigh. I’m trying to. Sometimes I go to the gym for a workout and then sit in the on-site café and write afterwards, because then I get to feel doubly virtuous! I really need to be a bit more consistent about it, though.

Do you believe in writer's block?

Yes and no. I’ve got stuck a few times, but I’ve written enough books now to know that if I just keep going it will get better – and usually after a much shorter time period than I expect. I don’t think I’ve suffered from true writer’s block yet, but I know friends who have, and it’s just awful.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?

In my book Break Up To Make Up, I had an in-car satellite navigation system that misbehaved and took the hero and heroine on a wild goose chase. All the sat nav’s crazy instructions were based on real-life experiences, unfortunately. No trouble from using it in the story, but it caused plenty of arguments in the car with my other half!

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?

It’s a lot less glamorous! And I don’t get to sit around and write all the time because there are plenty of other writing-related jobs that take up my time, like keeping accounts, checking proofs, updating my website and doing promotional stuff.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?

To be honest, I’m not someone who loves the promotional side of things. I’m not an extrovert and I’m much happier just getting on with the writing. I think you have to find a way to promote yourself and your books in a way that you feel comfortable with, and different approaches will suit different personalities. I try to keep my website up to date, and I attempt (less successfully) to blog regularly, but I’m also active on Facebook and Twitter, although I tend to just pop on and be myself rather than have a big marketing strategy.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find really aggressive promotion (for anything) off-putting. My advice is for authors, no matter how excited we are about our latest book, is to remember that potential readers are people to engage with, not just statistics on a graph – that’s why we write in the first place, after all, isn’t it?

What did you learn while writing this book?

That I love writing in first person! It wasn’t something I’d tried before, so I was a little nervous about it. However, I loved the immediacy of it, and the way I could get right inside my character’s head and viewpoint in a way I’d never been able to do before.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

Definitely my heroine, Coreen. She’d appeared as a secondary character in two other books and I was desperate to give her a story of her own. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a sexy, sassy, polka-dot wearing vintage fashion drama queen? She was such fun to write – maybe because she’s very different from me and I got to be outrageous by proxy.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?

Ooh, let me think… Well, Adam, the hero of Swept Off Her Stilettos, builds luxury treehouses for a living, so I think his ideal honeymoon would involve a treehouse somewhere tropical and secluded, where he could be in his own private world with his very lucky bride!

A little finger isn't properly dressed without a man wrapped around it...

Clothing connoisseur Coreen Fraser's film-star style never leaves her wanting for male attention! But sourcing for a 1930s murder-mystery weekend stops being fun when she discovers she has to wear a tweed suit and sensible shoes!

Meanwhile Coreen's best friend Adam Conrad has his own plans for the weekend... And one moonlit kiss later Coreen's blinkers fall from her eyes. Adam is the only man who knows the girl underneath the skyscraper heels and scarlet lipstick. But is she brave enough to invite him to kiss it off any time he likes...?

Swept Off Her Stilletos is available at Amazon UK, Amazon US, Mills&Boon, eHarlequin and, of course, all usual book stockists.


Anonymous said...

I read the first chapter of Swept Off Her Stilettos and I'm loving it so far! Coreen is my kind of gal, and Adam is truly drool worthy!

Catherine Coles said...

I'm excited to read this one--I love the idea of a murder mystery weekend! It's a very unique, contemporary plot point and I look forward to reading how it's featured in the book.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Fiona :-]

Kat said...

I absolutely love the sound of the book, Fiona, and the title is terrific! Thanks so much for coming by and being minxy with us. x

Suzanna Gilwen said...

Terrific interview, Fiona. I'm really looking forward to reading this book.