Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Author Spotlight - Olivia Gates

Today, the Minxes are super excited to have Olivia Gates, a USA Today Bestselling author as our guest author. Olivia lives in Egypt and writes super-hot sheikhs and we're beyond honoured to welcome her to the blog.

Take it away, Olivia!

What is your writing process?

The more books I write, the more I discover that every book is its own entity, follows a process of its own. But in general, I start with either a basic premise, or a character. I then write a detailed outline around either (some of my outlines reach 60 pages for ST length books). This outline serves two purposes. It gives my editors a good idea how the book(s) will unfold, and a chance to contest major plot points when its still on the drawing board, to save us both the pain of major revisions. It also serves as a road map for me, which is especially helpful when I’m pressed for time to save me the pain of second-guessing myself, when I can’t afford the hesitation. Of course, no matter how detailed the outline is, the execution is the hard part, which might I add, never gets easier.

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?

The above-mentioned investment in a good outline usually saves me from staring too long at a blank page. If I already know what’s happening next, what remains is how to is how to execute it. I also talk dialogue out loud to myself when I’m away from the computer (and preferably alone ;-)) like when I’m driving. This helps make the characters come alive, and develop a unique voice of their own, and gives me lines to build scenes around.

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

I do aerobics, step exercise and weight training three times a week (though I’ve fallen off the track for the past months, and I’m already paying the price in various aches and pains, not to mention slowing down metabolism….Ugh!)

Do you believe in writer's block?

Not really. But I believe in being overwhelmed by life and letting yourself be so distracted while you deal with what it throws at you. That happened to me in the past months and for a while I was unable to focus on writing at all. It wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas, it was that I couldn’t focus long enough to finish any quota per day, so my output dwindled to almost a stop. Thankfully, I’m coming back from that, and I’m back on track to a consistent daily output, the key to finishing any writing project.

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

A lot of the medical cases I used in my Medical romances have either been stuff I encountered in my other job, or heard about from colleagues. As for other kinds of incidents, I sometimes feel very tempted to use a lot, but as you say, I know I’ll get into trouble, so I’m sticking with the totally made up in my own mind variety until further notice. J

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

A good thing I did is that I didn’t have expectations. When I was unpubbed, I didn’t think at all how it would be when I got pubbed. I just wanted to get there, and had (and still have) this ‘bring it on’ attitude, which I think is essential to every writer who wants to have a long career. I also didn’t take other writers’ experiences as more than broad guidelines, since our circumstances and paths are so diverse, and it never pays to expect anything that others experienced. So basically, I keep a totally open mind about my career, take the opportunities that are presented to me and keep looking for the next ones. Nothing is ever as you expect anyway, so I forge ahead, and take the great with the good with the bad, and keep the basic thing that made me published alive; the love and joy of writing.

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

I am so looking forward to the day I can be a full-time author and have more time for promotion. Right now all I can do is occasional—and the stress here is on ‘occasional’—blogs, Facebook and Twitter activity, contests and newsletters. I need to get more consistent, but I think I’ll possibly hire someone to do most of the time-consuming work and organization for me. But what I really long for is opportunities to connect with readers, pre-published and other published authors in person (as in more than on social media). I’m working to change my situation so that this can be possible. Wish me luck!

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

I think the best promotion ever is to consistently write books the readers enjoy. Being prolific is also the greatest way to remain a constant on the publishing scene, and this draws a huge percentage of the feedback and attention. That level of output is what I hope I will be able to achieve after the hurdles I’m currently dealing with are over.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That characters do come alive and take over. I have no doubt anymore. In my previously mentioned outline of TO TOUCH A SHEIKH, Maram, the heroine, didn’t only have a different name, but a different personality. Then I started writing her and she was like: “Are you nuts? You think the simpering, sentimental heroine you’re trying to write will be of any interest to the cynical, rapier-tongued, wounded desert lion Amjad, let alone be a match for him, and hope to fill the position of his future queen? Can you just shut up and let me do the talking? And the touching?”

Needless to say, I let her do both to her heart’s content, and the result was one of the most dynamic, and witty, relationships I’ve ever written.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

Hands down, the supersonic banter between the hero and heroine. Those two held nothing back. Emotionally, they start out as total opposites, with Maram wholly invested in her emotions for Amjad, the man who’d inadvertently proved to her what a hero he was, even though he wants everyone to view him as a villain. Meanwhile, Amjad is 100% reticent, and it takes everything she’s got, and that was substantial, to get him to open up, accept her love and admit his…only for everything to turn topsy turvy and for them to exchange positions…

But the best parts were when I wrote their verbal duels. Those two sparred even after the black moment exploded, and every salvo they exchanged was mega fun to write.

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

His secluded desert cabin, of course. This is where he fell in love with the heroine. And don’t worry, there’s plenty to do there.

Thank you so much for the fantastic questions. I hope you enjoy my answers as much as I enjoyed responding to them! And thank you so much for having me on Minx of Romances.


Anonymous said...

LOL. Maram sounds like my favorite kind of heroine! And I do love a guarded, wounded hero. Will definitely check this one out!

Lacey Devlin said...

Great interview, Olivia. I can't wait to read To Touch a Sheikh.

Romy Sommer said...

I'm not a big fan of Sheikh stories, but the way you've described these characters, I'm just going to have to read this one.

Nas said...

Hi Olivia, Hello Minxes,

Reading such rave reviews of your To Touch a Sheikh, I'm eager to read this book! Thanks for sharing and thank you to the Minxes for spotlighting you!

Kiru Taye said...

Hi Olivia,

It's great to have you here. To Touch a Sheikh looks fabulous. I'm looking forward to reading it.
Minxes, thanks for sharing.


Robyn Grady said...

As always, looking forward to reading this one, Olivia!

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Olivia
Great interview. I love sheikh stories and this one has a horse on the cover too, even better :)Looking forward to reading it.

Olivia Gates said...

Hello there, ladies
Apologies for being late. My laptop died a few days ago and I've been trying (not to have a breakdown) and deal with the fallout of not backing up my work enough. Half of my deadline book foremost among the things that went poof with it. So being here is very therapeutic for me! Thank you for having me and for all your wonderful posts. Now, upcoming, individual responses, so keep tuned. :-)

Olivia Gates said...

So glad to know Maram and Amjad are right up your alley where heroines and heroes are concerned. I so hope you enjoy To Touch A Sheikh if you come to read it! :-)

Olivia Gates said...

So glad you enjoyed the interview! Maya's questions were superb and fresh and I loved answering them. I hope you enjoy To Touch A Sheikh!! :-)

Olivia Gates said...

So great to see you here! And I'm glad my descriptions of my hero and heroine got you intrigued. Here's hoping To Touch A Sheikh won't disappoint! :-)

Olivia Gates said...

Thanks so much for dropping by and for following me up on my Facebook Author page! I'm still waiting for your opinion after you read your first book by me. Crossing fingers you enjoy! :-)

Olivia Gates said...

So glad to be here with you and with the Minxes. Hope To Touch A Sheikh is as good as it looks! Thanks so much for dropping by. :-)

Olivia Gates said...

Huge hugs!! So great to see you here (and still waiting for the opportunity to see you for real!) Loved your Billionaire's Bedside Manner! (but then I always love your work, so no surprise!) :-D

Olivia Gates said...

Happy you enjoyed the interview! I loved answering Maya's great questions! Also happy you love sheikhs (since I have so many of them coming out!) and hope you enjoy To Touch A Sheikh. And yep, this cover is my editor's favorite for having a horse on it, too! :-)

Sally Clements said...

Hi Olivia
I'm really fascinated and impressed by your outlining process - it must be difficult to then have a character take over and dictate how the story should progress! Did you find you had to go back and rewrite your outline at that point, or was the outline more plot points than character interactions?
Nosy question - but I tend to be a pantster, and I'm interested!

Olivia Gates said...

In this instance, I didn't have to rewrite the outline. Strangely enough, the main 'outline' of each scene remained more or less the same, but the contents, and the 'tone' totally changed, because now the heroine was experienced and older than I intended, and she already wanted the hero down to his last pore, and wouldn't let anything, starting with him, stop her from getting what she wanted. On the other hand, in another book I'm writing, a very complex paranormal ST, changing the heroine did turn my proposal upside down, and I had to go back and rewrite chunks of developments that wouldn't work with her being who she is, and it also ended up changing the hero. What I noticed is, my heroines sound more...pliant in my outlines, but once I'm writing, they're...anything but. :-)