Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Author Spotlight - Heidi Rice

Today the Minxes are super pleased to welcome back Minx special friend, best selling author and all around media darling, Heidi Rice.

What is your writing process?

Unfortunately completely haphazard. I wish it wasn’t quite so unpredictable. I’m a total panster (or seat of your pants) writer in that I don’t tend to write stuff down. That said I spend a lot of time imaging scenes and conversations not just between my characters but also in their pasts, in their childhoods, etc, before I start writing (and when I’m writing a story in any downtime I have), so it’s not totally unplanned. I would not recommend this method to anyone though, as it tends to lead you up blind alleys without a paddle a lot and also has your kids telling you that you’re completely mad on occasion.

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? 

Honestly, once I start writing I rarely have a problem keeping at it—because I enjoy being with my characters so much (unless of course they are not cooperating). For me the biggest hurdle is stopping all the procrastination I get up to before I start writing. You know, the endless checking of emails, or your Amazon ranking, or aimless Tweetage. I know I’m essentially a person who is not particularly focussed or driven or hard-working – I’d much rather prat about. (Sheesh, I hope my editor isn’t reading this!) So I have to force myself to stop pratting about and get on with it. But once I have I can write lots very quickly (if the muse is with me it might actually be useable). And on those occasions when I am really stuck—and that has happened—I might just try and write a different scene, or stop and figure out where I’ve gone wrong, because if there’s a blockage, that’s usually the reason why.

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

I live in London and cycle pretty much everywhere. I’m also a member of a fabulously cheap and cheerful local women’s gym so I try and do 40 mins on the crosstrainer there a couple of days a week. And I also play on a netball team every Monday night (I’m crap at netball, consequently we lose quite a lot!). I find the kick of endorphins is great for my mental as well as my physical health. But I do still hate that fricking crosstrainer with a passion.

Do you believe in writer's block?

Being the daughter of an Irishman, I’m not about to tempt fate and say ‘No’. And there have been a few times, usually when a deadline is looming and something has gone wrong with my story, that I have gone into panic mode, and then it’s terribly hard to write. And what I do write is invariably crap. And of course the harder it is, and the more crap it is, the more panicked I become. But having said that, I do believe that if that happens the one thing you must not do is stop. And saying you have writer’s block to yourself, is an excuse to take that easy way out.

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

I’ve used a lot of inspiration from real life, but they’re usually just snippets that have sparked ideas. Like the time my sister and I were sitting on a Cornish beach in the rain and watched a lifeguard rescue, which gave me the idea for the opening scene in Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger. Or when I was cut up driving down Holloway Road by a gorgeous looking guy in a sports car and I envisioned the opening scene for Cupcakes and Killer Heels (while cursing at him profusely). But I’ve never used a whole real incident, simply because it’s the characters ultimately that drive the plot and so they have to determine what happens. If you tried to shoehorn them into a ready-made scenario, it wouldn’t work.

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

Well, I’m nowhere near as rich as I thought I’d be… You know, everyone assumes they’ll get published one day and the next they’ll be earning as much as JK Rowling. Um, not quite! It’s also really hard work keeping your career going. You have to keep producing books, keep getting those sparks of inspiration, keep falling in love with new characters, keep re-inventing the wheel basically. Getting published isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning of loads more hard work. That said, I seriously believe that the more you’ve had to work and the more you’ve learned to achieve publication the better prepared you are to make a viable career out of it afterwards. So when you’re racking up those rejections, it’s good to remember that.

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

I have a blog, a Facebook page and I’m on Twitter (at @HeidiRomRice) and I’ve just recently invested in having a proper professional website designed (because before that it was a bit naff). I also love to do guest blogs, Library Workshops and any media opportunities I’m offered. But really I do all of those things because I enjoy them (and I’m a bit of a media tart). Personally I would say if you don’t enjoy it, though, don’t do it… And frankly I think I enjoy it a bit too much, because it can be a total timesuck if I’m not careful (see answer to second question!).

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

Write the best stories you can and keep writing them. I know it sounds a bit corny, but that really is the best way to reach readers and keep them interested. If you enjoy doing promo then go ahead, but don’t let it interfere with your writing, because that’s the real gold as far as your readers are concerned. Put it this way, I’d much rather Nora Roberts wrote four books a year, than spent her time blogging and tweeting, because I want to read her books much more than I want to read her blogs or tweets.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That sometimes the conflict can be much subtler than you expect. This was really the first book I’ve written where during so much of the story the hero and heroine were getting on really well… They connected pretty much instantly and despite a few ripples early on I did worry at first that there wasn’t really enough of a conflict, but actually it was there all along, just hidden underneath all the fun and ‘really amazing sex’ these two were having.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

What, apart from writing about all ‘the really amazing sex’ you mean? LOL. Actually probably the most fun, apart from watching my characters grow and their relationship evolve, which is the thing I enjoy the most about every book I write, was getting to set the story in London at Christmastime – and write about all the marvellous things there are to do in the city at my favourite time of year. Like going for a skating session at the rink in Somerset House, or swallowing your own tongue on the Power Tower at the Winter Wonderland funfair in Hyde Park or even just hibernating in a luxury hotel suite or looking at the window displays in the department stores along Oxford Street. The city’s at it’s most romantic at Christmastime and I enjoyed reflecting that.

What have the changes to the current Harlequin lines and branding meant to you? Have they affected your writing process?

I love the new branding for Riva books, and especially the move away from those fairly ridiculous titles, which were all about pigeon-holing the books according to themes and not selling them as individual stories. That said though, it hasn’t affected my writing process though, because the branding of a book, even the title is an afterthought for me. I’m quite happy to let Harlequin/M&B brand the stories however they like, as long as it get lots of people to pick up the books and read them. Then their job is done and mine begins…

What do you think makes a Riva book Riva? 

It’s all about that sassy, sparky attitude that is part and parcel of the Riva experience. To deliver that an author has to have a strong, vivid and captivating voice that is unique to them. All the Riva books are sold on the basis of that ‘voice’ which is why writing for the line is both immensely challenging and also very exciting. I think we’re all striving to provide something a little bit different, a little bit new with every book we write – we’re pushing against M&B’s traditional boundaries and having fun with our characters, while at the same time providing strong sexy alpha heroes, strikingly contemporary heroines, and the compelling conflict driven romance that is part of the M&B promise. It’s a bloody tough job, but I love it!

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

Hmm, well I think Jace is definitely an urbanite, so I think he’d choose somewhere metropolitan. And as he lives in New York… And he’s just spent Christmas in London, so my guess would be somewhere like Paris or Barcelona, in a luxury hotel penthouse suite of course, where Cassie and he could lock themselves away from the world if they wanted too, but also enjoy all the cosmopolitan delights of city living right on their doorstep.

On The First Night of Christmas

Cassie’s tips for the Perfect Christmas Fling!

1. ’Tis the season to be daring: Find the perfect Mr Right Now (extra points for a bad-boy-turned-billionaire) and be brave about getting him – even if that means jumping straight into sexy Jace Ryan’s car!

2. Enjoy the ride: Once you’ve chosen your flingee, get swept away by the moment! For once, Cassie’s determined to stop worrying about the future. But she must remember one thing…

3. This fling is just for Christmas: Jace Ryan’s a seasonal special. Do not start falling for him, Cassie. No matter how perfect the package or how much you’ve enjoyed unwrapping it…

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Mills & Boon


Anonymous said...

Fabulous as always Heidi :-)

On The First Night Of Christmas is patiently sitting on my Kindle, waiting to be read and as soon as Nano crazyness is over, I'll do just that.

A girl has to reward herself somehow!

Heidi Rice said...

Thanks Doris... See, now I'm nervous, I hope you enjoy First Night and it's suitably rewarding!

Romy Sommer said...

I'm not a big Christmas-story fan, but since I've just finished 'Cupcakes and Killer Heels' (and loved it), 'First Night of Christmas' is definitely next.

Thanks for the insider tip on Riva. I love the line, both the voices and the covers (and I buy them all in paperback every month, just for those covers!)

Aimee Duffy said...

This, like all of your other stories is super addictive. I picked it up yesterday to read a few chapters and couldn't put it down until 'the end'. Well done Heidi on another brill book :o)

Heidi Rice said...

NOT A CHRISTMAS STORY FAN!!! What???? I should subject you to repeated viewings of It's a Wonderful LIfe and White Christmas for that comment Romy. LOL.. Gotta admit I'm a bit of a sucker for the season of good will... Can you tell? Hope you enjoy it Romy (despite all the tinsel!)

Aw Aimee, that's sooo cool, love it when readers can't put a book down (even though it always makes me very aware that I need to write a lot faster!)

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

I love festive stories and can't wait to read On The First Night of Christmas.

Great to see you here again, Heidi. Thanks for dropping by today.

Anonymous said...

Yay, another Heidi Rice book! Your debut, Bedded by a Playboy, was one of the first Modern Heat/Riva books I ever read. Needless to say, I've been hooked ever since.

Claire Robyns said...

I've been a bit out of the Riva loop, but love the title Cupcakes and Killer Heels... okay, I have to go check this out and it'll be my first Riva :)

Rachael Johns said...

LOVED reading about your "process" - it validates mine or lack thereof :)

Romance Reader said...

Loved reading all about you, Heidi! I just started reading On The First Night of Christmas!

Mum said after reading it's awesome!

Veronica Scott said...

So totally relate to what you said about the necessity to write blogs, tweet, be "out there" but no so much you don't write, because the readers really do want that next book! Enjoyed the post very much!

Amanda Holly said...

Thanks for a great interview Minxes!

Heidi you sound like you're just as fun and bubbly as your books! Love it! Thanks for being so open and providing great inspiration to the aspiring romance writers among us!

Heidi Rice said...

Suzanne, It was my pleasure to come back, I'm always up for a Romance Minx moment. I love this blog!! Inspiring, fun and supportive is always a good combo! And hope you enjoy First Night.

Aimee, that's so cool that you read Bad Boy, and ven cooler that it might have had some small part in getting you to join the Riva Divas, what a laugh we had in NYC. So hope I can get to Anaheim next year (credit card willing!).

Claire, absolutely pick up a Riva (and if it's one of mine all the better. LOL!). I think you'll love them, we're certainly having a ball writing them.

Ah yes, Rachael, my famous process. I think of it as the three Ps... Procrastination, Pratting about and Panic! So glad I'm not the only one.

Romance Reader, do let me know what you think when you're finished (especially if you liked it!)

Hi Veronica, it's so true isn't it. As much as I love talking about me, I think the readers would rather read about my H & h.

Thanks so much Amanda, I'm so glad I've helped inspire you, if only a little bit. The very best of luck with your writing - you're clearly a woman of great taste and discernment!!

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Can't wait to read it, Heidi! Great post btw.