Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Author Spotlight - Christina Hollis

To readers of Mills & Boon romances, Christina Hollis is a household name. We are excited to have her here in the spotlight, talking about her latest release, Weight of the Crown.

What is your writing process?
I like to make sure I’m never faced with that deadly combination of no ideas, a blank sheet of paper and a deadline. I jot down ideas all the time - when traveling, in the middle of the night, or while working in the garden. Snatches of overheard conversation are a great starting point. My favourite way of working is longhand, in pencil, on the right hand side of a refill pad. I start with the characters, who then suggest a conflict, and off I go. My actual writing day starts after the morning school run and continues until pick up time, in late afternoon.

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?
I’ve recently been introduced to #1k1hr on Twitter: it’s great to know I’m working with others towards a goal on the same timescale. The Pomodoro technique is good when working alone: basically, I set a kitchen timer and focus religiously on my writing with no distractions for 25 minutes, then take a break. Incidentally, I’m sorry to say I hate shopping: fresh country air is my big distraction.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I wear a pedometer practically all the time. My aim is to walk 10k steps per day, but I don’t always manage that many. I’m scrupulous about taking a break and moving about every hour to avoid DVT, though.

Do you believe in writer's block?
Only in the same way I believe in bricklayer’s block, teacher’s block or postman’s block, I’m afraid! Writing is my full time job, but it’s also my hobby and my therapy. If one project isn’t progressing, I switch to something else to give my brain a workout, then try again.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
To answer the second part of your question first, my aim is to write books that make people happy, not to upset them! My husband is so thoughtful a lot of the romantic treats - picnics and candlelit dinners - in my books are based on things he’s done for me. Many tiny details or sayings get into my work via my note-taking, and I put a lot of my own experience into my books. For instance, Kira in The French Aristocrat’s Baby (US Title: The Count’s Challenge) owned a restaurant and when younger I considered training as a chef, but writing won.

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
The amount of things that must be done before I can actually start writing each day. Dealing with emails and correspondence, organising competitions, giveaways, appearances, updating my website and blog - I thoroughly enjoy each and every contact with readers, but I do tend to get carried away if I’m not careful!

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
Social networking is key to reaching the largest number of readers in the easiest way, and it’s so enjoyable. I hold regular competitions and giveaways on my website and Blog.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Use a pen name - it allows you so much freedom to go out and be someone else when you’re promoting your work.

What did you learn while writing this book?
I discovered how much fun it is to invent my own country. Weight of the Crown is set in Rosara, a combination of all the places I love: big skies, breathtaking scenery and a prince who’s tall, dark, handsome and just waiting to be tamed by the right woman...

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
This is the question I’ve had to think about for longer than anything else you’ve asked me, because I loved it all. Writing is the best job in the world, and inventing Rosara (‘Land of Roses’) and its gorgeous prince Lysander was like opening a big box of chocolates every time I sat down to start work!

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Lysander would love to go to a totally deserted tropical paradise where he could escape the Weight of the Crown and get back to nature. However, he’s so concerned that Alyssa works too hard, he’d make sure there was plenty of seven-star luxury on hand for her!

Now duty is his only mistress

For notorious playboy Prince Lysander Kahani, playtime is over…Left with a country to run, he draws the line at playing nanny to his orphaned nephew!

Instead he sends for a professional. But one glance at buttoned-up Alyssa Dene and Lysander’s wicked side re-emerges! Wary of his scandalous reputation, Alyssa tries to keep her distance – but Lysander draws her like a moth to a flame.

Lysander is fighting a battle between public duty and private desire, but he is determined to make Alyssa a royal offer she won’t refuse…

Thank you so much for this invitation - I really enjoyed it.

* * *

Weight of the Crown is available from Amazon, Amazon UK and direct from Mills & Boon.

You can find Christina on-line at her website, her blog, on Twitter, on Facebook and at Romance Book Paradise Promotions.

Christina is giving away one of her backlist books to a lucky (non-Minxy) commenter ... so you know what to do!


Rishal said...

Hi Christina,
Great interview......I really and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Its good to know that many romantic settings in your book is inspired from your own experience!!!

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks for commenting, Rishal. I've often said writing is the best job in the world, and being able to make up beautiful settings is one of the best parts of it!

Paranormal Pleasures said...

Hi Christina, loved your interview, as always, I love that hubby inspires many of the romantic scenes in your books, it's nice to keep the romance alive for real x x

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Julie, yes, my OH is a real romantic. He knows exactly what to do and say. I'm really lucky to have him. Thanks for commenting!

Kristin Van Dyken said...

Enjoyed your post!

Elanor said...

Hi Christina, I love your interviews - and envy anyone who can write a thousand words in just one hour! But I have to ask, why only the right-hand side of a refill pad?? ;-)

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks for dropping by, Eden, I'm glad you liked the interview!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Elanor, aha - that's because I love the feel you get at the beginning of a new pad. If you only write on the r-h side pages, it feels lovely and cushioned. When you get to the end, flip the book over and work back the other way, so there's no waste.
A quirk maybe, but a harmless one!

Romance Reader said...

Hi Christina,

Thanks for sharing so much about your writing process. I enjoyed your last Presents, The Count's Challenge, and I'm so looking forward to reading the Weight of the Crown!

chey said...

I enjoyed your interview!
chey127 at hotmail dot com

Nas said...

Hi Christina, Hello Minxes,

Thanks for hosting Christina and bringing us another giveaway!

It is always a pleasure reading about you, Christina!

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks for such a great interview, Christina. I'd never given any thought to DVT but I'll certainly be paying more attention to my breaks from now on.

Thanks for all the advice and tips!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Riya, it's lovely to hear from you. I'm so glad you liked 'The Count's Challenge', and hope you enjoy 'Weight of the Crown' too!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Chey - thanks for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview - it was great fun to do.

Christina Hollis said...

Thanks, Nas, the Minxes host a great site, don't they?

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Lacey - yes, DVT is something every writer should keep in mind. Getting up for a quick walk around every so often helps ward it off. Unfortunately walking only as far as the fridge is my downfall, which is why I've got a treadmill in my kitchen!

Sonali said...

Hi Christina,

Fabulous interview! My internets been on the fritz but so glad i am once again connected. Loved all the advice and tips you gave out!