Claire's Not-So-Gothic Romance, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Claire's Not-So-Gothic Romance?
BONNIE BLYTHE: It's a light retelling of Jane Eyre through the eyes of Claire, who's something of a misfit.
Claire Parnell, is plain, repressed, and broke, and falls desperately in love with Sam Murray, the sought-after new guy in town. She must overcome her scheming mother, a badly decorated red room, the enticements of the flesh (albeit scrawny), and Sam's unsavory past, to claim the same hard-fought happiness as her favorite literary heroine Jane Eyre.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
BONNIE BLYTHE: I love contrasts, and since opposites often attract, I tend to go that route. Claire is gangly, a little insecure, self-deprecating, and obsessed with Jane Eyre—basically a nerd sans a computer. The guy, Sam, she falls in love with is smooth, confident, handsome. She considers him a brand of decadent chocolate when all she can handle is a hollowed-out Easter bunny kind of guy. To add to the angst, I make Claire's mother someone who constantly embarrasses her. But like Rochester, Sam has a few secrets of his own that could cause some embarrassment. That's also where the faith element comes in. This novel is a Christian romance so there's a bit of spiritual crisis similar to what Jane Eyre experienced, but hopefully I've handled it in a light, amusing way.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
BONNIE BLYTHE: What keeps me reading a book is whether I care about the characters, so I try to write that way and hope my readers bond with the ups and downs of the protagonists. A reader is also someone who has chosen to spend time and money on my book, so I want to make the story as entertaining as possible and give the reader a fun break from the pressures of the day.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
BONNIE BLYTHE: I started reading copiously when my children were small for that little harbor of sanity in a storm of chaos (LOL) and later thought it would be fun to write one—the way I liked. So for the last 15 years, I joined critique groups, writing organizations, went to conferences, obtained an agent, spent tons of money on writing books, and churned out several manuscripts...all to sell one novella. It has been a great adventure, but also in many ways, disheartening. My agent loved my work but in the narrow market in which I wrote, was unable to place my work. That's why the Amazon Kindle program has been such a boon.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
BONNIE BLYTHE: Almost more than writing, I love coming up with ideas and researching them. I do full background and psychological dossiers on each character, I pick names and motifs that have symbolism for the story. It's a time of discovery that's the most fun because it's unhindered...unlike when I actually write and have to watch for too many adverbs (my weakness) and dangling participles (still not a hundred percent sure what those are). LOL
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
BONNIE BLYTHE: One of my favorite authors is Marion Chesney—she wrote about a hundred regencies some years back, of which I own every one. She had a great way of writing fun stories with believable romantic angst. Other authors in my genre I enjoy are Francine Rivers (a true great), Kristin Billerbeck (for chick-lit), Carla Capshaw (for excellent historicals) and Diane Moody (for fast-paced contemporary novels).
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
BONNIE BLYTHE: Gosh that's so hard—there are too many! I wish I wrote imagery like Tracy Chevalier, dark undercurrents like Christina Schwartz, riveting tales like Jodi Picoult, and funny and endearing like Marion Chesney. My favorite book is Atlas Shrugged because it rocked my world—the story—not the writing. But I'm pretty sure I could never have written the thing. It's the longest book of fiction out there! LOL
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
BONNIE BLYTHE: Social networking mainly—blogs (like the awesome Kindle Author blog!), FB, Shelfari, Goodreads, Library Thing, etc. I've also done book signings and paid advertising. Amazon does a fantastic job of marketing via tags.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
BONNIE BLYTHE: Kindle is such a wonderful opportunity because it allows writers to bypass the gatekeepers (agents/publishers) and connect directly with readers. There's still a tremendous need for agents and traditional publishers, but I'm so grateful that there's an alternative. I'd rather have reader feedback on whether or not my book flies—I'd rather have the marketplace decide if it lives or dies, rather than a marketing or editorial committee hemmed in by budget cuts or agenda. And by pricing my books at 99 cents, I make my books a low risk. There's nothing like spending $15 on a book and just end up throwing it at the wall!
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
BONNIE BLYTHE: This is such an exciting time in publishing! The opportunities are really almost endless! For the first-timer, my advice would be the same whether you choose to go the traditional route via agents and publishers, or decide to self-publish with a venue like Kindle—learn the craft.
The book I most recommend for newer writers is Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Browne and King. Just by following their 'rules', you'll immediately elevate your writing to another level. Join a crit group to get honest feedback. When I write, I get tunnel-vision and I can't always tell when something is laughable or ridiculous. But my crit group certainly will! Get into a community of writers to share the ups and downs. Writing can be a very lonely undertaking, so having a community of support is essential. Lastly, read. A lot. Find out what drives you nuts about the way other authors write and then don't do that. LOL. Strive to be the best writer you can before publishing. Just because the Kindle program makes it simple, doesn't mean you should toss any old thing up there. You'll want a reputation for good writing—especially without the gatekeepers, your name is the one thing that sets you apart from other authors. Make it shiny :)
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bonnie Blythe writes, "Ever since I tucked paperback romance novels in my school textbooks, I've been a fan of romance. Getting to write them is even more fun."
Visit her website.
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