A huge THANK YOU and lots of fangirl appreciation to USA Today Bestselling author, Gayle Callen for participating in this weeks, Novels Alive in association with our sister site Be My Bard’s “10 Questions with…”!
When creating the perfect hero and heroine, do you rely solely on your imagination or do you draw inspiration from other sources (family and friends, actors/actresses etc.) or a combination of both?
I create my heroes and heroines from scratch—with a lot of help from other people. My brainstorming process involves my critique groups as well as my husband (who’s really great at external plots, but don’t ask him about fictional emotions or romance). The characters form in my imagination from the backgrounds I brainstorm for them. I don’t even cut out pictures of people who “look” like my characters. They just become themselves in my mind.
Which character from your own work would you most like to meet in the real world and why?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. Characters are like your kids, and it’s hard to pick favorites. But I have to say, I enjoyed the Wade brothers. Simon first made his appearance in THE VISCOUNT IN HER BEDROOM, as a newly blinded man who thought he was handling everything just fine, who used to be the life of the party, and thought he couldn’t be the one who kept his family together. I really liked his journey. His brother was a bad boy in that book, and I wanted to give him his comeuppance—and visit Simon again, so Leo got his own book, EVERY SCANDALOUS SECRET. These two men are witty, yet deep thinkers, and I think they’d be a lot of fun to hang around with.
Which character from another authors work would you also like to meet?
Oh, there are lots! But two of my favorites are Ruark Beauchamp from Kathleen Woodiwiss’s SHANNA (the first historical romance I ever read) and Jamie Frazier from Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER. I hear we’re going to get to see a series based on that later this year!
If you had to choose between writing a story that would leave your readers LAUGHING out Loud, CRYING from all the intense emotions or with a pressing need for a COLD SHOWER, which response would you prefer?
I don’t think I can choose, because I would hope each book I write inspires all three reactions at various times. I really don’t prefer a book that’s all intense emotions, or all comedy, or focused on the sex. But every reader has their favorite style, which is why it’s great that we all write such different kinds of books.
Living and breathing a cast of characters for months/years while writing a story must make it hard to set that character aside when the story is finished. Which character did you most have the trouble with saying “Goodbye” to?
For me, it’s actually a relief to finally say good-bye. I’m so glad I’ve made the characters happy, and I’m content to know they go on with their lives—and maybe make appearances in other books of mine. And I’m excited to begin a new project, and see new characters come to life. But I did enjoy writing Adam, the hero of my May book, REDEMPTION OF THE DUKE. He was a third son, off in the army when he found out he’d become the duke. I liked watching his journey from carefree rake to responsible duke. Problem was, he’s a little too controlling, as my heroine Faith, a lady’s companion, found out.
A lot of authors are now using social media websites like FACEBOOK and TWITTER to connect with their fans and promote their new and upcoming work. How much of a difference do you believe that these interactions help in engaging new readers/fans to your work?
We writers tend to be pretty solitary every day, alone for hours in our offices, in our own little make-believe worlds. The internet has freed us, in a sense, and let us connect with readers in a way never possible before. I really enjoy hearing from my readers that my books make a difference to them. I think by strengthening those communications, talking about real life or other entertainment, other readers see and then get curious. Hopefully, these new readers give my books a try!
Now that self-publishing is growing in popularity and even established “Print” authors are choosing to release some of their work outside the traditional norm of a publishing house, do you believe that the added level of control given to the author will ultimately see a rise in the quality of the works available or just the quantity?
Right now I think it’s mostly a rise in quantity as people who never imagined they could publish now rush to get their works online. But gradually, I think readers are going to get smarter and far more cautious as they look for good books, rather than hastily published books. In the end, I think writers will have to write the best books they can, improving quality, so they stand above all the others.
Speaking of control…when it comes to the cover art, when a character or couple are portrayed it’s not uncommon for them to be shown as a perfect model of themselves without any of the descriptive flaws found inside the pages of the story. Do you think that readers prefer the more romanticized version or would they rather see a truer version of the characters being portrayed? AND, which would you prefer?
I think the human eye is simply attracted to beauty first. Don’t scientists say it’s something about biology and procreation? Whatever it is, a gorgeous cover makes people pick up the book (or click on the link), and I think that’s the main reason for covers looking the way they do. Because if readers don’t pick up the book, they never read the back or the first page, to get to the part that I control, the story itself. So I trust the judgment of my publisher’s art and marketing departments about what will make my book stand out.
The NEWS is always doing stories on pirate and file sharing websites that illegally make copies of music, movies and television freely available online, but they rarely if ever include mention of eBooks in these reports. What are your thoughts on the lack of attention being given to this issue?
I think it’s too bad. Maybe we readers are just a quieter group, easy to overlook. Or maybe the massive Hollywood studios have more money to spend getting the word out there than publishing houses do. The one thing that comforts me is that most people who pirate books probably weren’t going to buy my book anyway. I just don’t know how they live with themselves, stealing someone else’s work.
Would you care to share something about your latest release or a story that you are working on now?
My most recent book was SURRENDER TO THE EARL, the second in my Brides of Redemption trilogy—don’t worry, they can be read in any order. 😉 Robert needs to find redemption because of mistakes made during the war where men were killed. Audrey, the blind widow of his fellow soldier, accepts his offer of any kind of assistance—as long as he helps her escape her family who’s keeping her in seclusion. A pretend engagement could solve their problems, or make everything worse.
PS: In thirty-odd books, I’ve only ever done two blind characters, and I happened to mention them both in this interview! 😉
A USA Today Bestselling author, Gayle Callen writes historical romances for Avon Books. Her latest novel, SURRENDER TO THE EARL, was published in June 2013.
Named the “Notable New Author of 1999,” Gayle has also won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, finaled in the National Readers Choice Awards and was a nominee for the RT Book Reviews Magazine’s Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She also writes the Valentine Valley contemporary series as Emma Cane.