Today’s guest is the fascinating Paula Reed…
Paula’s book, Into His Arms was the very first Zebra Debut book!
Please tell us about your books.
I have three published novels released by Zebra Romance in 2004 and 2005. The stories are all related and all set in the Caribbean in the seventeenth century.
The first, Into His Arms, is about a Puritan woman (Faith Cooper) who falls in love with a privateer and atheist (Geoffrey Hampton). It really centers on a quote from the Reverend Francis David in the 1500’s: “We need not think alike to love alike.”
The second, For Her Love, is the story Geoffrey’s quartermaster (Giles Courtney) and the mixed-race daughter of a sugar plantation owner (Grace Welbourne).
Finally, Nobody’s Saint follows Geoffrey Hampton’s nemesis, the very honorable Diego Montoya. Diego finds himself in love with Irishwoman Mary Katherine O’Reilly, who is anything but honorable.
Which of your characters would you like to switch places with? For how long? What would you do?
This is a tough one. When I write, I really delve into my characters, so in some ways, I have already been all three of these women. I would be best friends with Faith, and I would admire Grace for her strength, but I think Mary Kate would be the most fun to switch places with for a year or so (provided I could bring a few modern razors and plenty of toilet paper). What would I do? Well, when last I left Mary Kate and Diego, they were merchant sailors in the Caribbean. I could be quite happy doing that for while.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Least favorite?
I love the research and the immersion into other times and places. I am currently working on a more literary piece, but it is still historical because I just don’t have anywhere near as much fun writing contemporary. While I was working on the second two books in the Caribbean trilogy, I was on leave of absence and I wrote for hours and hours every day. Now, I’m back to teaching full time, so the thing I don’t like is trying to find time to squeeze writing in between being a mom and grading essays.
How has real life influenced your writing?
I am a Unitarian, so the ways that people differ in their religious views and their blindness to how similar our core beliefs are when you dig past the dogma inspired Into His Arms. I have also had to deal with PTSD, and so I wrote that into Grace’s character in For Her Love. In many ways, it helped me deal with my own.
Is there anything you would like to write, but haven’t? For example, any other genre you’d like to try?
I’m very much the sort of person who does anything she really wants to do, so as I mentioned, I am trying my hand at a more literary historical work right now. My agent is excited about it, but I have learned that selling is real crapshoot, so I am trying to stay focused on the joy of creation, whether it sells or not.
Who has inspired you as a writer?
It’s almost impossible to include everyone here. I am an English teacher, so I love the classic authors, especially American, like Hawthorne (my current project is a spin on The Scarlet Letter), Fitzgerald, Hemingway. I have been a big romance reader since high school, so I loved Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, all the great early romance writers. I truly loved the character driven stories by LaVyrle Spencer, and I would say that my own stories are more character driven than plot.
What would you like to tell aspiring writers?
Nike is right. Just do it! If you have a story you’re dying to tell, tell it. If you’re serious about selling, I would suggest going to a few writing conferences and taking basic classes on the craft to polish it up and make it more marketable, but ultimately, just the process of writing is richly rewarding. Do not let fears that it won’t be “good enough” stop you from telling your story.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Passionate, loving, dynamic
If you could save one book from destruction, what would it be?
Holy Smokes! I could never pick one. I’d say The Scarlet Letter to whomever was stoking the flames, but then I’d sneak off with dozens more under my shirt, in my purse, wherever I could jam them. Now, I’ve named that one because I do love it and think it’s an icon of early American literature, but my favorite book of all time is Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One, which is a fabulous book with a message I think everyone should hear—that one person can make a difference, even in the face of great injustice, and that we need never give into the lure of hate, no matter justified it may seem.
Is there anything you’d like to ask readers?
Well, our agents and editors and booksellers are constantly telling us authors “what’s selling.” It seems like we’re always chasing the latest hot fad. I’m wondering what gets a reader to divert from her latest “thing.” What makes her pick up a book she wouldn’t otherwise buy? Is it the cover? Reviews? Word of mouth? I also always find it fun to hear readers’ pet peeves in romance novels.
Thank you Paula for that great interview! I really appreciate you taking the time to be a part of this!
Readers, you can learn more about Paula and her books at her website: http://www.paula-reed.com
Check back tomorrow for more about Paula’s past releases…
In the meantime, how about answering her questions for readers…
Remember, every comment left this month is an entry in the giveaway…details here!