Thursday, January 28, 2010

Q & A: Laura Kinsale

(For review of 'Lessons in
French', see previous post)

Today, Apprentice Writer is delighted to welcome historical author Laura Kinsale to the blog.

Ms. Kinsale was kind enough to take time from promoting her long-awaited new publication to give readers here a glimpse inside the writerly life.

First things first: the cover. Did you choose the title, and did you have input about art?

I did choose the title. I was looking for something that would evoke the lightness of the story, and since Trev did once give Callie lessons in French (and a lot more!) it seemed appropriate.

I gave some general ideas for the cover, and asked that it be colorful. I think it is quite lovely.

What comes to you first? The hero? Heroine? Ending? One-liners?

The characters always come to me first, although usually it's a general concept of a character in a situation. In the case of LESSONS IN FRENCH, I knew I wanted to have a very shy wallflower for a heroine. Depending on which I start with, hero or heroine - and I've started with both - I then work out the opposite lead. The idea of a wallflower suggested the opposite - a roguish, adventurous hero. And that's definitely what Trev turned out to be!

My favorite scene is any where Trev is trying to lighten Callie's or his mother's mood. He has such a flair for outrageous, self-deprecating banter that both ladies can't help but be charmed even while understanding perfectly well what he is trying to do. What was your favorite scene?

Well, my very favorite scene is at the end, but that would be a spoiler. I think my second favorite would be the scene where Trev explains to Callie and his mother why Hubert the bull was hiding in his mother's kitchen. As the duchesse says, after Trev has finished his convoluted excuses, "Well done, Seigneur. Our brains are quite cooked, now."

Yes! Those are two excellent scenes! I loved Trev's luggage comment and Callie's reply.
How does a typical writing day for you look? Has it changed since Book#1?

I have absolutely no typical writing day. Unlike many writers, I have never been able to maintain a schedule of any kind. A typical day, at the moment, starts with heading to the barn to ride. Then I often do a short hike with my dog, or take him to the dog park - and by then, I'm pretty tired! It's very easy at that moment to sit down and start wasting time at the computer. But when I'm interested in the work in progress, I'm happy to write on it. That's really the key for me. I have to be in that 'zone'. And don't ask me how to get there, because I don't know! I do know that Twitter and email are not the way.

I very much look forward to telling my husband that in order to succeed as an author, I will require a barn, horse, and dog. He thought all he needed to provide was moral support!
How does your family feel about you being an author?

My dog thinks we should live all day at the dog park, and resents all my time at the computer. Other than that, I have my family's unqualified support.

Your best writing habit? Worst writing vice?

Hmm, that's an interesting question. I don't really think of myself as having writing habits. I guess the best 'habit' I have is to visualize myself from inside the heads of my characters - feel what they feel and see what they see.

My worst vice shows up when I'm tired. I think to myself "I'll take a short break" and then I end up wasting a lot of time and not getting back to work.

Social networking: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing or Blessing in Disguise?

Definitely a wolf - I saw through the sheep's costume from the start. Not that it helps!

Who is your writing idol and why?

SF writer C.J. Cherryh. I love her characters, her stories and her writing style. Also she's prolific, which I wish I were.

Best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Observe everything. Look for details about everything you see, about people, places, news, sentences, word choices, plot twists. Details are things like the way shadows of streelights pass under your car as you drive along a highway at night. Be interested in life. Read, but don't limit your experience to reading or online. Live in the real world and notice how it feels.

Good advice. It's all to easy to spend huge chunks of time online in the name of learning about the biz. Anything else you'd like to share with Apprentice Writer's readers?

Yes, I'll share a quote from Elizabeth Law, the publisher at Egmont Books, when she was asked about Author Promotion at the Shrinking Violets blog:

"Just write your heart out. I promise you that's what matters. I would much, much, much rather find a great, unusual, distinctive book by a phobic writer covered in oozing sores who lives in a closet than a decent but not amazingly original book by the world's best promoter. I could sell the former a lot better too!"

Point taken, though I'm not dedicated enough to acquire oozing sores. Will compromise by spending more time in my closet and checking out the Shrinking Violets blog.

Thank you so much, Ms. Kinsale for your time and insights.

To learn more about the author, go here.



Rachel said...

I loved your review and the interview! I'm quite in love with this cover and also adored the giant pictures. :)

distractedmusician said...

Great interview - I will have to keep this one in mind.

I've got an award for you here!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Awesome interview, indeed. Ms. Kinsale seems like she'd be neat to know in real life. If the dog allows.

Thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

M. said...

Rachel - Welcome to AW! So pleased you enjoyed the review.

M. said...

musician - welcome back! and how excellent to be considered for a 'superior scribbler' award! I'll treasure it.

M. said...

Susan - thanks, babe. you perform a great service.

Rachel said...

Thanks for the kind welcome and for stopping by my blog. I hope you'll visit again. Your comment totally cracked me up. I'm an equal opportunity reader you could say. :)

Debbie said...

That was great! It is always wonderful to get a glimpse inside an author's mind.

Wylie Kinson said...

M - great questions!
And Ms Kinsale, as a writer who struggles with disciplined writing times and is therefore bound for failure(?!), I thoroughly enjoyed your answers :)

Look forward to reading Lessons in French,

Thomma Lyn said...

I love this interview! Great job, M. and Laura. Inspirational and informative -- and how well I relate to Laura's vice. When I'm tired, I do the same thing. :)

M. said...

Debbie - glad you enjoyed it!

Wylie - Salut back at you

TL - I know! So gratifying to think super famous authors also have procrastinating habits sometimes

M. said...

Debbie - glad you enjoyed it!

Wylie - Salut back at you

TL - I know! So gratifying to think super famous authors also have procrastinating habits sometimes

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