LIZ FLAHERTY ON BOOK #9
Great fun to welcome Liz Flaherty, an Indiana native, who is going to talk about all aspects of writing romances.You readers can get insights into the decisions a writer makes as she develops her characters and puts them through their paces.
And if you want a quick sneak peek at the story first, scroll to the bottom and read the blurb about Back to McGuffey’s. Gorgeous cover!-----
Great to have you visit Thursday's Child, Liz!
Hey, Judith, thanks for having me!
Here we go . . . how much characterization is given when a character approaches you?
Quite a bit of it is there. The story develops the rest, just like life makes us into who we are. Wow, was that profound or what? J
How much do you have to eke out of them?
Not much, really, although it’s fun when one of them chooses to retain a little mystery.
Does plot come with?
Plot comes, as I’ve said before, word by excruciating word. I couldn’t plot my way out of a paper bag.
Are your characters willing to reveal the “story” or plot?
No, they pretty much sit there and file their nails while I sweat bullets. From plotting comes the saying “…just open a vein…” What that doesn’t tell you is that plotting veins roll away from the needle, so you have to try and try and try.
Over the years your work has shown your style of writing—it has been polished, but never seems forced. How is your writing style—or voice—achieved?
If I have a particular gift, that is it. My voice is what it is. I don’t think about it or work on it. (I hesitated to use the word “gift.” I am not by any means a gifted writer, but I consider my voice in that term because it was just there—I didn’t have to earn it or hone it.)
Home to Singing Trees, a historical romance, has a different voice. Do you have a mindset for different books?
In a way. Working on Home to Singing Trees was very satisfying because the research was so much fun. Although contemporary requires research, for me it’s nothing like historical. Writing historical was much more labor-intensive because I couldn’t write even the shortest dialogue without conscious thought concerning how it would sound. You know, would she actually have said that in 1875? Figuring out what they wore, how long it would take to drive a wagon 17 miles, when the Howe Sewing Machine factory in Peru, Indiana closed—these things all took time I wasn’t used to spending. It gave me a new admiration for historical authors and further convinced me I probably wasn’t meant to be one, no matter how much I loved writing that book!
You’ve traveled around for your locales: Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vermont.
While it’s true I’ve used places I’ve traveled to, I never went anywhere for the actual purpose of using it. We have or have had family in all my locations. One set of our kids now live in North Carolina. That will probably come next. J
Why have you chosen the ones you’ve used?
They’re rural and they’re beautiful—that’s pretty much all I require from settings. And the beauty differs from place to place, which makes it all the better.
Empowerment of women, happy endings, variety.
What do you read?
Women’s fiction, mostly, or romance when I can find ones written in a voice I love to read (Kristan Higgins, Mary Balogh, Nan Reinhardt—the list goes on) or written with more mature protagonists. I can’t identify with 20-somethings anymore. That’s no reflection on other writers, just how my own tastes have changed.
What writer or writers do you consider mentors, or have influenced your own development as a writer?
Well, you have, Judith! J And Muriel Jensen, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, Cheryl Reavis. Their voices are warm and rich and gift to the soul. I hope I never intentionally try to sound like them, but I also hope I learn from them.
How do you continue to grow as a writer?
I belong to Indiana RWA and go to their retreat, which is wonderful! My friend Nan and I went to Chicago’s Spring Fling this year—also wonderful. And the internet allows us to be closer to peer friends even when we actually aren’t. That’s a godsend to me.
What advice would/do you give to aspiring writers? What advice helped you most?
Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. That’s the piece Muriel Jensen gave me that helped me immeasurably. My own addition to that is, If you’re not having fun, go ahead and quit. There is no shame in quitting—the shame is in continuing without joy.
What is the most important aspect of writing for you? Why?
The joy of it. If it wasn’t fun, if I wasn’t still eager to grope my way into a dark office every morning, I would stop. To use a cliché—which I do all the time; they became clichés in the first place because they were good—life’s too short to not have a good time.
Where do we go to find your books?
Any on-line retailer. Here—I’ll even give you a link or two.
Or, if you’re looking for print copies of my Harlequin or Carina books:
-----Back to McGuffey’s
The one that got awayCould Kate Rafael’s day get any worse? First she lost her job, then her house burned down and now her ex is back in town. Apparently, Ben McGuffey's taking a break from being a big-city doctor to help at his family’s tavern and reassess the choices he's made for his career.
Ben ends up giving Kate a hand...then giving her kisses...and finally, a second chance. But when a local teenager shows them both a glimpse of what it means to be a family, Ben wonders if having kids in small-town Vermont would clash with his ambitions. Or can he truly come home again…to Kate?