Monday, 1 December 2014

Writing is my life, has been as long as I can remember.

Interview with Blake Crouch 
by Agnes A. Rose

Blake Crouch was born in 1978 near the piedmont town of Statesville (North California). He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated in 2000 with degrees in English and Creative Writing. In 2004 and 2005 he published his first two novels, such as “Desert Places” and “Locked Doors”. Beginning in late 2005, and inspired by his relocation to Durango (Colorado), he researched and wrote a book set in the past and present in remote mining town high in the San Juan Mountains. The novel – “Abandon” – was published in 2009. His next novel – “Snowbound” – was released in June in 2010. Blake Crouch lives in southwest Colorado, where he works on his books.

Agnes A. Rose: Thank you so much for accepting my invitation to this interview. First of all I would like to ask you about your Wayward Pines series. I know that it has headed for TV this year. Could you tell us something more about it? How it happened?

Blake Crouch: A writer named Chad Hodge wrote a pilot script of Wayward Pines on spec, and based on that script, we were able to bring M. Night Shyamalan on board and sell this project to FOX. The TV show will be out worldwide in 2015. I’ve seen all 10 episodes and they’re fantastic.

Agnes A. Rose: When you create a cast of characters do you simple imagine them or do you base them off of people you have known and real life incidents?

Blake Crouch: I try never to base characters off people I’ve met in real life. It’s just too risky, and besides the fun of writing for me is inventing characters out of thin air. Real life incidents do occasionally inspire books and stories however. For instance, my many visits to the town of Ouray, Colorado inspired the Wayward Pines series.

Agnes A. Rose: I am very interested in “Desert Places”. This novel made me very positive impression. Could you tell us how you prepared for writing it and what inspired you to create this kind of story?

Blake Crouch: Thank you! Desert Places was my first novel. I started writing it in 1999 following a backpacking trip in Wyoming that took me through the high desert there. A single image – a dirt road running off endlessly into the horizon – which I saw and photographed on that trip, formed the basis for Desert Places, because I started wondering what could be at the end of that road. It was Orson’s cabin as it turns out!

Agnes A. Rose: Your novels are published also as ebooks. Some people see ebooks threatening traditional publishing. What do you think about it? Is it true?

Blake Crouch: I do not believe that ebooks threaten traditional publishing. I think customers want ebooks as an option (I certainly do), and you cannot base an industry on not giving customers something they inherently want. 

Agnes A. Rose: How your writing influence on your private life?

Blake Crouch: It’s honestly hard to separate the two. Writing is my life, has been as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t be me without it.

Agnes A. Rose: Thank you very much for this short conversation. Is there anything you would like to tell your Polish readers?

Blake Crouch: Thanks for having me, Agnes, and I hope your readers enjoy my books! There’s much more to come!

If you want to read this interview in Polish, please click here

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

All my main protagonists are fictional but I do use some real historical characters in the background.

Interview with Nicola Cornick 
by Agnes A. Rose

Nicola Cornick is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes witty and passionate historical romances. She studied History at London and Oxford and she was awarded a distinction for her dissertation on historical heroes. Nicola has “double life” as a writer and guide at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge, Ashdown House. “Romantic Times” has described her writing as emotional and sexually charged and “Publishers Weekly” has called her a rising star. She is a double nominee for both the RWA RITA Award and the RNA Love Story of the Year. Nicola lives near Oxford and loves writing, reading, history, music, wildlife, travelling and walking with her dog.

Agnes A. Rose: Nicola, thank you so much for accepting my invitation to this interview. Welcome to my blog! At the beginning could you tell us a bit about yourself because some of my readers might not know you?

Nicola Cornick: Thank you very much for inviting me! It’s a pleasure to be here.
I’ve been writing since I was a child but it took me a long time to realize that I wanted to be a writer as a profession. For years I worked in a University, organizing exams and award ceremonies, and wrote in my spare time. Finally I decided to give up my administrative job and write full time and I’m very glad I did. It’s a huge privilege to be able to do something I love as my job!

Agnes A. Rose: You are very interested in history. I suppose that exactly for this reason you started to write historical romances. You are the author of many novels. More than thirty of your books have already been translated into Polish. Do you remember your debut novel? Was it difficult to publish it? What the book is about?

Nicola Cornick: I remember my debut novel very well. It was called “True Colours” and I had been writing and revising it since I was in my teens. I submitted it to Mills & Boon twice before it was accepted. They turned it down at first because it was really an adventure story rather than a romance. It featured a dispossessed nobleman who had become a highwayman. I think in those days I was very influenced by Georgette Heyer! Anyway, after 12 years of writing and re-writing the manuscript was finally accepted and it was published in 1998.

Agnes A. Rose: You write Regency historicals. Could you tell us why you decided to choose this part of English history? What is so interesting about this era that you want to put your characters in the early 19th century?

Nicola Cornick: I find the early nineteenth century a fascinating period of history. The world was on the cusp of huge change, politically, industrially and in so many other ways. I love the extreme contrasts in the Regency period. At the top of society there is all that glitter and elegance yet underneath it is a volatile mix of crime and poverty. It gives an author a very broad history on which to draw for ideas and inspiration. I also love the idea that society had very strict rules that governed behaviour. It’s great to look beyond the rules for the emotions that were beneath.

Agnes A. Rose: Are all of your protagonists fictional or maybe some of them are the historical ones?

Nicola Cornick: All my main protagonists are fictional but I do use some real historical characters in the background. Lord Sidmouth, the Home secretary, has a cameo in a number of my books.

Agnes A. Rose: What inspires you to write? I do not think about history, but I mean the storyline.

Nicola Cornick: Great question! I think I look for parallels between the past and the present. So for example I wrote one book about a girl who won the Regency national lottery and another about a man who was a “celebrity.” I love looking for the similarities and differences in the lives of people then and now.

Agnes A. Rose: How do you do your research for your books? How much research is involved in each type of work that you do?

Nicola Cornick: The research is one of my favourite parts of the job. I like my stories to be as authentic as they can be so I spent as much time as I need checking the detail. Usually I will plunge into a story and research the bits I need as I go along but if I know I’m going to be writing about something specific that I need to look into more deeply then I will do that first. So in my latest book, Claimed by the Laird, I was writing about whisky smuggling in Scotland and I needed lots of specific detail. I went to a museum to study a reconstructed whisky still and I read lots of accounts of the smuggling trade and then I dropped that information into the story as and when I needed it.

Agnes A. Rose: You have probably been asked about this a million times, but in spite of that I am going to ask you one more time. Is there a secret to create a bestseller?

Nicola Cornick: I really don’t know the answer to that and wish I did! I think that sometimes you can hit on an idea that strikes a chord with readers and they love it and then word spreads about a book. But I don’t think there is a “formula” for success or would all do it! I think you need to have a strong, individual writing voice and you need to be passionate about what you write, and your readers will respond to that.

Agnes A. Rose: Is there any type of writing you would like to explore in future? If so, what is it? Why?

Nicola Cornick: I would love to write historical non-fiction because history as an academic subject fascinates me and I’d like to study it more. I enjoy adding a mystery or crime element to my books so I can see myself writing crime novels one day. But historical fiction is my first love.

Agnes A. Rose: I am sure that you meet your readers to promote your novels and talk to them about your books. I am very interested to find out what is the greatest compliment a reader could pay you?

Nicola Cornick: I love meeting readers and chatting about books and writing and history. These days I “meet” a lot of them online on Facebook and Twitter as well as my blog and it’s great. I’m always thrilled when someone tells me that they stayed up until 3am to finish one of my books. Being told that your stories are so compelling someone can’t put them down is a huge compliment.

Agnes A. Rose: How much of your week is devoted to writing? What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

Nicola Cornick: I start writing early each morning and work until lunchtime. In the afternoon I deal with emails and promotion and then, if I have time I will go back to write some more later. I do try to stick to a schedule because I was used to working from 8.30 until 5 when I was in an office and I like to have that structure. When I’m not writing I will take my dog for long walks in the countryside.

Agnes A. Rose: I know that authors usually dislike the question about their own favourite book, because it is difficult for them to indicate the only one. But you have written so many novels that I think that you must have the novel which is very important for you. Which one is it? Why?

Nicola Cornick: It is a really difficult question to answer because I think most authors like different books for different reasons. I love those of my books that have unusual backgrounds such as The Notorious Lord, which has an archaeologist for a hero.  I love the Scottish set books because Scotland is such a wonderful place to write about. Often it’s the characters that make a book special to you. My all time favourite is probably “Desired” because I loved the strong heroine, and the hero was everything I believe a hero should be.

Agnes A. Rose: Who is your first reviewer? Do you have the person who reads your novels before you send them to your agent?

Nicola Cornick: I don’t have a reader who sees my books before they go to my agent and editor. Instead I tend to discuss my books with a very close friend who is also a writer. We meet up several times a year for what is essentially a day of in depth discussion of our current manuscripts and we help each other out throughout the writing process.

Agnes A. Rose: Since you write Regency historicals, I wonder if you sometimes want to go back in time and live in the era of the Regency. Maybe do you have your favourite individual you would like to meet there? 

Nicola Cornick: I’d love to own a time machine and go back to certain historical eras, but only to visit to see what it was really like. I enjoy my home comforts too much to want to live in a time before there was proper heating and medical treatment and sanitation and all the things we can take for granted now.

Agnes A. Rose: As I mentioned above you are also a guide at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge called Ashdown House. Could you tell us something more about this part of your work and about this wonderful place?

Nicola Cornick: I’ve worked as a guide and a historian for the National Trust at Ashdown for the past 12 years. I love the house; it’s stunning architecturally and has such an interesting history. My favourite aspect of the work is meeting the people who come to visit and sharing that history with them. It’s one of my greatest passions.

Agnes A. Rose: What can your readers in the world expect in the nearest future?

Nicola Cornick: I’m not sure whether my Scottish Regency series has been released yet in Poland but if not I hope it will be out there soon and that readers will enjoy the books. I also have some Regency short stories that will be coming out in the next year. The books I am currently working on are set in three time periods, the present, the 17th century and the Regency, so it’s something a little bit different. It has romance, history, mystery and just a touch of the paranormal! I’m really excited to be writing it.

Agnes A. Rose: Nicola, thank you once again for this conversation. I wish you further success in your writing. Is there anything you would like to tell your Polish readers?

Nicola Cornick: Well first I would like to thank my wonderful Polish readers for all their support for my writing over the years. I appreciate it very much. And also I’d like to say that I think the Polish editions of my books have some of the most beautiful covers. I hope one day to come back to Poland and meet some of my readers. That would be awesome. Thank you!

If you want to read this interview in Polish, please click here.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Only when we learn from historical mistakes can we avoid making such mistakes again today.

Interview with Eva Weaver
by Agnes A. Rose

Eva Weaver is a writer, coach, art therapist and performance artist; often exploring issues of belonging and history in her work. She is German and like many Germans, she is haunted by the events of the Second World War, which inspired her to write the debut novel “The Puppet Boy of Warsaw”. She moved from Germany to Britain and now she lives in Brighton.

Agnes A. Rose: Thank you so much for accepting my invitation to this interview. Your debut novel “The Puppet Boy of Warsaw” was published in Poland last year. I know that many of your Polish readers are very impressed by this book. Why did you decide to describe such a tragic story of Mika and Max?

Eva Weaver: Ever since I learnt about the Holocaust/Shoah as a teen, I have been struggling with this historical fact. How the Holocaust had been possible; what it means for Germans now and for my personal life; whether any true healing and reconciliation of such deep wounds can ever be possible and, indeed, what it means to create art and literature after Auschwitz – these questions have been with me for a very long time. After years of working with this through performance, I still felt a strong need to attend to this in a substantial way.

During a creative writing exercise the image of the oversized coat with a multitude of pockets came to me and then soon afterwards the puppets hidden within. I trusted these strong images and started to write and follow the story that unravelled, which took me to a young Jewish boy, the Warsaw ghetto and beyond.

“Puppet Boy” is an attempt to give those numbers and statistics of the Second World War a human face, to contribute to honour the dead so we won’t forget their heart-wrenching and so often heroic stories and of course to ask myself and my readers what would we have done living in those times?

Agnes A. Rose: Some of Polish readers point out that in your book you forget a little about the tragedy of Poles describing Polish people as living without any major changes outside the ghetto. Maybe we are a little touchy. But in spite of all I would like to ask you why you focused your attention mainly on Jews and Germans?

Eva Weaver: Oh, I have not forgotten at all about the tragedy of all Polish people, Christian Poles and Jewish Poles and do not wish to alienate or offend anyone. I created Mika and Jakob as Poles, not Christian Poles but Jewish Poles, and proud to be Poles, proud of the Jewish heritage.

As a German I found it particularly important to mainly focus in my book on the Jewish Holocaust – six million of Jews, children, women and men died in the Shoah, many in Nazi ghettos and German Nazi extermination camps located in Poland.

I am also very aware of the hardship that Christian Poles underwent throughout the war and occupation and especially during the Warsaw Uprising. I found that a lot of information exists about the Warsaw Uprising but not very much about the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and found it important to write and educate about this tragic part of Warsaw’s history.  

Agnes A. Rose: The puppets are very important in your book. Could you tell your Polish readers, who have not read “The Puppets Boy of Warsaw” yet, what their role is?

Eva Weaver: The puppets are metaphors for the will to survive and the power of resistance. They are characters in their own right, and yet they need a human, Mika and later Max the soldier, to come to life and make an impact.

Like behind a mask, there lies a certain power in the position of a puppeteer – one can get away with being cheeky, pulling the audience’s leg and speaking the truth in times of oppression, which makes it an ideal tool for resistance. One can to some extent “hide” behind the puppets like the jester; the puppeteer through the puppets can speak truth without being held fully accountable.

The puppets come into play in times of biggest challenge and when most needed – then they comfort, entertain, exude authority and call for resistance. They support resistance in a practical way- the smuggling of the children out of the ghetto – and in a psychological way: because to still play and make art in times of adversity can be an act of resistance in itself. The puppets are also charming- they charm the audiences be it children or adult and show that there is still something else but brutality and devastation. In that sense they are holding a beacon of hope for the people of the ghetto and later, hope for reconciliation.

The prince puppet particularly is an important character in the book, a connection between the Jewish boy Mika and the German soldier Max.

The prince becomes a trusted comrade, friend and a kind of protector in the darkest hour. The prince is an unusual hero. He is like a mirror, a double of Mika’s deepest most courageous and honourable spirit. The prince puppet connects three generations and for me this puppet signifies hope for healing and reconciliation, a hope in the power of the arts and creativity to support us through the most horrific trauma.

Agnes A. Rose: How did you prepare for writing “The Puppet Boy of Warsaw”?

Eva Weaver: I did a lot of research: I read a lot of novels and non fiction about the Holocaust/Shoah, particularly about the Warsaw ghetto. Also lots of eye witness reports, diaries, articles and films. I worked a lot with photographs while writing- the Warsaw ghetto has been well documented, and large archives exist accessible online as well as even some films. I have had several exchanges with Antony Polonsky, professor of Holocaust studies at Brandeis during the writing of “Puppet Boy”.

Another important part of my research was my visit to Warsaw and Krakow in October 2010. I have also researched about the Siberian Gulags and the banishment of German soldiers to Siberia, including literature and non fiction, eye witness reports via the web. 

The Polish book cover of
The Puppet Boy of Warsaw
Agnes A. Rose: What kind of feelings accompanied you during the writing of this novel?

Eva Weaver: It was of course a very emotional process! Exploring for months the theme of the Holocaust was hard, but what is this compared to having to live like Mika and his family in a ghetto, continuously threatened by death? It helped that as an Art Therapist I have already thought a lot about and witnessed the power of creativity to help us survive and work through deep trauma and this forms an important part of the book – Mika’s puppeteering, how the puppets become a means of survival and resistance. Creativity here is something like a delicate counter balance to the horror of the ghetto, something that still holds the beacon for humanness in the face of the unthinkable horror of the ghetto and the deportations. I doubt I could have written the book without including the puppets. I also had a lot of support through colleagues and friends, Jewish and non-jewish, English and German, writers and non writers, artists, my mentor and coach, my agent, editor and my writing group. Of course as writers we spend a lot of time on our own and it can be a lonely endeavour, but I also see this book as a big collaboration having very much evolved out of community and dialogue, from its first kernel to the epilogue and I am hugely grateful for this.

Agnes A. Rose: What is the most interesting or maybe surprising fact you came across in your research for “The Puppet Boy of Warsaw”?

Eva Weaver: The courage of the Jewish people inside the ghetto and especially the heroic acts of the Warsaw ghetto fighters, who, children, young people and adults alike, gave everything in the uprising despite knew that their fight would be futile in the face of the overwhelming German occupying power. Also people who managed to keep art and culture alive even within the terrible conditions of the ghetto.

The many acts of resistance be it by Jewish Poles as well as Christian Poles on the other side of the ghetto wall. Especially the story of Irina Sendler acts of resistance touched me deeply.

Agnes A. Rose: Was it easy to find a publisher for “The Puppet Boy of Warsaw”?

Eva Weaver: I had the good fortune to find a fabulous and enthusiastic agent based in a large agency who quite quickly found a good publisher and later sold the book to twelve countries.

Agnes A. Rose: I read that your mother had been bombed out in 1942 during the first air attacks on Nuremberg. Could you tell us something more about this tragic event if it is not too painful for you?

Eva Weaver: My mother was only eleven at the time. During the attack she did with her parents and some neighbours in a makeshift bunker. After hours of bombing when they emerged from the bunker in the morning, most of the houses in their streets were reduced to rubble and stood burning. The front facade of my mother’s house was ripped away and they could see inside as in a doll’s house. There was still a slice of bread on a plate and an egg in an egg cup in the kitchen, untouched, my mother tells me.

Agnes A. Rose: In Poland your book is promoted as the ravishing study of human courage and strength of forgiveness. Do you think that a contemporary man is able to forgive the atrocities of World War II to those who were responsible for that tragedy? Are we able to live without any prejudices to each other in successive generations?

Eva Weaver: The question whether the wounds of the Holocaust can ever be truly healed has been with me for many years and the prospect that healing as such might not be possible has haunted me. Hence, like a lot of my performance work before, this book is an attempt at exploring the human heart, at looking at survival, at the small human gestures that were present in every war, every catastrophe and in this way to “attend” to the wound in the best possible way I can.

Agnes A. Rose: As you mentioned above, you have already visited Warsaw and Krakow. Could you tell us about the places relating to World War II that you saw then?

Eva Weaver: I visited Krakow and Warsaw in autumn 2010, tracing the remains of the Jewish Warsaw and the ghetto, the Jewish cemetery, remains of the ghetto wall, Umschlagplatz monument, monument of the fighters of the Warsaw ghetto, Uprising and the Jewish Historical Institute, which houses the Ringelblum archive. The visit moved and impacted me deeply. Although I had read a lot I, like Mara in the book, was shocked to find hardly any traces of the former city and in particularly the fact that many of the modern housing blocks in the Northwest of the city had been directly built on the rubble from the completely destroyed ghetto, which had never been cleared away. This total absence of Jewish culture was devastating and haunting. In a different way the colourful old centre of town, which had been painstakingly rebuilt stone after stone after the war also felt very moving.

Agnes A. Rose: How much important is history for you? I mean not only World War II, but the history in its general sense.

Eva Weaver: I believe to know about historical events, to understand the complexities of history is crucial. Only when we learn from historical mistakes can we avoid making such mistakes again today. I understand Antisemitism is still a problem in Poland and other countries, and it is crucial that we continue to remember the Holocaust and as many of the individuals and their life stories as possible. My hope is that my book and its young protagonist Mika will bring the ghetto and the Uprising closer to a younger contemporary audience and help support dialogue. Only through education and cultivation of empathy can we fight prejudices of any kind.

Agnes A. Rose: What do you read in your free time? Do you have your favourite authors?

Eva Weaver: Some of my favourite writers who have also taught me a lot about the craft of writing are amongst others Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Walker, Haruki Murakami, Annie Proulx, Anne Michaels and Angela Carter. All are exceptional storytellers and hugely enjoyable to read.

Agnes A. Rose: You are not only a writer. Could you tell us a little bit about your other work?

Eva Weaver: I am also working as a shamanic practitioner, breathworker, and Creativity Coach. As part of “IGNITE YOUR LIFE” I am running retreats and workshops with my partner for Empowerment and Transformation, offering a mixture of empowerment tools, Breathwork and Firewalking, (

Agnes A. Rose: What writing projects are you working on at the moment?

Eva Weaver: I am writing on my second novel “The Ship of Fools”. It is also a historical novel, this time set in Scandinavia at the turn of the 19th century, about two young women who have been committed to a mental asylum on a small island, their escape and epic journey across the archipelago and throughout Sweden to Sápmi/Lapland, the very North of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, the land of the indigenous Sápmi people. It is a novel about the power of vision, friendship and love in the face of betrayal, and incarceration and a woman’s search for her heritage, her destiny and belonging.

Agnes A. Rose: Finally, is there anything you would like to tell your Polish readers?

Eva Weaver: I would love to be able to visit Poland and especially Warsaw, again and I am keen to do a reading and have more dialogue with Polish readers. In particular I would also like to see and connect with the Museum of Jewish culture, which was not finished when I visited.

In the meantime you can find out more background on The Puppet Boy of Warsaw on my Facebook page: or email me on

Agnes A. Rose: Thank you very much for this conversation. I hope that in Poland we will be able to read your next novel soon.

Eva Weaver: Yes, so do I, I hope it will also be translated into Polish! Thank you very much for asking me for this interview!

If you want to read this interview in Polish, please click here

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

I write what I love to read!

Interview with Roxanne St. Claire
by Agnes A. Rose

Roxanne St. Claire is a bestselling author of more than thirty novels of romance and suspense. In 2005 she won the prestigious RITA Award for outstanding romantic fiction. Her novels have also won many awards for best romantic suspense. Prior to launching a full time career as a novelist in 2003, Roxanne St. Claire spent most of her professional life as a marketing executive and public relations consultant. She is a graduate of UCLA, an active member of several national writing organizations, and a lecturer on wide range of writing-related topics. She is the author of novels such as “First You Run”, “Now You Die”, “Then You Hide” and many others. Roxanne lives in Satellite Beach (Florida) with her family. 

Agnes A. Rose: I’m very happy that you accepted my invitation to this interview. Thank you very much! You are a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Your books are read all over the world. Could you tell us how it feels to be the author of international renown?

Roxanne St. Claire: First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to speak with your readers! I am delighted to have found an audience in Poland, and it’s an honor to be here to answer your questions and share my writing life. How does it feel? Well, most days, I feel like I have a wonderful job that requires a lot of work and concentration. I love writing novels, but I can assure you, the process is one of the most difficult I’ve ever attempted. Each story is a challenge, and some days the writing just doesn’t flow.  But when I am finished, the sense of accomplishment is fantastic! And when I hear from readers who say the book made them laugh or cry, then I have all the “renown” I need!

Agnes A. Rose: What made ​​you decide to leave a well-planned career in public relations in favor of writing novels?

Roxanne St. Claire: I actually quit my PR career so I could focus one hundred percent on my small children.  My PR job was demanding, and I was traveling or in meetings constantly. I had a nanny helping me with the kids and she had a lovely British accent. One day, I heard my daughter use that accent and I realized that I was missing out on the most important part of my life. I made a fairly impulsive decision to quit being a full-time mother. But I found myself thinking about that novel I’d always dreamed of writing, so I would get up before the kids at 4:45 and write a chapter a day. When I sold that first book, I was hooked. But I’ve loved being able to be with my children and when they were younger, I only wrote while they were in school. Now, one is in college and the other has only a year left at home. I’m glad I’ve been with them and still had a chance to follow my writing dreams.

Agnes A. Rose: As mentioned above you are the author of romance and suspense. Could you tell us why you choose this kind of literature?

Roxanne St. Claire: I write what I love to read! It’s really that simple. I have enjoyed books with a romantic storyline since I was quite young, and I’ve always been drawn to those that had a secondary plot that put the characters in danger. It is most natural to write what you love to read.  For me, that was Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and authors like that.

Agnes A. Rose: So far you have created three very popular series: “The Bullet Catchers”, “The Guardian Angelinos”, and “The Barefoot Bay”. Which of these series is closer to you and why?

Roxanne St. Claire:  At the moment, I’m quite in love with Barefoot Bay, which is different than the other two. The Bullet Catchers and Guardian Angelinos are about bodyguards and security specialists, and those stories are as full of action as they are romance. I loved writing them and, honestly, I miss writing them because the characters are like family and friends to me.  Then, a few years ago, I decided to try my hand at contemporary romances where there is as much emotion as romance. I launched the Barefoot Bay books, and wanted them to have plenty of family drama and internal conflict and “issues” that today’s young women have to deal with, such as infertility or single parenting or even a sick older relative. Woven into those “real world” stories is a bond of friendship, which is another story line I love to explore.  Of course, at the core, they are romances.

The Barefoot Bay books have really touched a chord with readers, and I’ve now written one quartet (the original four books), a trilogy called The Barefoot Billionaires, and am now writing a trilogy The Barefoot Brides. All of the books take place on the same tropical island off the Gulf Coast of Florida, and many of the characters come in and out of each story. But each book is a “stand alone” romance with a love story that carries that heroine and hero into a wonderful happy ending. I’m really enjoying writing the Barefoot Bay books and hope to do several more.
Roxanne with her family

Agnes A. Rose: Do you find it more difficult to write a book that is part of a series?

Roxanne St. Claire: There are certainly challenges – when you set one character up in a book with a specific character trait – you have to live with that in future books.  This can be tricky! If I’ve given a character some particular trait or backstory, I can’t change that when it’s time to write them as the lead.  And I love to revise! My books get written at least two times, if not three, because I love to rewrite and my first draft is never right. So that means there will be character traits I CANNOT change because they appeared in an earlier book. But there are many things I love about writing a series: the familiarity of the world, the comfort level every time I go back there, and, of course, the readers love it!

Agnes A. Rose: What do you like best: writing series or a stand alone book? Why?

Roxanne St. Claire:  I guess I prefer a series because I know the readers are most excited about them.  However, I can honestly say that some of my personal favorite books have been my stand alones. I have written about six or seven books that are totally unrelated to anything else, and some of those are my very favorites.  Most of those books are out of print in English now, sadly. My favorites are HIT REPLY, KILLER CURVES, FRENCH TWIST, and my first young adult novel, DON’T YOU WISH*.

Agnes A. Rose: Are there any real-life stories/experiences behind any of your books? Or is all of it pure fiction?

Roxanne St. Claire:  Nothing is pure fiction! I get so many ideas from the real world -- almost all of them.  Characters are composites of people I meet, plot lines are pulled from the news, and my own life is infused on every page.  At the heart of the Barefoot Bay series are female friendships and I have definitely drawn on the dynamic of my circle of friends for those stories. I’ve set many books in Boston and Miami, cities where I’ve lived, and I’ve even used real situations that have happened to me in books.  But after all the rewriting and “fictionalizing” – they don’t resemble my life at all. I wish they did – all those handsome heroes and happy endings!! (Although I have been quite fortunate in that department, too!)

Agnes A. Rose: You are the author of the young adult novel “Don’t You Wish”. It seems to me that writing for young readers is much more difficult than for adults. Why did you decide to create this kind of story? What did you want to convey to young people writing this book?

Roxanne St. Claire: That is one of the stories that came from real life!! In DON’T YOU WISH, the teen character learns her mother once had a billionaire boyfriend and is devastated because “Mom married the wrong guy!” She naively fantasizes about how her life would have been different if her mother had married a wealthy and successful man. Through a series of strange circumstances and a twist of physics, the character is sent to a parallel universe where her mother DID marry the rich guy...and the character learns that a seemingly perfect life comes with a very high price.

Well, that story was based on real life! No, my daughter didn’t go to a parallel universe, but I was perusing a copy of a magazine one day and found a spread about a billionaire’s mansion in Los Angeles. It just so happens that many years ago, when I was living in Los Angeles, that billionaire (though he wasn’t then) had been my boyfriend for several years. I ended up moving to Boston and leaving that man behind, and ultimately marrying someone else whom I love very much! But when I showed the mansion to my daughter, I joked “you could have lived there if I’d have married that guy.”  She was stunned and kept fantasizing about “what if”... so that’s where I got the idea for the book!

Some of the Polish ("First You Run", "Then You Hide" & "Now You Die")
and American book covers of Roxanne St. Claire's novels

Agnes A. Rose: You are also the co-author of the Romance Anthologies. What prompted you to participate in this collective project? Could you tell us something more about this part of your work?

Roxanne St. Claire: Those projects are usually driven by the publisher, and they can be a lot of fun.  It’s a great way to get to know other authors and to have my work reach their readers, too. I really enjoy working on projects like that and am always open to doing more!

Agnes A. Rose: How do you prepare yourself to write a novel? I mean your mentally and physically preparation.

Roxanne St. Claire: I’m usually thinking about the next book a lot when I’m finishing the one in front of me. Threads of ideas and character issues are starting to knot up in my brain and I know I’m going to have to unravel them in order to write the book.  Once I gear up, I usually do a lot of research on settings, on character’s jobs, on the story in the background. For example, when I wrote my most recent novel, BAREFOOT IN WHITE, I had to do a lot of research on destination wedding planners because the Barefoot Brides are consultants who coordinate gorgeous beachfront wedding events. Research always gives me story ideas.

I don’t really plot out a book, but I try to get a general sense of the main conflict and who the people really are. I do a rough “story arc” and then I just bite the bullet and type Chapter One. This is the hardest part! It’s like jumping off a fifty foot cliff into the darkness with no parachute. But I have done it almost forty times now, and I suppose I’ll do it forty more!

Agnes A. Rose: What do you usually feel when you type THE END on your book? Do you celebrate this event?

Roxanne St. Claire:  I feel GREAT!!! I know I’m probably going to rewrite 80% of the book because that’s how I work, but I love, love, love to revise. It’s so much easier for me than fresh writing.  My tradition is to call one of my kids or my husband into the office so they can witness me typing THE END and then we celebrate with food, wine, and sleep!

Agnes A. Rose: Your books are addressed mainly to women. I wonder if you also have any male readers. If so, what do they think about your novels?

Roxanne signing her books at a conference
Roxanne St. Claire: I certainly do have male readers, but mostly for my romantic suspense and bodyguard series, which have a lot more action than “girly” emotion. I hear from them occasionally, and treasure them all! I have developed friendships with a few one of my readers is a weapons expert and he helped me with any scene that has a gun in it.  Another one of my readers is a former FBI agent, and he’s been tremendously helpful with research on several books. I don’t have as many reading the Barefoot Bay series, though there are a few and I treasure them!

Agnes A. Rose: How much do your relatives or friends help you to write? What is their influence on your writing career?

Roxanne St. Claire: They stay out of my way! That’s the most they can help me.  In truth, my husband is an amazing cook and he does all the food shopping and cooking for our family, so that is a TREMENDOUS help! I never have to worry about making dinner. And I often write with my three closest writing friends we get together at one of our houses, bring laptops, gather around the table, and WRITE all day long. We are all published writers on deadlines.  When we take breaks, we brainstorm ideas, names, and plot twists. Last year, the four of us published 14 books and wrote over a million words! We call it “Writers Camp” and it works!!

Agnes A. Rose: You’ve achieved so much as a writer and career woman. Is there any goal you feel you have yet to attain?

Roxanne St. Claire: Good heavens, there are so many!!  I’m still raising children, though one is in college and the other a teenager. But that’s the main focus of my life, for sure. I’d love to see them grow to be productive, happy, successful adults. I’d love to see one of my books made into a movie (DON’T YOU WISH has sold movie rights and there is a script, but no one has started production yet!). And I’d love to visit Europe!!! I’ve been to a few countries, but not many. I’m hoping that I have some lovely writing trips in the future maybe I can get to Poland!!

Agnes A. Rose: How do you imagine your further writing career? Where do you see yourself five or more years from now?

Roxanne St. Claire: I really don’t know beyond the fact that I love what I do, so I hope in five years, I will have at least 15 more books written, will have traveled some more, been to my movie premier, and celebrated a secure and happy life with my family. Someday I’d like to live in the country and raise goats.  Right now, I live on the water in Florida (beautiful!) and enjoy the tropical lifestyle, but I wouldn’t mind a house in the mountains someday.

Agnes A. Rose: Are you working on a new novel? If so, could you tell us a little bit about it?

Roxanne St. Claire:  I’m always working on a new novel!  Right now I’m writing the second book in the Barefoot Bay Brides trilogy.  The first one, BAREFOOT IN WHITE, came out last month and readers are LOVING it!  I’m in the “ugly” part of first draft on the second one, but nearing the end and looking forward to revisions.  This trilogy is about three destination wedding planners who are very skilled at creating perfect weddings for their clients... but haven’t had one of their own. All that will change!!

Agnes A. Rose: Finally, I’d like to ask you to say a few words to your Polish readers.

Roxanne St. Claire: Just THANK YOU for giving my books a chance and inviting me into your hearts! I hope you can find the books in Polish or are enjoying reading them in English. It’s such a thrill to think of someone thousands of miles away picking up my story and getting lost in my world. I’m humbled and honored and delighted!

Agnes A. Rose: Thank you so much for taking the time. I wish you every successes in your further writing career.

Roxanne St. Claire: Thank you for having me here! It’s been fun to answer these terrific questions and I hope to get to Poland and meet you someday soon!!

If you want to read this interview in Polish, please click here 

* None of these books has published in Poland so far.