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.