Today’s NiFtY (Not Famous…Yet) Author is Elaine Cantrell, an award-winning romance novelist. Join us as we learn a little about her life and her writing.
EC: I’d love to! Return Engagement is the book I wanted to write for a long time before I actually sat down at the computer to do it. I thought about my characters so long and so hard that I once called my husband Richard (the hero in Return Engagement) which he didn’t like too much.
The book is centered around the idea ‘what might have been.” I think most people have looked back in their lives and wondered how things would be different if they had made different choices; I know I have. Richard and Elizabeth met when he was seventeen and she was twenty two. They fell in love, but Richard’s father the powerful senator Henry Lovinggood broke them up. He didn’t think Elizabeth was good enough for Richard whom the senator plans to make the president one day.
Ten years after their breakup Richard and Elizabeth meet by accident on a California beach and find that their feelings for each other haven’t changed. When they decide to rekindle their relationship, they find that Senator Lovinggood isn’t their only problem. There are others who wish them deadly harm.
BH: Ooh. Sounds good! You’ve published six books, am I right? Are they all romances? Which one is your favorite?
EC: Yes, they’re all romances, and my favorite one is always the one I’m working on at the moment. If I had to pick just one I’d pick Return Engagement, mostly because I love that Richard so much. I also like the book about Elizabeth Lane’s cousin Nikki. That book The Best Selling Toy Of The Season is set at Christmas time and is available at http://www.midnightshowcase.com.
That’s an interesting thing too. My husband couldn’t stand Richard, and I’ve gotten some reviews where the reviewer praised the book and called it a page turner, saying how filled with conflict and clever plot twists it was. The reviewer then went on to say that she didn’t like the characters. I guess I don’t understand that. If she couldn’t put the book down because she had to know what happened next, why didn’t she like my characters?
Romantic Times Magazine liked the book just fine, though. They gave the book a 4.5 which means it’s a keeper, and they said, “This touching story is beautifully written and explores the emotions involved when two people who love each other are influenced by outside forces and their own doubts. Each character is fully developed, and the plot is filled with interesting twists.”
BH: You’re the first romance writer I’ve interviewed. What are some of the joys of writing romance? Are there any aspects of the genre that you don’t like?
EC: The joys are the same as for any other genre I think. Authors get to create worlds of their own choosing, and things always turn out the way you think they should. The negative part is that sometimes the characters are stereotypical and flat. Hmm. That’s probably why that reviewer didn’t like my characters. I made them into real people who have warts and make mistakes. They’re anything but stereotypical.
BH: Which of your characters would you say is the most like you?
EC: I give most of my characters the personality traits I’d like to have myself, so none of them are necessarily like me. The one I’m most like is Betsy McLaughlin my heroine in A New Leaf. A New Leaf was the winner of the 2003 Timeless Love contest which thrilled my heart more than you can imagine. Betsy’s an ordinary girl who makes some life-changing mistakes, but instead of whining about things she does the best she can with the hand she’s been dealt. I’d like to think that describes me too.
BH: What other literary projects do you have in the works? Can you tell us about a work-in-progress?
EC: My work-in-progress is a sci fi/ fantasy novel which is untitled at the moment. I’ve had to lay it aside for the moment because I’d doing edits for a new book that’s coming out in June of 2011. The book is tentatively titled Jilted!, and it’ll be published by Lachesis Publishing.
BH: Tell us a little about your path to publication.
EC: It all started when my son wrote a book. I was so overwhelmed with pride! I’d always wanted to write a book, but I didn’t think I could. I decided to give it a try when he told me that he had always made up stories in his head to amuse himself, and he thought he might as well write them down. Glory be! I had always done that too. I wrote that book in record time, but nobody liked it. My husband didn’t want the hero to be crippled, and my friend said that my heroine who was a good girl wasn’t as interesting as a bad girl would be.
So, I started another book, A New Leaf. At the last minute I submitted the book to a small publisher who sponsored the Timeless Love contest. The prize was publication of your book. To my great and utter surprise, I won the contest, and A New Leaf was published the following year.
BH: Sounds like a dream come true! What does your workspace look like?
EC: Right now I’m sitting in my living room and writing on my laptop because the computer in my study crashed and died. My husband bought me a new computer for Christmas so we’re going to redo the study and put in a glass table that stretches from one end of the room to the other. Then my husband and I will both put our computers on the desk and sit side by side. We’ll cover the wall behind us in bookshelves and leave space for a TV.
BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?
EC: I’m ashamed to say that I don’t have one. I could use the help as much as anyone, but there aren’t enough hours in the day as it is. If I do read one, Stephen King has something out which my son says is very good.
BH: Any words on advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?
EC: Don’t give up. I think the major difference between published and unpublished authors is that the published authors didn’t give up.
BH: Thank you, Elaine, for answering my questions and sharing your thoughts and your books with us!