by Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
Writing fiction was never something that I one day woke up and decided to do. Some of my earliest memories are of telling stories to my family. I’d make up plays that my younger sister and I acted out in front of my two other siblings and mother, and I was always creating the premise for our imaginary play, describing everyone’s characters and purpose. I suppose being a storyteller came naturally to me.
As soon as I learned to write, I was putting my stories onto paper and creating my first chapter books, which were only fifteen pages long but felt like an enormous accomplishment at the time. When I was a preteen, I recognized writing as a serious hobby and began to invest a lot of time in my projects, always dreaming about one day becoming a published author.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I’ve only ever written fictional stories in the paranormal and sci-fi genres: vampires, werewolves, dragons, aliens, scientifically modified humans, and so on. From a young child up, I was captivated by such tales and grew passionate about creating my own stories with such intriguing and exciting characters. Anything else was boring. A great story had to have an element of magic in it—an escape from reality, where anything is possible.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
Because of the conservative religious household I grew up in, I kept my writing a very private hobby. My family knew I loved to write, but they were never allowed to read my work. I was paranoid my mother would lecture me about the “demonic” influence behind the topics I chose to write about—and rightly so, because that happened more than once.
So, unfortunately, I had little to no support for my writing, meaning I had no one to tell me to keep going when I felt like quitting. I don’t even know how many unfinished novels I have floating around in my history. Some were over half done. Quite a few are lost to me now after years of relocation and computer upgrades. I wasn’t aware of the purpose of floppy discs, and later flash drives, until it was already too late.
Now that I’m married with a family of my own, I still find it hard to open up about the subject matter of my books. The need for secrecy feels so deeply ingrained in me that I haven’t allowed my own husband to proofread my work. I’m happy to report that my outlook is slowly changing as I’ve learned to accept that what I’m writing about isn’t in any way wrong.
Where do you get your ideas?
I’m inspired by the countless movies and books I immerse myself in—almost all of which are, of course, in the only two genres I care about, sci-fi and paranormal. After I read a book or watch a movie, I imagine how I would have written it differently, and I apply certain elements of that story to my own writing.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I’ve always had a bad habit of forming the gist of an idea, getting excited about it, and then sitting down and writing whatever comes to me. However, this style usually results in work that’s riddled with repetitive phrases, continuity errors, and overall poor flow. I then have to invest twice as many hours in the editing phase.
I’ve learned my lesson over the years, and I’ve become better about sitting down after I get excited about an idea and writing a simple outline that covers the opening, middle, and end of the plot. The in-between writing is still better left to “just writing,” as I tend to change my mind about what feels right when I get to that point in the story.
What makes Bonded special to you?
Bonded is my first gay novel, and it started as an idea when I was eighteen years old. I knew from the time I was in elementary school that I was bisexual, but it was a secret I kept so deeply buried that I’d never dream about exploring LGBTQ media. I was so sheltered from homosexuality that I didn’t even know any existed! I remember being flabbergasted when I heard about Brokeback Mountain. So, Bonded remained only an idea for years. I would write a few paragraphs here and there for my own entertainment, but I never assumed I could do anything with it.
It wasn’t until I discovered online writing communities like Wattpad that I decided to put my idea out there and see how it was accepted. That was when I realized my idea wasn’t unique—thousands of gay romances existed out there! Quite a number of them had similar plots to my own, and seeing that I wasn’t alone inspired me to finish my novel. So, Bonded is a first for me in a lot of ways, and that’s what makes it special to me.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
There is always a good bit of myself in my characters; I use my writing to explore different facets of my personality. Of course, I don’t use myself alone. I’m inspired by my relationships and encounters with all sorts of people to build my characters—from an eccentric family member to the wise homeless man on the bus.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
I’ve said this already, but I had zero exposure to gay and lesbian literature before the last year and a half—at least, I wasn’t aware of it as a genre in and of itself. So, unfortunately, I don’t have any favorite gay/lesbian authors. As a young adult, I was inspired by Holly Black’s gay couple in her novel Ironside. I recall feeling elated that gay feelings were so openly explored, and I wanted to accomplish something similar.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
If you don’t have a lot of support at home by either family or friends, I highly recommend joining online communities for writers. Share your work, help others to succeed, and FINISH what you started. Even if you get bored with the idea of something, you’ll be glad when it’s done. You can always go back through to edit the parts you don’t like.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
I’m a stay-at-home mother of two rambunctious preschool boys and am currently seven months pregnant with a little girl. I hardly have a moment alone for writing, let alone anything else!
In the wintertime, my idea of fun is getting everybody out of the house, even if it’s to the grocery store. And when we come back in the evening and the kids are in bed, I enjoy letting my mind wander in front of the TV or while browsing the ’net.
Summer is a lot more enjoyable for me. I love taking the kids to the park or the pool, going on long walks, and attending summer events downtown.
Really, I suppose anything where my whole family is together and I’m not cooking or cleaning in the process is a fun time!