By Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
I was one of the few of my classmates in school who enjoyed writing book reports. I kept a diary, and to this day, I journal. I wrote articles for a self-help magazine, and I wrote the real-life story of my parents’ immigration to the United States—all nonfiction stuff. In the summer of 2009, I found myself living on unemployment and ensconced myself in a friend’s enormous collection of lesbian fiction. To say I was hooked would be an understatement. I discovered a connection, a familiarity, and recognition of myself in the work. From that point on, I’ve been working on acquiring the skills to become an author of lesbian fiction, specifically romance.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I write romance stories with happily-ever-after endings. It’s what I love to read. I’m fascinated by the chemistry between couples. What draws a woman to one particular woman? Why not to the one standing next to her? Or to her best friend? Why the one running the cash register at the grocery store? In my opinion, there is so much pain and suffering in the real world that, when I read, I want to remove myself from all of it. I hope what I write will give readers the same escape, even if only for a few hours.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
My family/friends are supportive of my writing. What do they think about my writing? I guess I’ll find out when they read my first novel. My ninety-one-year-old mother has read the “mom” version and liked it. We’ll see what she thinks of the final version.
Where do you get your ideas?
I’ve often found inspiration from country music. There are so many interesting story lines interwoven in the love songs. I also have found bits and pieces that come out of the news. One day I heard a report about a man offering a million dollars to any man who could sweep his lesbian daughter off her feet. Mostly, I’d say that I gather ideas from snippets of real life. I mingle them in my imagination and try to figure out what sort of conflict might arise.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
When I set out to write Edge of Awareness, I figured I’d outline and plan it all out, because I tend to be organized. I found that didn’t work out so well. I suppose the artistic side of me wanted attention, because I discovered I was able to put scenes down on paper much easier if I wrote them without planning. I gave in to that but tended to write the scenes that were foremost in my mind, so I ended up having to rearrange quite a few of them. But I believe it was Nora Roberts who said, “You can’t fix a blank page.”
What makes Edge of Awareness special to you?
Edge of Awareness is special to me because it’s my first published romance novel. The writing and editing process was a tremendous learning experience. I’ve heard several other authors say that their first will always be special. If you’re referring to the content, I’ll say it was special because it’s based on a blend of several individuals I know, who’ve struggled to reconcile their Christian faith with their sexuality.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
I’ve found that Sam’s Club is a superb place to find inspiration for characters, so all the characters in my book are figments of my imagination. Having said that, I know real men and women who have, and still do, struggle with trying to figure out where they fit into God’s plan as homosexuals. I believe all writing is filtered through the eyes and ideas of the writer. I have life experiences, prejudices, opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints that influence the words I choose and the way I use them. I suppose my characters are a conglomeration of all the people I know, ever have known, and who shop at Sam’s Club.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
I can’t remember the author of the first lesbian romance I read, but I can recall the first one that inspired me. Radclyffe. Radclyffe was the first author I felt I could trust to deliver a happy ending. I grew to trust that one of the main characters that I’d fallen head over heels for wouldn’t die at the end. I knew immediately that I wanted to write those kinds of stories. My partner tells me I have a hard time hurting my characters. She’s right. I’m working on it. I go back and forth with my Radclyffe favorite, but I’ll settle on Love’s Masquerade. Maybe because it’s about romance writers or because I believe Haydon Palmer is one of the most romantic characters she’s written. I just love it.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
New writers need to keep writing. I found it difficult sometimes to keep my butt in my chair. Especially when I wasn’t sure where the next scene was going or coming from. I’ve developed a solution that works for me. I make myself write something, even if I end up deleting it later. Every November there is an Internet event called NaNoWriMo. Google it. I found it to be a wonderful way to get myself in the habit of writing. I turned out fifty thousand words, most of it crap, but some of it was good.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
For fun, I read. I enjoy walking outdoors too. I go to a little park nearby and watch the birds and squirrels as I hike around the path. When I really need a diversion, I watch Law and Order, Special Victims Unit.