By Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
I’ve always loved books. I think I learned to read before I learned to walk! Growing up, that was my only escape and my only form of entertainment when playing outside wasn’t an option. I loved how a book could take me anywhere and introduce me to all different types of people. I could pretend to be the characters and could continue the story long after I was done reading the book. I’ve always wanted to write because I want to give that feeling back to my readers. I want to create memorable and relatable characters that stick with my readers after they’ve closed the book or turned off the Kindle. I like being creative and free and throwing ideas down on paper to see what sticks.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I enjoy writing lesbian romance because women are complicated and I find it fascinating to witness, whether real or fictional, two women working through emotional differences and personal boundaries and trying to make their relationship work. I like to build up tension because when you are starting a relationship, there is a lot of gentle pushing and pulling toward and against one another to see how compatible you are sexually, emotionally, even financially. I try to express those feelings so that my readers can experience them alongside the characters, too. Writing, to me, is simply capturing life onto the page.
I write a lot of poetry as well, and if a thought stays with me longer than a second, I want to write about it. Poetry is the best form of expression for me. I love that I can take a single idea and strip it down into words that build it back up again maybe in a different way than I would expect. I love the manipulation of words. Every word in a poem has a meaning. It’s there for a reason. A poem really is the perfect little quick story.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
I’ve always had a solid support group in my family and friends. When my friends from high school found out I was going to be published, they squealed and hugged me and I never felt so accomplished. They are the ones who have known about my passion and my dreams for several years. I’m very close to my family and they, too, have been supportive. My dad has always been proud of everything I’ve written. I’ve given him several books of poetry over the years and can still bring tears to his eyes. My mom supports me, but she doesn’t understand why it’s such a passion for me. English is her second language so it’s hard for her to grasp my ideas. As long as I’m happy, she’s happy. And then she tries to feed me. My sister, my polar opposite, my best friend, was also extremely proud of me and complimented me for sticking with it all these years. I have a strong core of loved ones, and without them and their encouragement, I probably would not have pushed myself to get published.
Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas come straight from my interests. For example, music is a very strong part of my life. One day, Ali Hart showed up in my head—a tall, lithe, sexy musician with a guitar slung on her back. I didn’t know her name then, just what she looked like, her music, and some personal struggles. I knew I had to tell her story. Even famous people are normal people. They have problems and fun times and down-to-earth families like most of us do. Funny thing happened though. Bethany Lange showed up in my head, too, and I liked her struggles and her personality more so I wrote the book from her point of view. I let the book come together on its own. I knew they were going to end up together, but I really didn’t know how that was going to happen. I was just there managing their relationship.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I don’t write with an outline. I sit down with my characters and start writing. I know the end result, and as long as I get there, I’m fine with whatever happens in between. I was horrible at “showing my work” in school so I scoff at outlines now! Whatever works is my mantra.
What makes Jolt special to you?
Jolt is special to me because it’s the first thing I’ve written that somebody else liked enough to want to publish it. The first draft was third person and all over the place. My editors really pushed me on this book and I love the rewrite. The final is definitely better than what I originally presented to Bold Strokes Books. I like it because I like my characters. They would be my friends in real life. They have strengths and weaknesses and flaws and things about them that make me love them both. They are real women with simple and complex problems.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
Both of my main characters have a little bit of me in them. It’s difficult to write about people and not have some of your own traits filter in, especially when you are writing in first person. Bethany has my wallflower side and can shut down when hurt. Ali has compassion and is very close to her family. The rest of my characters have faces and some characteristics of people who are in or have been in my life, but for the most part, they are more of an “idea” and end up being a mix of people I know or want to know.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
When I decided to write a lesbian romance, I didn’t want to read other lesbian authors because I was afraid of subconsciously stealing their styles. Then I convinced myself that it was okay to read one or two books just to get a feel for what women read and what they want. Well, my Kindle is full now. I couldn’t stop reading. I randomly picked Radclyffe and Syd Parker and gobbled up their books. Then I branched out, and now I admire many authors out there, including Lynn Ames, Melissa Good, Georgia Beers, Suzie Carr, Lori L. Lake, R.E. Bradshaw, and so many others. It’s hard to narrow it down because every woman has a different style of writing, and it depends on my mood on who I want to read. After reading a ton of books, I decided it was time to write one of my own.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
My suggestion for new writers is to write about what you know and love. Start there. Get to know your characters and figure out what they like and their flaws and what makes them tick. If your manuscript is chosen for publication, listen to your editors. They are going to frustrate you, push you, high-five you (yes, this can be done through Track Changes), hurt your feelings, throw you a compliment here and there, but they will make you a better writer than you thought possible.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
I love traveling. This is a beautiful world and I want to see as much of it as I can. When I’m not writing, I’m trying to figure out where I can go for an extended weekend. I also enjoy hiking, going to concerts, photography, and spending time with my dog, Molly. I have a simple Midwest life, but I love it.