by Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision to write fiction. As an introverted child with a good imagination, I was always creating worlds, storylines, and characters in my head. This pastime stayed with me throughout my teenage years, but I was never encouraged to write them down and had no outlet for my ideas. About six years ago, after I had to medically retire from work, I was looking for something to keep my mind active, and just by chance I discovered websites that hosted both fan fiction and original stories. After reading everything I could get my hands on, I thought I could have a go myself. As soon as I started writing, I realized that this was what I should have been doing with the characters and worlds that rattled around in my brain, and even if no one ever read my writing, it was something I had to do because I enjoyed it so much.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I write lesbian romance, with my main characters tending to identify as either butch or femme. One of the things I wanted to do when I started was to create characters that represented people I knew in my own community and my own life. I also wanted to explore some of the difficulties, judgements, and prejudice people who identify that way face on occasion. Secondly, I am an utterly hopeless romantic, who is known to cry at the drop of a hat over a love song or film. So channeling that into my writing is great for my overemotional sappiness.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
They were very happy I found something I enjoyed doing. They haven’t read anything of mine yet, so I’ll find out soon.
Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas come from everywhere: TV, films, news stories, and music. Music is a big influence and is a huge part of my writing process. Usually when I hear songs, my imagination creates characters and storylines around them. I try to always take notes wherever I am and come back to them later and see if my ideas are worth developing.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I used to just write, with a fair idea of a beginning, middle, and end, but I’m learning to become a planner. A Royal Romance was the first story or book that I planned meticulously, and I think the process helped me and the story. It makes such a big difference to know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going with the story. I’m totally converted to planning.
What makes A Royal Romance special to you?
A Royal Romance is not only special because it’s my first published book, but because I always wanted to tell a story that was a modern retelling of a fairy tale. So my knight in shining armor and handsome prince is a handsome butch instead, who falls in love not with a suitable princess, but the village girl who protests outside the palace gates. Fairy tales and happily-ever-afters don’t often happen in real life, but I think they’re still something we all strive for, so I enjoyed getting to write the novel. It also gave me the opportunity to write about history and politics, two subjects I love, but still keep at its heart a sweet romance, with a healthy dose of spice.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
There are bits and pieces of me and the people I know throughout every character I write. It’s only natural that certain parts of your personality come out in your writing. For example, Beatrice Elliot’s socialist and republican views on the monarchy were very much like my own, when I was younger. Just about every argument she has with her family, friends, and Queen Georgina are ones I have had at university with my friends and teachers. I’m not a card-carrying republican anymore, so that distance helped me present George’s views on the British constitution with a degree of impartiality, I hope!
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?
The two lesbian authors who have inspired me the most are Radclyffe and Ali Vali. When I discovered their books I found characters and couples who represented the type of person I am and the way I live my life. When you find yourself represented in print, film, or TV, you understand you are not alone and the way you feel isn’t different or wrong, and that’s really important.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
Write, write, and write some more. You learn so much with every story you write, especially if you are always open to learning from others and take constructive criticism on your work. Lastly, focus on characters and subjects you’re passionate about. If you do, and it’s an enjoyable process, then you’re halfway there.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
My partner Lou and I are huge football fans, or soccer as my American friends insist on calling it, so our weekends tend to revolve around watching games and spending time with our families. We have a standard poodle called Barney, who is our big baby, and time spent with Lou and Barney are what make me happy.