by Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
I love to read fiction. I love getting caught up in the stories, the characters, the places. As strange as it sounds, I love that feeling of being genuinely sad once a story ends. I really wanted to write something I would want to read, that I too could get caught up in. I wanted to decide what to do with characters and how their interactions would unfold. I really like the idea of being able to drop readers into the lives of a group of characters when their futures have yet to be determined. I am a huge history buff, and to me, writing fiction gives you the opportunity to create your own kind of history and future.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
Infiltration is an action story, based on the military and CIA. I am currently working on a different book, Lands End, which is a feel-good romance. I love writing action. It actually comes much easier to me then the classically romantic stories. I enjoy writing story lines that make you a bit anxious and a bit excited to see what will happen next. Action books allow you to bring out the very best and sometimes worst qualities in people. Bravery, heroism, and sacrifice are all entities that live within each of us, and action stories afford me the opportunity to consider those attributes on a grander scale. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a good romance novel just as much as the next person, and I’m truly enjoying exploring the different elements in creating that as well. It has allowed me to highlight a whole different list of human emotions and the internal process that people experience when trying to overcome a different set of obstacles. Bravery, heroism, and sacrifice are still crucial elements, and it’s fun to show how they actually play a role in our everyday lives and are essential in forming lasting relationships.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
My friends and family are beyond supportive. I am so fortunate to have each of them in my life. They are always offering feedback, posing questions, and giving me ideas. My mom helps me a lot. She has probably read Infiltration nine times. My girlfriend is very invested in the book I am currently writing and always has ideas and other perspectives to consider, which has been incredibly helpful. Then my three best friends are the final sounding board. Sometimes you read something so many times you stop noticing things that fresh eyes catch. Writing is truly a process, and I have a fantastic support system that pushes me at the most important moments.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. Infiltration actually started as a dream that I had, and I decided it needed to be written down. The story and characters grew from there. The idea for Lands End actually came from the city where it takes place, San Francisco. There is a location you can visit out on the tip of the peninsula, named Lands End. The view is incredible. It is serene, full of possibility, almost magical. I had imagined all the different people that had been there for a variety of reasons—their stories, their endings, and beginnings. I wanted to write one of my own. Luckily for me there is an iconic restaurant not far from there, and there the beginning of the story started to unfold in my mind.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I try to plan as much as possible. I have a very large white board that hangs in my office where I write down ideas, timelines, and character features. I try to get a good grasp of where I want them to go, important scenes I want to highlight, and then I fill in the blanks from there. I don’t always write in a linear format. Sometimes I will write a chapter or a scene that I really want to take place and work backward. When I first started writing Infiltration, the story in my mind actually started at around chapter two. As you go through the process of creating, many things will change. Characters need to be altered and plot arcs will be tweaked. As you get a better sense of who the characters are and how they would react in certain situations, sometimes what you had originally planned will no longer work. You have to be willing to let certain ideas go and let different elements develop.
What makes Infiltration special to you?
Besides the fact that it is my first book, I am genuinely attached to the characters. Don’t haul me off to a psychiatric ward, but when I was writing this novel, I could actually talk to the characters in my mind. As I was filling in the blanks of their histories and where they came from, they became more real. It becomes easier to say things like, “Tyler would never do that” or “Brooke would react this way.” Being able to do this really helps in developing the story and being able to work on a sequel.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
There is a little bit of everyone I know in all of the characters. Some of my favorite things about people and my least favorite things are in each of them. I don’t have a single character that is truly based on anyone. Some of them, however, have more similarities than others. You briefly meet Caden Styles toward the end of Infiltration. She will play a large role in the sequel, and her sense of humor resembles my younger sister’s very closely. Also, in Lands End, there is a friendship between Lena and her best friend Chloe, which at moments mimics the relationship between my best friend and me. You write more genuinely when you write what you know, so there are bound to be similarities in characters that are pulled from the people that you encounter and are close to you.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
The lesbian authors who have inspired me are part of a long list. Radclyffe and the Honor series was my initial introduction to lesbian fiction. I also love her work as L.L. Raand and the Midnight Hunters series. Ali Vali and the Cain Casey Devil series are definitely next on the list. I’ve read everything both these authors have written. I am also a huge fan of Carsen Taite and Nell Stark, and I think we can all agree that Melissa Brayden is hilarious. Outside of lesbian fiction, Anne Rice is my favorite author, but I am an absolute sucker for the Twilight series.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
When the weather is nice, I love to golf. I am not, however, one of those hard-core golfers who will be out there when it is fifty degrees and raining. Luckily, since I live in California, fifty degrees is pretty much the dead of winter. I like spending time with my friends. We enjoy going to the movies, hanging out and drinking wine, or going to a musical in San Francisco. I also love to travel and explore new places. I have been fortunate that this is something I am able to do pretty frequently. My girlfriend lives in Pennsylvania, so we get to do a lot of things on the east coast that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do, being out here. The majority of my family lives in Colorado, so my mom and stepdad are always willing to show me new things there as well. I love football, more specifically, 49ers football. I watch them religiously, regardless of what else is going on in my life (yes, even when they are having a season like they are this year). There is nothing quite like being at a live football game.