by Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
Originally…boredom, I was working an overnight shift at a residential facility for foster teens, and other than patrolling the grounds a couple times a night, I didn’t have much to do besides watch television. Eventually that got tiresome (people who know me well may be shocked by that, but it’s true).
I’ve read romance novels for as long as I can remember, but I’d never seen anything beyond hetero romances. So, I decided to try writing a story about two women who fall in love. I never finished that story, since not long after that I got a day job. Maybe eventually that story will be written. Many years later, I started getting other ideas and was compelled to write them down, and I was amazed by what they became. Now writing is a passion. I love it.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I write sweet contemporary lesbian romance stories. I am sappy and sentimental, and I love happily ever after(s). Now I get to write them.
One day, I would like to write mysteries as well, but those ideas are just beginning to form so it will be a while yet.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
They’re thrilled for me. Although I’ve had to repeatedly warn my mom that the book contains steamy scenes, she’s excited to read it. I recently sent her a copy, so fingers crossed. A few of my friends are a bit amazed that I write novel-length stories. Before two years ago, not many people knew that I write at all.
My wyf is extremely proud, all while being completely flummoxed that I write romance. It’s not a genre that’s she’s very interested in, but she reads everything I write. She is a huge source of encouragement, support, and challenge, in the most positive way. Her feedback always makes my writing and the story stronger.
Where do you get your ideas?
Anywhere and everywhere…A Reunion to Remember started with a dream I had one night. That particular scene didn’t make the final version, but it propelled me to write the rest of the story. The idea for one of my current works in progress came while I was lying on the grounds of Tanglewood listening to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Their guest soloist that night was a very talented violinist, and I started to wonder…What if?
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
The majority of the time I just write. Until about a year ago I was a complete pantster, writing by the seat of my pants without much planning. That’s still the way I tend to go, much to my wyf’s chagrin. But I have been trying to plan a little more, at least with the major plot points. I have to say, though, that some of my best writing/scenes have happened because I thought…the story needs something more here. Then I’m off. Sometimes I will write a scene a couple different ways or from each character’s point of view to see which one works better.
What makes A Reunion to Remember special to you?
Well, of course the first answer to this is that it’s my first published novel. That will always make it special. Every part of the process was a first for me, and I loved it. But I also love the characters. I imagine most writers out there, at least the ones that don’t kill off a lot of their characters, have to love them. You spend so much time with them, not only during the writing but also the editing and proofing. If you don’t love your characters, why would you think anybody else will?
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
To come up with an actual quantity would be next to impossible, but there are certainly pieces of me, my life, and my world in all my stories. At the same time, all the characters and stories I write have their own personalities. Pick any character out my books and I can tell you what they look like in my head and some of their quirks and mannerisms. They are as real to me as people I see every day, because I do see them nearly every day, in my head. They are a part of me just as a part of me becomes pieces of them.
When my wyf was reading A Reunion to Remember we had the following text exchange:
Her: “It’s amazing how many bits and pieces of our lives are in this story. Little snippets, phrases, etc.”
Me: “Is that good or bad? Hopefully good. I love our life and it’s a big inspiration.”
Her: “It’s good. It is little things, like when Jo says to Rhonda, ‘I very much enjoy kissing you.’ You say that to me.”
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?
Karin Kallmaker – Some of the first romances I read, where the characters were like me, were Karin’s. They made me realize I wasn’t the only one who wanted to read and write these stories. I still have Watermark, One Degree of Separation, and Unforgettable on my bookshelves.
Radclyffe – I discovered Radclyffe’s writing by chance. I was at a meeting at the LGBT Center in San Diego being held in the same room as the lending library. I was a few minutes early, so I perused the shelves and came across Above All, Honor. I checked it out and have been a fan ever since. Some of my favorites are Safe Harbor, Fated Love, and A Matter of Trust.
Melissa Brayden – I found Melissa’s writings only a couple years ago, but I love her writing style. Two of my faves are Heart Block and Just Three Words.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
Projects around the house are generally at the top of that list. We recently renovated our kitchen and did most of the work ourselves. I enjoy and am usually in charge of the demo phase because, as long as I know where to stop, there’s not too much I can mess up. My wyf was a plumber before she was a professor. She’s very handy and knows a lot about construction, so mostly I just follow her lead on the building part.
Spending time with my wyf is my favorite thing in the world. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, whether we’re sitting in the backyard watching the dogs and birds, traveling to see our children, going to concerts at Tanglewood, or anything else. If I’m with Elle, I’m enjoying life.