By Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
This is still a pretty new thing for me, this whole “Fiction Writer” title. Up until recently I considered myself a medical professional, maybe even an academic, after a few drinks. 😉 I’m still coming to terms with the idea that I write fiction. It’s growing on me though.
Truthfully I’ve been writing all of my life. When I was younger, I was big into poetry and music. I loved the stories hidden in well-crafted choruses and verses. It always amazed me how so much emotion could be expressed by spoken word or through song lyrics. There was a whole part of the beginning of my life that revolved around short stories, iambic pentameter, and band practice. Somewhere between here and there a part of that creative side got shelved for more adult pursuits…something I quickly discovered was a mistake and a temporary hiatus. Once I’d found my voice in my professional life, that little creative gnome came knocking. It didn’t take long for me to dust off the old boxes and revisit some of what I came to realize were the most important parts of my life.
TLDR: Becoming a fiction writer wasn’t exactly a decision; it was something that had occurred in such an organic way throughout my life that it was like merely rediscovering a favorite hat after misplacing it for a little while. The hardest task I encountered on that self-discovery mission wasn’t accepting that I wanted to write fiction; it was finding a way to integrate that passion into my current life. Adulting is so boring sometimes.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I’m a big fan of a good contemporary lesbian romance. I like the idea of finding two characters at different points in their lives and seeing what unfolds when they cross paths. I feel like there are a few things that every person in this world strives for: happiness, trust, understanding, acceptance, peace, empathy, love…The nice thing about a romance novel is that no matter which paths in life you take, a general theme is present: we are all looking for the same things in life and in love. Being able to write those stories, stories that mirror my own life or inspire me to live more fully, that’s the kind of story I want to read. So it’s seemed like a no-brainer to write about two hot chicks that get into all kinds of shenanigans together on the journey to find true love. 😉
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
My wife and friends have been unbelievably supportive through all of this. If you ask them and they tell you otherwise, feel free to report back and expect to name names. 😉
I’ve been fortunate to have many people in my life that have been there since I was very young—so when I told them I was going to write lesbian romance novels, they didn’t even blink. In fact, when I first mentioned it at a summer BBQ a few years ago I was politely informed, “That’s great! Can you pass the ketchup?” That type of anticlimactic existence keeps a person grounded. That’s what I tell myself. So far it’s worked out to my benefit.
Where do you get your ideas?
I’m a big daydreamer. I commute quite a bit for work, so my best storyboarding happens in traffic. Usually a song lyric will start the word hurricane in my head and I have to temporarily suspend my Car Concert in lieu of organizing a thought. That’s a real shame, though, because I do a mean air guitar to Top 40s music. Once I regretfully acknowledge that I don’t have moves like Jagger and switch off the music, the characters come to life and tell me their feelings on Justin Bieber’s newest hit. Lately Adele has really inspired some good angsty character expression. Maybe I will send her a copy of Miss Match as a thank you.
Life happening around me is what inspires my ideas. A lot of time someone who enters my life in a new and bold way can help provoke that creative spark. I am careful to slow down and live in the moment as much as possible because I never know when the inspiration for the perfect story will strike…or when the light turns green and I need to drive again. #thestruggleisreal
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I think a good proposal goes a long way.
Just kidding, they paid me to say that.
The truth is that I usually figure out which character needs to come up for air first and then I go from there. I like to let the characters and storyline dance around my brain for a bit before I put it into any type of organized fashion. And that is some fashion, let me tell you…(re: socks with sandals in July). I typically design the story around a character and then let them tell me what happens next. Bossy little nymphs, they are. Once I have some semblance of an idea, I subject my wife to my insanity and she helps me narrow the scope a bit. This is when the idea truly takes shape and a rough outline is formed. I plan out some major story arcs, but otherwise I let the characters do the heavy lifting; it’s their story after all.
What makes Miss Match special to you?
Miss Match came to me in a dream. A true, legitimate dream. No lie. Seriously.
I was visiting a friend at her family home and woke up disoriented and confused as to why I was sleeping in someone’s converted garage. Once I got my bearings, I realized that I’d been dreaming about this gorgeous matchmaker who was unlucky in love and sassy as all get-out. In my waking haze, visions of a flirty dancer with a haunted past finally pulled me back to reality and I grabbed my phone to make a few notes. I spent the rest of that weekend being inspired by my surroundings and “people watching” couples to feed matchmaker Samantha Monteiro’s eye for detail. It was a fun little social experiment. I swear, no one noticed I was staring, I think…
Miss Match is special to me because it’s my first published novel. I am madly in love with both of my protagonists. I love their humor and playfulness; their passion…gosh, their passion was my favorite part of that ride. It was easy to want to see how their story played out. This book was a perfect representation of how my characters tell me how the story will unfold. I had an idea of how Samantha would be, how she would love, how she would hurt; but Lucinda Moss’ development was entirely a mystery to me. Lucinda’s voice came to me loud and clear once I agreed to pay attention to Samantha’s needy requests to be heard. They truly are a perfect match for each other, and I could not be more pleased with the final outcome.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
I am surrounded by lots of smart and funny people. It’d be a real shame if I didn’t do their caricatures justice. I’m truly inspired by their quirky existence and frequently “borrow” some of their best and worst qualities for my characters. I’m sure you think that they may balk at such indulgences, but don’t worry; they are far too narcissistic to even acknowledge that I may be poking fun at them. 😉
I think every writer adds a little of themselves to their art. I’m probably most like Lucinda in real life, but much shorter, less athletic, and not nearly as suave. Exploring her feelings and her pain was very cathartic for me as a writer—that’s how I know I snuck a little bit of me in there. Samantha, on the other hand, is a combination of all the best parts of my wife and a favorite television character. I’ll let you try to figure that last one out…Ten points to Gryffindor for the correct guess.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
I didn’t stumble upon gay/lesbian fiction until I was out of high school. I spent most of my college years in a book or between the library stacks working on my linguistic skills. When I did discover the world that is gay/lesbian fiction, I soaked up as much as possible. And there was a LOT to absorb. #CleanUpinAisle5
I love the fun and humor of Melissa Brayden’s SoHo Loft Series. I found myself eagerly awaiting each new installment.
Aurora Rey’s Winter Harbor was such a refreshing portrayal of the charms of Provincetown that I was smitten. I’m looking to pick up her newest book, Built to Last, as soon as I can.
The character development and imagery of CF Frizzell’s Stick McLaughlin: The Prohibition Years made me miss Stick as soon as the novel was over. That book was so rich in story that I have to reread it to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
Geri Hill’s Keepers of the Cave was a departure from my normal fiction leanings but really captivated me.
Meghan O’Brien’s Thirteen Hours is an absolute favorite of mine and one that I recommend to people looking for something sweet and steamy. Plus, I have never ridden in an elevator the same way again.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
My wise and majestic editor told me the best way to improve as a writer is to read, a lot. She seems to be pretty good at her job, so I’d go with that. And write. Practice writing just because it’s great fun to see your imagination come to life on the page. If you surround yourself with the writings of people who have perfected the craft, you will pick up on the little things that make them great. And hopefully you can harness that into your own development as a writer. That’s what I tell myself. And I wouldn’t lie to myself; I like me too much for that.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
When I’m not writing, I’m usually working. When I’m not working, I’m thinking about writing and avoiding taking down the trash. It’s a fine balance of responsibility and reckless abandon in the word world. I like hanging out with friends and experiencing Boston’s charms as much as humanly possible. Also, I am way behind on my DVR, so on the infrequent times I get to sit in front of the television, I’m usually gaping in disbelief at what happened on Scandal or Orphan Black last week…