Thank you for allowing me to interview you. So tell me all about you your family what you do, what you read, what you like what you don’t like. In other words—Dish.
Viola: Dish? Revenge is a dish best served cold...oh wait. That's not what we're talking about is it? <g> Ummm, let's see. I'm a single Mom. My daughter's a sophomore majoring in biological sciences...at least that's what she told me at the beginning of the school year. A couple of weeks ago she called me to say that she was considering switching to writing with a focus on fashion journalism. Why does she want to be a writer? She says, because she's good at it and no one can tell her she's wrong. Yes, my confidence building has created a monster. But it's all good. *wink*
To pay the bills, I work as a computer drafter for an electrical firm. You know those chicks that they show on television talking about how fulfilling it is to become a drafter and they're looking all glowy and bright-eyed? That's me. Well, not me personally, but you get the drift. I'm the one person the engineers are nice to for fear that I'll break a nail and be unable to get their plans out the door in a timely fashion. Now that's what I do to pay the bills.
But when I'm not drawing up plans that could cripple the western world, I'm a voracious reader of a wide variety of genres. I love two types of stories: Those that make me think and those that make me laugh. If you can do both, I'll search high and low for your books and pay any price for them. A perfect example would be my all-time favorite author, Giovanni Guareschi. Most Americans haven't heard of him, but I love, love, LOVE his work. Thought-provoking, but funny. However, when I'm not reading him...his books are nearly impossible to find since they've been out of print for about 30 years. I'm still looking for a copy of "Duncan and Clotilda" (aka "The School for Husbands") should anyone locate a copy of it, I'll name my second born after you. Oh wait. I think I promised a computer tech in Seattle that honor when he helped me get a project done ahead of schedule....I love to read romance. I love alpha heroes and confident heroines. But a sure-fire way to guarantee that I will hate a book is to read about a heroine that's needy or lacks self-confident. The hero can be a semi-jerk with a few redeeming qualities, but if the heroine doubts herself or her ability to love the hero, I'm done, done, done with the book and quite possibly the author. *taps chin* Nah, odds are I'm done with the author too. After all, they came up with the doormat heroine.
Dyanne: The majority of readers that I know are also writers. Are you?
Viola: <Looks around to make sure no one's listening> Just between you and me...yes. I've been writing off and on since I was in middle school. Back then it was poetry. Now a days I'm trying my hand at romance and the occasional short story.
Dyanne: Have you ever submitted any of your work for publication?
Viola: Sad to say, no. In the past I've been distracted by what I like to call: "Great and Foolish Moments In Personal History" where I found myself too busy or distracted to write what was dancing in my head. Fact is, it was only once I tried my hand at romance that I even considered ever submitting anything I've written. But I do hope to have my current manuscript ready to shine brilliantly on an editor's desk come the early part of 2008.
Dyanne: I know that you’re a reviewer and I might add a gentle one. Are you ready to have your work reviewed by the masses?
Viola: I look forward to it.
Dyanne: Do you think your work as a reviewer has prepared you for this?
Viola: I would hope so. There's a lot to learn from reviewers both gentle and abrasive. I tend to be gentle with my reviews because I want the authors to listen to what I'm telling them. On those rare occasions when I've been less than gentle with my reviews I want the authors to listen to what I've got to say then as well, because they've done more than disappoint me, they've lost a potential repeat buyer. I hope that my work as a reviewer will have made me more acceptable to reviews by others.
Dyanne: If your work is trashed will you allow it to stop you?
Viola: Heck no! The people in my head are too bossy to allow me to stop telling their stories.
Dyanne: Viola I know you already know that not everyone like the same things and what one man finds wonderful the next one finds distasteful. What things in books really set your teeth on edge?
Viola: Well, I've already said heroines lacking self-confidence. But a poorly written story filled with flowery phrase meant to show how brilliant the author is, really takes me over the edge. The purple prose of yesterday is dead and readers plain and simply don't want to waste time reading about each and every detail about the room, the clothing and such. Allow the readers to use their overactive imagination by keeping some things to yourself. Keep the language plain and simple. Let beige be beige and forget you've ever learned the word ecru. Seriously, you don't want to know how many times I've had to pull out a dictionary for a $5 word only to discover that as suspected the author only wanted to show that they were familiar with a thesaurus. And for the love of all that's literary, puh-leez, limit the backstory in romance! If it doesn't effect the story in the here and now, I don't want to read about it!
Dyanne: What words of advice do you have for writers?
Viola: Advice from me? HA! <Viola nearly falls off her chair laughing> ROFL! *sniff* Okay...Okay...I'm good. Don't write the same story over and over and over again. After two or three of your books, your readers will lose interest in running out and snatching the last copy of your book out of the hands of the sweet little old lady at Wal-mart. Don't believe me? Ask me when was the last time I read a book by Ms. Steele? Make sure that you put your all into first story that you write featuring the jailbait heroine who falls for the unobtainable older man with principles.
But believe it or not, that's not the one thing that I believe is the most important word of advice I can give to writers. The one thing that I beg every up and coming writer to do is to sit their manuscript on a shelf when they're done with it for a month or two and work on something else while their critique partner/s review it. Too often I'm "gifted" ebooks (and print books) by new authors that finished their book on Monday, submitted it to an e-publisher on Wednesday and a reader purchases it less than a month later. Meanwhile, no one's checked the plot for plausiblity, done a grammar check to make sure that the author is using the correct words (there, instead of their or they're) in the sentence or made sure the story itself was worth telling. Those are the authors that usually end up getting a horrific review from me and snarl at the mention of my name. <big cheesy grin> I like it when they snarl.
Dyanne: What are your favorite type of books?
Viola: I love a well written story regardless of the genre. But I do have a special love for interracial romances. When it comes to books in general, I love romantic comedies and romantic suspense.
Dyanne: If a writer disappoint you in one book will you give that writer another chance?
Viola: Usually I will, if I've read other books by them that were well written. But if the book as a whole disappointed me from start to finish, it's highly unlikely I'll ever waste my time on anything else by them. There's too many other authors out there willing to dance through hoops to get my attention as a reader.
Dyanne: Viola, considering what you do for a living do you find the amount of graphic sex in books to be offensive? Do you think writers have crossed the line? How do you think they can rein it back in while still keeping their audience? Why do you think women are demanding more and more books with more and more graphic sex?
Viola: Ahh, you must be talking about what I do Saturday and Sunday (I'm a youth pastor). Going back to those poorly written books...yes, there's too much graphic sex in some books. And that's usually simply because the author wasn't writing a story so much as they were exploring their sexual fantasies and what they thought would sell. Is some of it offensive? I wouldn't necessarily say offensive, but in many cases it's beyond vulgar. If I never read the more vulgar versions of penis and vagina again I will be overjoyed.
The best way for an author to reign it back in is to not focus on the sexual act, but to instead focus on the sensuality of the moment. It's all about what the characters are feeling both emotionally and physically. They've got to develop their characters to the point that they are well-rounded, living individuals with wants and needs that must be fulfilled. When they do that, they can focus on the sensual while bypassing the overtly sexual and not lose readers. Sharon Sala is an author that doesn't focus on the sexual. But I will buy everything she ever writes because she makes me FEEL what the characters are feeling.
I don't necessarily think that women are demanding more graphic sex in books. I think they're demanding more realistic sex to some extent. Remember those flowery phrases that should've been buried last century? They're tired of those long descriptive phrases that say nothing, but allude to everything. Once readers became bored with that, they began to gravitate towards those authors that wrote plainly, even if it was vulgar, because they don't have to read with a dictionary in one hand. That's what authors like Kate Douglas and Bridget Midway, who are both brilliant at what they do, give their readers. They speak plainly, but they create characters and storylines that demand your attention even without the sex.
Sheesh! After all that, if I ever write a love scene just for the sake of making readers turn on the air conditioning, I'm signing your name to it! <snort> Just kidding. I can only blame you for so many things before people start to look at me weird and think that you're the sweet innocent victim which we know is so NOT true!
Dyanne: LOL. I know I asked you a lot of question there but they just all came pouring out. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you would like to say? Is there anywhere that your future readers can reach you? Would you like to include a website?
Viola: Well, since I'm equally nosey, it's alright! LOL! Although I think I've said it all, I'm pretty sure that five minutes from now I'm going to be elsewhere when something mindnumbingly brilliant will hit me and I'll kick myself at the lost opportunity. Future readers and...Lord help me... reviewers can find me at my fave online hangout and home: IMRR (Interracial/Multicultural Romance Readers Group) on MSN: http://groups.msn.com/InterracialMulticulturalRomanceReaders/_whatsnew.msnw or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dyanne: Thank you, Viola.
Viola: Thank you for the opportunity Dyanne.