Monday, 2 November 2009

INTERVIEW: Becca Fitzpatrick

If you ask any author the question about where it all began, you'll find in thier history an affinity with books. Like others, Becca could be found under the covers with a torch and either a Nancy Drew or a Trixie Belden tale. Yet her first real taste of wanting to be an author can firmly be laid at Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas' door due to a certain Romancing the Stone film.

Now with her debut novel out today on the shelves in the UK we wanted to chat with Becca about how she saw things and about how Hush, Hush, will live up to the publicity of something new for the Twilight Generation...

FT: Writing is said to be something that people are afflicted with rather than gifted and that it's something you have to do rather than want. What is your opinion of this statement and how true is it to you?

BF: I don't think of it as an affliction at all. I believe everyone has gifts and talents, and writing is one of them. I don't feel plagued by it, but I do feel a drive to do it – I enjoy it, and Inthink it's normal for people to desire to do the things in life that make them happiest.

FT: When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?

BF: When I was eight years old, I watched Romancing the Stone for the first time. Kathleen Turner's character plays a romance novelist who flies to Colombia to rescue her sister from Bad Guys, and ends up finding romance and danger that surpasses anything she's ever written. As soon as I saw the movie, there was no turning back. I knew I wanted to be an author. Of course, I thought all writers hunted for treasure in Colombia with a sexy mysterious guy who wears crocodile boots!

FT: It is often said that if you can write a short story you can write anything. How true do you think this is and what have you written that either proves or disproves this POV?

BF: Laughing, because I think short stories are hard. How do authors squeeze a satisfying story into a handful of pages? I think I attempted a short story years ago, and after I realized I was on page 50, I gave up and decided short stories and I are not meant to be!

FT: If someone were to enter a bookshop, how would you persuade them to try your novel over someone else's and how would you define it?

BF: Don't tell my publicist this, but I probably wouldn't. I am the world's worst salesperson, especially when it comes to selling myself.

I'd probably suggest a different book. But if I had to define it, I'd say HUSH, HUSH is a sexy roller coaster of suspense.

FT: How would you "sell" your book in 20 words or less?

BF: Good question! (Hopefully those don't count toward my 20.) Okay, here we go: A dangerous love story about a girl who falls for a fallen angel with a dark agenda to become human. (Whew! Twenty exactly.)

FT: Who is a must have on your bookshelf and whose latest release will find you on the bookshops doorstep waiting for it to open?

BF: Diana Gabaldon, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Sandra Brown

FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your idea's develop as you write?

BF: Outline, all the way. I'm impressed by authors who pantser. The thought of heading into a book and having no idea where it will go scares me. I think this makes me a control freak, but I have no shame. Outline or bust, I say!

FT: What do you do to relax and what have you read recently?

BF: When I'm feeling tightly wound, I go for a long run. And while a hot bubble bath and candles may be a cliché, nothing works better when it comes to relaxing.

FT: What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?

BF: Ice cream is, hands down, my guiltiest pleasure, but everyone knows that, so I'm going to have to dig deeper here. Hmm...shoe shopping. I don't spend exorbitant amounts of money on shoes, but I once spent just over a hundred dollars on a pair. I felt guilty...but man do I love them!

FT: Lots of writers tend to have pets. What do you have and what are their key traits (and do they appear in your novel in certain character attributes?)

BF: I just fell off the bandwagon – I don't have any pets! I bought a pair of goldfish a couple years ago, but they were dead by the following morning. At this point, I'd feel irresponsible bringing another animal under my roof.

FT: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?

BF: Whenever I'm having a bad writing day, I skip ahead and write a scene that involves Vee. She's a blast to spend the afternoon with. Her dialogue just comes naturally, so I never find myself agonizing over word choice.

FT: How similar to your principle protagonist are you?

BF: We both have naturally curly hair and we both drove a brown Fiat Spider in high school, but that's where the similarities end. Nora is meticulous and a perfectionist. I'm a slob. Nora eats organic. I eat ice cream and fries. Nora wears driving mocs, and I wear flip-flops or heels.

FT: What hobbies do you have and how do they influence your work?

BF: I run quite a bit, and have always considered it connected to my writing, since I usually plot my books when I'm out hitting the trails. I turn my iPod way up to drown out the background noise, and concentrate on envisioning the scenes I'll be writing later that day.

FT: Where do you get your idea's from?

BF: Anywhere, everywhere. The people in my life, a scene I see on TV, a conversation overheard in a public bathroom. I'm open to ideas from just about anywhere.

FT: Do you ever encounter writers block and if so how do you overcome it?

BF: Some days are hard to write. When nothing seems to be working, I switch gears and update my website, answer overdue emails, crack open a novel, or respond to interviews, like this one :). Writing is just one part of what it means to be a professional author.

FT: Certain authors are renowned for writing at what many would call uncivilised times. When do you write and how do the others in your household feel about it?

BF: I write whenever I can: when my youngest is at preschool or taking a nap. Also, I write a lot at night. I'm sure it can be draining on my husband, since he's now responsible for making sure the kids finish their homework and get ready for bed on time, but he hasn't complained yet. I don't think he ever will, although he probably feels like it at times!

FT: Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?

BF: Most of the plotting/planning for my books takes place to music. I do a lot of strategizing while I'm out running first thing in the morning. When it comes to actually sitting down to write, I need silence. When I write to music, I find that I think my writing is better than it actually is. That's the power of good music.

FT: What misconceptions, if any, did you have about the writing and publishing field when you were first getting started?

BF: That it would be easy! The truth is, it's probably the hardest thing I've done in my life. The thing I've learned, though, is it's the things we work hardest for that are the most rewarding.

FT: If music be the food of love, what do you think writing is and please explain your answer?

BF: The food of imagination! There is no place in the world – or out of the world – that a story can't take us.

FT: What can you tell us about the next novel?

BF: CRESCENDO is the continuation of Patch and Nora's story, and readers can expect to find out what really happened the night Nora's dad was murdered...and how involved Patch was.

FT: What are the last five internet sites that you've visited?

BF: Jcrew (to check out their end of summer sale); Pub Rants (to get the latest industry news); Gmail (I'm always checking my email, but who isn't?); See's Candies (to buy gifts for friends); and Amazon (to check my sales rank. Sad but true.)

FT: Did you ever take any writing classes or specific instructions to learn the craft? If so please let us know which ones.

BF: For my twenty-fourth birthday, my husband registered me for an online writing class. It was in that class that I started writing HUSH, HUSH. At the end of class, I joined up with several other students, and we formed our own writers' group. They were the best friends anyone could ask for during the five years it took me to sell HUSH, HUSH.

FT: How did you get past the initial barriers of criticism and rejection?

BF: I just did. It's one of those things that you have to just get through. I've found that – for me – about ten percent of all rejection is valid. I take that, and leave everything else behind.

FT: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of writing for a living?

BF: The worst part is probably the pressure. Most of it is self-imposed; I don't want to disappoint readers. But at the same time, I know it's impossible to please everyone. It can be grueling trying to find that balance between writing your best, and understanding that negative reviews will come. On the other hand, the best part is knowing I'm doing what I love. Not everyone in the world feels that way about their job, and I feel incredibly fortunate and lucky to be where I am.

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