EQ: Hi Amber, thank you so much for hosting me on 1st Turning Point! I’m really happy to be here.
AS: Erin, you’re a ‘pantser’ by nature. How organically do your intricately woven plotlines, such as Haunting Beauty, occur?
EQ: Hmmm, interesting question. I would have to say 100%. It drives my critique partner absolutely nuts the way I write. She doesn’t write Word-One until she’s plotted her story to nth degree. Me, I just need to know where to start, have some concept of a mid-point and perhaps a shady idea of the end. Through the writing and research I’m doing simultaneously, I end up getting there. It’s often painful, but it is what it is—they way the story comes out of me. I laughed until I choked the first time I read a review of my books and they called it “brilliantly plotted.” Truly, I don’t know what I’m doing until I’m done. I always feel like it’s an accident that I have any plot at all, though after 5 books, I’m starting to believe it must be intentional on subconscious level that guides me without ever letting the working part of my brain know it.
AS: You’re descriptions are wonderfully dense and original. What is your process in creating them?
EQ: Ah, this one I can answer without sounding like an idiot . . . I hope. Because I don’t know where I am until I get there in my stories, I have to ground myself in the scene. As soon as it opens, I need to take stock of where I am, who’s there with me, and then what’s going to happen. With that in mind, I start typing, often making my character do a 360o of their surroundings. While they are doing that, I am doing a checklist of all my senses. What do they see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Touch? If they aren’t using one of those senses physically, I build my metaphor around it. (The breeze whispered against her skin, salted with the sea and heavy with coming rain.)
AS: Being a ‘pantser’, what does your revision process look like? How much of your first draft gets left on the editing room floor?
EQ: Another timely question, because I spent much of my bar time at RWA Nationals asking others about process. With my last book, a lot of it ended on the floor and since I was writing under a deadline, this was a problem. I spew the story out in a few months, using a spreadsheet to track my productivity and goals. I’m very disciplined with that first draft. But when the second draft comes around, I’m all over the place. I can spend weeks on a single scene, writing, rewriting, changing, rewriting. It’s taken me until book #6 to realize this is counterproductive. Often the rewrite is no better than the original—it’s just different. And since the draft was written under such a tight and furious schedule, it is usually cohesive, whereas my rewriting at times veers me into directions I hadn’t expected and then I have to spend a good deal of time figuring out how to get back on track. I am going to work on incorporating rewriting into my original creation process with this book—perhaps spew the scene the first day and rewrite it the second so that by the time I move on, I’ve got a solid chapter behind me instead of just a draft. Only time will tell if this works for me or completely screws me up.
AS: What actors would best play Haunting Beauty’s characters and why?
EQ: Clive Owen is Sean. He was Sean from day one and still is in my heart. There’s something about him that just flips all my switches and I used Clive Owen’s picture to build from when creating Sean. Danni was harder for me to picture, although I do see a younger Jennifer Anniston in her.
AS: What is your most oppressive writing fear and how do you conquer it?
EQ: I think I should be lying down and/or drinking a martini for this one. Honestly, I’m afraid I won’t have enough ideas. I’m not one of those writers who just comes up with a billion ideas and picks one to write. I have to really work to make an idea big enough for a book. I know this is a ridiculous fear, because of course I’m always going to have enough ideas. I just need to stop worrying about it and go with the flow. But this business is so competitive and fear is a natural part of that I suppose. I wonder if athlete’s fear they won’t have the juice to finish the race when they know they always will.
AS: I rely heavily on my iPod while I am writing nowadays. What one tangible thing do you most depend on in your creative process.
EQ: I do all my writing on a laptop or on real paper with a pen. What I depend on isn’t tangible but it’s a big problem for me—alone time. I need quiet. I need time. Between the job, the husband, the kids, and school, I never have enough. I have to squish an entire career into about 15 hours/week (if I’m lucky) which puts me under a lot of pressure. These past few months have been particularly challenging because while I’m trying to write the new book, I’m trying to get word out on Haunting Beauty. Plus I just sent my oldest off to college and am trying to juggle my youngest’s busy social schedule. It’s crazy in my world but I think that’s true for most writers.
Haunting Beauty by Erin Quinn
A Mysterious Stranger . . . .
Sean Ballagh comes to Danni Smith early one morning and changes her life forever. He tells her she is from an ancient family with special gifts . . . gifts that manifest as she follows the compelling man into the mist and lore. In a journey that crosses oceans and time, to an island where the mystical and the occult are as vivid as the emerald fields, Danni arrives at a past that is about to be altered and faces a future filled with the unknown.
A Terrifying Legacy . . . .
Sean recognizes Danni as the woman he is destined for and he will stop at nothing to make her his. But Danni faces an evil of unbelievable power and to protect her, Sean must be willing to sacrifice everything. Caught in a passion that spans time and place, battling both her heart and her body, Danni must choose between everything she’s ever wished for and the love that will make her whole again.
Thanks so much, Erin! For questions or comments or just to say hello, click on “comment” at the bottom of this post. Or find Erin directly at www.erinquinn.info.