Interview with Sable Grace author of The Dark Breed Novels.
|Sable Grace is the writing team of Heather Waters (left) and Laura Barone (right).|
1. Tell us a little about yourselves.
Heather: I’m a mother to two amazing teens (oxymoron?) and wife to the best human being I’ve ever known. Aside from that, I’ve been writing for a decade with 5 books published and one more due for release and one other under contract with Avon books. After that, who knows? Hopefully, a new Sable Grace series or continuation of the Dark Breed world . . . along with a few Heather Waters projects on the opposite spectrum of the romance genre!
Laura: I’m a writer, wife, and mom. I’ve been married for twenty-six years to my hero and best friend, have three daughters, and soon will have six tots—all under the age of six—to keep me busy. My life is hectic, and there are those days I wish for someone’s more sedate life, but I’d get bored without the chaos, hugs, and sloppy kisses to interrupt my writing time.
2. What inspired you to start writing?
Heather: Reading. I’ve been writing since elementary school but didn’t write my first novel till after my son was born in 1998.
Laura: I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. It started with devouring whatever book I could get my hands on and when I ran out of those, I’d make up my own stories to help fill the time.
3. We know you are a writing team, but do you both write separately, under your own names, as well? If so, what genre do each of you write on your own?
Heather: Oy, that’s a loaded question. I write everything. Published under medieval romance with my own name for Berkley, but my current works include everything from suspense to women’s fiction. What can I say? I’m a genre slut! They say write what you love to read and since I love to read everything, I’ve developed a sickness.
Laura: I hope to publish under my own name, as well. I write hot and steamy romances about best friends—and perfect strangers—who come together to finally find love.
4. Tell us how your writing team works in order to complete a manuscript by the deadline?
Heather: Usually, I come up with a schedule that will have us finished with the first semi-clean draft about a month before the deadline. I write mornings and send to Laura around noon, and she sends back to me before bed with her pages added.
Laura: We have an outline and a schedule so we know exactly what needs to be done and when. Usually one of us takes the morning and the other the evening to get our pages done. When time allows, we alternate writing days so we have time to work on individual projects at the same time as we’re working on a Sable Grace project.
5. What or who has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?
Heather: Julie Garwood – for being the first to snatch me into the romance genre. JK Rowling for holding my interest in books after I graduated high school and settled into the busy life of wife and mom. And a few other special people who held my hand through the whole process, namely the owner of this blog, Vickie King. She (YOU) were the first person to reach out to me and tell me I might be talented enough to go somewhere with this dream!
Vickie: Ah, thanks, Heather. I’m touched to hear that.
Laura: All the greats who entertained me while growing up. Those who managed to make a bad day not so bad and a great day even better. I still remember the feeling of finishing a great book where the characters live with you years after you turn the last page. That’s what I want to do.
6. Where do you get your ideas?
Heather: Thankfully, this has always been my strong point. I don’t get them. They’re just there. I love to plot, to “what if” myself to sleep at night. This is why I have far more projects on my plate than I can ever hope to complete.
Laura: Everywhere and anywhere. Music is a big one for me. I hear a song and a verse just sticks with me and refuses to go away, until I’ve built an entire story around it.
7. What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you?
Heather: I didn’t know until working with our editor, Erika Tsang, that my weakness seems to be pacing. I knew it always confused me, as long as I was interested, for me it was okay. But working with Erika has really kicked my ass in this department. The Sable Grace books are gogogogogogo and then when you’re out of breath, go some more. I’m not used to that.
Laura: Motivation is still a big one, though most times I find it now without anyone having to beat it into my head, but logic issues are a major challenge. I have a great idea, but logically it doesn’t work—and Heather wants to beat her head against a firm surface, or perhaps mine, as we try to make that idea flow within the story. Most of the time, we figure something out. Sometimes, well, the great idea gets deleted or moved to another file to be used at a later date.
8. How long does it take you to write a book?
Heather: If I know where I’m going with a project, I can write a book in 2 months. If I’m feeling my way through, it’s more like 4 or 5. The Sable books were almost all written in 2-3 months (not counting revision time), but my own projects seem to go a little slower. Probably because I refuse to write a synopsis until I’m ready to submit.
Laura: That really depends on the story and the deadline. Heather usually divides the months from the beginning of the project to the deadline and gives us time to write fresh, revise, and handle any other projects that come through at the same time. I think the average is about five months from start of project to sending it out.
9. What is your schedule like? For example, do you write any time of the day or do you find a specific time of day works best for you? Do you write a certain number of hours or pages?
Heather: For me, I work whenever I want to. Night, day, morning. I have this luxury because my kids are in school full time and when they are home, they’re self-sufficient. I can stop when they need me and pick right back up. But when writing as Sable, I try to get my part done around the time Laura’s kiddos are going down for a nap so she has that time to get started after their bedtimes to finish.
Laura: We have a schedule and a certain number of pages that have to be written each day. When we write those pages is totally up to us. I tend to procrastinate and spend way too much time on little people, so I’m writing my pages at night after everyone has gone to bed. This isn’t always optimal, but I’ve learned to write well when my brain went to bed way before my body.
10. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
Heather: Not writer’s block, no. What happens to me is I hit a plotting or logic block. This can keep me away from my computer for a couple days while I try to figure it out. Starting a new book is a whole other block. I can’t get into a real groove until I know my story and have some idea of where I’m headed.
Laura: I experience lazy-itis. There are times when the stress I call my life tends to take over, and I get into a rut, where I feel like I’m in over my head and don’t know how to pull myself out of the hole I’ve fallen into. Typically, a weekend away with some chit-chat and more than a few adult beverages clears the fog and lets me get my focus back. If I can’t get away, then really long phone calls will work in a pinch.
11. Are you a plotter or a pantster? If you’re a plotter, do you have any plotting tips to share with other writers?
Heather: I’m a pantster by nature but had to become a plotter working with another writer. We BOTH have to be on the same train so to speak. And no, I have no tips. All I do is “what if” myself into circles until I find something that clicks and no more logic issues get in my way. If I can get a synopsis done, I do like to break it into scenes and use something like One Note or Scivener to separate/label each scene, so I can write out of order sometimes. But usually after I get whatever scene’s bugging me out of my head, I go back to chronological writing order.
Laura: I’m not so much a plotter—which is one of the areas I’m really trying to work on. I like to use the “W” plot or a version of the Three Act outline. I typically know the characters and what their strengths and problems are and the situation they will have to overcome, so I jot down any scenes I can think of to move the story from the first meeting to the black moment. There are huge holes that need to be filled in, but I have enough to make a story and all the gaps are bridged as I write the story.
12. What is your personal writing goal?
Heather: If I could just be self-sufficient enough to do this as a full-time career and be able to support my family doing what I love, should I ever need to, then my dreams will have come true.
Laura: To place some Laura books on my shelf next to my Sable Grace books. I’d like to be able to supplement our income enough so that my husband can quit the job he hates and do something that he loves as much as I do. He’s always supported me and my dreams and to be able to give a little of that back to him would really make my dreams complete.
13. If you could choose anywhere in the world to write, where would it be and why?
Heather: I love the idea of sitting in my bed in the dark and typing away, but I think that would keep my hubby awake, so I’ve never tried. I guess fantasy-wise, I’d love to be outside on a deck in the mountains overlooking a lake or right on the beach where I can hear the waves yet keep my keys free of sand.
Laura: I’d love to have a little cabin in the mountains, a huge porch for daydreaming, and an enormous view and the sounds to of nature to keep me company as I write.
14. What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you at a book signing, conference, workshop, or as a writer in general. What is the funniest?
Heather: The strangest would have to be sitting at my very first signing at RWA conference and experiencing them opening the doors and the cattle stampede that cleaned me out of books in less than 15 minutes! I don’t really have any funny moments, but I will say that in Bedeviled, we had a pair of boots that we edited out of the story and . . . forgot to keep editing. Our editor found that, thankfully, and asked us how those boots kept reappearing over and over.
15. What are you most proud of accomplishing in your life?
Heather: Cliché, I know, but my kids and my marriage make me the proudest. Everyone thinks they have the best family, but I really do. LOL.
Laura: Stepping outside the box I’d placed myself in and being free to try new things, both in my own writing and in our partnership. I think the joy over finishing a manuscript in a new genre that I’d never attempted before is as high on the scale as selling Ascension.
16. Describe your writing space, the one corner of the house or office that’s all yours?
Heather: Check out the photo of Heather's writing space.
Laura: Wow, I’m not sure I have found that space, yet. I spent a lot of years writing in the dining room. Now, I have an office, but I share it with a toddler. I tend to spend a lot of time working on the laptop in the living room or on the back patio so I can keep an eye on the little people.
17. What writing tips or advice would you like to give other writers?
Heather: It only takes one yes. Don’t quit till you find it.
Laura: Never, ever give up on your dreams and don’t ever buy into the bull others feed you about not being good enough or talented enough to achieve your goals. These are your dreams and only you can chase them through the stars.
Thanks Heather and Laura aka Sable Grace. To access their website, please click on the following link. Sable Grace