Interview with multi-published author
Dolores J. Wilson
Vickie: What inspired you to write your first book? Was it one specific moment or incident that pointed you toward writing?
Dolores: I'm not sure where the original inspiration came from, but when I decided I wanted to write a book, I thought I needed to go to college to learn how to do that. In a creative writing class I was given the assignment of writing the most gripping first line I could come up with. I did that. The professor challenged us to write a novel from that opening sentence. I did that, too. In 2010, Dark Secrets of the Old Oak Tree was released in hard cover. And it all started from that one assignment.
Vickie: Who has been the biggest influence in your writing career?
Dolores: For authors, Lavryle Spencer, Dorothy Garlock and Rosanne Bittner. But the biggest influence has come from a couple of dear friends who have always been there to guide me when I couldn't figure out what project to do next, by giving advice on what works and what doesn't and to encourage me with their praise.
Vickie: You write in several genres--mystery, romance, paranormal and southern women's fiction. Do you have a favorite genre for writing?
Dolores: Each genre strikes a different cord or brings out different emotions, but one thread that always has to be there for me is humor even in its tiniest form. That is the one emotion that comes naturally, and sometimes, I have to pull back because what my strange sense of humor and I find funny, not all readers will.
Vickie: When you read for pleasure, are you drawn more to romance or do you find yourself reading other genres? If so, which ones?
Dolores: I read a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, I don't get the chance to read as much as I would like. So, when I do, the author better grab me by the throat and drag me into his/her world within three chapters, or I am done and moving on. I do give them three chapters. The one genre I used to gravitate to was Western Historical. They are still out there, but no as plentiful as they used to be. I miss them.
Vickie: As a teenager, I fell in love with The Girl of The Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. I still love that book and have it in both e-book and paperback. Tell us about your favorite book.
Dolores: My all-time-favorite book is Follow the River by James Alexander Thom. It's based on the true story of a pioneer, Mary Ingles, who, in 1755 was taken hostage by a band of Shawnee. It tells the story of the abduction and later her escape to make a 500-600 mile trek to return home. Although they made a movie about her story, it didn't have the same throat-gripping sensations of the book.
Vickie: Tell us a little about what's going on in your writing career right now? What is your work-in-progress?
Dolores: All the rights to my previously published books have been reverted back to me. I'm working with an agent to try to have those books reissued. When that happens, I hope to write new books for the Southern Tree series and the Flight to Freedom series. Someday, I'd also like to write another Bertie book. I miss her and her wacky friends.
In the meantime, Little Big Heart has been republished by Salt Run Publishing. If you're interested in any of my other previously published books, you can order them from my website, just click on the link to purchase an autographed book. Printable Order Form
I've recently started writing sweet southern romance for Bell Bridge Books. The series I'm working on takes place on and/or around a guest ranch in Georgia. I'm very excited about this new-to-me genre. The first book is titled Dixie Cowboy and will be released in October 2013.
Vickie: What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you?
Dolores: I can answer that in four words--Finding Time To Write. I have a fairly big family close by, and my husband is retired. For any woman whose husband is retired, I don't need to say any more about that. :-)
Vickie: What is your writing schedule like? For example, do you write for a specific number of hours or pages? Do you writing anytime of the day or do you have a set time for when you do your best writing?
Dolores: My schedule depends on what demands are made for my writing. If I'm on deadline, I'm at the keyboard every minute of the day and sometimes well in to the night. It's head down, going at it. It is my mission. If I'm in the process of just coming up with an idea, I will start with making a few notes about the characters and their goals and . . . Squirrel!!!
Vickie: Do you ever experience writer's block? If so, how do you cope with it?
Dolores: Luckily, I have never experienced that. Once I sit down and put my mind to it, I can usually come up with something salvageable, but it is the sitting down part othat keeps me from moving to the next scene.
Vickie: Do you have a personal long-term writing goal?
Dolores: New York Times Bestseller List comes to mind, but my true goal is to put out two to three books a year.
Vickie: Do you plot first, or do you write strictly by the seat of your pants? If you're a plotter, do you have any tips or ideas for better plotting for writers?
Dolores: Although I am not a plotter in the strictest sense of the word, I do some thinking ahead. I usually get some idea of what I'd like to write about. I do a small amount of character profiling (name, age, career) then I try writing three full chapters. I decide if I think it will turn into an interesting, compelling story. At that time, I set up what I call my novel notebook using a spiral-bound notebook and sticky notes.
I number the pages in the notebook from one-to-however many chapters you usually do. One page per chapter. I then write one sentence on a sticky note. The sentences are ideas of things that will be happening in the story. I guesstimate what chapter each should happen in. Then I use that notebook as a guide for what to write next. If I get to a chapter and whatever is on the sticky note should have come earlier or come later. I move the sticky note to the appropriate chapter. This works well for me because nothing is written in stone, and I can move events or suggestions for scenes easily.
Vickie: You created colorful characters in your southern humor books about a female tow-truck driver, Bertie Bird. Explain the story behind "A Bertie moment."
|Big Hair & Flying Cows, Barking Goats & the Redneck Mafia, Jail Bertie & the Peanut Ladies|
Dolores: A Bertie moment is when weird or crazy things happen to basically normal people. For example: An unsuspecting person runs over a mattress which fell from a truck into the middle of a major Interstate. While getting dressed for work, a woman lays her bra on her bed, but when she goes to get it, she can't find it. She gets another one from a drawer, finishes dressing, and then heads off to work. There a fellow employee calls her aside to tell her she has a bra hanging from the back of her slacks, and it's flapping like a tail. Anything like that my friends and family call a Bertie moment. Of course, that phrase is usually preceded by "What has Dolores done now?"
Vickie: What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you while you were at a book signing, workshop or conference? What is the funniest?
Dolores: The weirdest thing was at a conference many years ago. I picked up a stalker. There have been several funny things, but I was on the front porch of a historic house where I was doing a book signing. A young man (25-30 years old) came up and started talking about how much he wanted to write a book.
He proceeded to tell me about it. "It'll be a biography. I'll skip the part about how and where I came into the world, because that probably wouldn't be very interesting. What I think most people would want to know about is the spaceship (I think that's what he called it) I built and then went out into the universe to find my parents." I told him I was sorry his parents had passed and he said, "Oh, they aren't dead, they are just out there somewhere in the ?????? galaxy." I have no idea what the name of the galaxy was because by this time I was looking around for back up, and I am pretty sure it was a made-up name.
I told him it was a pleasure talking to him and wished him luck with his book. He didn't get the hint and for another five or so minutes he told me about some kind of silver rays that attacked his spaceship, and he was forced to come back to Earth before his mission was finished. He took one of my bookmarks and said he'd send it to me for me to read when it was finished.
The stalker finally went away, and thankfully, I never heard from him.
Vickie: Describe your writing space, that one corner of the house that is dedicated to your writing?
Dolores: I turned a spare bedroom in my house into my office. It is always the messiest room in the house. I don't have any idea what half this stuff around me is (think Hoarders), but I'm sure as soon as I throw anything away, the IRS or Richard will need a copy of it.
Dolores: There is a state park in Lincolnton, Georgia that is situated on Lake Strom Thurmond. It's Elijah Clark State Park. I love either sitting in our camper or sitting at a picnic table right along the shore. I'm always inspired by the beauty and the peace and quiet of the park. The sunset there is awesome.
Vickie: If you weren't a writer, what do you think you'd be doing?
Dolores: I'm lucky to get to do another one of my passions as well as writing. I love event planning and then following through with the decorating, cooking and enjoying when it all comes together.
Vickie: On a more personal note, name three things you can't live without.
Dolores: I can't imagine my life without my husband, friends and family, especially my grandkids and my Keurig Coffee Maker. They make my life full and happy. They are the biscuits of my life, and getting to write is the sausage gravy with a cup of coffee.
Vickie: What advice or tips do you have to share with other writers?
Dolores: My best advice is to just do it. Write the best story you can and write what makes you happy. Then send it out. Yes, you may be rejected, but you may also learn something from that rejection to make it better. Never give up. Keep writing and keep sending out. No one is going to knock on your door and ask if you happen to have a manuscript under your bed you'd like to get published. It is up to you to get your name and manuscript out there. Make a note. "I will be published by ..........fill in the blank ." Post it where you look at it every day. Believe it. Good luck.
Dolores, thank you for a great interview full of humor and writing info!
In my first attempt at writing a novel, my hero was wimpy, my heroine was almost never in the story, and the actual writing left something to be desired. I had to do something. So began my journey of writing classes, RWA chapter meetings, and conferences. I found an eclectic group who not only shared my passion for writing, but were also not afraid to share the writing knowledge they had acquired along the way. I'm thankful to have found so many interesting people.
Someone is always asking, "How do you come up with that stuff?" For a long time, I'd answer, "It comes from a sick mind." Until one day it dawned on me no one ever argued the point. But I didn't take offense because they always smiled. I like to make people smile, and if I can make them laugh out loud, that's even better.
I hope that my writing brings a smile to your lips, or at least warms your heart.
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