The SARA Café is an occasional feature that puts the spotlight on a SARA author. This month, it’s Tricia James’s turn to answer a few questions.
by Mary Brand
SC: When did you join SARA and for what reason?
TJ: I originally joined SARA back in the late 1990s…so long ago that, frankly, the exact year is obscured by the fog of time. Suffice it to say, a long time ago.
Long story short, we had been living in the Near East and Europe for over ten years, finally moved back to Georgia, followed closely by a move to San Antonio. Over those years, I had gotten pretty serious about writing so the move back to the States seemed like a good time to get serious about doing something about it. Hence, RWA and SARA. I quit the first time because I started getting promoted in my corporate job. I liked what I did and I liked the money they paid me to do it.
Now I’m retired from all that and it’s time to get back to writing so I rejoined in July 2013.
SC: What sub-genre of romance stories do you write?
TJ: My original love is historical romance…well-researched period pieces. I tend to like them like I like my Mexican food…spiced up and hot. Historical was always a good fit for me because I’m basically a history nut and I love the research. Unfortunately, I can’t always predict where I’ll end up. Couple of months ago I was doing research on some specific events of the English social Season circa 1811 and ended up immersed in an article about the world’s oldest crown. I know, right? Time suck.
I also write contemporary romantic suspense which is great because there’s this whole range of interesting ways to say things (some not so reverent) and I get to kill people. Someone almost always dies. I’m currently working on a series set in New Orleans and Louisiana. My current hero hates humidity almost as much as I do so it’s a good setting for him.
SC: Do you consider yourself a romantic?
TJ: No, not really. Okay, honesty. Not at all. If I have to have a label, best to call me a realist, maybe even one that’s a little bent. I won’t read about helpless women or men who are bullies unless he’s a villain. My heroes are bad boys that are good men. My heroines are strong women who may not know what they want, but they certainly know what they don’t want and they don’t settle.
SC: What are your ultimate goals as a writer?
TJ: I’ll be pursuing the Indie route. I like the control and the independence and I’ve decided (after a lot of reading and study) that I can handle the marketing aspects. Although, the whole concept scared the crap out of me when I first began considering. I asked everybody (literally) everything (literally) that I could think of. I’m sure I annoyed more than one person.
However, I won’t publish until the contemporary series is mostly complete…end of this year or beginning of next. Hopefully, sooner. Unfortunately, I’ve had a series of life events that have interfered over the past six months so I’m really looking forward to a dull, uneventful remainder of 2014.
SC: What is the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?
TJ: Hands down, it’s Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat. Put the whole structure-thing into instant perspective. I’ve read a lot of the screenwriting books and got something from all of them but Save the Cat made everything click into place in an informal, common-sense, non-intellectual way. Might not be for everyone but a great fit for my style of learning and writing.
SC: Do you have a writing routine? What does it involve?
TJ: Simple. Each day…every day…write something. Only requirement is that it must be doable and must move the plot forward in some significant way. And research doesn’t count. I love research but research won’t get a book published.
SC: Do you have any writing superstitions?
TJ: None other than I have to be organized and have to be able to see my stuff—lots of bookshelves, dry erase boards, bulletin boards. Although I have a U-shaped writing area and I’m pretty religious about keeping automation stuff on one side (computers, iPad, phone, printers) and non-automated on the other side (my Fiction Bible, binders, sticky notes, pen/paper for brainstorming.)
SC: What would happen if you didn’t write?
TJ: I’d spend that time with my cameras–crazy about digital photography. Although I’d still probably play with characters and scenes in my head.
SC: Name one thing you absolutely can’t write about.
TJ: Can’t do torture of children or animals. I’m pretty naïve so I’m at a loss with the whole BDSM-thing but I guess I could write it if I wanted or needed to…just don’t want or need to.
SC: Name one of the challenges you had writing or as an author and how you met that challenge.
TJ: Procrastination is my biggest nemesis. I fight it every day. Also, doesn’t help that I can pretty much rationalize my way into accepting any excuse I’ve concocted. And I can get pretty creative about the excuses. It’s a struggle.
SC: Something many of us can relate to. Thanks so much, Tricia. It was a pleasure interviewing you. And best of luck with your writing!
Article by Mary Brand