Welcome back to the fun side of Hot Seat. Thank you so much for your warm welcome of debut author, Nan Reinhardt, and for your comments and fabulous questions. You guys make this blogging gig so easy. : )
Thanks a million for being my guest, Nan, and I wish you continued success with Rule Number One, currently available at: www.bookstrand.com/rule-number-one
I’ll now turn this over to you for those well-thought-out answers, acquired not while pulling beer, but probably while sipping a glass of Ménage á Trois:
Ah, Roben, you know me well, don’t you?
Roben: Did you spend a lot of time with each writing session going back over the work and editing and tweaking, or did you find a way to shut down the editor part of your brain and just get the rough draft out?
Nan: Interesting question because this is a struggle for me every time I sit down to write. The editor will not shut up. The best I can do is force myself to finish a whole scene before I go back in and allow the editor to kick in. This is quirky (no big surprise), but I can’t stand to see the little red and green squiggly lines that Word puts under what it thinks are spelling and grammar errors. Checking them out is a compulsion. Is that sick or what? Ironically, no matter how many times Nan, the editor, goes over a chapter, my crit partners can still take it apart even more.
Nancy: Is writing something you have wanted to do all your life, or is it something you decided to try for a certain reason?
Nan: Nancy—hey another Nancy, except I’m Nan to most people now. Yes, writing is something I’ve been doing all my life. I wrote and created stories from the time I could read and hold a pencil. My parents divorced when I six and still very Oedipal, so making up stories helped me cope. I could escape into Nan’s world, which was and still is a lovely place, where bad stuff doesn’t happen, everyone is happy and in love, and unicorns fart rainbows. It’s a grand place! Always has been!
Dee J: How long have you been writing?
Nan: Forever, Dee. (See the previous question.) I actually wrote my first romance novel at the age of 10—in it my older sister, who was very sophisticated and had a driver’s license, fell in love with a member of the pop band, Herman’s Hermits. (If you remember them, you don’t have to admit it), and went on tour with them. It filled up three composition notebooks, but my handwriting was pretty big and scrawly.
Lynne: Are you a bartender? If not, where did you find your steps to pulling the beer? How do you fight off the urge to share too much research in your story?
Nan: Lynn and Judy, what a cool question and not one I expected, although I suppose I should have given the excerpt I chose, huh? And two people asked it, so I’m going to answer part here and part to Judy, okay? Nope, I’m not nor have I ever been a bartender. Heck, I’ve hardly ever even been in a bar. **
In part 2 of your question, Lynn—I did research the steps of the Guinness pull technique on the Internet after we got back from Ireland and watched the video of Son several times. I absolutely could’ve made this a way more complicated scene, but I wanted the attraction to show through and let the whole Irish brogue turn-on thing get started for Jack. As to fighting the urge to over-share, generally, I use my research to write the scene, put in all the details I want in the first round and then just start editing and editing and editing until I get the scene to a manageable size. I’m kind of fighting that in my current WIP because my characters are actually doing research to solve a mystery, and I’m finding so much cool stuff. I want to put it all in, but I can’t or we’d have to publish the story in volumes. 😉
Judy: Have you ever been a bartender?
Nan: Nope. **The Guinness scene came from my own trip to Ireland two years ago. Son, D.I.L., and I went to Paris and Ireland for two weeks—it was a dream trip! In Cork (the natives call it “Cork City” but with the brogue, it sounds more like “Cark City”), we went to an Irish pub for supper and an evening of Celtic music. They offered the opportunity to “pull yer own pint” if you could finish a bread bowl full of Irish stew. Son managed to eat the whole thing, so he got to go behind the bar and pull his own pint. As I watched, I thought, “How cool is this? This should be in a book.” So it is.
Mary: Do you have any writing “rituals” that you follow?
Nan: Hmmmm…interesting question. I have a picture in my head of me turning around three times and chanting or waving a burning rosemary branch around my office. But no, not anything I consider a ritual. I usually write at night, after my household is asleep, so quiet, I guess, is part of what I want. Sometimes I play music that suits the mood of what I’m writing. Not so much a “soundtrack” for the book, but more whatever might fit with the particular scene I’m writing. I always wear my yoga pants and a sweatshirt because I have to be comfy, and I generally have hot tea or coffee beside me. One thing that might be considered a ritual is that when I sit down to write, the first thing I do is reread the preceding scene or chapter—it gets me started and reminds me where I’m headed.
Maria: Do you write a rough draft and then revise? Or do you plot it all out and then write a fairly polished first draft and revise very little?
Nan: As much as the editor in me allows, I am a “pantser” rather than a “plotter.” I write by the seat of my pants instead of plotting out the whole book before I start. So mostly, I do a rough draft and then go back and revise. My final polished work rarely ever much resembles my rough draft. I have an idea in my head where I think the story’s going to go, but I allow the characters to take it along and sometimes they surprise me.
Gina: What was your inspiration to write Rule Number One?
Nan: A need for fun. My first novel, THE MUSIC IS YOU, which is currently with my agent, is a more dramatic book—a reunion between a man and a woman in which the man discovers he has a teenaged son. So when I wrote RULE NUMBER ONE, I was going for fun and flirty, plus I wanted to set a story in my home town. Indianapolis is a great place to live and can be very romantic. I was a history major in college and an antiques dealer after that, so the whole renovating historic buildings appealed. Also, a publishing colleague once lamented the fact that most romantic heroes are cowboys or athletes or lawyers or viscounts. He thought there should be a romantic hero who works in publishing. So I figured I’d try to fit that one in too, along with my own Irish heritage.
Liz: Do you feel as though your books are your niche in writing, or do you have other preferences?
Nan: Liz, I’m not sure. So far this is the only book of mine that truly fits into the niche of “mainstream category romance.” The other two that are completed are more “women’s fiction,” and the WIP is romantic suspense. I loved writing this book, but I have tendency to write character-driven books that don’t lend themselves to category very well. That said, I am having fun writing the more plot-driven RS. Who knows? I don’t want to write to a formula, I simply want to write the stories that are in my head. They might be all over the map, but they’ll probably always have a happily-ever-after. That’s mandatory in Nan’s world.
Carol: During your writing process, did your characters talk to you, giving you a line and moving the story in another direction?
Nan: Constantly, Carol. The characters do truly take on a life of their own. I find when I try to make the story fit into a certain mold I’ve planned, they’ve got other ideas and always seem to find a way to turn things around. It’s okay though, their ideas almost always turn out better than mine. 😉
This was fun. Thank you again, Nan.
Thanks for having me, Roben—it’s been great fun!
Nan Reinhardt is a romance writer and an incurable romantic. She’s also a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and almost a grandmother. She’s been an antiques dealer, a bank teller, a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, and for the last fifteen years, has earned her living as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. But writing is her first and most enduring passion. Rule Number One is her debut novel. Two other novels are currently with her agent, Maureen Walters, of Curtis Brown Literary Agency in New York. Like Jo March, she writes at night, after the work is done and her household is asleep.
Talk to her at www.nanreinhardt.com