Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Spotlight Author with Debra Salonen

Hello friends, thank you for stopping by Micole Writes Romance for another amazing interview. This weeks Spotlight Author is, Debra Salonen, the Queen of, Harlequin Superromance!!! All hale to the queen (wink).

MICOLE* Tell us a little about your new release, UNTIL HE MET RACHEL that will be coming out in mid-May.

DEBRA* I call UNTIL HE MET RACHEL my “Beauty and the Beast” book. I’ve always loved that fairy tale and I love focusing on the redemptive qualities of love. When we’re introduced to my hero, Rufus Miller, in the first “Spotlight on Sentinel Pass” book, BABY BY CONTRACT, we’re left with the impression that he’s a hulking, hirsute, questionably intelligent hermit. There’s even talk that he might be Big Foot’s less attractive second-cousin. What kind of person purposely evokes that kind of image? The kind who is hiding out from a lot of pain. And he’s content to remain frozen in time...until he meets Rachel, who has the power to make him want to hope again.

MICOLE* I see from your site that you have numerous titles out. How many books have you published over the years?

DEBRA* I sold my first book in 1999 and it came out in May, 2000.

Since then, I’ve had 25 books released, including one online story for eHarlequin, a single-title for the short-lived Harlequin Signature line and three Harlequin Americans. The rest have all been Superromance titles, including my current “Spotlight on Sentinel Pass” series.

MICOLE* What do we have to look forward to from Debra Salonen in 2010?

DEBRA* In May, UNTIL HE MET RACHEL will be on shelves, and later in the year--probably November or December--my seventh “Spotlight on Sentinel Pass” book will come out. Its working title is: A MAN LIKE WILLIAM. But that could change. It’s going through the titling process as we speak. The final two titles in this connected series will be released in 2011. They will come out in consecutive months because the heroines are twins, and my editor and I thought it would be a good way to end the series.

MICOLE* Can’t wait for November or December Deb!

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

DEBRA* I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, even as a child. One of my first stories involved crayons on the underside of my mother’s coffee table. She was not amused as I recall, but she did say I’d probably grow up to be a writer some day.

Before I ever dared to “call” myself a writer, though, I scribbled in a secret diary, wrote a journal before journaling was considered cool and kept copious notes for future projects in a spiral notebook that I still have somewhere. I also wrote long, pithy letters to my family. They called me the Erma Bombeck of the family.

In high school, a teacher told me that while I had good language skills, I wouldn’t be able to make money with that talent unless I went into journalism. I avoided that job for as long as possible, but eventually I did become a feature writer at a newspaper. I left that job to write full-time...fiction.

MICOLE* Journals are a very important part of most writer’s lives. I too went through many journals as I was growing up.

So you started writing when you were…a um-toddler I guess. (grin) Once you were older, what steps did you take to make your dreams come true?

DEBRA* Like every aspiring writer, I started by writing a book that will never see the light of day. It was filled with clich├ęs because that’s what felt comfortable to me at the time. Once that was out of the way, I got serious about learning my craft and the marketplace. I bought a dozen or so current releases and read every one of them to see if my style would in any way jibe with what the imprint was offering at that moment in time. (I knew that the market was not necessarily a fair sample of what editors were buying currently, but this did show what the company felt comfortable putting out.) When I found a line that seemed close to my voice and the type of contemporary, human-interest story I was interested in writing, I read, read, read until I could “hear” the cadence of the line. THEN, I wrote a book that felt to me as though it would fit the line.

MICOLE* About how long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?

DEBRA* This is probably the most frequently asked question I get. (The second most common is: where do you get your ideas?) I allot myself three-to-four months to write a book, but not all of that time is writing. I do research. I have revisions, edits; print out corrections, art pages, and PR to do for earlier books during this time, too. I’ve written faster and I’ve written slower. Sometimes, it depends on the story.

MICOLE* Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

DEBRA* Write what you love to read.

MICOLE* What advice do you have for any aspiring author (like…um… me) who’s just received their first rejection letter?

DEBRA* Learn this, ingest this, believe this: “No” means this story doesn’t work for us at this time. That’s all it means.

No editor worth his or her salt would ever tell you that you can’t write, you suck, you’re barking up the wrong tree. That’s Simon Cowell’s job. :-)

MICOLE* How long have you been with Harlequin? And have you received any special awards along the way?

DEBRA* I got the call from my first editor, the lovely and amazing (now retired) Zilla Soriano, in late June, 1999. I’ve been pretty steadily under contract since then.

Awards: Many of my books have been nominated for Best Superromance of the Year, but none have won. The books all tell me they’re okay with that’s an honor just to be nominated.

Personally, I was thrilled to be named Series Storyteller of the Year by Romantic Times Magazine in 2006. It’s actually much nicer to win.

MICOLE* That is awesome Debra!!! Congratulations!!!!

Have you ever become so connected with one of your characters that you’ve had a hard time letting their story go? Who was it and explain why.

DEBRA* Heck, yes. Happens all the time. I’ve had an ongoing love affair with Cooper Lindstrom, hero of BABY BY CONTRACT, throughout this entire series. He’s such a sweet, vulnerable guy who created a leading-man persona simply to stay alive in the shark tank of Hollywood. He’s not the brightest bulb in the pack, but he has a huge heart, and every time he shows up in a new book in the series, I smile and pause to give him a mental hug.

And Rachel, the heroine of UNTIL HE MET RACHEL, left a very big impression on me--and my editor--when she showed up briefly in her brother’s book (DADDY BY SURPRISE). I knew I wanted to know more about her, and I wasn’t disappointed.

MICOLE* Where do you see yourself in five years?

DEBRA* I can’t even see five days in advance and I’ve misplaced my Magic 8-Ball. But I’m sure I’ll still be writing books.

MICOLE* (Grin)

Do you ever read your own books after they’ve been published?

DEBRA* It’s hit and miss, depending on where I am in the writing/editing process. And it’s difficult to turn off the editor in my brain long enough to appreciate them. No book is ever perfect, but if the characters and story holds my interest, I consider that a job well done.

MICOLE* What is your favorite thing about being an author?

DEBRA* Escaping into a world that I have genuine control over. I recently took care of my sister after she was diagnosed with cancer, and I learned very quickly that nothing about that process was determined by me.

In DebraSalonenTheAuthorland, happy endings are a given, even if there are a few rocky, “that’s life” moments along the way. I need that.

MICOLE* I know where you’re coming from Debra, I took care of my mother for years before she passed. It’s much better when you can create your own Happily Ever After!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are and what you do when your not busy writing, “Happily Ever After” stories.

DEBRA* I’m married to my high-school sweetheart. Our two children have children of their own now. Luckily, they live near by and I’m able to see my three, adorable granddaughters all the time. When I’m actively working on a project, I try to write every day to maintain continuity. In between those times, I try to focus on the business of writing, which includes blogging, participating in guest blogs and belonging to online communities. I also walk every day, read, do one “difficult” Sudoko puzzle a day, and watch “Bones” and “House”, weekly.

Now for the fun stuff… here’s a few questions, five to be exact that is just for the heck of it!  Enjoy!

Fast Five

MB* What’s loaded in your i-Pod right now?

DS* Alexander Rybek: “I Believe In a Fairy Tale”

MB* Cats or dogs?

DS* dog, singular, her name is Sydney

MB* Vanilla or Chocolate?

DS* ice cream? vanilla with hot fudge and nuts; candy: dark chocolate

MB*The beach or The mountains?

DS* beach (I live in the mountains)

MB* Pepsi or Coke?

DS* NEITHER - I hold both responsible for childhood obesity

Thank you Debra for letting me pick your brain. I really enjoyed having you here at Micole Writes Romance. This has been a great interview. If you would like to learn more information about Debra or her amazing books you can find her on the web at Thanks to all of you have stopped by my blog. Feel free to leave a comment or question for either Debra or I. We would be happy to chat with you.


Micole Black


Sarah Simas said...

Hi Debra and Micole!

Loved the interview. It was great getting to know Debra a little better. :)

I had a lot fun having dinner with you at the YRW meeting last fall, Debra. You dished up some wonderful advice. I was so disappointed that I didn't make the meeting the next day. One of the many joys of juggling small kids and a hubby's work schedule- nothing is for sure. From what I heard, it was a kickin' talk!

Great to "see" you again, Debra! :)

TTYS, Micole! ((hugs!))

Deb Salonen said...

Thanks, Sarah, I've been meaning to go to the group and sign up. I'm just starting to feel like rejoining society--took me a while after my sister died. :-( But you all made me feel very welcome.

I admire you for pursuing your writing dream while your kids are small. You have a lot of outside demands on your time. It's a lot to juggle.


Micole Black said...

Thanks for stopping by Sarah. Always a pleasure to have you here!!!



June Rodriguez said...

Hi Debra, I too was unable to make it to the meeting when you spoke to the group. I am glad you were able to stop by Micole's NEW blog and chat for a while. Glad to see you are dipping your toes into the pool again. Thanks for sharing your insights with us.

Micole, your NEW blog is great. Your background cowboy is very mysterious. You go girl!!

Micole Black said...

Hi June. I am so happy that you stopped by. I love my mysterious cowboy too! Hope you come back real soon!



Deb Salonen said...

Hi, June, thanks for the welcome. I look forward to meeting you at some future meeting.