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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spotlight Author with Pamela Clare

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!! Before I share my interview with my spotlight author, Pamela Clare, I want to share a couple of things that I am thankful for. #1. My family. #2. My wonderful friends. (You know who you are) #3. And last but not least… all of my amazing readers. Thank you all for taking the time to stop by and check out what I and my guests have to say. Speaking of guests, I have Pamela Clare here with me today.

Hello Pamela, I am so glad that you were able to be a part of my blog. There are so many things that we aspiring authors as well as fans like to know about the published authors we all know and love.  Can you tell us about yourself and what you write?

Thank you, Micole, for having me here today. I really appreciate it. I am the single mother of two adult sons, one who’s 24 and the other who turned 21 on Nov. 20. I’ve worked all of my adult life as a journalist — first as a reporter, then an editor. I’m currently the editor-in-chief of a weekly paper in Boulder, Colorado, where I grew up.

I’ve wanted to write novels since I was 10 years old. It felt to me like books had a magic about them. Someone I didn’t know could write words and those words could make the world around me disappear. I knew from the moment I experienced the magic of reading that I wanted to be a novelist.


Right now, I write historical romance. My current series is the MacKinnon’s Rangers series. Set in upstate Colonial New York during the French & Indian War, it tells the stories of three brothers from the Highlands of Scotland who grew up on the American frontier after their family was sent into exile by the English. They grew up side-by-side with Indian nations and are every bit as “Indian” as they are Scots. It’s the same time period in which the very romantic epic film The Last of the Mohicans was set. I’ve done a lot of historical research for the specific events in the stories, including visiting the sites of the battles and forts, and try very hard to make them historically accurate.


I also write contemporary romantic suspense. The I-Team (short for Investigative Team) series tells the stories of a team of reporters who take on the bad guys of the world and face a world of danger as a result. Along the way, they also happen to meet alpha heroes and eventually fall in love.


What is your favorite thing about being an author?

I love losing myself in the storytelling process. When readers open a book, some part of them is hoping to get lost in the alternative reality of the story. That’s true of writers, too, I think. It’s certainly true of me when I write.

The story unfolds in my head through the eyes of my characters, and then it’s as if I’m experiencing the reality of the book along with them. It is both a learning experience and a source of emotional release. And it’s different depending on whether I’m writing a historical or a contemporary.

Writing historicals is like time travel. Because of writing, I’ve been able to “live” in on the Colonial American frontier. I witnessed the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga and the siege of Fort Pitt. I’ve trekked through the primeval forests of North America several times. I’ve seen wildlife that is now extinct. I’ve been flogged, branded, almost hanged. And I’ve lived to tell about it.


The I-Team series is different in that the stories are based on things I have done. My agent calls them “biblio-therapy,” and I think there’s some truth to the idea that I get emotional release through writing about these things, some of which were not good experiences.


Tell us a little about your latest release.

My most recent release was Naked Edge, which came out in March. It’s the fourth book in the series and tells the story of Kat James, a Navajo journalist who finds herself caught between the white and Indian worlds. Here’s the back cover blurb:

What do you do when desire drives you to the very brink?

The day Navajo journalist Katherine James met Gabriel Rossiter, the earth literally moved beneath her feet. Nearly killed in a rockslide while hiking, she found her life in the tall park ranger's hands. Although she can't forget him she thinks she'll never see him again. She is crushed when she recognizes her rescuer among the law enforcement officers raiding a sweat lodge ceremony one night, throwing her and her friends off Mesa Butte, land they consider sacred.


Gabe long ago swore he would never again lose himself to a woman not even one with long dark hair and big eyes that seem to see right through him.

But from the moment he first sees Kat, the attraction he feels is undeniable. Appalled by what he has been ordered to do, he's determined to get to the bottom of recent events at Mesa Butte and to keep Kat safe.
But asking questions can be dangerous almost as dangerous as risking one's heart. And soon Kat and Gabe's passion for the truth and each other makes them targets for those who would do anything, even kill, to keep Native Americans off their sacred land.

The story meant a lot to me because it offered me a chance to share my love of the Navajo people. I spent a lot of time on the dinetah — Navajoland, the Navajo reservation — reporting about certain issues facing traditional Navajo families. I learned so much during that time and made some very close friends.


Also, the story features Gabe Rossiter, who is drawn from the climbing/extreme sports aspect of Boulder, where everyone hikes, bikes, climbs, skis, etc. I come from a climbing family. My father and brother still climb 14,000-foot peaks, as well as ice and rock. We all ski.


However, the story opens with an event that almost killed me — a fall off a cliff. I was climbing with my father and fell 40 feet. I broke my tibia, ruptured my thigh, had a head injury and broken ribs and had to be airlifted to a trauma center. Great fun! Not!


I shared that experience through Kat. Writing that scene was the first time it really dawned on me how tough I had to be that day to survive.


The author’s note on my website (www.pamelaclare.com) details that experience, as well as my relationship with the Navajo.


So Naked Edge was very special to me, and I think some readers had a hard time identifying with a heroine who was truly Navajo and not white with a Navajo coating. But I wouldn’t write Kat any other way. At the same time, there are lots of readers who loved the book.


Right now I’m finishing Breaking Point, which tells Natalie Benoit’s story and which will be out in May. Here’s the back blurb:


While investigating border violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Denver journalist Natalie Benoit is caught in a bloody ambush and taken captive. Alone in the hands of ruthless killers, she will need every ounce of courage she possesses to survive.


Betrayed by another operative, Deputy U.S. Marshal Zach McBride has endured a week of torture and interrogation at the hands of a bloodthirsty Mexican drug cartel. Ready to give his life if he must, he remains unbroken—until he hears the cries of an American woman.


Although Natalie is only a voice in the darkness of their shared prison, her plight brings renewed strength to Zach's battered body. With her help, he overpowers their captors, and they flee through the desert toward the border, the attraction between them flaring hotter than the Sonoran sun.


But past loss and tragedy leave both of them reluctant to follow their hearts, even when the passion between them reaches its breaking point. Faced with feelings neither expected, they fight to stay ahead of the danger that hunts them as forces more powerful than they can imagine conspire to destroy them both…


It’s my most action-packed story. At the same time, I try very hard to balance the romantic elements, so that the suspense doesn’t overwhelm the development of the relationship. There are excerpts on my blog and website. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to get that last chapter penned and off to New York.

What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?

I am an unrepentant pantser. I can’t write a word until my characters get it together and know what they feel and what they’re doing. And since they don’t know till they get there, I can’t really plot. Stuff always happens that I didn’t expect. I often don’t even know who the bad guys are in the romantic suspense novels.

For a book to feel real, it has to come from the characters. We’ve probably all heard the phrase “character-driven novel.” That’s what I write. I write in sequence, chapter by chapter, with no jumping ahead.


I’m required by contract to submit synopses to my editor, but she and I both know the synopsis is nothing but an educated guess at what will happen in the story. I rarely refer to it while I’m writing the story itself.


Because I still work full-time — for me, that’s four days a week — I spend Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays locked in my house writing my brains out from the moment I get up until I just can’t keep my eyes open any longer. Sometimes that’s an 18-hour day.


There are weekends when the words flow, and there are weekends where I’m so frustrated with the lack of flow that I want to scream. But I just keep at it, weekend after weekend, until the book is finished and is as close to what I envision in my mind as it can be.


I have a dry erase board where I jot down things I want to remember. Sometimes bits of dialogue or plot come to me, and I don’t want to forget them. I also have sticky notes that are the size of a enormous flat-screen TV that I post on my flat screen, actually, where I’ve written notes for whatever chapter I’m writing. I also keep notes of changes I want to make in earlier chapters, and on days when I don’t have time to write, I go backward and make those changes.


By the time I finish, the book is done. I do one very slow, long draft and then edit it. There aren’t multiple drafts, though I do sometimes redo an entire scene. To this day — knock on wood — I have never been asked to do revisions


Where does your inspiration come from?

For the historicals, my inspiration comes from history itself. My degree is in archaeology, and I’ve always been fascinated with the details of daily human life. Most history classes teach the big events and tell us about the famous people. But the lives of lords and ladies interest me less than those of ordinary people.

I want to feel the past surround me. I want to know what it was like to live in a world without cell phones and electricity and modern medicine. There is no detail too small for me.


The conversations at our dinner table are often about history. My sons have read scholarly level historical texts since they were little. My older son, Alec, loves the ancient world and studied Latin like his mother, and my younger son, Benjamin, knows as much about World War I as most professors who specialize in World War I. I used to drive him to campus when he was only 10 years old so that he could discuss WWI with professors because they were the only ones who could talk about it on his level. He collects WWI weapons, as well.


So we talk about all of these things, from the ancient Minoans all the way up to World War II. It is a great passion in this house. We watch more documentaries than movies, that’s for sure.


All of this turns into inspiration when I hear about something and the wheels of my imagination begin to spin.


The MacKinnon’s Rangers series grew out of research I did for Ride the Fire, my third historical. Set in 1763, it touched on events during the French and Indian War. I kept reading about Robert Rogers and his Rangers, and that led me to research them. Then I knew I had to write about the American Colonial Rangers and the role they played in our history. It utterly fascinates me.


I’ve been to Fort Edward (Fort Elizabeth in the stories) and stood on Rogers Island (Ranger Island). I’ve been to Fort Ticonderoga and spent hours asking the poor curator 10,000 annoying questions. Benjamin, who knows a great deal about this time period as well, went with me, as did my mother. When we went back to the car, my mom said, “You do realize, don’t you, that I had no idea what you were talking about the entire time we were there.”


Here’s an example of what I live for:

When we were at Fort Ti (as they call it), I stood in the arched doorway of the fort and looked out over Lake Champlain. And as I stood there, I realized that this was the exact same view that George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and Benedict Arnold and the Marquis du Montcalm and thousands of real French, British and, later, American soldiers saw when they visited and lodged in the fort. Just as importantly, it was the same view my characters Morgan and Amalie had. That connection with the past and with my characters gave me goose bumps.

That is a great moment in life for me. I felt like had touched the lives of those who’d walked there before me. Priceless.


I have thought of writing straight historical fiction, but I’m not doing that yet.


The I-Team series is all drawn from things that I’ve touched on in real life. I once stayed in jail as a bogus felony arrest to see what life was like for incarcerated women. That experience went into Unlawful Contact. And so on… One reader called the way I write my I-Team books “Method writing,” because I really do know what I’m writing about, sometimes too well.


Music plays a huge role in keeping me inspired. I create playlists for books, playlists for characters, playlists for scenes, playlists for moments in the story… It’s all a form of emotional manipulation. I get myself in the frame of mind of my characters and then, hopefully, I’m open to what they’re going through.


Do you ever read your own books after they are published?

Rarely. It’s too intimidating. What if I find something I want to change. Here are the ones I have read: Ride the Fire (deeply personal for me), Surrender, Untamed, Hard Evidence, Unlawful Contact, Naked Edge. The one I’ve read most is probably Unlawful Contact, which drew together years and years of experiences covering prison issues.

This past legislative session, three laws that come into being at the end of Unlawful Contact to protect prisoners became reality in Colorado. One of them — a bill that prohibits the shackling of pregnant women in labor — I wrote myself and took to the state Capitol. I testified during the hearings, met with lawmakers and was so thrilled when it passed.


That’s how close I am to the subject matter of these books.


Give us your best advice about getting published and staying that way.

There are no shortcuts. Whether you’re writing very commercial novels or striking out on your own into something no one else is doing, there are no shortcuts. Here are six things I believe are important:

1. Write the very best book you can. You won’t be able to please every reader every time, but you should be able to maintain a level of quality that enables readers to trust you. It’s better to turn a great book in a bit late, than to turn a disappointing book in on time.


2. Do your research or world building. Readers aren’t stupid. They’ll spot it if you make mistakes or fake it.


3. Truly devote yourself to your career. This may mean making serious sacrifices, like eliminating television shows or video games from your life. I don’t watch TV at all. I don’t even have cable. My TV is for DVDs only. I rarely go out or get together with friends. My life is built around writing. If you don’t want to put 100 percent of yourself into writing, then don’t plan on being a multi-published author.

4. Don’t be tempted to jump on the bandwagon. Write what you know. Write what you love. For example, I don’t write vampires. Doing so has never interested me, though there’s a lot of money to be made in writing vampires. If you don’t like historical romance, don’t waste your time trying to write it. I’ve seen writers waste their momentum hopping from one breaking trend to the next without building readership in any single area. They write a chick-lit book because that’s big, but before they can build a solid readership there, they’re off writing vampires. Then it’s urban fantasy. Let yourself build readership in a sub-genre you love and can write well.


5. Find your voice. What’s unique about you and the way you relate to the world? I’m a history geek and a journalist who has face death threats as a result of my work. Those things fuel my writing.


6. Plan on feeling discouraged. There are no guarantees in this business. Some writers find success immediately. Others struggle for years. One author whose books are very well written might not make it to the bestseller lists as another whose books are less polished than they are commercial.


As I tell people, writing a novel is an act of will. If you want to succeed you must not give up. That, perhaps, is the most important tip I can give.



Pamela, that is some of the best advice I have heard! Thank you!!!;-)


What do you like to read when you have the time?

I love historical romance, straight historical fiction, and history books. I can sit and read historical accounts of almost anything—fiction, nonfiction, whatever. I also read romantic suspense from time to time.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

I have a website (www.pamelaclare.com), as well as a blog (pamelaclare.blogspot.com). There’s also a Yahoo group. And I’m on Goodreads, as well, where there’s a Pamela Clare Fan Club. I’m very open to chatting with readers, so I welcome e-mails. Sometimes it takes me a while to respond, but I read every single one.

Thanks Pamela. I’m so glad that you’ve been able to join us.

Thank you, Micole! I had fun.

And once again, I want to say thank you to my readers. I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, wonderful Thanksgiving, full of loved ones, and lot’s of turkey, stuffing, and pie!!!!

See you next week!

Hugs

Micole

25 comments:

maldivianbookreviewer said...

There is a reason that I absolutely love and adore Pamela Clare. She is so very down-to-earth and friendly that its hard not to love her. I know a couple of authors who don't really care much about maintaining a relationship with their fans and though most of the time that doesn't bother me, it is really lovely to meet someone as successful as Pamela who takes the time to get to know her readers no matter where they come from. My first Pamela Clare book was Ride the Fire, and boy did that book incite all those simmering fires within me! That book is so HOT, so very very good that I still think of the story at odd moments. One of these days I am definitely going to re-read that!
I was touched when after reading my reviews on her I-Team series that she emailed me to say thank you for sharing my thoughts on her books. Her stories are the very best. There is never a dull moment and with the scorching hot passion and sizzling sexual tension, one can never go wrong with Pamela Clare. The I-Team series sat on my to-be-read pile for days before I was driven to read them after seeing all the rave reviews of the books on Goodreads. And boy, from the first moment I met Reece Sheridan in Extreme Exposure, I was baited, hook, line and sinker and I never looked back. I took time off from work just so that I could have uninterrupted reading time for my I-Team novels. Yes, her stories are THAT good! My favorite from the I-Team series would have to be Unlawful Contact. I guess Ms. Clare's personal involvement in the issues dealing with the story makes it so very good. And of course, who wouldn't love the all yummy Marc Hunter. Sigh!!!
I am so very glad to have met her through Goodreads and getting to know her there. Its not a lie when I say I literally can't wait for Breaking Point to come out in 2011. Here's to Ms. Clare who loves her readers, makes an effort to get to know them and makes them feel like a part of her life as a writer. May she live long and write many a books that we can all drool, sigh and moon over!

krisgils33 said...

great interview! I love Pamela's books. my favorite is Unlawful Contact, but Naked Edge is a very close second. Thanks for sharing the process of how you developed those characters and stories.

Pamela Clare said...

Thanks, again, Micole, for having me here today!

Maldivian Book Reviewer, you are such a sweetheart. Thank you so much! As you know, I'm thrilled that you've enjoyed my books.

Yes, it is important to me to stay in touch with my readers. Writers work mostly in isolation, so it's a real treat for me to talk with the wonderful people who read my stories.

I do hope that my real-life connection to the things I write about adds a touch of depth and detail to the stories.

Kris, thank you so much! Marc plays a pretty important role in BREAKING POINT. So do Gabe and Julian. The bad guys Zach is facing down in this story require all hands on deck, so to speak. So you'll be seeing Marc again. And maybe Zach will give him a run for his money. :-)

Ronlyn said...

Hi all!
Wonderful advice for writers just starting out PC! Love it.
Part of what I love about all of your books is that each book has a risk (for you and for the characters) and they aren't the typical "cookie cutter" romances (historical or suspense). good job girl. I raise my vanilla latte to you. :-)

Pamela Clare said...

Thank you, Ronlyn! That's very kind of you.

I do try to bring something new and different to the stories. I also try very hard to make the characters real. I know that they end up feeling real to me.

I'll raise me white mocha latte to you! (GASP!) Yes, it's my new favorite flavor. Can you believe it? I switched!

Marie Force said...

Hi Pam,
I loved reading this interview and let me tell you, we were separated at birth as writers. I write the EXACT SAME WAY you do. And I think you're the first writer I've encountered who I can say that to. Every aspect of your process mirrors mine, right down to synopses that never get looked at and not knowing who the bad guys are until they represent themselves. Thank God I am not alone in my madness! LOL!

Can't wait to read Kat's story and girl, it sounds to me like you seriously have nine lives!

Great interview!

Hope said...

I was introduced to your books by Ronlyn (your biggest fan). And I have recently just finished the I-team series and am anxiously awaiting the next book. I am firmly on Team Julian *swoon*

I love that your books bring back characters from other books. I am a reader that gets invested in the characters and love to hear how they are coming along too :)

BlithelyBookish said...

Pamela,

This is such a treat!! Thanks for spending some of your very valuable time with us! I'm sure it was hard pulling yourself away from Zach. *sigh*

It's your dedication to research and the fact that every one of your books is written from the heart, that you believe in the story you're telling us, that has made you my favorite Romantic Suspense author, one of my very favorite Historical Romance authors, and a person I truly admire.

Jennie Marsland said...

Pamela, the fact that you've lived what you write continues to blow me away. Love the books and I think you're pretty darned amazing too. Can't wait for BP.

Diane Whiddon said...

That was such a great interview, Pamela! Had so much fun getting to know you. It was cool to read about your personal experiences and how you share them through your writing, and that was awesome advice for writers just starting out! Thanks so much!

Diane Whiddon

Pamela Clare said...

On a hard press deadline with this week's paper, but popping in...

Hi, Marie — So fun to know there's another writer who does it this way! No, you are not alone. That is reassuring, isn't it?

I hope you enjoy Naked Edge. As for the nine lives...

I went to a palm reader once who told me I had almost been killed a couple of times (she's right). She then pointed out something I had never noticed before — a big cross in the middle of my left palm that is surrounded on four sides. She said it means I am protected by Spirit. Not sure if I believe in palm reading but it felt pretty convincing. :-)

Hi, Hope — Team Julian is a pretty popular team. He's going to play a huge role in Breaking Point. There were rumors afloat that he was going to be killed, but I'm happy to say those rumors are somewhat exaggerated. And bless Ronlyn!

Hi, Blithely — Thank you so much! What sweet things to say! Yes, they are from my heart. They're about things that matter to me — historical events and periods; stuff I've experienced or written about. I'm so glad to be on your list of faves. :)

Ronlyn said...

Hey, I've been assured my obsession...er...enjoyment?...of the books and characters is very healthy. LOL.

And, Pam...who started those rumors? Or was that in the midst of dealine delirium and you just don't remember?

Pamela Clare said...

Er... I believe I started those rumors, Ronlyn. It was purely sadistic on my part. I just wanted to see the reaction. I got something like 100 responses in two hours or something absurd. LOL!

Mind you... I said those rumors were exaggerated,

And, yes, certain obsessions are healthy. :-)

Ronlyn said...

I was just checking to see if you remembered that that was all you. LOL.

JennJ said...

Hi Pamela and Micole! I had to come over and show some love! What a great interview! I have loved Pamela Clare's writing from the first time I picked up one of her books and have been a huge fan ever since. And what's even better is she is a genuine sweetheart in real life as well! She is personable and loves her readers and cares what they think! You are amazing Pamela and truly one of the best writers out there in any genre! Keep writing those wonderful stories that keep us on the edge of our seats and panting as well! ;)
BIG HUGS
JennJ

Pamela Clare said...

Thank you, Jenn. You're a sweetheart, too.

I think one of the great joys of being an author is being able to interact with so many kind people.

My day job often connects me with people who are hostile. They don't want me to interview them. Or sometimes I write about something that upsets people and get deluged with hate mail. At one point, I was dealing with a couple of stalkers (yes, at the same time). So because of that I became a very closed-off person. It was kind of a defense mechanism. Ever had someone run across the street screaming at you and you wonder if they have a gun because a guy last week said he was going to kill you with an AK-47? I have.

Being a romance author has been a very different experience, and so it has been a joy to be able to be more social. I really do love it.

And people like all of you are the reason why! Well, in addition to the fact that I love to tell stories...

Micole Black said...

Hello everyone!!! Pamela, thank you for being a guest and giving us such a great interview. And I wanted to send a big thank you to all of you who stopped by today!!! It was nice hearing from all of you!!!;-)

Hugs

Micole

Clare Austin said...

Hi Pamela and Micole,

I just finished Naked Edge and...well, wow! I should have known it would bring tears to my eyes. It is a wonderful, emotional story, written in grand style.
Thank you for giving me an unforgettable reading experience.
Clare Austin

Micole Black said...

Hi Clare,

Thank you for stopping by! ;-) I haven't read Naked Edge yet by can't wait!

Hugs

Micole

Pamela Clare said...

Micole, thank you so much for having me. It was fun! I hope you enjoy Naked Edge.

Clare, so wonderful to see you here. I'm so glad you enjoyed Kat and Gabe's story. That makes my day. I hope you're doing well and that all is going smoothly with your writing.

Is everyone ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow? I'm going to be writing all day today so the answer is a resounding "no."

Sheri Humphreys said...

What a fabulous interview! I know your writing voice must be fabulous because your personal voice came through so strong in the interview. I just downloaded Naked Edge onto my Kindle. My first Pamela Clare book. I have a feeling it won't be my last. Sheri

Micole Black said...

Big wave to you Sheri. Thanks for stopping by! ;-)

Jacqui Nelson said...

Just dropping by late to say how much I love your historical MacKinnon Rangers series, Pamela!
It was great to learn a little more about you and your writing process.
Jacqui

Micole Black said...

Hey Jacqui! Glad to see you here!!! Glad you enjoyed the interview!! have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Micole

Pamela Clare said...

Hi, Sheri,

Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview. I thought Micole asked some good questions. I hope you enjoy NAKED EDGE, as well. Be sure to read the author's note on my website -- http://www.pamelaclare.com/notes_nakededge.php

There are no spoilers in it. :-)

Hi, Jacqui — Thanks so much for stopping by. And thank you! I'm so glad you've enjoyed the Rangers. I can't wait to start Connor's book.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!