I have a soft spot for clean romance so I asked some of my fellow clean romance writers if they wanted to be interviewed. They were very generous in their replies. First up is Megan Elder Evans and please don't judge me on my grammar as I know you are also an editor. Very talented.
Tell us about your latest novel or project:
My newest novel is “Fate’s Arrangement,” an historical romance about a woman who is being
forced into an arranged marriage in order to help bring an end to the Scottish War for Independence. Lady Cristiana has no desire to marry. In fact, she fears it. She comes from a long line of women who have died in childbirth, and she does not want to suffer the same fate. She also does not want other women to fall victim to childbirth gone wrong, so she works as a part-time midwife, using healing herbs and her knowledge of surgery, taught her by the town midwife, to save the lives of mothers and their babies.
This work, though, cannot save her life. Her father, the Earl of Northumberland, abhors her practice as a midwife and has forbidden her to ever speak of it to her betrothed. This leaves Cristiana facing the decision: run or stay and face fate.
What got you started writing?
I have always loved stories. I was an only child for seven years, and my neighborhood was short on kids my age, so I had to entertain myself. I would come up with elaborate stories for my Barbie dolls, some taking days to fully act out. Often, I wanted to preserve these stories, so I would write them down. I wrote my first story (now decomposing in a dump somewhere) when I was 9. Fast forward over 20 years, and I've graduated to writing novels.
What challenges did you face when you first started writing?
The biggest challenge was developing my crappy (I mean throw-it-in-the-fire bad) first drafts that did nothing but tell the reader about everything into scenes my reader could fully visualize.
Another challenge was just having time to write. I did not set out to write consistently until I took a creative writing course in college, but this was difficult to achieve with research papers, assigned readings, and a job to balance. It did not get any easier after I graduated and began working full time. Becoming a working mom made it near impossible to write, as by this time I was teaching and grading essays night and day. It was not until I quit working that I finally gained time to write every day.
Do you ever get the opportunity to travel for your writing? Either to market or to research.
I wish, but no. If I did, I would do a tour of the British Isles and the Caribbean, since many of my projects take place in these areas.
Who in your life is your greatest cheerleader or support in your writing?
It is hard to point to one person. My husband is a huge supporter of my writing, though he never reads any of it. But he makes sure that I do have time to write, even on the craziest of days, and he encourages me to keep going even when I'm tempted to throw a draft in the trash or push my writing aside for other priorities.
My parents are also huge supporters. I got my storytelling ability from my dad, so he always wants to read what I've written, no matter how girly it might be, and my mom is always asking, “What can I do to help you get your books out there?”
That is awesome. My mother is just the same.
What was the first thing you did after your first book was published?
I watched Netflix. “Finding Ada” was my first book. I spent eight years on it, so by the time it was published, I never wanted to think about it again. I so sick of looking at it.
I read other people's books when I get t that stage.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you handle the good and the bad ones?
Yes, I do, though, to date, I have no negative reviews. But as for criticism, I have pretty thick skin, so any negative feedback I get usually results in me taking note and not making the same mistake again.
It seems like everything has Easter Eggs (surprise reference to your other work) do you have any Easter Eggs in your books?
So far, no, but I have only published two novels. “Finding Ada” is literary fiction, and “Fate's Arrangement” is a romance. Both take place hundreds of years apart with characters who have no connection to each other. But who knows, future books might contain Easter Eggs, but only if it serves the plot.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have any secrets to productivity?
My first book took eight years, start to finish, due to life's constant interruptions. My second, “Fate's Arrangement,” took a little over a year. I credit this shorter time to leaving grading essays for a living to stay home with my kids. I now have about two hours a day to write, whereas, before, I had two hours a month.
Aside from simply having the time available, having a set time (my kids’ nap time) to write ensures I'm productive. I also do detailed character bios and plot outlines before I start a project. This helps me stay focused, even if the story changes.
Where did you get the idea for your first or latest book?
“Fate's Arrangement” was inspired, in part, by my children. Having been that woman (twice) who would have died in childbirth in ancient times, and having a strange fascination with arranged marriages, I couldn't help writing this story, exploring what a woman in the middle ages might have done with such a threat looming over her.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Honestly, no. I'm easily distracted, and a writing ritual would just be one more distraction.
What is your best experience meeting a fan?
Well, since I am still a fairly new (and mostly unknown) author, most of my fans are friends and family. I have not met any of my other fans, though it makes me smile when someone from across the pond buys my book.
If any of your books was to be made into a film, which one would you pick and who would you have play the main characters?
I would love to see “Fate's Arrangement” made into a film. Ron Howard would need to direct, Clive Standon would play my hero, Raegenhere, and Gal Gadot would play Cristiana.
You can't go wrong with Gadot, she is awesome.
How important do you think marketing is for authors today?
Extremely important! With so many books flooding the market every day, it is really difficult to get your book noticed unless you put in the work on the marketing end.
Do you have any book you have written that won’t ever see the light of day and why?
No. If I've managed to finish the first draft, it will be published...eventually.
Many authors have a word or a phrase they automatically use too often. Do you have one?
I have an unhealthy love affair with explicitly mentioned eye contact and -ing clauses.
What quirk or trope of your genre do you like or dislike?
I can't stand the billionaire trope. Yes, it's nice if your lover can be your sugar daddy, but it is so unrealistic. I also tend to roll my eyes at the strong career woman who has trouble connecting romantically. I suppose that is because too many Hallmark movies use this trope.
Often writers get to approach some serious subjects. Which serious subject are you most proud to have written about or was the hardest to write about?
The hardest, yet most enjoyable, has been discussing the perils of the caesarean section. It seems everyone has either had one or known someone who has, but it is so common today that we tend to forget that only a little over 150 years ago, this operation was not performed on living mothers. What made this most difficult to write about was deciding how much detail to use. I wanted to communicate the seriousness of the situation, but I did not want to make my readers queasy.
Thank you so much for sharing some of your story with us and good luck with your latest book.