Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Author Interviews: Reily Garrett

Carnal Beginnings is a romance novel featuring BDSM and some fairly traumatic experiences for the protagonist. What do you believe people think of when they see “romance novels?” How about BDSM novels? How do those perceptions benefit or hurt your book?

I’m probably approaching this from a na├»ve standpoint as I am new to the publishing world. But from my point of view-

I think when people see “romance novel,” they basically think of “fluff” unless it’s also labeled suspense, mystery, thriller, etc. When I write, I try to blend suspense, mystery, and humor. People are a complex fusion of multiple traits, books should be, too.

As far as BDSM, I believe some expect a certain level (lots) of poorly written sex scenes strung together with a small semblance of a plot. There might be enough of that out there to substantiate their claim.

Though Carnal Beginnings does contain a few dark and sexual scenes, the story is not driven by sex. There is a plot (and sub plots), that move the characters forward.

I strived to write a tastefully written book with characters that felt real, with real problems.

How much unpublished work do you have lying around?

I have two novels, one on its third “layer” and almost ready to send. The other started as a short story which I believe I’ll remake into a novel (I’m fickle), but I really love how it’s shaping up.

I have two other stories that are in the first layer (sh*tty first draft). I generally finish a layer, move to another book, write a layer, then move to the next book. That way, I don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. Each time I approach a book, it’s fresh.

How long have you been writing, and what is one opinion about the craft you’ve had changed over your career?

I’ve been writing for little more than a year. My fifth book (Carnal Innocence) will be released Sept. 1, 2015.

When I started writing, I believed if one learned their craft and wrote well, they’d be successful.  Now, I realize it takes much more than good writing. You have to learn how and where to promote, not to mention be persistent.

I also used to believe that all writers had terribly high IQ’s. I found this idea disturbing and self-limiting. Rubbish. A willingness to understand your craft and work you butt off goes a long way. Take the time to understand your character’s incentives and motivations. Stop and think, what is this person seeing, feeling, influenced by.

It’s a learning process. Enjoy it.

Is there any terrible advice you’ve received for your book or career? Bad advice you’ve overheard someone else be told?

Unfortunately, yes. I was told I’d never get a contract from a publisher; I should enjoy this as a wonderful hobby that occupied my time. That was five books and a little over a year ago. LOL.
I think folks are pretty much the same across the board. There’s those that, for whatever reasons (jealousy, greed), would lead you down a road you wouldn’t normally travel. Like any other endeavor, you have to keep your eye on your goals and research, research, research. Find what works for and fits you. Don’t follow, find your own path.
What are your biggest concerns about the current literary world?

That we, as a society, just don’t read near as much as we used to. It doesn’t matter what type of material you read. Just read.

Have you read any literary statistics recently? Incredible! I’ve come across research stats declaring that 2/3 of the students who can’t read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail on or welfare. This statistic is from multiple sources. I don’t understand how this can be—really.

As far as the type of reading material… It doesn’t matter.

My kids collected Goose Bumps books for years. I made a grievous error in trying to get my son to read anything else. When I took him into the bookstore and told him to pick out anything (nonsexual) and by any other author, (I thought he’d go for comic books), he brought up Stephen King novels. Love his writing but my boy was a bit too young for that. The next week we went back to—whatever he wanted. Thank God for Goose Bumps.

What trends, tactics, styles, or genres would you like to see become popular in modern writing?

I like diversity in reading, all genres, as long as they are well written and edited. This comes back around to learning your craft and not relying on editors to polish our work. I’d hate to see this trend of the market being flooded with poorly edited manuscripts rise—or lose the diversity we now enjoy. 

What do you think signs of a successful author are?

Hard work, willingness to learn from constructive criticism, and most of all—persistence.
Obviously you need to know your craft.
Where do you find yourself getting stuck most often—beginning, middle, or end?

Anytime my dogs want to play…lol. I’m a sucker for my furbabies.
 Seriously, maybe I’m a bit different since I write in layers. First layer is structure and major plot points. Second is more like—adding the emotional layer and light editing. The third is strictly editing and checking for those da**ed dangling modifiers. I haven’t gotten stuck yet. I take frequent breaks and play with my furbabies during which, I work out certain details in my mind.

If you could hire someone to do any of the writing work for you, what jobs would you assign to them?

Promotion. I dislike that part and would prefer to spend all my time writing and editing. On the other hand, I’ve met some incredible folks through the final aspect so I won’t complain.
What is an assumption people make about writing that bothers you?

The most common question I receive when someone finds out I’m a published writer—how successful are you? (Translated—how much money have you made?) I find this extremely frustrating as money is not my end goal.

I think a lot of folks reach a point in their life when they say – hey, I want to do this or that and do it well. To turn out a book that is well written and well liked, (you can’t please everybody), means more to me than you could imagine.

Tell us a little about Carnal Beginnings:

This is actually kind of hilarious. My first book, (written under another penname), was in the hands of a private editor. As I waited for its return, I was given periodic updates. One basically consisted of “get over your squeamishness of writing romantic scenes.” (My first book included one kiss.)

Well, being the sarcastic wench that I am, I decided to go whole hog and write what I considered a scorcher. (As a lark). Understand where I was coming from, first book contained a kiss.
Again while I waited for my first written book to come back – I submitted Carnal Beginnings to an absolutely wonderful publisher (while collecting rejection slips for my other books).  Less than forty-eight hours after submission, they offered me a contract. I think I laughed for a week. And so it began.

My publisher and their staff are incredible folks in that they help me learn and grow as a writer. Since then, my other books have been published.

The plot/subplots in Carnal Beginnings were pretty much drawn from my experiences in police work, private investigations, military, and ICU nursing. Man’s penchant for abuse and society’s tolerance for such behavior have never ceased to amaze me. The BDSM part was the wildcard – had to do a lot of research for that.

When I went through and edited Carnal Beginnings, I wanted a story that was highly emotional, well written, but tastefully done. I believe there is a balance, an edge that you have to walk to make this happen.

How fast do you tend to write? How long is your editing process?

I tend to write fairly quickly, but because of the way I write, it seems to take longer. I find that in writing in tiers, I can achieve a more complete picture than if I just worked on one book at a time.

When it comes to editing and fixing conflicts, I seem to come up with ideas/solutions to problems, etc. at the oddest times, (hence I always keep my iPod near to take verbal notes). When you wake up at two a.m. and realize – hey, all I have to do is… The recorder is at my bedside. You’d be surprised how frequently this happens. I think the mind is an incredible biological machine.
Do you prefer writing from a female character’s perspective or a male’s?

Now that I’m gaining experience, I prefer to write a scene from whichever character has the most emotional involvement or has the most to gain/lose.

If you met people like your characters, would you get along?

I believe I would. Most of them share a precision I respect and would love to emulate. lol
What was the hardest part in writing or publishing your first book?

In writing my first book, (under a different penname), it went through SO many rewrites. Each time I’d learn a bit more of the craft, I’d go back and apply it to the entire novel. After it was published, I learned still more. Then, come to find out – there’s ten times that much in front of me—waiting…

Twitter: @reily_garrett

Goodreads: Carnal beginnings

Buy Carnal Beginnings

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