Kathy: I am thrilled to welcome Mary Sullivan to Book Reviews & More by Kathy. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us today. I always have to begin by asking what motivated you to become a writer? How long have you been writing, and was it a long process to become a published author?
Kathy, thank you so much for today’s interview. I’m thrilled to be here!
I had never read a romance novel until my mother asked me to read one she had just finished. I said, “Mum, I don’t read those kinds of books.” She looked puzzled and replied, “But it’s a lovely story.” Just as a favor to her, I took it home and read it and LOVED it. The book was LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory and my mother was right in that it was a wonderful story. I then read all of Spencer’s books and became hooked on romance.
When I realized that all of the daydreams I’d had over the years would make good stories, I started writing romance.
It took me eleven years to get published, partly because my first ventures were not commercial and would never find a market; however, they were excellent exercises in learning the craft of writing. My career didn’t really move forward for six or so years until I joined RWA and my local chapter, Toronto Romance Writers. Writing in isolation had been hard on me. Joining an amazing group like TRW, where I found so many others as passionate about writing romance as I was, was a revelation and an inspiration.
It motivated me to write more and to learn all I could about the publishing industry. After that, it was only a matter of time because I wasn’t going to give up until I saw my books in bookstores.
Kathy: You have an impressive amount of published works. What is a typical day in the life as author Mary Sullivan? Do you write every day? How long does it take you to complete your novels?
The goal is to write every day, but there are so many other things to be done around the writing, i.e. writing up proposals for the next stories, working on revisions for stories already sent in, doing promo on books just coming out…it all involves the writing, but might not necessarily result in a high word count on the current novel on any given day.
Some days I wrestle to produce any word count at all and some days I do very well. On the days when the words aren’t flowing, I use tricks to get something on the page, like writing ahead rather than in chronological order. If there will be a scene I know I will have to write at some point and it is clear in my head, then I will work on it out of order, so I can at least have written something that day. It seems to work for me. In the end, my books get written and handed in on time.
My favorite days are those on which I am troubled by a scene and having a hard time getting ANY words on the page. Then, something will shift in my brain—and it could be something seemingly trivial—and the words will begin to flow. All of a sudden, whatever had been holding me back is gone. Usually, it required a shift in or clarification of the conflict. When that happens, the writing is like running downhill. There is an amazing feeling of elation and satisfaction, especially when the word count for that day goes from zero to thousands of words.
I would like to say that I’m a fast writer, but unfortunately, I’m not. It takes me six months to write a novel. My Superromances are 85,000 words long. A lot of that time, especially at the beginning, is spent in character development and then in just sheer thinking.
An author whose name I can’t recall at the moment once said, “My wife doesn’t understand that when I’m staring out of the window, I’m writing.”
Sometimes, I will wake up in the middle of the night with a scene writing itself in my mind and I’ll think, “Of course! That’s what I was missing in today’s scene.” Or “That’s what I needed to know about that character.”
Kathy: I have to confess that I am a huge fan of novels that are loosely related either through theme, characters or places. With the release of No Ordinary Home, you now have three novels set in Ordinary, Montana. Did you know ahead of time you were going to write more than one novel set in Ordinary? Do each of the novel’s stand on their own? And do you plan on writing any more novels set in Ordinary?
Kathy, No Ordinary Home is actually the seventh book in my Ordinary, Montana, series. Not all of them have ‘Ordinary’ in the title 🙂
It started in 2009 with a book called No Ordinary Cowboy and, I thought, ended six books later in 2012 with No Ordinary Sheriff, but two young boys from previous books begged me for their own stories as adults. They are now in their early thirties when they set out on a road trip together, during which they meet a couple of women and…well, No Ordinary Home was born.
After I wrote the first Ordinary novel, No Ordinary Cowboy, I did know that I wanted to follow a couple of the characters into other stories. As I wrote those stories and developed more characters within the town, their stories begged to be told as well. I enjoy that feeling when I realize I have yet another story inside of me.
I believe the stories work as stand-alones. I also firmly believe that with No Ordinary Home, I have finished all of the stories I have about the town.
My other series of Superromances is about a fictional town called Accord in Colorado. The same thing has been happening there. I started with three brothers and the cast of characters has grown. I have four books set in Accord already published and Harlequin has just bought two more. Even as I’m writing the next story, ideas are popping up for even more Accord stories.
Kathy: Now for a few nosy get to know you questions. Do you have a favorite book or author you like to recommend? Do you have a comfort read?
My favorite romance author is LaVyrle Spencer. I also adore Jude Deveraux, Mary Jo Putney, Mary Balogh, all of whom are comfort reads. For excitement, I turn to Molly O’Keefe and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
I read a wide selection of genre fiction as well as literary. I guess at this time romance consists of about 30% of my reading. I also read David Baldacci, Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Dick Francis and Louise Penny.
Kathy: What is your guilty pleasure?
Jigsaw puzzles and word puzzles. Also, half a dozen or so times a year, I enjoy a good gin and tonic 🙂
Kathy: Favorite meal?
Salmon with stir-fried veggies.
Kathy: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Before I became a writer and before computers took over, I was a darkroom printer. If computers no longer existed and darkroom printing returned to enlargers, I would love to do it again. It’s funny how both that and writing are jobs that are creative and involve working in small private spaces!
Kathy: If you could time travel, what time period would you visit?
The Regency period appeals to me, but I would only want to go back if I were an independent woman of means who didn’t have to marry for security. Otherwise, I’ll stay where I am.
Kathy: Could you tell us a little about No Ordinary Home?
As I mentioned above, two boys from two previous books grew up and wanted their own stories and I was happy to deliver. Finn was given a relationship with a woman he’d known when she was a young girl, when he watched his father pull her from a burning car. Austin, now a deputy sheriff in Ordinary, meets someone on the first day of his road trip with Finn…a woman who steals his wallet from his back pocket! Not an auspicious start to a relationship.
Kathy: Thank you again for chatting with us today. Congratulations on the release of No Ordinary Home.
Thank you, Kathy!
Title: No Ordinary Home by Mary Sullivan
Publisher: Harlequin Superromance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
She’s not who she seems…
Gracie Travers has a secret. She’s not the down-on-her-luck drifter she appears to be. Once America’s sweetheart, Gracie needs to keep below the paparazzi’s radar until she’s thirty. Then she’ll get her money and get off the street.
But one small mistake brings Deputy Sheriff Austin Trumball into her life. He’s attractive and oh-so-dangerous. If he learns who she really is, her anonymous days are over. Worse, Austin’s hard to resist, and their connection is terrifying. Soon he makes her want what she can’t have—a lover, a family and a home of her own.