Emilie Richards is not only a talented writer, she’s incredibly prolific. With some 60 novels, she indeed knows what it’s like to be a “working writer.” She has a wonderful answer to my question about “what makes a successful writer” and I know all the readers here will get some good advice and tips from what she has to say.
Enjoy this interview.
Tell us a bit about your latest book. What inspired you to write this story?
I’ve always wanted to write a friendship novel. Then one day I was driving down a city street and noted that every house on the block except one was exactly alike. I wondered how the neighbors got along, and how they felt about the “odd house out.” The idea for a novel set on a rundown street with very different neighbors from very different circumstances was born. I wanted them to be forced together and forced to be involved with each other. Happiness Key was the result, although the setting, of course, turned into a shabby Florida beach community. The book is, as you might already have figured out, about the key to happiness. Having grown up in St. Petersburg, Florida, it was fun to revisit some of the scenes of my childhood.
You’ve got over 60 novels under your belt, which is absolutely amazing. Tell me a bit about the writing process for you. Do you start thinking about new storylines while still writing your last book? Or do you finish one completely before even thinking of the next ?
I do think about the next novel as I work, but only peripherally. If I get an idea, I write it down so it won’t take up too much space, and move on from there. Generally I’ll then have enough to go on that plotting is well on the way because I’m also part of a brainstorming group and I spend a week each year with them working on our projects together. I do extensive outlines for every novel before I write the opening sentence, so a head start is always appreciated.
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
I just finished Fortunate Harbor, the sequel to Happiness Key, and I’ll finish that “series” with a third book. Before I get to that, though, I’ll be working on A Truth for a Truth, the fifth book in my Ministry is Murder series for Berkley. It’s a “cozy” mystery featuring a free-spirited minister’s wife in a small Ohio town who has a knack for getting involved when murders are committed. I love writing these since I can cut loose a bit, and I’m always interested in what Aggie, my sleuth, happens to be thinking.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
I adored a book titled We of the Never-Never by Mrs. Aeneas Gunn, which is a first hand account of life in the extreme Australian Outback in the early twentieth century. I loved the book, loved the writing, loved her and the world she recounted. I’ve probably read it ten times.
Too many to list and too afraid I’ll forget somebody important.
Book you’re currently reading?
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry and The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb in audio. Next up: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Shaffer and Barrows, and Dead Man Talking by Casey Daniels.
Any type of writing ritual you have?
Not sure this qualifies as a ritual, but I do find that my best writing time is between 2-6 daily, and while I begin work in the morning, I try to keep the 2-6 slot free of distractions. Paperwork, plotting, research, promotion are all done earlier in the day. Paying attention to your own rhythms is important. I’m a ruthless after-dinner editor, so if that’s needed, I know when to do it.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?
I believe in it, but I’ve never really experienced it. I have days, even weeks, when everything I write is nonsense, but I keep putting words on paper, knowing I can go back and edit. On the other hand a blank page is useless. I think fear of writer’s block is one reason I spend so many weeks doing an outline. Afterwards, when I go to my computer to write, at least I know what I’m “supposed” to do that day. Change is fine, but an outline’s a jumping off place and something of a security blanket.
In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
I think all of us have different goals, and as our careers progress we revise them. So I’d have to say a successful writer is someone who is meeting realistic goals, and savoring what she/he does. Money’s great. Millions of books in print are great. But doing what you love? Priceless.
Advice for other writers?
Be realistic about the market. Write regularly, and don’t wait for inspiration. Pay attention to your rhythms and work accordingly. And enjoy whatever good things come your way. Take time to celebrate them.
Where can we learn more about you?
I also have a Facebook page for my readers at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Emilie-Richards/52854777047?ref=search&sid=729063776.1826516790..1#
I’m at Red Room, Goodreads and Shelfari, as well.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Come visit my website and Facebook page. You’ll be very welcome.