The following interview is with Lance Jay, author of A Cry in the Night. Jay has written numerous books under different names. This work is available in eBook and paperback. This recent work is a romantic suspense story. Click here to order your copy.
Q: Where did the idea of this work originate?
A: I live in a tourist town where undocumented workers can be quite vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous business owners. I heard about a practice in which student workers are invited for “internship opportunities.” Before they come, they sign away their rights to fair wages, etc. for “free” room and board. Originally, this was intended as a way of giving students internship/study possibilities. However, it can be abused and used as a way of getting cheap work and providing really hazardous living conditions. One of our local churches is working to put a stop to this practice.
Q: Who is your favorite romantic character? Why?
A: Oh, definitely Scarlet O’Hara. She is tough, and not afraid to fight her own battles.
Q: What are the three critical elements of a romance?
A: Rising tension, likeable characters, and believable chemistry.
Q: What are the challenges to writing romance?
A: Moving beyond the tropes and creating unique and believable “falling in love” stories
Q: Who were some of your best writing mentors, why?
A: That’s a seriously good question. I teach Creative Writing at my local university, and am constantly looking for writing geniuses who can help guide my students. Right now, I love reading Donald Maas, James Scott Bell and Lisa Cron. They all have excellent advice for writing well.
Q: Do you think it’s important for a new romance writer to join Romance Writers of America or other such writing organizations?
A: Yes. Even guys. Especially guys. RWA has some of the best workshops and advice of any writing convention I’ve ever attended. And, I cannot begin to explain the incredible importance of networking, keeping all channels open, and never, ever burning bridges in the writing community. The world of professional writing, of publication, is incredibly small. You never know when your editor at one house will be your new editor at another.
Q: What has helped you most in your writing career?
A: Having really good friends who are excellent writers, who are dedicated to their craft, and who are always willing to offer a helping hand. There is no way I could have published anything without the help of my writer friends (insert shout-out for Karen Zacharias, my good friend J).
Q: What has been the biggest surprise about writing?
A: How incredibly hard it is. How many times rejection is a part of my day. How unbelievably therapeutic writing is. How I’m a much nicer person when I write. Just ask Iris, my big, black dog.
Q: What is the biggest myth you’ve encountered as a writer?
A: Once you publish one book, you are “in.” Nope. Once you publish one book, you’re seriously worried about whether you will ever be able to do it again.
Q:How many rewrites do your books go through before publication?
A: Dozens. I revise as I write my first draft. After writing my best first draft with several revisions, I give a chapter to my writing partners. They revise it, and I revise it. After the manuscript is completely finished, I let it sit for several weeks. I go back to it. I rewrite it. And then rewrite it again. And then again. And then, I ask a few of my published writing friends to read it, and I revise again based on their advice. That doesn’t even include the number of times the book then gets copy edited. As I tell my students, good writing happens when you aren’t afraid to revise boldly.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of BURDY and the forthcoming CHRISTIAN BEND (Mercer University Press).