by KJ Howe
Today, the Romance Bandits are lucky to have talented and prolific author Debra Webb joining us. Feel free to ask Deb any questions you may have about writing or the publishing industry. This warm-hearted Southern gal always goes out of her way to help others. Here are a few interview questions to kick off the day!
KJ: Congratulations on the upcoming release of TRACELESS, a single title romantic suspense from St. Martin’s Press. The conflict between your hero and heroine, Clint and Emily, fairly sizzles. Clint has been in jail for ten years for the murder of Emily’s best friend and Emily was a key witness in his trial. When Clint is released on parole, Emily comes back home to confront him, while the real killer remains at large. Fantastic set up. What inspired you to write this story?
DW: First, I love wounded heroes. Clint is a man who has been to hell and back and believes he has lost everything, including his ability to care for anyone else. I love proving those big, tough guys wrong! As far as the plot, I grew up in a very small town much like Pine Bluff. Your mistakes follow you to the grave. The whole small town dynamics appeals to me on a very primal level. I find it fascinating how the “family” mindset of small towns reacts to such a heinous crime. Yes, I’m twisted. I know.
KJ: Switching from category to single title is a fascinating process. Can you tell us about some of the challenges/joys you faced when writing the larger books?
DW: The transition was relatively painless in theory. I really wanted to write “bigger” books. I mistakenly thought that a bigger book meant a bigger plot and that’s simply not the case. A bigger book is one with meatier characters and the exploration of those characters to a greater degree. The plots of my “big” books are actually simpler than many of the category length books I’ve done. But the characters are far more fully developed and the setting is an equal character.
KJ: Your Colby Agency books have become a Harlequin institution. How did you come up with the original idea? And, most importantly, after blowing up the Colby Agency building last Christmas, where are you going to house Victoria and her amazing staff?
DW: I wish I could tell you that I’d had this grand plan with page after page of future events mapped out right from the beginning. I didn’t. I simply had a woman, Victoria Colby, who had lost the man she loved with all her heart as well as her only child. I gave her the Colby Agency to focus on and a wonderful romantic interest in Lucas Camp. The rest evolved with the stories. I love the Colby Agency! I can’t imagine ever ending that series. Of course, Victoria and her people will have a fabulous new home. Check out Colby Rebuilt coming from Harlequin Intrigue this November.
KJ: Congratulations on receiving the Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times magazine this year, a well-deserved honor. I believe you’ve written over 60 novels (yes, 60, this is not a typo!). Can you talk a little about your writing process (when you write, are you a plotter/pantser, etc.)? How do you come up with new names for your characters? I can’t imagine how many you’ve had!
DW: Oh, wow. Yes. Number 66 comes out this November in only 8 years. Looking back, I can’t believe how fast time has flown. It has been an amazing journey. I have to thank my many friends, like you, Kim, and RWA, of course, for helping me get here. I’m not a plotter usually. I prefer to get the general idea of where I’m going and just write the book. I start with a character that I want to write, then I add history and then the plot develops from there. Sometimes I start with a plot idea and develop the characters around that. It’s never the same. Names are easy. I have the character in mind and then I give him or her a name that fits his or her personality.
KJ: What advice would you give unpublished writers in today’s market? Where should they focus their efforts?
DW: Always, always focus your energy on the work. Your voice, first and foremost, is what will get you published. No matter how amazing your story idea, the voice must shine on the page. The only way to develop your voice is to write. It’s kind of like working out, you hate it but it’s necessary. Keep writing, never give up no matter how many rejections hit you in the face. Just DO IT!
KJ: The Romance Bandits love secrets. Perhaps you might give us a little insider’s information on NAMELESS, your next Single Title from St. Martin’s?
DW: Now, talk about heroes, the guy in NAMELESS is to die for. Ryan McBride is the epitome of what I love in a man. Vivian Grace is his match on every level. NAMELESS will be released on February 5th. Look for a special sneak peek at the first chapter in the back of TRACELESS. As for a little secret...hmmm...there is one thing that scares, big, bad, I-don’t-give-a-damn Ryan McBride to death...but you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is!
KJ: There we have it...just like a romantic suspense author to leave us with a cliffhanger! Deb, thanks for joining us today. If you have questions for Deb, please feel free to ask. And don't forget to pick up TRACELESS. It's a un-put-downable read!