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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Interview of Writer Fran Abram

Today I'm happy to present an interview of Fran Abram...someone I've known for years and a darn good writer...I'm expecting great things from her in the near future!

Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve come for a visit. Let me introduce myself. I am Fran Abram. I grew up on the south shore of the Great Lakes in a wonderful little city called Erie, Pennsylvania. I graduated from Mercyhurst College with a degree in Biology and married my high school sweetheart (37 years and counting!).  I have two grown children and one adolescent cat.

My own thoughts –

I started writing years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I sat down and tried to figure out why I am so drawn to this craft. Plain and simple, I love to read.

I started with all the childhood favorites, The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and Walter Farley. By the time I got to high school I discovered Mary Stewart, Isaac Asimov and T.H. White. I was the nerd who waited in breathless anticipation for the summer reading list. While my friends were groaning over “David Copperfield,” I was relishing every marvelous Dickensian word and phrase. My idea of heaven was sitting under a tree with a cold thermos of milk, a stack of Oreo cookies and a book.

It wasn’t just fiction, non-fiction enthralled me as well. I loved Carl Sagan’s “The Dragons of Eden” and any biography by David McCullough, especially “Truman.” Daniel Boorstin’s “The Discoverers” is still one of my all-time favorites.

I have always loved the power of language and the ability of words to create pictures in the mind. To be able to create pictures of my own and give them to a reader is the thrill of a lifetime.

I write romance, suspense, and adventure, probably because I sit at a desk all day in front of a computer and crunch numbers. I want to read things that take me away from that desk and give me a thrill, and I want to give those same thrills to my readers.

A friend in my book club challenged me when I was unusually critical of a book we were discussing. “If you think you can do better,” she said, “why don’t you try?” Try I did, and three months later I had my first completed manuscript. No, it wasn’t easy, but it was probably the most fun I have ever had in my life (with my clothes on!). I was hooked! I’ve been writing ever since.

I spend my time reading (always), playing bridge, traveling with my husband, gardening, laughing with friends in my local Romance Writers of America chapter, attending writing workshops, judging writing contests and always writing, writing, writing.

Q: What genre do you enjoy writing and why?
A: I especially enjoy paranormal. I’ve done a sci-fi and I’m currently working on a time travel. It’s the world-building I love. Maybe I’ve got a God-complex because I love making a world that only exists in my imagination and then bringing it to life and giving it to my (potential) readers.

Q: What has been the most encouraging thing that’s helped you stay focused in your writing?
A: My membership in MidAmerica Romance Authors has been the most helpful. Every time I go to a meeting I come away full of energy and ideas, ready to charge ahead.

Q: What has been the most discouraging thing that’s happened in your writing?
A: Getting stuck on a plot. I just can’t seem to move ahead unless I can solve the problem. I have to sit and let in stew in my head until I figure it out. Until that happens, no words go on the paper and the little cursor on my computer blinks at me (it has a very mocking blink). The answers generally come, but sometimes it’s a slow process.

Q: Do you do research? If so, what type have you done?
A: Since I write paranormal/sci-fi there really isn’t a lot of research to do.
I have a science background (BA in biology) so the technical terms are pretty easy. I watch sci-fi movies and TV – Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly and Battlestar Galactica are my favorites. But I don’t want to “copy” the things I see there – so we’re back to the “letting it stew in my brain” thing to come up with an original twist.

Q: What do you think is the key to a memorable romantic story?
A: Easy question – making an emotional connection with the reader. The highest compliment a writer can receive is not “I couldn’t put the book down.” The greatest compliment a writer can get is “I didn’t want the story to end.” When you can do that, you know you have created a bond with the reader. The reader considers the characters to be friends and you never want to lose contact with a friend.

Q: Where do you get your story ideas?
A: EVERYWHERE! The idea for my sci-fi “Hungry Heart” came from watching a commercial for Weight Watchers. I thought – wouldn’t it be great if you could eat whatever you wanted and never had to worry about gaining weight. Then I took the thought further (that brain-stewing thing again) – no that wouldn’t be so great – you would become addicted to making sure you could find your next meal – you would become a predator. And so a character was born.

Q: What part of the whole writing process is the hardest for you?
A: It’s the butt in chair and putting the words down. I never seem to have time. I have to force myself to make the time and give writing a priority. This is sometimes difficult to explain to my family, but I come back from writing charged up and happy, so they’re getting used to it.

Q: What part of the whole writing process is the easiest for you?
A: The ideas and the openings. That’s why I’ve got three (count’em three) openings in the time travel. That manuscript is taking on a very different structure (insert chuckle here). I’ll let you know how it works out.

Q: Is there someone who’s been extra helpful with your writing?
A: Too many to name – every member of MARA – Heather, Keri, Gretchen, Carla, Sunny, Marianne. Marianne, Carla and Sunny are GREAT butt-kickers.

Q: Hero or heroine. Which is easiest to write and why.
A: Easiest – heroine – female point of view and dialog – those I get.

Q: Hero or heroine. Which is hardest to write and why.
A: Hero! – Male point of view, thinking and dialogue. When I know I have to write a male-heavy section or scene, I’ll sit down and watch a few episodes of Firefly or Battlestar to get my head in the right place – makes the writing easier.

Q: Describe your writing routine (place, hours, time of day, mood, etc.)
A: Mostly weekends when hubby is working – no music – no distractions. Take the ideas that have been stewing and get them on paper, as quickly as possible since time is a premium.

Q: Are you in a critique group? If so, tell us how it helps you.
A: I have been in a critique group – incredibly helpful!! I’m not currently in one – but will look for one when the time travel is a little farther on. I have found that critiques are not for when you are rough drafting a manuscript. They are better when the manuscript is complete and you have a full picture to work with – at that point a critique group is vital. Several more sets of eyes looking for plot inconsistencies, POV slips, dialogue, and those “what the hell were you thinking” scenes, can take the manuscript to the “ready for an editor level.”

Q: Are you ready to promo your work?
A: Not yet – nothing to promo.

Q: What are you working now, and do you have a publisher in mind to send it to?
A: The time travel is consuming me. I’m sending the sci-fi out to a couple of contests and researching agents/editors to submit.

Q: You’re on a deserted island in a comfy beach house (with a magical power source), a laptop, and two handsome cover models. What do you do?
A: WRITE! And have beach boy number one prepare the mai-tai’s while beach boy number two gives me a foot rub. (Am I getting old?)


Sandy said...

Fran, I love your picture. You wrote a terrific blog,

Marianne, the questions were great, but now I have one for Fran.

Fran, usually people who work in the science fields have great control over their emotions. My question is do you have any difficulty making your characters show their emotions?

BTW, I love what I've read of your stories.

Paris said...

Hi Fran,
Great interview, ladies and I'm with Sandy--love your picture!

Sci-Fi is one place I haven't gone yet but I totally get the Firefly connection--Joss Wheedon is a great one to study for dialogue and then you do get to look at Nathan Fillion:)

Unknown said...

Great interview!

Fran, your writing sounds like lots of fun. I can't wait to read some of it.

I'm the opposite with the hero/heroine. I seem to have an easier time writing from the male POV. All of those gender writing tests say I'm a man. *grin*

Tina Donahue said...

Wonderful interview, Fran - like your idea of what you'd need if stranded on a deserted island. :)

jean hart stewart said...

Good answers to the interview, I could feel your sincerity and love of words and writing. Lots of luck.

Fran Lee said...

Loved the blog and interview.

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