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Monday, June 18, 2012

Interview of Author Polly McCrillis

Today I'm presenting an interview of romance author Polly McCrillis.

Latest Book: Almost Forsaken
Buy Links:

Polly believes that playing in the dirt is the best cure for the blues, wading in public fountains should be universal law and ignoring characters knocking around in her brain is harmful to her mental health. Owner and operator of a secondhand book shop in southwest Missouri, Polly writes contemporary romances under her own name and historical romances under her pen name, Isabel Mere. She is the author of the historical romance, "Almost" series as well as short stories in several Highland Press annual holiday anthologies. In December of 2011, Detours, a book of her short stories, was released.

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
A: Conflict. I know, I know, we have to have it. Without it, why bother turning the page? Having my characters angry with each other or misunderstood or anything that causes that very necessary tension we need in our writing is hard for me. I avoid it in real life and have to force myself to include it in my writing. It was especially challenging in Almost Forsaken since both Hayden and Mei struggled with the same issues yet couldn't see past their resentments to help each other. I wanted them to just stop the warring and work things out, but they had to decide to want to do that on their own timetable, not mine. I repeatedly avoided "Ah, finally!" moments to keep the tension and conflicts going.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: Not at all. I write a back story for every character, a technique I've used as a stage actress. Creating a life for my character that the audience doesn’t know and "knowing" what she was doing before she stepped on stage. Best example is the play, “84 Charing Cross Road” and my role as Helene Hanff, the writer. (played by Anne Bancroft in the film). For every scene, and there were a bazillion, Helene had something going on before the audience saw her: She'd just gotten back from a walk in Central Park, or had an argument with her publisher, or stepped out for a smoke and a stiff drink. (she did that a lot!) With my book characters I create something similar. How they appear to me springs from back story - their life experiences, relationships, upbringing, professions, etc. Occasionally the back story gets tweaked as the book progresses.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: I have more than one and two of them vie for first place. Playing classical piano music, a lifelong love, and spending Wednesday through Saturdays in Bookmarks, my secondhand bookstore I own and manage.

Q: What’s your strongest point as a writer?
A: I know how my characters look and sound I know how they’ll verbally and physically respond to whoever they’re talking to. Whatever comes out of their mouths has a natural flow to it.

Q: You’re on a remote island with a handsome man, a computer, and a “mysterious” source of electricity to power your computer. What do you do?
A: Hope my computer doubles as a camera so I can take a picture of the two of us together, just to prove I was really there with him!

Q: What genre would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?
A: Suspense. I’ve always loved suspense novels and suspense films. I love it when I have no idea “who done it”, when the author/screenwriter has given us so many possibilities and motives and the writing is tight. Being able to do that and weave different story lines together is so impressive and fun to read. I tend to be a linear thinker, not prone to thinking up twisty plots and evil characters. In writing historicals I give readers lots of details and the pace is slower than in suspense novels. I have a lot to learn about writing suspense but then I had a lot to learn about writing Regency romances and I figured that one out! Just recently I dipped my toes into the pool of suspense and am taking baby steps, determined to have a suspense tale at the end of the journey.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!

Captured by Chinese slavers from the ruins of a shipwreck, Hayden Morissey has endured eleven years serving Sumatran sultans, survived man-eating tigers, monsoons and Malaysians and now is ordered to play nursemaid and babysitter to a female thief. A Chinese woman who incites his contempt.

Mei Shih-min escapes death by hanging only to be handed over to Englissar, a man she despises on sight. His kind are responsible for her parent’s death. Being forced to work as maid to the sultan’s spoiled wife riles her fighting instincts, and Mei’s keeper is the perfect target for her anger.

To be free of each other is their greatest desire. All they have to do is convince their hearts.

“Because you cannot be trusted, you will spend the remainder of the night tethered to me.” Hayden wrapped the sash around Mei’s ankle and knotted it. “The night is nearly over,” he said. “Sleep and you won’t even know we are bound together.”

Her hold on his wrist tightened. “Please, don’t do this. I will not run. You have my word.”

Hayden made a final loop in the knot. “Ah, yes, your word. How does this one compare to the others? Greater than the one that allowed me to believe you had only a rudimentary understanding of English,” he tugged at both knots, testing their tautness, “or more believable than the one leading me to think your injuries so severe it pained you to climb a ladder?” He picked up the torch and stood. “Your word is worth nothing to me, tigress. What is worth something is having you gone from my life on the morrow.” He offered a hand. “Enough talk. I would like some sleep before the sun rises. Come.”

She shook her head, crossed her arms at the waist.

“Fine by me.” He took a very wide step toward his mat. She shrieked and hit the floor with what body part he didn’t know and didn’t care. Hayden smiled and continued walking, her slight weight no hindrance to dragging her over the bamboo.

“Stop!” she cried when his next step pulled her halfway across the room.

Hayden paused and glanced back at her as she rolled onto knees and hands. She stood and shook back her hair. If eyes could sever a human head, Hayden’s would thump to the floor. Shards of green glass pierced his impassive gaze.

“Must you be such a monstrous brute?” she spit.

“Oh Miss Mei.” He slapped a hand to his chest. “Please. No flattery. My hardened heart will likely suffer a seizure.”

A glower collided with his smile. “May it be great enough to kill you.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
My goal for my first book was to write the best one I could, get it published and then walk into my public library and see a copy of it on the shelf. Or even better, NOT see it on the shelf, because someone had checked it out! I met that goal and what a spectacular feeling it was. Every book I’ve created since that first has been a gift. Hayden’s story was an especially surprising gift. A few months after Almost Taken was released I received an email from a reader asking me what happened to Hayden. Who's Hayden? I asked myself. Honestly, I couldn't recall writing about a Hayden. I had to leaf through Almost Taken, a book wrote to find him. There he was, somewhere in the middle, a two sentence reference, brother of main character, lost at sea, never to be heard from. More time goes by and another reader asks, What Happened To Hayden?! Uh, he drowned, that’s what happened to him! He’s not even in the darn story!(I didn’t send this reply, just thought it). So, I’m into writing Almost Guilty when I get another email, and another (I am not making this up), from readers wanting to know what happened to poor Hayden. I think, enough already. If the guy DIDN’T drown, where’s he been for the past eight years? Thus the birth of Almost Forsaken. Thank you to all those readers who thought beyond my pages!


Sandy said...

Conflict is hard for me because I try to control my temper, Polly.

I enjoyed your excerpt.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sandy. At least when our characters are having their temper tantrums no one's getting hurt in real life!

Anonymous said...

Your new book sounds very interesting and I cannot wait to read it!

Tina Donahue said...

Loved your blurb and excerpt - sounds like a great book.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Tina. I had a lot of fun spending time with these characters.

Suzanne Johnson said...

What a great excerpt...I can tell I'm going to like these characters! For someone who doesn't like conflict, you got some great (sizzling) conflict in that scene :-)

Anonymous said...

Yup, plenty of conflict - and kick butt heroine moves!

Christina souza said...

Can't wait to read it cuz!!! It's being shipped as we speak. I will have to get it autographed when your in MA next month!!!

G. Aliceson Edwards-YA Writer said...

Enjoyed reading about your work!

Gerri Bowen said...

I loved your excerpt, Polly. Love your books!

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy happy to autograph it, Christina! Thank you G. Aliceson-it's great to have a YA writer on the site. And Gerri! Thanks for the kind words. Happy writing!

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