I grew up in Central Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the middle of wine country. It is a beautiful part of the state. I use Charlottesville, and the surrounding countryside as one of my backdrops for my story in The Medici Warrior Series.What role have books and reading played in building your life?
My mother was an avid reader, and had a book in my hands before I could walk. I remember being as young as elementary school, and reading books under the covers on a school night, using a flashlight. As a teenager, there were many nights I read through the night, only to watch the sun come up. Even as an adult, sacrificing a night’s sleep for a good book, even though I had to get up for work, was always a sacrifice worth making. With all that reading, it was never my ambition to become a writer. However, career changes through the years led to a marketing job which involved the creation of a lot of sales materials, catalogs, and video scripts. That job opened me to the possibility of exploring writing something on my own.How do you find time in your schedule to write? Do you dedicate a fixed number of hours to it every day?
I treat writing like a job. I have to remain disciplined about it, and sit down at the computer at approximately the same time every day. I may work for five hours, or I may work for eight or more, depending on how active the characters are in my head.Why do you write romance? What do you hope your readers will learn through your books?
I don’t think I set out to specifically write “romance”. I wanted to write more in the fantasy genre, and stared writing about the interaction between the characters, and romance seemed to blossom, so I just followed them!What other things, apart from reading and writing are you passionate about?
I love gardening, and I love music and live theater. I care deeply about animal welfare issues. I love art, and enjoy dabbling in it, although I’m not good enough to do anything professional with it. I want you to “tell me a story”, in whatever form it takes; movies, plays, TV shows, books, music, art.How do you keep your stories interesting and from becoming repetitive?
Once the characters are defined and come to life in my head, I have a really rough outline of where I want them to go. It is like a movie director, giving actor’s minimal direction, and letting them ad lib the dialogue. The characters lead me in unexpected directions sometimes, and I will have to modify my outline to accommodate the characters.When did you start writing The Medici Warrior Series? What inspired the first book and did you know then that you would make it into a series?
The Medici Warrior Series was started over seven years ago. I knew from the beginning I wanted an epic series, told in a serial format across multiple books. Because I was a new author, and I had been researching the process of getting a publisher when I started writing, I knew up front it would be difficult getting my foot in the door. I decided I would have a better chance of securing a publisher’s interest if I could go to them and say I have a six book series and all six books have already been written. It has also allowed the publisher to schedule book releases every six months, so readers don’t have such a long wait between books.Besides Romance, what are some other genres you want to experiment with?
I have an outline for another series about witches, but it will also involve romance. I like weaving drama and romance together. I also think it is a genre that many readers are drawn to.What kind of takeaway do you want your readers to get from readings your books?
I’m not trying to impart any wisdom, or teach any lessons with my books. I see them as pure escapism. A means to step away from job, and kids, and cleaning the house and preparing meals, and retreat into a world of fantasy where lovers never fail you, parts of your life are perfect, and everything is resolvable … with a little drama thrown in for good measure.When you write, what keeps you focused and motivated? Even though writing is your passion, do you ever find yourself procrastinating sometimes?
I am not a procrastinator. I push the people around me. I want my editor to work faster. I want my publisher to work faster. I have to remind myself I’m not their only client! I’m somewhat obsessive in how I approach any project in that I’m going to push until it’s done. Pretty annoying, huh?How do you decide the names, appearance, characteristics, etc, of your characters?
Like a lot of writers, I keep notes. I’ll see something that triggers an idea and I’ll jot it down. I’ll dream something that triggers an idea, and jot it down. Photos in magazines or images in movies or TV of people or places will sometimes stir inspiration for a character, or a location. Some names are used because I just like the sound of the name, and others I research. The Medici Warrior Series has a lot of Italian characters, so I researched Italian names. It also spanned over 500 years and had some historical elements, so I also had to look at names that fit specific time periods. Once you develop your characters, they will come to life in your head. Their characteristics emerge, and you can judge what feels authentic as opposed to what feels false. When you write a particular scene, you can step back and look at it, and know, “so and so would never say that… or do that.” It is important to keep your characters authentic.How do you usually get new ideas for your books? Do you use any tricks to get "in the zone" and get your creative juices flowing?
Ideas come to me when I’m not particularly looking for ideas. I was recently reading an article online about a panther that was lose in Paris, and roaming the room-tops. I immediately thought, “Wow, what a great idea for a story!” It’s why writers keep a notepad handy! I may never use the panther idea, or it may evolve into something else, but those kinds of things trigger ideas for possible plots, or sub-plots all the time. As for getting “in to the zone”, it depends on what I’m writing. I may need complete silence. Other times, I will use music to put me in a specific mood. If I’m writing something emotional that is evoking a response from the character, I want the reader to feel the same. I know if I’m not feeling it, the reader won’t either. So if it’s meant to be funny, and it didn’t make me laugh, or it’s meant to be sad, and it didn’t make me cry, then chances are my reader won’t have the emotional response I want them to have.Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? What are some goals you hope to accomplish by then?
I hope that all six books of The Medici Warrior Series are out there and have a solid following. And with any luck, the next series, The Bohannon Witch Series, will be right behind it.For any romance fan out there trying their hand at writing, what is one thing you want them to remember about this genre?
If you’re writing contemporary romance, the reader insists on a happily-ever-after. If you write paranormal romance or a category I call “dark romance”, you can play with that a little, and make the couple’s path a darker one, but ultimately, the reader needs to see them together in the end. Readers can be critical, but other writers are really critical.
Figure out your genre, and who your audience is, but ultimately, write for yourself. If your objective is to make a lot of money, then stop now. You can have success, but you may not make enough to quit your day job! Write because you love to write, in the same way a painter paints because they love to create art. Some people will love your work, and other will hate it. Develop a thick skin, cultivate your own fan base, and don’t worry about the rest.
Hire an editor! A critical one! Then listen to them.When did you join AllAuthor? Have you had a pleasant experience with the website so far? Do you have any feedback?
My publisher gave me a list of sites I needed to be active on prior to my book launch, and All Author was on the list. So I set up author pages on BookBub, Good Reads, and a dozen others. But All Author was the only site that gave me access to tools to help me proactively market my books. All the other sites were passive, requiring the reader to go looking for you. All Author was the only site that gave me tools to reach out to the reader.
Emily Bex grew up in Central Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the middle of the wine country. She loves gardening, and she loves music and live theater. She likes weaving drama and romance together. She also thinks it is a genre that many readers are drawn to. She treats writing like a job. Ideas come to her when she is not particularly looking for ideas. She has a passion for travel and likes working in the cities, countries, and history of the places she has visited into the story.