I'm a lifelong reader who had a dream to write her own books. A transplanted Yankee, I now live in Georgia (Hotlanta) with my pets. While I have a strong personal belief system and faith, I won't be "preaching" in any of my books. They'll have perfectly imperfect people in it who meet, fall in love, fall into bed (at times; sometimes they might wait), have kids, get married. In short, I want to write books that make people think and feel.
Now on with the interview.
Me: What is your favorite childhood book?
DARLENE: I LOVED “Harriet the Spy” and can’t tell you how many times I read it growing up!
ME: What is the first book that made you cry?
DARLENE: “All Things Great and Small”
ME: Is writing your primary 'job' or do you have another source of income?
DARLENE: I am actually on SSDI (social security disability insurance), but I do hair at several assisted living facilities a few times a month.
ME: Do people around you know you write romance/erotica and what do they think about it?
DARLENE: Family and friends know I write “racy contemporary romances” and the majority of my friends have been very very supportive. In fact, my oldest son bought my first book even though he said “you know I’ll never read it”…lol. Not sure how the rest of my family feels tbh.
ME: Do you believe in writer’s block? If not why not? And if so what suggestions do you have to start the juices flowing again.
DARLENE: I think it happens. There have been a few times my “voices” won’t talk and when that happens, I will look at another of my gazillion WIPs to see if they’re willing to talk. If they don’t/won’t, I try not to stress. Instead, I’ll read something on my Kindle or watch some tv. If all else fails, I’ll take a nap!
ME: Sound advice. et's discuss your process for a bit. Are you a plotter or fly by the seat of your pants kind of writer?
DARLENE: I’d say I’m more of a pantser, but I will jot down vague notes like names, ages, that kind of thing. Then, I let the characters tell the story.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
DARLENE: If research is needed, I go to google and then I read. In fact, in one of my current books, I needed to know about triathlons so I watched YouTube videos for hours. I realize I write fiction, but I do want the hint of realism, you know?
ME: Would you rather write standalones, standalones with connections to your other works, or multi book series with no true conclusion until the very end?
DARLENE: Tough question. When I started writing, I wanted to only write standalones. However, I have two different series in the works right now and my first two books? Those characters pop up in book one of my latest book, The Black Tuxedos MC – Reese!
ME: Where do your story ideas come from?
DARLENE: Not to sound trite, but they come from everywhere! I spend a lot of time driving and a song can give me inspiration, or seeing something on the side of the road. Heck, watching the news has given me ideas!
ME: Do you ever base your characters, events or locations on real people, events or places?
DARLENE: Yes and no. The yes would be my heroines, I think most of them have pieces of me in them (or my friends). And of course, the ugly exes? Yeah, they’re definitely pulled from memories.
ME: Is there a character in one of your books loosely based off yourself?
DARLENE: Most of them are but if I were to have to choose – I’d say Dorrie from “Bountiful Harvest” because that’s what I want in a man – someone who will woo me and court me.
ME: What process do you use for selecting the names of your characters?
DARLENE: Sometimes my betas will give input, like if I say I want a female name that begins with “D”. Sometimes, it’s a name I like. I try to make mine unique so that my characters are remembered, if that makes sense.
ME: Who has been your most difficult character to write so far?
DARLENE: I’m writing it right now! “Our Last First Kiss” has Thorne and Tinsleigh and he’s letting HER set the pace and oh my goodness, is she poking along! Over 23k in on a book with no kissing?
ME: Have you ever killed off someone who pissed you off in one of your books?
DARLENE: Bahahahhahha….um, yep. In fact, I was on a killing spree in “His Forever” and my betas and editor threatened to quit if I didn’t stop killing folks off!
ME: What was your hardest scene to write?
DARLENE: My very first sex scene. I was worried it wouldn’t be hot enough. Second hardest was when one book deemed it would be an MFM; I’ve never lived it and again, I was worried about how it would be received. So far, so good!
ME: Does writing energize or exhaust you, and why?
DARLENE: Both! When I open up a WIP and start typing, I let the story take over and hours can pass as my fingers fly over the keyboard.
ME: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal, and why?
DARLENE: A cat. In fact, my cat, Harry, is one of the “stars” of the kids series I co-write with Cherry Shephard and her son, Alex.
ME: Aww, cute. Now, for a little bit of advice for the budding writers out there. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
DARLENE: Follow your dreams and keep writing.
ME: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
DARLENE: I would say not having good beta readers that won’t blow smoke up their ass when going over their manuscripts. My team gives me good input but they also let me know if stuff is too wordy, if there are plot holes or timeline inconsistencies.
Also, I would say paying too much for an editor (or not using an editor at all). There are folks who charge an arm and a leg to edit and they do a crappy job.
And lastly, going into “too much debt” when publishing their first book. Use a premade cover (there are some awesome, inexpensive services out there), find a good beta team and a reasonably priced editor.
ME: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
DARLENE: Hmmm, well, I haven’t received it “yet” but I finally broke down and bought an alphasmart neo wordprocessor so I can write “anywhere”. Other than that, it would be the premade covers I have bought from Mae’s Wicked Grafix, Dark Water Covers, and Wilde Designs. They bring my words to life!
ME: Thank you so much for your time, Darlene. We are looking forward to seeing you at RTC2018!