My name is Bec McMaster and I live in a small country town in Australia with my boyfriend, a noisy cockatiel, and a beautiful dog named Kobe. I grew up either with my nose in a book or writing, and never understood why other people didn’t get to watch ‘all the movies in their heads’. Following a lifelong love affair with fantasy, I discovered romance at the age of sixteen and haven’t looked back.
When I’m not writing I like to read, obsess over food blogs and my attempts at recreating their masterpieces, go hiking with my boyfriend, pore over travel brochures, and go to the gym. I’m addicted to travel, and love to set my books in foreign places. It’s the next best thing to travelling there. One day I vow to see the entire world, whether it’s by plane, paper, or imagination.
Now, on with the interview...
ME: What is your favorite childhood book?
BEC: The Hobbit. Mum gave me a copy when I was eight, and it was my first foray into fantasy. Consider me hooked!
ME: What is the first book that made you cry?
BEC: Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Those Banksia Men, man. I had nightmares for months. Mum had to burn the book in front of me.
ME: Oh dear... Is writing your primary 'job' or do you have another source of income?
BEC: I'm a full-time author since 2014, though I definitely have my partner to thank for letting me take this chance.
ME: Do people around you know you write romance/erotica and what do they think about it?
BEC: Most people have been really supportive, and nearly everybody who knows me, knows I write romance. My M-I-L pushed me to do a book launch for my first book, and there were around 180 people there at the library, so it's nice to be supported by my local town. My boyfriend tells everyone he knows, so he's stoked. I love writing romance, I love reading it, and I refuse to let anyone bag it out. If people choose not to be supportive of my life, then *shrug* I don't have to give them time or energy.
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.
BEC: It's not something I've struggled with personally, but I'm sure everyone else has different approaches and struggles with their writing. Everyone's creative process is different. I've hit a few stalling points, but I know if I can't figure out what I'm doing, that there's an issue with the plot somewhere. So I simply go fiddle with it, until I've unraveled that knot.
ME: Are you a plotter or fly by the seat of your pants kind of writer?
BEC: I'm definitely a pantser. I generally have a rough idea of the major plot points I want to hit, but I love diving in, and "excavating" who these characters are. I've tried outlining, but it doesn't work for me, and I recently watched a podcast (Becca Symes) on productivity, that explains how your Myers-Briggs type personality can play a role in how you write. I'm an INTJ, and being locked into an outline simply doesn't work for me. It made so much sense when she explained why, so I think it's important for writers to know that there's no one way that works. You have to find what works for you.
ME: So true, everyone is different and so are our processes. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
BEC: I don't research beforehand. I research along the way. If I'm on a deadline, I simply insert a red "blah" when I know I need to flesh out some information, and then go back to it once I'm finished the dirty draft. I write historical paranormal, and steampunk romance, so a lot of the research I do is on historical data and mechanics.
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?
BEC: I write in series. Each book can be read alone (with a story resolution for that particular book and characters), though each book also moves along the overarching series arc. I generally prefer to have a set number in the series (for example a trilogy, or five book series), and wrap the overall arc up within that. If I want to linger in that world, then I tend to spin-off into a new 5-book arc. World building is my forte, so I love exploring different aspects of that world.
ME: Where do your story ideas come from?
BEC: Anything. Books, movies, a random spark of dialogue. I have a dragon shifters series that popped into my head when I was reading a tour brochure about Iceland. Because Iceland + volcanoes + dragons = so much fun.
ME: That would be fun :) Do you ever base your characters, events or locations on real people, events or places?
BEC: I am writing a series (see above: dragon shifters) set in Iceland, but it's an alternate fantasy Iceland. And I have two series set in London, but... my alternate London. I don't generally base characters off people though. They're real and fully fleshed out in my head.
ME: Is there a character in one of your books loosely based off yourself?
BEC: Not really. The one I most identify with is a tomboyish wallflower, but that's as close as I get.
ME: What process do you use for selecting the names of your characters?
BEC: I Google baby names from a particular country, poll my readers, or sometimes it simply pops into my head.
ME: Nice and simple, I like it. Who has been your most difficult character to write so far?
BEC: Will Carver, the hero in my second book, Heart of Iron. He's a big, gruff, surly wolf shifter (kind of), who has firm walls in place, even for me. Consequently, he's also one of my reader's favorites.
ME: Have you ever killed off someone who pissed you off in one of your books?
BEC: Nope. I could understand the temptation though (:
ME: What was your hardest scene to write?
BEC: Maybe a fake orgasm scene. I think the hottest sex scenes are emotional scenes, where something major occurs in the hero/heroines lives. A turning point of sorts. So I had a heroine in dire straits, and a hero she's made a saucy deal with, but it just didn't make sense to have her get off, when so much emotional stuff was going on around her. It was a balancing act, and I seriously rewrote that scene about five times. Super hard work, but the satisfaction of getting it right still lingers. Of course, the hero wasn't going to take that lying down... which turned into some really fun scenes to write.
ME: LOL. Does writing energize or exhaust you, and why?
BEC: Energises me. I live for this, and if no one wanted to read my books, I'd still write. There is nothing better than being lost in your own world.
ME: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal, and why?
BEC: I'd like to say a dragon, but I think the lone wolf fits me best. I mean, I rarely leave the house (:
ME: Interesting. So now it's time for a little advice for the budding authors out there. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
BEC: When everyone says to go get a real job because writing doesn't pay, don't listen to them. You got this.
ME: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
BEC: Everyone's creative process is different. There is never just one way to do something, so if someone tells you there is, don't listen. You have to work out what works for YOU. And keeping working at that, and fleshing out your best processes. Don't look at other writers and see them nailing a 10k word count every day and think you have to do that. Do the best that you can, with the process that works for you.
ME: That is good advice :) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
BEC: Editing? I 100% believe that the right editor can only make you better. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees, and I don't think ANY author (no matter how big they get) is above editing.
ME:Thanks, Bec, great interview. It was fantastic to get to know a bit more about you and your work before the event! Can't wait to see you at RTC2018.