Thursday, July 9, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Carol Malone

The Write Way Café welcomes Carol Malone, who shares her experiences writing as a labor of love.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book?
My husband and I took an English course at the local community college to support our son who, at the time needed help staying motivated to attend school. The professor read some of my writings and told me I was a writer. Because of his belief in me, I wrote 6 manuscripts within 4 months and have never looked back.

Was that first thought related to writing romance?
Absolutely. At the time, I was reading about 130 romance books a year and thought, “I can do that,” and I proved that I could.

What was your path to getting this book written and published?
It didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t a mainstream romance writer—I wasn’t going to write sexually explicit scenes in my books. So I needed a group that would support the sweet romance writer that I learned I was and found the Sweet / Clean Romance group on Facebook. They were supportive and encouraging and I found my inspiration there. I also learned that they were going to do a compilation of sweet tales for the summer. I jumped on that like the last piece of bacon on the breakfast table. I was all in.

What type of research did you do?
I had always wanted to write about my life as it related to visiting my mother’s mother on her farm in a small community in Northern Utah. I didn’t need to do any research as such, I could describe in such clarity of detail every road, every path, every farmyard, and house because I had been there. The historical stuff came from Google searches about education in that time period. I had heard that women who taught school in the early 1900s could not be married. This set up my premise for my story. Lizzy Golden wants to be a doctor like her great-grandma—she doesn’t want to teach school. But her father is insistent that she become a teacher like himself since he had no son to follow in his footsteps. Voila! Conflict!

Where did the idea for your story come from?
Like I said, this was a personal story to write, though not about me at all. I had actually had a summer crush on my grandma’s neighbor across the street and acted like a silly girl that I was, so I wanted to re-create that special time, that special summer love. I took my fictional characters and placed them in my beloved valley, in my grandma’s house, and in the town that I adored. I wanted Lizzy to be bold where I was not.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
I had been kicking around the idea of writing a historical set in territorial Utah for a while so when the Sweet / Clean group said lets write a summer themed compilation where a beach is mentioned, all I had to do was add in a lake that, technically, wouldn’t be completed for many years. But it made for great fun for the town folk to look forward to an end of summer picnic at the lake.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people?
Brent Pierce is based on a real characters—the young man I had a crush on so many years ago. I believe Lizzy Golden would be more based on the spunk of my grandmother. At age 65, she had to learn to drive and pay bills, because my grandfather always did the driving and the finances for the family and he had passed away.

Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Maybe Lizzy is a little bit like me, but she’s more outspoken.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them?
I didn’t face a block while writing Summer Holiday. I had a deadline and I work really well under the thought of a deadline and someone expecting me to deliver a finished product. So no, I didn’t suffer any blocks with this book.

If not, what's your secret?
But I have suffered writer’s block—or basically fear, to keep writing many times. I’m still struggling with the sequel to my Ladies Night. I guess because it means I won’t be with these characters anymore and I love being with them. I have to force myself to sit, maybe read back a couple of chapters to catch a glimpse of my brilliance, then forge onward. It works 9 times out of 10. If not, I run downstairs and veg in front of the TV watching Castle reruns.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
It surprised me how easy it was to write. It was so natural to write about the setting that played the biggest part in my growing up years until my grandmother passed away.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about the early 1900s and medical practices at that time?
I didn’t so much learn anything new or different about myself or my process, but I did learn that when the passion is there, when the characters are firm in your mind, writing is not a chore—it’s a labor of love. There were a lot of things to learn about that time of the early 1900s, customs, dress, farm equipment and practices, food, and what set them apart as hard working people who helped forge a new nation. I was surprised that they weren’t all calling a concussion a concussion. Grandma called it a “brain shaking” because that’s what it was. There were some other medical breakthroughs that Lizzy talks to Brent about.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
My writing space is in an upstairs bedroom and my desk faces a large window where I can look out and see the local hills and orchards. I have two monitors that have proved invaluable for doing research. I could really use three, but that’s just ridiculous. As usually, my desk is covered with stuff needing my attention, but I’m too focused on writing to do business. I’ve written many stories sitting at my desk surrounded by photos of places that move me like San Francisco and Kauai.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
When I first started writing romance, I read everything Nora Roberts ever produced. Now I’ve changed my focus to cozy mysteries and favor B.J. Daniels. I love stories of the wild west even if it’s today, I like Linda Lael Miller and her Montana or Wyoming tales. I do like Louis L’Amour for the real taste of the wild west, and Kate Atkinson for her Jackson Brody series. Gosh, I wish she’d write more about him.

What are you working on now?
For Camp NaNoWriMo during the month of July, I’m going to write a YA romance about a young man and young lady who win the parts of Tony and Maria in the play, Westside Story. She’s been crushing on him since she was 8 years old, so she’s in seventh heaven. And I’m still trying to finish my sequel to Ladies Night.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Yes. Which one and why?
I wrote Ladies Night when I was struggling to write a contemporary romance. It was like writing on a breeze the words came so easily. So I discovered my passion for writing crime drama set in historical settings like LA in the 1950s with a dash of sweet romance. There was never a struggle to put fingers to keys to write in this genre. It was a great discover about myself and where my heart lies.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
I would love to be the person who could coach people with a passion for writing to become writers. Actually, that’s what I’m studying to become with my own book coach as my mentor. I work as her apprentice and have already helped a gentleman get his World War II book ready for publishing. It’s a great feeling helping and lifting other writers to their potential.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
My book coach, Beth Barany has developed an entire curriculum for writers to be able to plan out their novel BEFORE sitting down to write it. This has been a tremendous help to me as I’m struggled with writing as a pantzer—by the seat of my pants. Even pantzers can have trouble with where to go next. My trouble lies in creating compelling characters—finding their core beliefs and deciding how they are going to change through the novel by deciding on their goals, their motivation to reach their goals, and what conflict will stand in the way. (Sorry, didn’t make it sound like an ad for Beth, although she is a great coach.)

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
Though I adore Lizzy and Brent—sorry guys, I absolutely have a deep passion for Detective Marc DeLuca and the winsome beauty, Helene Dominic in my sequel to Ladies Night, Sunday Punch, scheduled for release later this year. **fingers crossed**

About Carol: Award-winning author Carol Malone has successfully combined her three passions – romance, sports, and writing in her two highly-rated books, Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night, and Ladies Night Christmas sequel. She’s also tested the waters with a historical set in 1905 down home on the farm in Summer Holiday. She was the first woman to write a romance for the all-male dominated genre. Carol invites her readers to scramble into a front row seat for a thrill-ride of suspense, sports, and sweet romance. If not hammering out new tales, Carol’s loves reading, sports, and hanging with her author husband on the coast of California.

Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night
Ladies Night Christmas
Summer Holiday



HiDee said...

I love that you were able to include such an important part of your life in your books. Thanks for being with us today!

CMalone said...

Up until Summer Holiday, I was writing books I knew nothing about except through reading the genre of Fight Card, and my research. Writing in the seemy underworld of boxing in L.A. in the 1950s isn't exactly writing what I new. But writing about the place where I grew up and loved, well, that's like writing candy--sweet and delicious and very satisfying. Thank you for hosting me today, HiDee. It was my pleasure to be featured here.

Angela Adams said...

A 1905 historical! That's a unique idea and most historical novels are set in the 1800s. I enjoyed reading your interview. Thanks for the post!