Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
This week we are featuring Dorothy Love! To enter to win a copy of her book, Carolina Gold (Thomas Nelson), leave a comment on this post.
Tell us a little about your new book . . . Carolina Gold is set in post-bellum South Carolina and is inspired by the life of a 19th-centry woman rice planter. Elizabeth Allston Pringle, whose father Robert F W Allston was governor of South Carolina before the war, returned to Chicora Wood, the family’s vast rice plantation on the Pee Dee river and spent the rest of her life there writing articles about her experiences for the New York Sun and attempting to revive the rice trade. I stumbled across Elizabeth’s writings more than fifteen years ago and couldn’t get her story out of my head. Ron and I spend a fair amount of time in the Lowcountry, and I love it so much I had to write a story set there. My character, Charlotte Fraser, and her plantation, Fairhaven, are totally fictional, but they are inspired by Elizabeth’s life and work. I hope I have done her justice.
Anything new for you on the book horizon? A new novel to be published in 2014 tentatively called The Bracelet. It’s set in antebellum Savannah and, like all my books, is based on an actual historical event. In this case, a double tragedy at the home of the third richest man in Savannah. It has romance of course, but more mystery than in my previous books, and even a touch of suspense.
Why do you write? RL Stine said it best: There is no heavy lifting involved and you don’t need special shoes.
What are you best known for . . . writing or otherwise? I’m not sure I’m known at all. That’s the problem for writers, isn’t it? Connecting with that readership.
If you could wish one thing for your future, what would it be? A long and healthy period of time in which to complete my bucket list. During college I was involved in a lot of volunteer work with young children, and I’d like to do more of that in the future. I’ve always wanted to help build a Habitat for Humanity house. I like to think about a family living in a house I helped build, even years after I’m gone. I support Living Water International, and I’d love to travel to Africa to see the results of their efforts.
Best author moment? Any time I get a letter or email from a reader who enjoyed my books. Makes my day every time.
Worst author moment? My first ever book signing. I sat alone at a table for an hour without anyone approaching me. Finally a woman stopped. Flipped through my book, and then set it down and said, “Can you tell me where the bathroom is?”
If you weren’t able to write, what would you do? Mercy, I have no clue. I’ve been a full-time writer and a published author since the early 1990’s. I guess I’d go work on that bucket list. But without a book to write, it would feel like an arm is missing.
Describe your ideal circumstances to write. Clean house, quiet room, good cup of coffee.
Right this moment, what does your office look like? A disaster zone! As I write this, I’m editing the Savannah book due in two weeks, which means rechecking some of my historical facts, and at this moment there are a dozen histories of Savannah, books of maps, copies of 19th-century women’s diaries scattered everywhere.
How would you describe your writing style to a reader? My books are deeply personal, grounded in history. I guess the best way to summarize my style is that readers can expect mystery, history, and more than a little romance.
If you could write any book–on any topic–and be guaranteed a publishing contract, what topic would it be? (Or genre?) I am so lucky in that I am able to write exactly what I want to write. I love history in all its messiness and incompleteness, I love the South with her many faults and virtues, and I get to put all that together in every novel I write. How cool is that?
Ever had a bad review? How did you handle it? No, all of my books always get nothing but starred reviews. Just kidding! Of course I’ve had some bad reviews. There is no point in responding to a less than stellar review—the author can’t win, so I ignore them. Occasionally, a thoughtful reviewer will point out a legitimate flaw in the story, and in that case, I take the criticism to heart and try to learn from it. These days when everyone has a computer and everyone is a critic, it seems to me reviews have become more mean spirited. To the point of name-calling and bullying. What can an author do with such people? Nothing. Of course a nasty review hurts when we feel it’s off base and unwarranted, but I try to remember that such reviews say more about the reviewer than they do about me or my books.
What’s one thing you learned about the publishing industry in last five years? Last year? Last six months? Everything is cyclical. When I began my career in the 1990’s an author could not sell a YA novel anywhere. But look at how the genre has exploded—Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and the Twilight series made YA novels popular again.
At that same time, every house was buying up picture books for preschoolers. So what happened? Houses bought too many of them, there was a glut and eventually authors could not sell picture books. Today we are seeing this waxing/waning cycle across most genres of fiction for adults, with historical romance especially hard hit due to the glut of backlists that are being digitally published. My hope is that the market will soon absorb the glut, and historical fiction will enjoy a new round of popularity.
In the last six months we’ve seen several publishing houses in the CBA discontinuing their fiction lines, others putting the brakes on acquisitions and trimming their lists, still others being sold to larger companies. It’s a very challenging time to be a publisher or an author, and what I’ve learned is that we must all learn somehow to be more nimble in responding to the market, and more innovative in how we produce and distribute content.
How do you solve a grammar dilemma? I rely on my old-fashioned, low-tech print edition of Webster’s dictionary.
Are you an introvert? Extrovert? In between? Introvert. I’m not good at small talk and I think that’s why trying to be active on social media is such a challenge for me. I can’t imagine people are interested in my hangnail or that I had scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Do you enjoy public speaking as an author? Why or why not? I’m a former college professor. I don’t enjoy making a speech all that much, but I love teaching, and I’m always looking for opportunities to teach at writers workshops and conferences.
Can a person make a living as a writer? Five years ago I would have said yes. Now it’s getting much harder, for the reasons I discussed above.
What are you working on now? Newest release? Carolina Gold is the new release. In stores December 10th. Now I’m working on final edits for The Bracelet and writing a novella to be published as part of a collection in 2015.
Any last thoughts to share?Just a huge thank you for hosting me here. I enjoyed it.