Interviewed by Bobby
Welcome, Angela. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! First, tell me a little bit about yourself. When did you first start writing, and what inspired you to sit down and pen your first story?
I was writing stories as far back as about twelve years of age. I remember writing these stories and tucking them down on the bench under the table (we lived in a caravan for years), and keeping them hidden there! I read a lot, even back then (that hasn’t changed <g>) and daydreamed heaps….(hmmm, that hasn’t changed, either), so I guess I was inspired at a very early age with a big imagination LOL.
What draws you to write romance?
I love taking either almost impossible situations (sci-fi/futuristic romance) and making it all come together, or taking modern problems (my plus sized romances) and giving the heroines the HEA they deserve, while making them real to the readers.
Your Big Girls Lovin’ series fall into a “rubenesque” category of romance. Will you share a little about why you chose to write about plus-sized heroines?
I’m a plus-sized girl myself, and I found that there was a sad lack of romances featuring plus-sized girls getting their HEAs. I thought it’d be good to start writing those stories for those who want them. It’s been eye opening even for me - I’m learning other things about myself and those around me through writing these stories.
Why did decide to write books in a series? Did you encounter any particular challenges writing a series as opposed to stand-alone stories?
My first books were a series (and still are) - 18 books so far in a sci-fi romance series, each book featuring a stand alone story with their own couple, so writing a series isn’t anything new for me. I liked the idea of having several people and watching their dreams come true, while visiting them briefly in another book, or having them appear. Friends and family always work well this way, I feel.
Tell me a little about how you develop your heroes and heroines. What do you think makes for “perfect” romantic tension between them?
Heroes and heroines have to develop as the story goes on, or they don’t go far. Characters drive a story. Perfect romantic tension would have to be sexual awareness of each other, an attraction, while at the same time the hero and heroine don’t get along for some reason. That’s always fun!
You have chosen to self-publish your books instead of working with a professional publishing company. Tell me a little about this and the benefits and challenges of self-publishing. Did being published live up to your expectations? Has it changed your life at all?
After having books published by a publisher in America, I decided to give self publishing a go. The current publisher I had and still have (Wings ePress) is really good, but I had a couple of books with 2 other small publishers, one went bankrupt and the other, well, let’s just say a lot of things happened and it simply disappeared off the internet. With the bankrupt publisher, I (and other authors) found out that despite our contracts saying all rights reverted to us if the company went bankrupt, that, in fact, it didn’t happen. Our rights were frozen as part of the company assets, and then our contracts were auctioned off to the highest bidder. Luckily, the company that bought our rights gave those of us who wanted it our rights back. Huge lesson. The other publisher simply disappearing was another big lesson.
This made me more wary of publishers in general. I’ve even heard of a print publisher who decided not to publish several titles of a particular author’s books, but refused to give her rights back until the contract runs out, which from memory were quite a few years.
Self publishing means all my rights are mine, I can choose the price, I can upload to any site that will self pub, and I get more of the royalties. Trust me, the royalties for writers are quite small, and you need to sell thousands of books to make a living! Hence why I still work (and a lot of authors I know) LOL. It also means I don’t have to write inside the box, I’m free to write what and how I wish. I can broaden my stories however I like, and test untested waters, so to speak.
Yes, I quite enjoy self publishing, it’s a huge feeling of satisfaction in knowing you’ve done everything from beginning to end, and whatever happens, the book is mine. I have had really good results so far, and am happy with it. Hopefully it will grow to the point where I can work part-time and write part time! (gotta strive for the dream).
Again, self publishing may not be for everyone. You need to be extra diligent in your grammar and spelling, or hire someone to do the editing for you, and there are other things to consider, such as cover work, etc.
As for living up to expectations, writing can be hard, you give up a lot of your free time, and trying to promote books takes a lot of time and effort, often for little return. You need to know from the start that it’s going to be a long road. The dream of having the first book published soon gives way to wanting more. Some authors manage to make a living off it and become quite famous, some great authors never see that dream come true but have many books published and are well known, and some great authors will always have to work for a living as well as write. I don’t know what the secret is, all I can say is just do what you love - write write write - and try to get your books ‘out there’. But love what you’re doing. If it becomes a chore, if it’s no longer fun, then it’s not worth doing anymore.
Has it changed my life? I think it’s taught me patience and to go with the flow, and not get uptight too much when things don’t go as planned, or I get a bad review. I mean, I get good reviews, too, but I’ve learned not to take a bad review to heart. I had a bad time once, a lot of uncertainties that had me changing jobs and I hit a writer’s block all at the same time. I actually had a hiatus from writing for almost a year, before I went back to nursing and regained my writing ‘mojo’. Now I’m back to loving life. It’s okay to take a break when needed, that’s what’s important. You do need ‘me’ time to read, watch TV, relax and do other things you enjoy. Take a day off from writing now and again to rejuvenate if you need it!
What makes a story worth reading to you? How do you incorporate this into your work?
A worthwhile story is one that is real, where you can understand the characters and develop a relationship with them. I try to incorporate this into my books by having the characters not being perfect, to give them faults but also redeeming qualities. I try to make them real. A couple of friends say that they ‘see’ me in the books when reading them LOL. I actually have scenes playing out in my head while I’m writing them, and will often catch myself frowning or smiling, depending on the scene. If I’m doing that, I consider I’m doing it properly, as I’m feeling the emotions of the characters.
Share a little bit about your writing style with us. Are you a plotter and planner, or do you tend to “wing it” when you write? Also, do you schedule your writing time, or do you tend to write when inspiration bites?
Oh, I’m a planner. I have a rough outline (sometimes only a few paragraphs) of the story and what I plan to happen. I have my main characters named and their descriptions written down, and know everything right down to what they do for a living, where they live and what pets they have. From there, I start to write, and I always have a notepad beside the computer where I jot down names and descriptions of new characters, as well as anything sales that may pop up as I write. My rough outline helps keep me on track. The rest of the story develops as I write.
If I don’t have time to write, I always jot ideas down on paper, and actually have a note pad in the car if needed. Inspiration has sometimes struck while driving from my town to another city 400kms away, or when going to the shop or on the way to work, so I scribble down the idea for when I get home. It’s even struck me on night shift, so I scribble the idea down and put it in my bag LOL.
I work full time so I try to write almost every day for a couple of hours before or after work, and on days off I try to write for most of the day. Providing life doesn’t get in the way! Recently I wrote only 3 pages over two and a half weeks due to bottle feeding orphaned kittens that were abandoned. Between working and bottle feeding night and day (Mum took over when I was at work), most spare time was spent napping! 2am and 5am feeds, plus late nights took their toll. All kittens are now homed, so today I’m playing catch up on my emails, blog and website, then tomorrow I hit the book again.
Of the stories you have written, do you have one that you would consider your favorite? Why or why not?
This is always a hard one. I have favorites in the sci-fi romances, for different reasons. In the Big Girls Lovin’ series, I also find it hard due to the different characters. They all have their good qualities (can I say that without sounding big-headed?!). Can I say that Cindy from Vet’s Desire is my fav heroine, because she’s so sure of herself, and Mike from Cop’s Passion is my fav hero because, face it, he’s hot and big and a little dominant when it calls for it? LOL.
Tell me what you’re working on right now. What can your readers expect from you in the near future?
Currently I’m writing The Lawson Brothers: Alex, which is book 1 of the two book series featuring Cindy’s brothers, who appeared in Vet’s Desire. These are also part of my plus-sized romances. The next book will be The Lawson Brothers: Marty.
These two books have taken my attention so far, so I haven’t thought abut future books as yet, but I will be writing more plus-sized romances…and I may try my hand at urban fantasy or horror with a different twist. I think different is good, and I like to challenge myself (then, to be honest, I get scared and nervous when I release anything new to the readers!).
If you had to name one person, book, song, whathaveyou that has most influenced your writing, who or what would it be? Why?
Hmmm, I guess firstly it would have to be Johanna Lindsey’s Warrior Woman. She inspired me to write my first sci-fi romance. Lori Foster was another writer who showed me how to use simple names for the characters in contemporary romance, making them so much more real. Here asy writing style from her older romances (i.e The Winston Brothers series) is so good. And Laurell K Hamilton made me a little less uncertain about writing hotter sex scenes!
With music… I actually write with music on all the time. Music inspires me. Soul of a Guardian (sci-fi romance) was inspired by the song The Guardian by Delta Goodrem. I heard the song, got a mental picture of a heroine, and from that came my story. The story is very different to the song, really different, but the heroine, who was a Guardian, yes, she was inspired by the song. So music is always inspiring. I have different songs I write to, as well, depending on the book <g>.
So tell me, who is Angela Verdenius? Do you have family, a full-time job, pets? Tell me a little about them.
Oh, I’m a nurse who works full-time shift work. I don’t have any children but do have one niece and two nephews, and I live with my Mum <g>. I have a couple of good friends, and our idea of a wild night is a DVD and takeaway (we spend most of the time chatting), or a movie. Yep, I’m a wild girl. I also am addicted to books, and love a good horror movie (not slasher, but give me a good supernatural any day!)
My life is ruled by my cats…what can I say? I work to keep them in the comfort to which they’ve become accustomed. Their ages range from eighteen years old to one and a half years. They’re my fur-kids. Cats rule!
So saying, I coordinate the cat Sterilisation Society in my city, where we help low-income workers with a health care card to sterilize their cats at a cheaper rate. I’m involved in animal welfare, and support several animal charities. I love animals and abhor any form of animal cruelty.
Who have you always wanted to meet and why?
Janet Evanovich. I’m a huge fan of her Stephanie Plum novels, and I’d love to meet her in person and have a chat, see what she’s really like. I think she’d be entertaining, though I’m also guessing she might be rather quiet when around people she doesn’t know. Who knows? I’d love to find out!
We know what you write, but what do you read? What would we find on your bookshelves and bedside table at home? What would we not find among your book collection?
On my shelves (and on my kindle), you’d find a heap of zombie books (because zombies are the coolest of the monsters), some ghost stories, police thrillers by Stuart MacBride, Christine Feehan’s Dark series, Gemma Halliday’s High Heels mysteries, an assortment of cozy mysteries and romances of all genres, books on true spooky happenings, history books on civilizations, myths and legends, and a couple of biographies.
You won’t find books on arts and crafts, politics, sports or war.
Share with us how we can learn more about you and your writing. Oh, and purchase your books as well!
I have a website http://www.angelaverdenius.com/ that has all the information on my books and buying links, as well as excerpts. I also have a blog angelaverdenius.blogspot.com.au/ where I write about my cats and things that make me rant - it’s a lighter side of life which I try to write about, as life can be so serious sometimes and we all need a laugh.
Now…what have I forgotten to ask?
Oh - I have written a short horror story, ‘Zombie Hospital’. I wrote it when I was on permanent night duty a couple of years ago. (I mean, I didn’t write it while working, but the night shifts influenced me LOL). It’s a sort of satire/humorous horror story, and I love it. I also love the cover, done by the talented Joleene Naylor. I had so much fun writing it!
Thank you so much for having me as your guest! If anyone wants to ask me anything about my books, I’m always happy to hear from them. My email addy is on my website.