Today I'm sharing my interview with author Barbara Satow, whom I met in June at Lori Foster's 2nd annual get-together, where I was lucky enough to be the first person to get my copy of "Game of Pleasure" signed by Barbara. Now here she is, in her own words :)
SA: "Game of Pleasure" is your first published story, right? What has surprised you about the whole process? What has it taught you?
BS: It was only a matter of months between the time I sold my book and its release date. While I'd always hoped to publish, I wasn't quite preparedto be an author -- at least not so quickly. I also hadn't expected the feeling of vulnerability that crops up when someone I know says "I bought your book" or "I'm reading your book now." That's a part of me I haven't shared with many people and now it's out there for the world to see.
SA: What types of stories do you enjoy reading? Are you a fan of romances yourself, or do you enjoy/prefer other genres? Who are some of your favorite authors?
BS: Surprisingly, I've only become a romance reader in the last few years. Before that, I read other genres (mystery, fantasy, historical sagas) but there always had to be a love story or the potential for a love story as part of the plot. Lately, most of my reading has been self-help books and non-fiction reference materials. But I still manage to squeeze a few novels in. My favorite author growing up was Georgette Heyer. "A Game of Pleasure" is written in the tradition of one of her books. Recent favorites are Mary Balogh, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Janet Evanovich and I love reading Anne Perry's books for the characterization and atmosphere, but I would never recommend them to a mystery lover because plot is not her strong suit.
SA: Why write romances? What message do you want readers to get from your books?
BS: A good romance makes me euphoric. I love that feeling so much, I try to create it for myself whenever possible (In other words, I'm addicted to love. :) )But I also have a strong practical streak. As much as I believe in Happily Ever After, I have ideas about what makes a strong and lasting relationship. My "rules of romance" are the foundation of most everything I write.
SA: In your book, Portia is considered someone who is easily overlooked, but has used that to her advantage by really getting to know those around her. She is such an intelligent, likeable, character. Did you base her on anyone, or do you see parts of yourself in her character?
BS: First, thanks for saying those nice things about Portia. I think of her as someone who has made the most of the 19th century's spinster's place in society. We do share qualities. I think I'm smart and observant, but she's far wiser and more even-tempered than I am. She's also more content with her lot in life, so it's a good thing Castleton found her and made her (and everyone else) realize there was a lot more to her than meets the eye. :)
SA: What are some of your hobbies/interests and do you have any plans to incorporate them into your stories?
BS: I'm afraid my hobbies couldn't be incorporated very well into historical fiction. I like to go thrifting (gargage sales, auctions, Goodwill, secondhand bookstores) and my other hobby -- which I haven't indulged for quite some time-- is to make my own music videos with clips from movies and TV shows I enjoy.
SA: What goals have you set for yourself in your writing? How do> you challenge yourself/keep yourself motivated?
BS: When I first joined Romance Writers of America, I had scenes from 54 unfinished novels stored in a Rubbermaid tub (a.k.a. the tub o' novels). My membership gave me the focus to actually complete seven of those projects, although once I learned the "secret" of completing a book (just sit down and write it, beginning on page 1 and typing the way to the end), I chose to complete projects from a variety of genres which wasn't a very good strategy in hindsight. My immediate goal is to complete the stories of the other characters introduced in A Game of Pleasure. After that, I'd like to try my hand at a contemporary project I started just before I sold my book. Motivation has always been a problem for me, but I have to say that selling had an amazing effect on my output. :) Accountability works for me on the manuscript I just completed I reported my progress to a friend who was working on something at the same time. I also run our local RWA chapter's Book in a Week loop That's where you use all your free time to write as much as possible in a week without reading or editing what you wrote. In that process you also report your daily progress to the rest of the group. It's surprising what you can accomplish when you make writing your constant, primary focus.
SA: What is the most interesting research you've ever done for your writing? Would you travel to another country in order to get a feel for the people/language/customs?
BS: In the book I just finished, I wanted to drug my young heroine with something to heighten her senses. After doing some research, I decided on absinthe, which has not been sold in the United States since 1912. I wrote the scene, but wondered how accurate it was. About that time, a friend went to New Orleans and found out there are places in Europe that will sell absinthe to US customers. (Because it's not illegal to have it here - just to sell it. :) ) So I bought a small bottle and tried it for myself. My written scene did require some revision. :)As for travel, I love it and will usually take any opportunity I can get just for the fun of it. I went to England when I was in my twenties and would love to go back there again.
SA: Fun stuff! Music? Movies? T.V? What are some of your favorite guilty pleasures?
BS: The height of my interest in music was in the 80's so I still listen to that music for pleasure. I was one of seven children, though, and was exposed to alot of different kinds of music, so I tend to be a song-lover rather than atype of music lover. To let you know how eclectic my tastes are, the buttons on my car radio are currently set to a country station, soft rock, 90s and now, oldies, 80's and today, and a smooth jazz station. Movies -- I'm a sucker for a costume drama - put them in long skirts and a corset and I'll watch no matter how bad it is. In contemporary movies I tend to stick to feel-good stuff, comic book-related material (I worked in a comicbook store for a long time) and rental-wise I have a thing for Japanese movies especially those set in the Edo period. I think it's that Samurai code. (Although I'm finding that Chinese historical action movies are more likely to portray strong women and have a romance in it :) ) I'm not big into anything TV at the moment, which is pretty surprising because I used to watch everything. The shows I watched regularly last year were Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and Medium. On Monday nights BBC America runs mystery series and my favorite of those is Wire in the Blood with Robson Green - a man who proves confidence is a downright sexy quality. :)
SA: What has been your proudest moment in your new career?
BS: I got to see my book for the first time at our annual writer's retreat. I can't tell you what a thrill it was to hold that book with my name printed on the cover, flip through it and see words I wrote on every page. Someone at that retreat I didn't know well had already read her copy and couldn't wait to tell me how much she enjoyed it. So I got the whole experience of firsts (firstbook, first copy in my hands, first fan, first request for an autograph) all atthe same time.
SA: Any last words, or words of advice to aspiring writers?
BS: Just to keep writing and keep sending your material out there. I honestly didn't expect my book to sell, but the manuscript was finished and this publisher was looking for material. I took the chance because the worst thing they could say was 'no, thanks.' But they said 'yes' and the thrill of publication outweighs every single rejection letter I've ever received in my life.
**Thank you, Barbara, so spending time with us and answering these questions. I love getting a glimpse inside the mind of a writer. I wish you much success with your writing, and eagerly await your next book**