What first got you interested in writing? What has kept you doing it?
I always feel kind of like a faker when I answer this question. When I was in sixth grade, my best friend said she wanted to become an author because she read all the James Harriot novels. I announced I wanted to be a writer too and set about writing a really bad novel about dinosaurs. She moved on to other interests, but writing stuck with me. I wonder where I’d be if she hadn’t gone through that phase?
I start and quit a lot of crazy projects, but when I get stories in my head, they won’t leave me alone. And from time to time, one of the minor characters from one will want a story of his or her own, so it spawns something else. And there’s always something new to learn about writing or a writer giving an inspirational speech that makes me want to go on, because they’ve all run into the same roadblocks I have.
Do you have the support of your family and friends? Has that support always been there, or has it changed since being published?
Most of my friends are writers as well. I got in with a great local writing group and they always offer support and advice—we’re all facing the same struggles or looking forward to the same victories. It’s a wonderful network. My family has always been there for me. It was apparent to my parents I was never going to excel at math, so they encouraged me to write.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Strangest habit? Is there anything you have to do before you start writing?
I have the really bad habit of arguing with my spellchecker. Deep down, I know the spellchecker is probably right, but just once, it would be nice if I was right. I tend to be a face maker while I’m writing. Eye squinting, brow furrowing, lower lip poking out. I really get into the scenes sometimes and totally vanish from the real world. I understand it’s pretty comical.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
Find a critique group right off the bat. Even if you don’t have enough courage to submit your own works right away, read other critiques and try to learn what they’re doing. Ask questions and store up knowledge. Also, build a writing platform as soon as possible—you’re going to need those network connects if you want to reach readers.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
I’m an introvert, so being brave enough to submit or pitch or self-publish has been pretty nerve-wracking. All the time I put into learning to format is a piece of cake compared to actually talking about my book to people face to face and in some cases, via social networking.
Has a reader ever complimented you on your writing? What was the best thing you ever heard, and who told it to you?
When I was in high school I wrote a short story for a competition. It only placed fourth, but I’d written other things that were awarded, so I wasn’t too bummed about it. My English teacher told me that I’d been accused of plagiarism by one of the judges because she didn’t believe a teenager could write that well. I was furious, but he said I should be flattered because that was actually a compliment in disguise.
What are you working on now? Could you give us a little taste?
I’m working on a sequel called The Sky Pirate’s Wife and the hero, Captain Alwin van Buren, is a character from The Treasure Hunter’s Lady. He was involved in a terrible accident that left his face scarred and his airship business on shaky ground. He’s decided to seduce an heiress in order to keep his business afloat–literally.
The sound of her name in his accent caused her to jerk toward him like a puppet on strings. “Yes?” Was that her voice that sounded so breathless?
Van Buren’s eyes crinkled at the corners and the scar wrinkled a bit, but the light shining down on his face made him look as handsome as one of Da Vinci’s statues. Sophie’s heart pounded against her ribs so hard she was sure he’d see it.
He leaned across the space between them and caressed her cheek. She gave in to his touch, melting against his hand.
Tell us about your latest book.
For years, Romy Farrington traveled at her world-famous archeologist father’s side, exploring new lands and uncovering ancient secrets. It was everything she ever wanted, until a near-fatal encounter with hostile natives forced her and her father into a life of retirement in Boston and an undesired advance into proper society.
Everything changes again when she’s saved from an accident by a brash Texan in a back alley. Abel Courte may act like a care-free cowboy, but he’s harboring a secret—he’s searching for the Diamond of Uktena, a legendary jewel that can cure any disease known to man. He needs information Romy’s father has in order to get to the jewel. When he traces the origin of the Diamond to Dakota Territory, he sets off to claim the treasure, only to find the archeologist’s fiery redheaded daughter stuck to him like a bug in sap.
In a race against time, Romy and Abel must learn to trust each other as they undertake a cross-country journey that will expose them to lands uncharted by white men, a deadly battle against the fearsome creature in possession of the Diamond and a fight to return to civilization where they might make the greatest discovery of all—love.
The Treasure Hunter’s Lady has kind of a crazy story behind it. A few years ago after a long break, I decided to start writing again and I was researching a historical romance set in Australia. I fell in love with everything I learned about that country (unfortunately, I’ve never been) and around the same time I was re-watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I thought, wow, I would love to write a story with crazy paranormal elements and cool technology set in Australia. So the first draft, which is way shorter than the finished MS is set in Australia. When I started pitching and trying to get an agent, they all seemed repulsed by the idea of setting it out of the country and I ended up writing a version set in America.
How can people find out more about you?
I’m all over the net. Blogging, Tweeting, goofing off on Facebook. Here’s how to reach me.
Facebook Fan Page – http://facebook.com/allisonmwrites
Twitter – http://twitter.com/allison_merritt
Goodreads – http://goodreads.com/allisonmwrites
Kindlegraph – http://kindlegraph.com/allison_merritt