Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interview with Author Renee Curtis

Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book. My name is Renee' Curtis. I have lived in the Dallas Ft Worth Metroplex for 13 years and in my real life I'm the assistant to the General Manager for a car leasing company. My first novel 'love/life Hot in Houston' is the story of 2 sisters with the same father and different mothers and their attempts at finding love and dealing with the struggles of their family situation.

What inspired you to write your first book? I never had any ambition to be a writer at all. I have no technical training in the sense that I didn't go to college for writing. I had a dream that I was on the Oprah show and she was plugging my book to her audience. I had no idea what the book was about or even the title. I told some friends and they said maybe I should give a go. The first draft took about 5 months to write but I still didn't have a title or an ending. In that time frame, I had written 2 full books worth of material about these very cool girls and what was happening in their lives. Not knowing where to take it or knowing if it had any merit, I just left it on my computer in a folder called The Book. Not until a year ago did I sit down and look at it again. I was in a really good place in life. I had gotten a divorce, was in a wonderful relationship with someone who encouraged me to try and do something with it. So I printed it, he read it and thought the story was good so I started looking for ways to get it published. Found a small press company in Ohio that liked it and took me on.

Do you have a specific writing style? Not really. I just try to find something interesting in everyday life and weave a tale around it.

How did you come up with the title? That was the hardest part. But when people would ask what it was about I kept saying "it's about love and life", so eventually I just went with that. The "hot in Houston" part is secondary because after it was complete, like I said, I had enough material for another book so decided to do a series each based in a different city.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? That life isn't always easy. Decisions you make today might burn you tomorrow but if you live your life to the fullest and grab every opportunity, you'll probably end up with what you want and need.

How much of the book is realistic? All the locations are real. lol I think there is a bit of me in every character or at least a bit of people I know.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Sure. I think we write what we know. So I guess it's loosely (very loosely) based on things I've seen or dealt with or someone I know has dealt with. It's like divorce, we all know someone who has been through it.

What books have most influenced your life? Wow, that's difficult. I've been reading since I was 4 so I've ran through 1000s of books. I'm not sure any have really influenced me in life but I definitely like to read the same type of books that I've written.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? I've never met her but Jackie Collins is one of my favorite authors. I used to sneak her books from my mom when I was a teenager. I've recently gotten in to Olivia Cunning because I find her books similar in content and style to mine.

What book are you reading now? I just finished Olivia's book "Double Time" and enjoyed it a lot. She's a great storyteller

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Oh sure. There are some great new authors out there. My favorite indie author is Lisa C. Morgan even though she writes YA-Paranormal/NA. She just comes up with these spectacular characters and places. I wish I had the imagination for something like that but sadly I don't.

What are your current projects? I have two works in progress. The second love/life book where you meet some new characters and get to see what the Hawthorne sisters from Houston are up to now. The other is a YA story but it's basically in the research & development stage with very little actual story written.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. Friends. They are the ones who pushed me forward in the beginning and still do.

Do you see writing as a career? I would love to be able to do it full time but until I win the lottery it will be just something I do for extra cash.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? No. I love the characters and how they developed over the course of the book. I put a lot of work into them and I wouldn't change a thing.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? As I said, I never have it any thought. I always dreaded writing in school. I didn't think I was very good at it.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? Naughty in New York opens about 3.5 yrs after Hot in Houston ends. It begins with minor character, Brandy, from book one and tells what she is up to now. And soon thereafter, you get to meet up with Jasen & Adrienne and see where life has taken them. Jasen and her husband Diesel have had another child and Adrienne and Jackson are working at their fashion and music.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Finding time to write is my biggest challenge. I work full time, have a house and family that keep me hopping. And I travel at least
once a month .So being able to write for me will be difficult until someone figures out how to add another 4-5 hrs to the day.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? Jackie Collins. She's always has the coolest female characters. Never timid or weak. She has women who play by their own rules and don't need a man but still want one. Successful and strong but still sexy.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? I went to Houston to get some ideas of how the area looked and to get a prospective of the size. Otherwise everything is done online. Thank god for the interwebs.

Who designed the covers? A very talented Brit named Lee Taylor. I have him a description of the girls and he totally knocked it out of the park.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? Thinking a way and place to end it. I could write these characters forever.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? Once you start, you have to finish. Even if you don't publish it. Every story makes you better.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Just write! Take a chance and follow your dream.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Thank you for reading. You're the reason we write. Oh and review for us, it makes us happy to know that you liked our story. And if you didn't like it, you help us become better.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life? Not having technical training. And not knowing what to do with it once it was done.