Friday, February 18, 2011

20 Questions with Author Fiona Neal

Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.

My web site addy is www.fionaneal.com Since 2000, I’ve published 14 novels, but the rights of most of them have reverted to me. Currently, four are available: The Magic of Moonlight, Lady Claire’s Cavalier, Holiday Heat, and Beauty and the Beast. The last two have been reissued. I am originally from New England, but I now live in the South with my husband and two dogs. I love to knit, quilt, read romances and history, and watch old, romantic movies.

How do you usually come up with a story idea? Dreams? Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations? Newpaper?

My ideas have come from various places. The Magic of Moonlight came from a line in an old song and a documentary I saw on the history channel about smuggling in York, England before the Napoleonic Wars. I put the two ideas together and asked, “What if?” I once saw the cover of a magazine and it triggered an idea for a story. Old movies are a good source of inspirations, not so much the plots, but they spark ideas.

What is your process from idea to first draft?

When an idea is planted, I let it grow and take shape in my mind before I key anything in my computer. I like to have a rough plot worked out in my mind, especially as it pertains to the internal and external conflicts and the hero’s and heroine’s motivations—what makes them tick and what pushes their buttons. Then I do my rough draft.

Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?

Letting my mind relax and giving free rein to my imagination. I get great ideas before I go to sleep, on walks with the dogs, and just doing housework.

What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?

Workshops or talks at local writers’ groups and RWA chapters have helped me. Conferences and critique groups are valuable too.

What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations? How did this person help you?

A friend who is now deceased. She gave me the encouragement I needed to write and keep writing.

Have you ever used songs for inspiration?

Yes. As I mentioned earlier, part of the inspiration for The Magic of Moonlight came from the line in an old song.

Do you play music when you write? If so, what kind? Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?

I’ve listened to music and had the TV on for background, but it has to be soft background noise.

Do you read in a different genre than you write? If yes, why? If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?

I read a lot of history and a lot of romances. The history books do influence my historical books.

Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer?

Yes, whenever someone asks for an opinion or information, I give it—for what it’s worth.

Has another writer ever come to your aide? How?

Two of them critiqued my work

What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?

Just getting published. Since 2000 when my first book was released, I’ve had 14 publications.

If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money?

I’d finished furnishing my house and do some upgrades. I’d help my family. Would give any of it to charity? Yes. If so, which one? The Salvation Army and The Humane Society. I love animals.

What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?

Read—a lot! Know the marketplace. Be professional. Be kind.

If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be?

My beagle. I’ve had him for nine years. He is persistent when he wants something. He is consistent. He is faithful, and sweet. So is my female lab mix.

Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal?

Yes. I’m persistent and faithful.

If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?

An operatic career. I love opera. An interpreter. I like languages, and an archaeologist, specializing in British archaeology. I’m fascinated by Hadrian’s wall and all the artifacts there and at Sutton Hoo. I love Saxon artifacts too.

If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?

I’d love to take a train across the United States, Canada, and one from London to Scotland. Then I’d love to take a cruise around the Hebrides, the Shetland Islands, and the Orkneys. Then onto the fjords of Scandanavia. A river cruise of the Rhine, Rhone, Danube, and Loire Valley would be nice.

What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes?

Moral strength, courage, kindness, understanding, and ability to think his way through difficulties.

If you have a super power for a day, what would it be?

To wipe out ignorance, disease, and poverty. Why? To help mankind.


Marie Rose Dufour said...

Great interview. I love learning about authors.

Tina Donahue said...

Wow, I love your choice of alternate careers, Fiona. For me, I'd be rich, rich, rich. :)

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I loved your answers, Fiona. I can relate to you so easily including the love of archeology and trains. What I didn't know and never would have guessed is your love of opera. Fourteen books published--that's amazing.

Rawiya said...

Great answers Fiona...


Delaney Diamond said...

Fiona, unlike you, I need peace and quiet when I write. No music and definitely no TV. Great interview!

Redameter said...

Give me utter chaos when I write and I'll bet I come up with a doozy of an idea I can't wait to write about. With a baby on my knee, tv blaring and confusion. Of course folks, I'm nearly deaf, so give me a break! LOL

But I do write with babies on my knees and have for years.

Love and blessings