Welcoming Sarah Ballance to the blog, with her book Run to You. I’ll be posting my review on the book after the interview, but here we go with what I’ve got!
1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m 33, married to an insanely perfect guy for almost 14 of them, and together we have six children ages 12 years down to 11 months. He works his tail off so I can stay at home with the kids and rock this author gig, and for that (and many other things) he really is my hero.
2) What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job as well?
I don’t have a “real” job (ahem) but we are a homeschooling family so I’m running herd on six kids all day long. When my husband sneaks away from work, we love to take off in our boat for the afternoon. It’s the perfect way to hit the beach with a bunch of kids—no one has to drag anything across hot sand!
3) When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started my first novel in the summer of 2008 after someone suggested I try my hand at fiction. I’d written nonfiction for extra income, but fiction just seemed out of my league and my response was that I couldn’t do it. A few hours later I realized I said I couldn’t do something and it didn’t sit well with me, so I started my first novel. I finished DOWN IN FLAMES about six months later and landed a contract with Noble Romance—the first publisher I queried. It was published about a year after I wrote the first word.
4) How did you choose the genre you write in?
Although I started with a romance, I absolutely adore romantic suspense. I wanted to write one but couldn’t think of a plot. Just a few days after I submitted my first novel to Noble, the plot for RUN TO YOU hit me. Once I made it through that story, I was HOOKED.
5) Where do you get your ideas? Do you ever experience writer’s block? Do you work with an outline, or just write?
My ideas tend to just hit me. I’ve only finished two books and I’m knee deep in a third, but already I’ve noticed my stories tend to come with songs attached. The song doesn’t always have anything to do with the plot, but the mood of the song matches my work somehow, becoming a “theme song” of sorts. I seldom truly experience writer’s block—I always know what I want to write, but sometimes have trouble arranging the words on the page. I tend to take notes at the end of my WIP in regards to what I want to happen next or important plot points or clues I need to remember, but I don’t use a formal outline.
6) Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I fell in love with the Harlequin Intrigue romantic suspense series, and it really developed and influenced my love of suspense. I love longer, more in-depth books as well, but the Intrigues offer just the right balance of romantic tension and plot-driven suspense. That’s exactly what I go for in my suspense novels.
7) Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Oh, dear. It was a total shock. I finished the manuscript and fully intended to shelve it—I thought first books belonged in a dusty drawer somewhere—but my crit partner encouraged me to send it in. I finally did it, telling myself at least I’d experience the entire process, right down the rejection. Imagine my surprise when that contract arrived!
8) If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
My writing is much stronger now than it was in the first novel and my voice is more defined. I’d love to go through it one more time with the new and improved “me” but I love being able to look back and see how much better I am now.
9) How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I hog as many guest blog or interview dates as I can, LOL, and I’ve met so many fabulous people. I believe in reaching one reader at a time—I just try to get out there and be nice, and hopefully I’ll pick up a reader or two along the way. Of course, plan B is to keep writing and getting new releases out there, so at some point I’ve got to head back into my writing cave to make it happen. ;c)
10)Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Nope. I’m new here so I don’t have a backlog of manuscripts. Both of my completed stories are published with Noble and I hope they’ll be interested in the new series I’m sending their way soon.
11)Can you tell us about your new book?
RUN TO YOU is about a beach vacay gone awry, to say the least. Here’s the blurb:
Mattie James can’t pinpoint exactly when she lost control of her life, but the moment she decided to take it back made the front page of the local paper. Desperate to dodge the fallout— and the tabloids—she jumps at the chance to spend an off-season week in a tiny resort community by the sea. Making the trip with her ex-lover is a complication she can live with; coming face to face with a dead woman is not.
The last thing Sheriff Wyatt Reed expected to find on the storm-ravaged beach was a beautiful blonde with a jealous sidekick, but one look at Mattie left him wanting more. Their first date takes an ominous turn when he gets the call that a woman was found murdered. With a killer on the loose and a troubling lack of suspects or motive, Wyatt has to put his feelings aside to focus on the case. But his vow not to become personally involved is shattered when he discovers Mattie’s life is on the line, and this time the truth leaves her with a deadly choice . . . and nowhere to run.
12)Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
RUN TO YOU was purely from my imagination, but the crazzzzziest thing happened. Eight days after I finished my pre-edits, the exact crime from my story happened on our local beach. Now, while I’m sure it’s happened somewhere before, I’ve lived here my entire life (pretty much where RUN TO YOU is set) and I have not once heard of this type of crime but it was eerily similar: same murder weapon, same crime scene, and same method of attack. The only difference—thank goodness—was the real life victim survived. I saved the link to the news story on my computer, because I still can’t believe it!
13)What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I don’t think I had one. I was pregnant when I wrote RUN TO YOU and I was so, so sick. Although the plot came to me easily, getting words on the screen was so difficult because I spent more time running back and forth to the bathroom than I did typing. This story will always hold that distinction for me, though—the one I wrote while I was pregnant, sick, and on bed rest. ;c)
14)How did you come up with the title?
Honestly, I don’t remember, but it fits because Mattie is torn between two men throughout the story—one is her best friend, the other her vacation fling. The “you” in the title is ambiguous, and it ties in well with the plot.
15)What project are you working on now? Will you have a new book coming out soon? Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I’m working on the first in a series of related romantic suspense titles. I’m hoping to get it to my publisher by the end of May, at which point I’m hoping they want it, LOL. The first book has been a bit of a fight but the story is exactly where I want it to be. The working title of Book One is Unforgiven, and here’s a sneak peak:
When Gage finds his brother shot to death on his back porch, there’s only one person who could have committed the crime: his ex-lover, Riley. They didn’t part ways on good terms, and they’re not going to reconnect there, either—not when he’s got a gun pointed at her head and a finger on the trigger. Then another man is murdered, and suddenly they’re caught in a deadly crossfire with the most dangerous kind of killer: one with absolutely nothing to lose.
16)What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
My crit partner gave me my toughest criticism, and for that I will always be grateful. If it hadn’t been her, it would have been the reading public at large. <shudder> One of my favorite compliments was a reviewer stating my description of the Carolina coast was “atmospheric.” It’s a special place for me, and having a reviewer pick up on my relationship with the beach left me beaming.
17)Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Yep. Find that crit partner—the one with fangs and a cleaver—and invite her to be honest. A good crit partner who understands you, your voice, and your work and can really help you better yourself is hard to find, so hang on to that.
18)Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
As a new author, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support. The e-mails, reviews, Facebook comments … all of it is just amazing, and you guys keep me smiling. Thank you!
RUN TO YOU BUY LINKS: Kindle | Adobe PDF, EPUB, HTML, MobiPocket, Microsoft Reader
Thanks a lot Sarah for letting me read a copy of Run to You and for being so detailed in your answers, it was awesome getting to know you!