Friday, January 21, 2011

Around the Globe with SARAH STORME

So it's below zero this morning as I jump in my transporter to pick up this week's featured author, Sarah Storme. Once again, I get a pushy author (just kidding) who immediately inputs a destination and we end up in the town where she grew up: New Orleans. (At least she picked someplace a little warmer). She whisks me out to a French Quarter cafe where we enjoy various delicacies (sorry, no chicory coffee for me), while we talk.

1. Who is Sarah Storme and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
She's a crazy lady who works all day as an engineer and writes romance as Sarah Storme, mystery as S. H. Baker, and erotica as Lydia Parks. She loves to talk to writers' groups and readers, is leading a continuing education class on reading mysteries, and enjoys book signings at every opportunity. She also likes to tell crazy stories, has lots of nutty friends, enjoys working with kids, and loves finding great restaurants. Could anyone be more fascinating??

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one
thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I don't know that I have any deep, dark secrets or surprises left--I tend to tell everyone everything! I grew up in New Orleans, rode horseback before I learned to walk, dropped out of college the first time around to live in Alaska during the Wild West pipeline days, have a master's degree in engineering, spent two weeks in Siberia once, crave rain and darkness (caves---yes!), and I love to write. That's the nutshell version.

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else
such as becoming a fighter pilot?
Writing was never anything I actually considered doing; I kind of fell into it. I think it's a little like crack for me--one taste and I was hooked. I started writing short stories on the Net back when it was relatively new. One of the strangers on the receiving end of my stories told me I had potential and that I should "go write a novel." I discovered she was a New York editor and took her advice. I wish I knew who she was so I could thank her, and curse her on those nights when I can't sleep because a story is brewing. From there, I stumbled around in the dark until I discovered writing groups (like RWA) and wonderful editors like those at Echelon who were willing to guide me along the path.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing
dinner? Why?
I'd have to share dinner with James Lee Burke first, mainly because he probably thinks I'm stalking him. I'm not--really!--I'm just a huge fan of his writing. He writes Louisiana like no one else, and he's right on. Besides just enjoying reading his books, I use them to inspire me to be a better writer. I'd also love to have dinner with David L. Robbins because his writing absolutely blows me away. And his talks on the Net look like so much fun. (No, I'm not stalking him, either!) I use his books when I teach writing classes to show how characterization should be done. Other than these two amazing authors, I have a couple hundred others I'd like to meet and talk to, so I guess this dinner would be an outrageous party, and would have to last for days. I'll start booking it...

I am fortunate enough to have lunch with writers I truly admire when my romance writers' group meets every month, and I don't take that for granted. There's nothing more fun than sitting around talking about writing with writers!

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour
layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
My 1920's mysteries and romances, set in southwest Louisiana, will draw you into a time and place most people don't get to visit. Dassas Cormier is one of my favorite people--he's always getting himself into trouble, but he's terribly good-natured about it--and the romances (JUST KISS ME and BAYOU RHAPSODY) are full of interesting characters. My books tend to read fast and have lots of action. And if you have a friend with you on the island, Lydia Parks' books will keep you entertained. 'Nuff said about that.

6. Share the Storme process of writing in regards to: idea and
character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
The process completely depends on the book, but mostly starts with a character who stews in my brain for several weeks (or months, or years) until he or she is fully formed and starts talking. Once that happens, I can't do anything but write what the character says. I do have the final say--I am, after all, the editor--but if I try to change the character's story too much, he or she usually stops talking. I do research when I need it, and try to set stories in places I'm at least familiar with. I love Google maps, and can't imagine having to do this BG (before Google). I only outline in a general way after I've written a chapter or two. Too much outlining spoils the story for me. My writing schedule has to revolve around my paying job, so I write in the evenings and on weekends and holidays. I tend to edit when I'm writing; when I sit down to write, I edit the chapter or scene I finished the day before so that by the time I get to the end, I'm nearly done. Of course, 'nearly done' is relative. I'm sure I rewrite a dozen more times after that point before an editor sees it.

7. "I think I have a good idea for a story, bit I don't know where or
how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?"
Seek out a writers' group and ask questions, but don't assume my writing process (or anyone else's) will work for you. Be warned, however, that writing a book really isn't an easy thing. If you're not ready to learn until your brain is full, sit until the lower half of your body is numb, type until your eyes cross, and have your work shredded now and then by total strangers, you'll have a disappointing road ahead of you. If, however, you find that you love to write, nothing can be more rewarding.

8. I saw an amusing t-shirt the other day which read 'Every great idea
I have gets me in trouble." What is your philosophy of life?
One of my characters told me, "If you ain't havin' fun, you're just wastin' space." I live by that.

9. Please tell me you're not going to stop writing? What's next for
you?
Stop writing? Ha! I'm having fun right now working with Siren Audio Studios, converting some of my mysteries and romances into full-cast audio books (think radio theater). The actors are a blast to work with, and the results are amazing. The first audio book, RETURN TO MARSHALL'S BAYOU, comes out November 1st. I also have a story (from Lydia Parks) in an anthology from Kensington (FEEL THE HEAT) coming out in 2011, and another I'm doing rewrites on for consideration by Harlequin. And I'm working on the 5th book in my Dassas Cormier Mystery Series, so I'm staying fairly busy.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
I'm all over the Internet. I have two Facebook sites -- Sarah Hanberry Baker and Lydia Parks, and several websites: www.SarahStorme.com, www.SHBaker.com, and www.LydiaParks.com. I'm also on Twitter now and then, but don't check it as often as I check FB. Stop by and say hello!

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