Friday, 1 March 2013

Eden Winters's Casting Couch Interview

Eden Winters, ever curious about new places and people, lives a somewhat nomadic existence. Her earliest memories include making up stories for the family's pets, and through her academic years she spent many happy hours writing short stories and poems. Dreams of writing professionally were realized, only not as planned, with a good dozen years spent as a technical documenter. From a young age she eagerly devoured every book that caught her eye, from biographies to sci-fi. Genre? What genre?

When she discovered m/m, she met characters she could identify with and scintillating plotlines that kept her riveted to the page. Somewhere around the 300th book her own imagination began making demands. From her fascination with, well, everything sprang stories as diverse as a 1700’s Highlander to a modern doctor in earthquake-devastated El Salvador.

Her first novel was published in 2010, and she’s never looked back. To date, five of her novels have been recognized by the annual Rainbow Awards, with one also gaining finalist status in the 2012 Lambda Literary Awards.

Currently, Eden calls the southern US home, and many of her stories take place in the rural South. She lives alone, having successfully raised two children, and divides her time between a day job, friends, grandkids, writing, trying different varieties of vegetarian cuisine, and exploring her world. Her musical tastes run from Ambient to Zydeco, she owns a TV she never watches, and she’s a firm believer that life is better with pets. She also loves cruising down the road on the back of a Harley Davidson.

How did you get started in writing? What made you decide to submit your first story and what was your experience with that? Who was the first person you told when you got your first contract? What was their reaction?

I’d written stories when I was only seven, and up until high school, though I was more known for my free-verse poetry. Like a young man I mention later, I let others convince me I could never sell a novel. Fast forward many years, when I found myself at an extremely low point in life, and in need of something to keep me moving forward and an outlet to express the jumble of emotions threatening to consume me. I’d become enamored of the m/m genre, and when discussing a book I’d read with my dear friend P.D. Singer, she said, “We could do this, you know.”

I sat down at my keyboard and unleashed all my grief, feelings of inadequacy, fears, and hopes. I bled all over the pages of The Telling, disguising myself in each of the characters. I poured out my insecurities, but a funny thing happened in the process. As the characters developed, they began to show strengths—strengths that were as much a part of me as the negative traits. The Telling is my therapy book, and in writing it I learned how to reinvent myself. It’s too personal to sell, so I gave the novel away. It’s still available for free at All Romance ebooks, along with a short sequel, Night Watch. A bit of me resides in each character but Jay—he represents the kind of person I strive to be.

The next book I wrote was The Wish. P.D. knew about it all along, so was the first one I told, but the second was my daughter, who was surprised Mom had written a book and not mentioned it, but also very proud of me. My son wasn’t surprised at all, but equally proud.

Where does your inspiration come from for your books?

From everywhere! News articles, conversations with friends, a snippet of song, a picture. Anything could be a story.

How do you make the important choices when it comes to writing your stories? Point of View? Voice? Theme? Title?

I get an idea, I start writing, and normally the characters pick up from there. I did have to make a decision with the Diversion novels to only show Lucky’s POV, because he’s so strong-minded that when I tried to write Bo’s voice, Lucky’s overpowered. And I’d already drafted a query letter for the publisher before I ever decided on a title. However, I now have titles for books three and four, and I’ve barely begun drafting.

Are your characters purely fictional, or do you sample from people you’ve met in real life? Which one of your characters is most like you? How so?

Whether consciously written or not, each character absorbs elements of the world I live in, the best and worst of folks I contact on a daily basis. Remember the saying, “Anger a writer at your own peril—they’ll write you into a book and treat you horribly”? Muwhaahaahahaaaa…

Take Troy Steele and Bo Schollenberger, mix them together, and you have me. A conscientious, people-pleasing vegetarian who is ADHD, OCD, slightly neurotic, but (I hope) a fairly decent person.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

Two years ago a reader contacted me about The Telling. We exchanged a few emails and I asked if he was a writer. It turns out he had written stories, but had let other people shake his confidence. I told him that if writing really meant something to him, then he should disregard the naysayers and listen to his heart. He even allowed me to read some of his work, which was a huge honor. After that he disappeared for awhile, and I really worried for him.

Two years later he resurfaced, asking, “Would you mind beta reading my novel?” Dang, this young man can write! So although it’s not really my accomplishment I’m proud of, it’s the fact that I was privileged to watch someone else’s authorship dreams come true. Look for the name Will Parkinson very soon, as a very promising YA author. 

If you could co-author a book with any other writer, who would it be?

P.D. Singer. She’s been my crit partner since day one, and I’m in awe of her word skills. I have ideas and stories, then struggle to put the words together to say what I mean. Her writing is flawless. Whereas my rough drafts are usually a mess, hers are publishable. Really.

What is the one book that you think that very few people have read but everyone should read? What are you reading right now?

The world would be a much kinder and gentler place if everyone read Bulliedby Jeff Erno. That novel puts readers into the head of a bully, those who stood idly by, those deeply affected by bullying, and shows how each person didn’t think of themselves as bad, they just saw things from varied points of view, not knowing how catastrophically they were hurting others.
I’m currently reading The Actorand the Earl by Rebecca Cohen for fun, and book about drug law enforcement as research for the Diversion series.

What do you find the most difficult part of the writing process?

Finding time. I get so many ideas, but if I don’t write them immediately they get pissed and wander off, never to return. I’d love to take a month or two off from my day job, just to write.
What is a typical working day like for you? Where do you write? Do you wait for inspiration? Do you set certain writing goals? Are there any specific tools you use to help you write?

I work a full time day job, so I write whenever and wherever I can. Normally, my purse is full of Post-it notes where I’ve jotted down random ideas that popped into my head during the day, that I hope to add to a WIP. As far as inspiration, whenever I go through a period of burnout, where I can’t seem to write a sentence, let alone a book, I brace myself—something big is coming. The last time that happened, Collusion suddenly appeared, making demands. The only tools I use to write are the encouraging words of friends.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure (literary or otherwise)?

Reading Harry Potter fanficton.

And…last but not least: What are you working on now and what can we expect to see from you in the coming year? 

Right now I’m in the editing process for Collusion, the sequel to last year’s Diversion. The series involves a regional (fictitious) version of the DEA and a former drug trafficker who worked off his sentence by helping by helping the good guys. I’ve begun drafting Corruption, the third book in the series, and have a handful of notes for Manipulation, the fourth book. I’m also researching a novel about a wayward rocker and an opera singer. So many words, so little time.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow. I cannot tell you how honored I am by your words. Thank you SO much.

    And I need more Bo. Much, much more. ;)