NYT Bestseller Carly Phillips ~ Interviewed

Carly Phillips is the New York Times Bestselling author of over 30 romance novels with contemporary characters and plotlines that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. Carly is a stay at home mom of 2 daughters (now almost old enough to read her books!), one soft coated wheaten terrier and a brand new Havanese puppy. She’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers. More information on Carly can be found at www.carlyphillips.com.

What one issue makes you struggle the most as an author? How do you handle it?

The answer changes daily depending on what I’m struggling with at any give time. The best thing is to work through it, share it with friends, but always keep writing.

What is the best writing (or life) advice you have ever heard or wished you had followed? Why?

I believe it was Nora Roberts who said you can’t revise a blank page. That has kept me writing on days when I’m frustrated or feel there’s nothing in my head to put on paper! That and to remember there are so many things in the business and life you can’t change, so really only obsess over the things you have control over and can change or make better. Like your writing or relationships with those you love.

What would you do with your life if you didn’t write?

I’d probably be pretty miserable! There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. Honestly.

Tell us a bit about your current project.

Serendipity is the name of both the series for Berkley and the first book set in a fictional small town in upstate New York. At the center of the town is the landmark Harrington Mansion, the epitome of wealth and privilege. The series opens with SERENDIPITY, which introduces readers to the estranged Barron brothers, brought together by a teenage sister they didn’t know they had and family drama they haven’t yet put to rest. These books tap deeper into emotions than my more recent books while keeping the trademark sensuality and light moments my readers expect. Book one, Serendipity 9/11 is the story of Ethan Barron, the “bad boy” oldest brother. Ethan returns home after ten years and finds himself tempted by the girl who was too good for him in high school, but now their social status are reversed, as he now owns the Harrington mansion – in which she grew up. At heart, Serendipity is the story of a man who is looking for redemption and a woman in search of a place to belong.

I’m so excited about this series and I hope readers really respond to the town and the characters, all of whom I already love. The Serendipity series will continue with the other two brothers, Nash Barron in Destiny 1/12 and Dare Barron in Karma 6/12. I hope to then continue to write about the town and people in Serendipity in three book arcs, and continue to spin on to other characters in the town readers have already met within the pages.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work, or struggle in a particular area such as writers block or angst driven head-banging against walls? Please share some helpful overcoming hints that you’ve discovered.

I always experience doubts. All writers do. I think doubts are what make us work harder and hopefully get better! A supportive group of writing friends is the best solution. Only another writer can understand what you are going through and talk you thru it!

What is your favorite source for finding story ideas?

My ideas come from everywhere! What usually happens is I take a kernel of an idea or a personality trait, something I’ve seen on TV or read in the newspaper or a magazine, and spin off that.

With the clarity of experience what advice would you offer up to the wet-behind-the-ears you if beginning this writing journey today?

Well, it’s a hard question to answer – but I do have a section on my website for aspiring writers that talk about these things in detail – http://www.carlyphillips.com/carlys-articles/ Not being vague – but everyone’s journey is different, every part of the journey teaches you something new, something else, sends you in a new direction … Everything happens for a reason!

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why? (Doesn’t have to be one of your books or even published.)

Right now it’s SERENDIPITY and all books in the series because it represents a new direction for me, a deeper direction, a tying together of many stories over 3 books … I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on them!

What gives you the greatest writer buzz, makes the trip worth the hassles (besides coffee or other substances, or course )?

Honestly? A burst of good solid writing, when characters do something I don’t expect and take the story in a new direction, all of a sudden I’m jazzed and in love with writing and the world! It doesn’t always happen, sometimes it’s like pulling teeth, so when it does it’s a gift!

What is one of the more unique or strange life experiences that has really given you an extra oomph in your writing?

The Kelly Ripa experience, when she chose THE BACHELOR as the first Romance in a nationally televised bookclub, that gave me the OOMPH to believe in myself! It was a dream come true. I have the whole story on my website on the Diary of a Cinderella Story (link to – http://www.carlyphillips.com/diarypg1/ ). But the highlight for me was meeting Kelly Ripa who I have adored since her All My Children Days. Kelly’s bookclub gave me a huge push and I’ve worked hard ever since to do well since in reality, that kind of success can never be replicated.

Describe your special or favorite writing spot.

I write on a recliner chair in my office! I have one wheaten terrier who loves to sleep behind the chair in the corner when I write. Occasionally they’ll try to steal my spot but I don’t let them take it for too long, LOL.

What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?

Cry. No kidding. I hate beginnings. I work out the skeleton with my plotting partners, and then I try to dig in. Then I go back and start to nail down what I feel is missing. I like to know the characters before I really go forward.

Plot, seat of pants or combination?

I’m mostly fly by the seat of my pants. I’ll figure out where I’m going as I go along. I do know how I’m starting, I know all about the characters, and where they will end up. It’s the specifics of how they get there that can make me crazy but I can’t preplan ahead. I’ll turn to my plotting pals when I’m stuck, or in he beginning to nail the overall plot – then I write and see what happens. This means a lot of rewriting as I go along.

What is the most difficult part of pulling together a book? Ex. Do you have saggy middles, soggy characters, soupy plots during your first drafts…if so, how do you shape it up?

The first half is harder than the rest. Always! It takes me longer to write the first half than the rest of the book … or the first 150 anyway because it means every element and character trait has to come together and click before I can go forward. I shape it up by going back, and back, and letting my critique partner read, reread etc. until I nail it!

Have you received a particularly memorable reader response or peer honor? Please share.

I LOVE hearing from readers. My favorite emails are the ones that say something like, I never liked to read and then I picked up one of your books and now I can’t stop. Wow. That’s so humbling and makes me happy. A woman wrote because her grandmother had passed away and she found a postcard note I’d sent her among her possessions – and she thanked me for making an older woman happy by replying. Those things are priceless!

Have you discovered any successful marketing/promo ideas that you’d share with us?

I love the new idea of Romance Trading Cards – I like to do those and bookmarks because I want to be able to offer my readers something fun. But overall promotion can get prohibitive, but now thanks to social media it’s better. I LOVE Twitter – www.twitter.com/carlyphillips and I talk to authors, readers, I answer people who ask me questions. I love it! And I have a Facebook Fan page – same thing there. www.facebook.com/carlyphillipsfanpage. That and my website enable me to reach the most readers. www.carlyphillips.com

Parting words? Anything you wish we would’ve asked because you’ve got the perfect answer?

LOL. No. Just thank you for having me and taking the time to ask me questions and talk about my work. I hope readers get to pick up and enjoy SERENDIPITY and the reissue of my older works in eBook form. Happy Reading!