Today 2 Wild Women Authors are pleased to welcome author, Lorna Collins, who brings Nan Burton, protagonist from Ghost Writer, a June 2012 release from Oak Tree Press. Welcome Lorna and Nan.
Where are you from, Nan? I was born and raised in Irvine, California, and worked as an IT programmer.
Can you tell us a bit about Ghost Writer? It’s the story of how, at the lowest point in my twenty-seven years, I inherited a small cottage on the sand near Laguna Beach, California. Oh, and I also got a dog I neither wanted nor was really prepared to care for.
Max: Quite correct, my dear.
Nan: Max, stuff a sock in it and stay out of this. It’s my interview.
Max: I cannot imagine why anyone would be interested in interviewing you when my own story is clearly far more interesting.
Nan to us: Did I mention that the house came equipped with an annoying, self-important, arrogant, demanding ghost?
Max: I resent that characterization! I am a well-known and established author of women’s literature.
Nan: Romance, you mean. And you wrote as Maxine DuBois. Very few people, and certainly no one under the age of a hundred, would have a clue as to who Max Murdoch is.
Nan, what made you choose computer programming as a profession, and how did you end up completing Max’s novel? I took the subject in college because we were told that there would always be a need for programmers. What I hadn’t counted on was the collapse of the banking industry. There were few jobs, and none requiring my specific experience.
After I moved into the house, Max refused to let me sleep unless I typed up his stupid manuscript and finished it. I couldn’t even decipher his scribbling, much less make sense of the story.
Max: Now see here, young woman. My final effort would have been a masterpiece if you had not tinkered with it.
Nan: Max, it’s only a good story because I fixed it.
Max: It did not need fixing by you or anyone else.
Nan: The publisher thought it did.
Uh, let’s move on. Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over again, would you have finished the book or have done something different, Nan? I had no choice. He wouldn’t let me sleep unless I did as he wished. And he sang badly. Opera!
Max: My vocal talents are not in question here. And, yes, I did threaten to allow you no slumber until the manuscript was completed.
Nan: Since I had nowhere else to go, I didn’t really have a choice. So I guess, I’d do it again.
What is your biggest fear? We mean Nan, not Max. Swimming in the ocean. I nearly drowned when I was a little kid.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? I hate to admit it, but right now, I just love Sarah, the heroine of the book I wrote with Max. Near the end, she began to tell me her story, and I grew to love her personality and spunk.
Max: I am very happy that you appreciated that particular character, although I never use the term ‘heroine.’ It conjures up visions of the women in the old melodramas tied to a train track. I much prefer ‘protagonist.’
Nan: Max, I hate to admit it, but you’re right. Sarah is a strong woman who doesn’t wait for a man to rescue her.
Max: Now, just a moment…
Nan to us: Max and I have chosen to disagree about whether or not a woman really requires a man. Not that I don’t like them. But I like strong women characters, who are not dependent on being saved.
Moving on, what is the best piece of advice you ever received, Nan? Write what you know, but don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. You are then forced to do research until you do know.
Max: I believe I said that to you.
Nan: Yeah, Max, you did. I learned a lot from you.
Now it's Lorna's turn at bat: Which writer or character[s], from either books or movies, [or both] have had a major impact on your writing? Jane Austin, Anya Seton, James Michener, and Lloyd C. Douglas were early favorites. Of the more contemporary authors, Jennifer Crusie, Marilyn Meredith, and Gail Tsukiyama were very influential.
With regard to research, where did you start for this novel? Did that lead you down different paths, thereby changing the original concept?
I started with the idea of a ghost who was a writer. It soon became apparent that another dynamic was appearing in the story: Nan actually became the ghost writer for Max’s book. However, the basic story of the house at the beach with a resident ghost was there from the beginning. I just didn’t know what a crusty curmudgeon he’d turn out to be.
That sounds fascinating, and certainly is a change from the usual path for a story.
Here's a blurb for Ghost Writer:
When unemployed computer programmer Nan Burton inherits a California beach cottage from her great-aunt, she’s delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of famous romance writer Max Murdoch (pen name Maxine DuBois) who insists Nan complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees. The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results.
Tell us a bit about your publisher, Lorna. How did you hear about them?
Lorna: I met Billie Johnson several years ago at an ebook conference. We hung out together, and I really liked her as a person. We began corresponding since I usually facilitate the publishers’ panel at that annual conference. We saw each other again each year, but she didn’t really publish the fantasy/mystery/romance genre.
What influenced your decision to submit to them? After spending nearly nine months waiting for a commitment from another publisher, I asked Billie if she might want the book. She immediately said she’d take it and even created a new imprint, Mystic Oaks, for it. She really fast-tracked this one.
Tell us a bit about their submission process. How long did it take from query to release? I sent the query in December, received the actual signed contract in March, and the book came out on the 26th of June. Everyone at Oak Tree has been a joy to work with!
To learn more about Lorna and the stories she creates go to: http://www.lornalarry.com and http://lornacollins-author.blogspot.com/.
To purchase Ghost Writer, go to the Oak Tree Press Book Store, our website, or any other online book seller. It is also available on Kindle and NOOK.
Of note, in addition to writing by herself, Lorna also collaborates with her husband, Larry K. Collins. She currently has quite a few projects in the pipeline:
There’s another ghost story called Sophia’s Garden in the works. In addition, they are working on at least two more cozy mysteries in their Agapé Jones series and a historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano between 1820 and 1890.
Lorna also writes romance anthologies with other authors. Their latest, The Art of Love, was just submitted to the publisher for release sometime next year. At least two more of these are also planned.
This has been a lot of fun as well as a nice diversion. It's not every day that a ghost intrudes on an interview! Much luck to you, Lorna [and Larry] in this release and those in the future. We wish you many many sales.
Kat Doran and Veronica Lynch