About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Norah Wilson is the author of sexy romantic suspense novels and scorching paranormal romance . Together with writing partner Heather Doherty, she also writes the laugh-out-loud Dix Dodd mysteries series and young adult paranormal fiction. Wilson lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, with her family, which includes Rottie-Shepherd mix Chloe and tuxedo cat Ruckus.
What inspires you to write romance books?
Romance has always been my number one choice of reading material, so I guess it’s natural that I would want to write it. But I’m a little slow on the uptake. I was almost thirty before I decided to give it a try. After reading a romance that I thought was particularly badly written, I tossed the book and said, “I could write a better book than that!” Having said that, I felt the need to prove it. I quickly learned that it took a lot more skill than I had at that point to write even a bad book. So I joined Romance Writers of America and started studying the craft of writing in general, and romance writing in particular. That was a couple of decades ago, but I’m still studying the masters.
Tell us about how you write:
Many writers are blessed with fabulous imaginations. I am not. In that respect, I think I’m pretty atypical. It takes me a long while to incubate and idea, and then another long while to write the book. I’m always hoping the next plot will come easier and the writing will be faster. Alas, it hasn’t happened yet.
Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I am what I would describe as a loose plotter. I have to have the characters’ goal/motivation/conflict worked out, and I also need to know the main turning points and a few other key bits. I then write a working synopsis, after which I dive into the write. Of course, once the book is under construction, I find I often diverge from the plan as outlined in my synopsis. What seemed reasonable and logical before I got that deeply into the characters’ heads can wind up seeming contrived or improbably when I get to know them better.
I am also a linear writer. I can’t skip ahead and do that exciting climax scene. I have to write everything chronologically. A lot of writers I know skip love scenes and just put a place holder note in there. I could never do that! If the character isn’t changed in some way (small or big) by the love scene, I figure there’s something wrong with that love scene. And since I can’t know the nuances of how it will impact the characters, I can’t forge on.
I don’t often have active conversations with my characters, as some writers do. But if I’m stuck, I ask myself a bunch of questions. What does Ray want in this scene? What does he fear? Is he ready to peel back his defenses and be real with Grace? Not yet? Okay, can he go part way? Intimate something? How can I communicate that in the subtext? Basically, I just close my eyes and get them to play out the scene in various ways until one feels authentic.
What advice would you give other writers?
Hone your craft. As much as you love that first book, it’s probably not up to scratch for publication. Yes, you can pay an editor to work with you to improve it, but it still may not be strong enough to be competitive in this crowded market. You might want to write another and another. I also recommend forming a critique group with other romance writers who are roughly at the same stage of development as you are. The mistakes someone else makes in their manuscript are always much more readily evident, but having found them, sometimes a warning bell sounds in your mind: “I might have made that mistake too…”
Oh, and don’t keep going back and rewriting the same book. Leave it be and start another. By the time you finish the next project and go back to the first one, you’ll be able to see it with a lot more clarity. Then you can judge if it’s worth rewriting or whether you should write it off as an invaluable learning experience.
That said, don’t toil forever trying to make a project perfect before submitting your book and/or self-publishing it. While I’ve loved thousands of books, there is no such thing as a perfect book. All you can hope for is that the seams don’t show when another writer or a critical reader picks up your book.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I had been traditionally published before I self-published, but it had been a long hiatus. I was unable to interest any New York publishers in my romantic suspense books or my paranormal romance. Deciding I had nothing to lose, I tested the self-pub waters way back in 2010, when things were just starting to heat up. To my surprise, the books began to sell. I self-published pretty much all of my inventory over the next year or two. I am currently writing romantic suspense for Montlake Romance, as well, and I have to say I love being a hybrid author. Montlake is an imprint of Amazon Publishing, and they can do amazing things for sales. They are also very author-friendly. If it weren’t for them, I imagine I would be self-publishing all my adult romance, and would not be shopping it to other trad publishers.
In terms of advising other writers, that’s a tough one. Everyone’s situation is different. I’d been writing a very long time and had a sizable network when I self-published. The pond was also smaller. There’s a lot more competition now, and it’s harder for a book — self-pubbed or traditionally-pubbed — to stand out. That said, I lean toward self-publishing. You have complete control over every element, including when your books release. No waiting for a year or two to see your book in print. Indie publishing is a hard, hard slog, make no mistake. But it’s very rewarding. And potentially a lot more lucrative, particularly over the long haul.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The only thing I know for sure is that the market will be crowded. Yes, some authors will drop out. Those who “tested the waters” with one book will almost inevitably be disappointed, since it takes a lot of time and a lot of books to build an indie career. But there will always be new authors trying it out. The challenge, therefore, is discoverability, which is why we indies never rest; LOL. The other element, I think, is consistency. Consistently delivering excellent books over time will build your reputation. Readers will know they can rely on you to deliver that happy ever after that looked so improbable, and leave them closing the book on a happy sigh.
What genres do you write?
Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance, YA Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print