Interview with Mia Pride- author of the Sisters of Danu Series

  1. Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?                                                         Not necessarily. I think an author should have basic grammar skills and the ability to form coherent, structured sentences and a large vocabulary so the same words do not get used repeatedly, but not all authors write in a technical manner. I believe it is equally important, if not more so, to be a talented story-teller. It also depends on the genre of the book being written. A non-fiction book is more likely to use a stronger grammatical structure than a fictional story told to entertain and flow easily. I happen to be a more technical writer and do my best to keep the story flowing, yet stick to grammar rules, but that is what my editor and proofreader are for. If a writer plays the role of writer, editor, and proofreader, not only will the turn around time on publication be extended, but the author’s eye will not pick up all the errors. I find it best to write my first draft making corrections as I go, then reading through it a couple times before passing it on to editing, then I read it again, give it to proof, then read it again. By then, it is time to let it go. I always get upset when someone points out an error because grammar is important to me, as well as most readers, but we are human and when writing a 97,000-word novel, some errors are bound to occur. Accepting that and moving on was, and still is, a bit hard for me at times.
  2. If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?                                                                                             “Katherine” by Anya Seton. I LOVE that book. It is the book that made me fall in love with romance novels. The love between Katherine and John is so touching and well-told. It swept me away! Definitely a classic!
  3. How important is research to you when writing a book?                                    I suppose it depends on the book but I would say for me, it’s incredibly important. My novels are historical fiction and as such, getting the details of everyday life, their laws and social structure, food, clothing, language, what their homes and towns looked like, etc is HIGHLY important to me. I notice historical inconsistencies in the books I read and I expect some of my readers to, as well. Nothing can ever be precise and it is up to the author to use knowledge and imagination to fill in the unknown blanks, but if the information is out there, I will read and research until I feel like I am giving the time period justice.
  4. What inspires you to write?                                                                            People! Hands down, watching people interact inspires me most. “Every human interaction is a story waiting to be written.” That is a quote of mine and I like to say it frequently because I think it best describes where I draw my inspiration. Happy moments, sad moments, even simple gestures and ordinary interaction makes the wheels in my head turn. I can turn the smallest social exchange into a full-length novel in many cases! I have a journal filled with book ideas and almost all of them came from watching people or even just reading about them.
  5. How often do you write?                                                                                    I try to write daily. As a working mother of two boys, it is not always easy but I treat it like what it is: my job AND my passion. When people say, “where do you find the time to write?!” I respond with, “the same way you find time to work! It’s my JOB!” It’s a career I am investing in. It happens to be my passion and happy place, and I think people think of it as a side hobby because I enjoy it so much, but why can I not have a career I am passion about, like so many other people? I can, and I treat it as such!
  6. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?                          I always set a plot and map out how I want my stories to flow and where I expect them to end up. That being said, it almost always deviates from my original plan. Ideas start to form as I go and my characters take me in another direction. They are real people in my head! And I cannot make them do what I want them to do. They will go and do as they please and I often find my story taking interesting twists and turns that I had never planned.
  7. Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that? If you ask anyone who knows me, I am certain the word loner would never be a word they used to describe me. I’m a social butterfly and thrive when surrounded by people, even strangers. My husband gets slightly annoyed at how I become instant friends with everyone around me, even at the grocery store, but that is just who I am. However, I have no issue with silence and solitude. I can stay inside all day alone and feel completely at ease. I can step out and walk into a crowd and feel at ease. I require a combination of social interaction and solitude. Perhaps it’s part of being a city girl! Being surrounded by people really isn’t even a choice in the SF Bay Area!
  8. Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?                            Oh, yes! I am an avid reader. My favorite authors are Emma Prince, Cynthia Wright, Keira Montclaire, Jennae Vale, Lucy Score and several more! I will read anything they write! I love their love stories! historical romance is my all time favorite, but I love to switch over to contemporary novels as well and I love time-travel!
  9. Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?                                                                                                                  I pay an editor and a separate proofreader. I can read my own story 5 times over and my editor and proofreader will both catch things. It’s because my mind only sees what I expect it to see. I wrote the words and know how it should read, which makes small errors easy to miss. A fresh set of eyes is always best.
  10. Have you ever let any of your books stew for months on end or even a year? YEP! I have maybe three partially written novels on my laptop that I began and then stopped. There are a few reasons why. one required much more research on a time period I am less familiar with and I am waiting until I am done with my current series before I devote the time. The others are contemporary romance novels that I began while my books were in editing. I decided to keep writing until my manuscripts came back, then I went back to focusing again on my current novels. They will be finished eventually!
  11. Have you ever designed your own book cover?                                                   I did! All four of my Sisters of Danu e-book covers were created by myself. When it was time to make the cover for the paperback, I did send all my files over to my talented cover artist, who put them all together beautifully. I cannot do paperbacks! And I will likely pass the baton of design to my cover artist for future books to save me time, but I did enjoy the process 🙂
  12. Do you attend literary lunches or events?                                                          I will be attending my first author and reader convention this fall! I am looking forward to meeting new authors and readers, networking and learning at InD’SCribe 2017!
  13. Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?               I reply personally to all emails and social media comments. I never reply to reviews. Everyone is allowed an opinion and I welcome them. I have received reviews I felt were highly valuable and insightful, and I have received reviews I felt were unfair and harsh, but each reader is a person with individual tastes and they have a right to them.
  14. Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?                                                                                                     Yes, I have. Call it a coping mechanism or a way to defeat old demons, but I found writing about my own darker experiences in life helped me relate to my character in a profound way and also helped me break some serious writing barriers. If I can bring myself to relive my own darkest moments with my words, I can write about anything.
  15. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?                           Definitely my husband and my mother. My mom will share anything I post! When I finally decided to write my first novel, I didn’t even have a laptop. My mom came over and gave me one. And my husband allows the laundry to pile up for days and never complains when I’m in “deep writting mode”. His support of my writing career has been amazing.
  16. If given the opportunity to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?                                                                                                       I think I would create my first heroin with a bit more backbone. She had a rough time and was pretty downtrodden. I portrayed her in that manner and I still feel she is relatable as a fallible human. But there are a few points in the story where I wish she stood up for herself more. However, it’s a series and I believe that, by the last book, she has grown more confident and outspoken. It’s a journey for her. We don’t overcome our past demons overnight and neither did she. It took her awhile, but I think she got there.
  17. Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?                Yes! I work at the elementary school my own children attend. I am an instructional aid for the special education classes and I love it SO much. I also help run a book promotion website with a fellow author friend of mine.
  18. Do you like traveling or do you prefer staying indoors?                                     I love traveling and aspire to see so many places in the world. I have visited lots of places in Europe so far, but only for day trips while on a cruise. I look forward to spending more time in one location and truly getting to explore the land. My biggest goal is to see Ireland and Scotland someday.
  19. Are you “there” where you wanted to be? Are we ever?                                    I definitely have larger goals for myself. I try to keep them realistic and motivational. I’m still a newer author and trying to grow my readership is key right now, as well as simply putting out more books. I never expected to make any big lists right away or win any awards. I do hope to, someday, get there. But for now, I am proud of simply having my entire series finished and published. Baby steps are alright with me.
  20. What do you do in your free time?                                                                     I love to hike, read, bake (I am also a cake decorator. I put that business on hold to write, but I still enjoy it), play with my sweet children and enjoy my family!
  21. Given the chance to live your life again, what would you change about yourself?                                                                                                           I would learn to care less about what others thought of me much sooner. As a 35-year-old mother of two boys and having been married 10 years now, I am finally at peace with who I am. I never pretend to be anyone I am not..and I am happier for it. I know that those who love me, love me for who I truly am, no false pretenses. I only wish I could have learned to love myself and be proud of who I am sooner in life. But I suppose those are the stepping stones of life!
  22. What advice would you like to give writers who are struggling with their first novels?                                                                                                        Allow the story to guide you. It’s ok if your book takes a few turns. It’s alright if you suddenly realize that a huge section of what you wrote needs to be rewritten. You will have to redefine your expectations and let go of preconceived notions. Just keep writing and go back through it to make the changes later. The first draft is always horrible! That’s why it’s for your eyes only!
  23. How did it feel when your first book got published?                                    TERRIFYING. All of my inner thoughts and private emotions out there for the entire world to not only read but to judge publicly? I couldn’t even sleep for the first few days! Oh sure, I was pleased with my own accomplishment, but I felt raw and vulnerable. I was fortunate enough to receive mostly lovely reviews! But it was an incredibly personal experience. Each book I put out now is easier and easier. I do my best, give my all, and hope my readers enjoy it! It is always a tad nerve-wracking, but it gets easier.
  24. Are you friends with other writers?                                                                   I am!! One of my best friends is an author of paranormal romance. She has been such a support system. She lets me know it’s ok to feel vulnerable and helped walk me through the process my first time. She is also my sound board when I am frustrated! Another great author friend of mine writes time-travel romance and I have known her for years! In fact, I owned one of her books before I even knew it was hers! I was a bit star-struck at that moment!
  25. How critical are you in your evaluation when you are reviewing someone’s work?                                                                                                               Honestly? Not very. I read to escape. A story needs to be engaging with relatable characters and no obvious plot holes. A decent editing job is preferable. But even if a book has errors, I still usually finish it and overall enjoy it. I am much more critical of my own work than others. What I would never accept in my own work is much more forgivable to me in another’s. I’m not really the judgmental type I suppose.
  26. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind sometime earlier?                                                                                              Absolutely, yes. it’s terribly frustrating. I now keep a journal on my nightstand and immediately jot down all ideas. some start out as small ideas and others are full-fledged story outlines that pour out of me. If I am not home, I make notes on my cell phone. I once had what I thought was a tremendous story idea…so good I could never possibly forget it. PPFFTT…I forgot it. Still trying to remember it actually. It sort of hurts. S0 I make a point now to write it all down!
  27. If you die today, how would want the world to remember you?                       As a kind human. I see myself as very sensitive to other people’s feelings. All life is beautiful, even insects! In my house, it is a no-no to kill bugs (disclaimer: spiders don’t count). But I teach my children that anyone can study hard and get a good job and be successful (which of course is still important and I expect of them). What truly counts, however, is how we treat others and the world around us. I hope people see me as respectful, kind, fun, loving, accepting, compassionate, intelligent, confident, friendly and simply put: happy.
  28. Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?                                                    I prefer more quiet and privacy. I am easily distracted! But I certainly have written in a coffee shop and I did enjoy it. It’s a nice change and inspiration is everywhere!
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