Interview with Rowena Tisdale, author of “Ingénue”

What inspires you to write?

The characters that pop into my thoughts and demand their stories be told.

How often do you write?

I try to write daily, but as the Queen of Procrastination, I can even put off procrastinating.

How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

That part is not difficult for me. I can sit down and write a first chapter almost on demand. The hard part for me is following through with what I’ve started. I have so many first chapters in my writing file, I could probably write a hundred books. It’s just that I am easily distracted by new, shiny things.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

Both of these things can happen. I knew the story of Ingénue from beginning to end before I started writing it. The novel I am working on now is a source of continual surprise to me, as my characters take me where they will.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

I have a few irons in the fire, but my main project is my second book. I thought it was a romance, and it may well be, but it is much darker than Ingénue. It is about a December-May marriage that appears idyllic on the surface, but there are tensions in the relationship that threaten the well-being of Claire (the wife). It is definitely a love story. Of sorts …

Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long do they usually last?

Oh my God! Yes! I just recently overcame a six month block. Granted, it doesn’t usually last that long, but really, I had despaired of ever writing again.

Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?


Seriously, I don’t know if there is a trick to make it go away. My block was cleared when something that happened in my real life triggered a response from my main character. “You know how I feel,” Claire whispered to me. “Write it down.”

Have you ever considered writing an autobiography?

Yes, but no one would believe it.

How possessive are you about your work?

That is a tricky question. I am very possessive, and bristle at suggestions that I change so much as even one word. But once a book is published, it belongs to those who read it. I am always somewhat hurt, and a little bit sad when readers don’t like Nathan. I love Nathan! But I can’t make readers see him as I do.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?

I proof and edit myself. And edit. And edit. And edit. And edit … and edit. Then I usually edit.

Did you ever change sentences more than five times just because it didn’t hit the right notes?

Sometimes many more than 5! I am relatively chill about most things – I approach life mostly as a spontaneous adventure. I’m lackadaisical about housework, budgeting, and fashion, for instance. But when it comes to words … OCD doesn’t even begin to describe it! There is a perfect way to say something, and that is the way it should be said.

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?

I always notice incorrect grammar, though rarely call it out. I understand that the complex, beautiful English language is quickly becoming extinct. It saddens me, but is not something I foresee being reversed.

As far as insistence on correct grammar -only for myself. …And my kids. Their English is impeccable.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

You may think that writing a romance requires no particular research. It does! I don’t mean the kind of personal romantic experience I bring to my writing either. Details are important, and I want everything in a story to have the ring of truth. So I will research any number of things, right down to restaurant menus, and ethical emerald mines.

What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

Computers were made for people like me! I love to use the written word as a means of communication, but my handwriting is atrocious. If I had to write by hand, I’d lose 90% of what I write – it’s so bad, even I can’t decipher it!

Do you have a library at home?

I do! When we moved in to our current house, I was so excited when I realized I had an extra room. It’s always been a dream of mint to have a library, and now I do. I love being surrounded by books.

What are your views on modern erotica? Have they completely dehumanized the idea, or is it better?

As with any genre, erotica, when well written, can be quite good. There is an erotic element in my romances, so obviously, I’m not going to say anything overly negative about it. I am often disappointed by the lack of diversity in this area. BDSM is not my thing, so I don’t read much of the current crop of books that fall into this category. The sub/dom theme is too prevalent – “Oh, I love it, but he made me do it!” I am gratified that women are more accepting of their sexuality, I’d just prefer it if they were in control and unashamed.

Do you prefer being intoxicated to write? Or would you rather write sober?

While I often feel my writing is quite scintillating after a couple glasses of wine, the harsh morning re-read usually proves me wrong. I prefer to write sober, as I do it much better that way.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I do not read as much as I should, or I would like to. I used to always have my nose in a book. These days, I have less time, and I am very discerning – some might say picky – about what I read.

My favorite authors are usually the dead ones – Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens … I am still a huge Shakespeare fan. I’ve recently fallen in love with Dorothy Parker. As far as more contemporary authors? I enjoy Margaret Atwood and Anne Rice. Anything more current, I would have to say I more like a specific book than a particular author.

Does a bad review affect your writing?

No, only my self-esteem. I don’t think non-writers understand how much of a writer’s soul is in their work. If they did, I’m sure they would never say an unkind word. This is why I do not edit or critique other authors. It is a very rare thing for me to write a review as well. In fact, unless I love your book, and find it near flawless, I will not review it.

How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing?

I would weep.

Do you read any of your own work?

The first electronic book I read from start to finish was Ingénue. Since it was published in that format, I wanted to view it the way my readers would be reading it.

Do you blog?

I do have a blog – please check it out!

It often becomes a distraction. I know that my online presence is important to my marketing efforts, but when I have to write a new blog post, and attend to all my social media accounts, it tends to interfere with actual writing.

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