Today I welcome the author Celeste Straub onto my blog to do an interview. Check out her thoughts on writing, plotting and who her favourite authors are. Enjoy!
Q01 – When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve enjoyed writing since childhood, but it took nearly twenty years for me to find the confidence to pursue publication. Around age twelve (I’m now 34) I entered the world of fanfiction writing.
When I started posting my fanfics online in college, that served as a kind of incubator and helped me hone my writing skills. It also allowed me to explore different genres, though I always seemed to drift back to penningfics that combined romance and mystery.
I delved into original story ideas about eight years ago, but I never felt compelled to chase after publication for any of my works until 2017.
Early in that year, I began what would become my debut novel, Leather and Lies. By 2018, I knew I had produced characters and a story I wanted to share with the world.
Q02 – Are there any authors who inspire you?
Many. Two of the strongest influences for me have been J.K. Rowling and Janet Evanovich.
I was in high school when I picked up the first Harry Potter book. Rowling’s storytelling just blew me away and sucked me in like no other book previously. I practically lived in her books, re-reading them more times than I can count.
I’m still in awe of her ability to weave such complex adventure and mystery plotlines, especially the little hints for the last book planted at the very beginning of the series.
I discovered Janet Evanovich in college and fell in love with her Stephanie Plum novels first, then her other series.
All her novels feature strong but relatable female leads, with a fair bit of humor to balance out the suspense. My only quibble with her writing was that I found the romance elements lacked.
Often, just as things would start to get steamy, the scene (and often the book) would end. So, when I set out writing Leather and Lies, my goal was to craft a story with mystery and suspense elements reminiscent of my favorite authors, strong female characters, and also to fulfill that steamy romance element I desired.
Q03 – What is your dream goal for your writing?
I would eventually like to be able to quit my day job and write novels for a living full-time.
I have no desire to be a household name, I’m too introverted for that, but it would be a tremendous source of pride to know I could provide for myself and my family off my writing alone.
Q04 – Are your family and friends supportive of your writing?
I’m blessed to have parents who supported and encouraged my writing and a husband who urged me to chase publication long before I had the self-confidence to do so.
I also owe a great debt of gratitude to a good friend from college, who talked me into joining a writing group she was part of. That group really helped me bring my writing to the next level, and with it my confidence.
I’m also fortunate to be mentored by a friend of the family, who is a published romance author. She continues to give me valuable guidance on my author journey.
Q05 – How long have you been working on your current manuscript?
It took me about nine months to write my debut novel. I’ve been working on the sequel for about three months.
Since I work a full-time job during the day, most of my writing gets squeezed into a couple hours each night, which means it often takes me months to complete a manuscript.
Q06 – Do you plan your stories or just leap into the writing?
I’ll jot down a few key plot points, but mostly I jump into the writing and trust that the characters will help steer me in the right direction.
I’m also not a linear writer. I’ve been known to pen key scenes and then build the rest of the story outward from there.
If I have an idea that I can’t work on immediately, I will write down as many of the plot pointsas I can in a notebook so I can go back to it when I’m ready.
Q07 – Do you have a writing routine?
Not really. Since most of my writing takes place at night after my son has gone to bed, I like to sit with my laptop, earbuds in and music streaming, and just bang away as much as I can before heading to bed myself.
Q08 – What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
The hardest part for me is to stop editing. I could edit the same story for years, nit-picking it to death.
There’s always that little voice urging me to re-read it just one more time, in case I missed something.
Q09 – What are your thoughts on Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing?
I believe both have merit and any aspiring author should look at the pros and cons of both. For me, I didn’t have the technical skills or industry knowhow to self-publish and I didn’t want to have to outlay the money for an editor, book designer, etc.
However, I also didn’t want to sign away most of my creative rights, have my book hung up for months in the query process, and then wait another year for the publication process used by many traditional publishers.
Therefore, I queried small independent publishers, who had the know-how to get my book to market quickly but would include me in the creative process. As I learn more about physically formatting books for publication, self-publishing is something I will consider in the future, as I like to have as much control over my works as possible.
Q10 – What is the single best piece of advice you could give to new writers?
Don’t expect the first thing you write to be your overnight breakout success. Instead, write prolifically in whatever medium pleases you, learn to accept constructive criticism, and never stop believing you still have more to learn.
It is only through writing that a new writing can gain the skills and confidence necessary to be successful.
Q11 – Share with us a writing strength and a writing weakness you have.
One of my strengths is writing banter between characters. My characters develop such strong individual personalities that I can hear their conversations in my head, including voice inflection and gestures, which makes it easy and fun to transcribe onto the page.
My weaknesses include using too many adverbs, throwing commas around like confetti, and slipping into passive tense.
Q12 – Tell us why you love writing.
Might as well ask me why I love breathing. I’ve been writing for so long, nearly two thirds of my life, that it’s a natural extension of who I am.
Writing relaxes me. It allows me to escape reality and live in worlds that I create and control.
Through writing, I can express myself in my preferred way. My words can reach more people than I physically ever could, and through my words, I can leave a piece of me behind once I’m gone.
Celeste Straub is an award-winning author of steamy, contemporary romantic suspense.
Her stories are set in northeastern Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband, four-year-old son, and two lazy cats.
The natural beauty of the region provides a perfect backdrop for her characters to fall in love and get into a bit of trouble.
Writing as a hobby since childhood, Celeste enjoys plotting her characters’ harrowing journeys to reach their happily-ever-after.
She spends her days working for a small non-profit agency focused on public health. Her other interests include traveling, visiting amusement parks, collecting baseballs, and hiking
Leather and Lies
From award-winning author Celeste Straub comes Leather and Lies, a 2018 Daphne du Maurier Excellence in Romantic Suspense Award finalist.
Passion. Deceit. Danger.
For twenty-four-year-old Skye Winters, criminal profiling is the perfect career: helping solve cases without all the emotional baggage.
When her cousin, Kortney, becomes the latest in a string of young women to vanish, Skye’s professional and personal lives collide. Cue the nuclear mushroom cloud.
Amid the fallout, Skye meets Wes Carson, the mysterious and smart-mouthed new biker in her father’s motorcycle club.
She tries to ignore their chemistry, even after accepting Wes’ aid in the search for Kort.
Then one spontaneous afternoon takes them over the edge, forcing Skye to consider she might be in love. Too bad it’s with a liar.
Untangling Wes’ web of secrets leaves Skye ensnared in an active FBI investigation, making her question her profiling skills and her heart.
With Wes in danger, her affection overrules her caution with disastrous results. With both her life and Kort’s hanging in the balance, can Skye unravel the vital missing pieces, or will she be taken down by leather and lies?
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Big thanks to Celeste for doing this author interview, was lovely having her on my blog. I hope you all enjoyed this interview too.
Please check out Celeste’s social media and if you have any questions for her, leave them in the comments below.