Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Author Interview With Renee Swann

It is so nice to meet you Renee. So for those who may not have heard of you before can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get into writing?
Hello! I hail from Sydney, Australia, and I have two rambunctious “kids”—the feathery/furry kind—named Abbey (silky terrier Jack Russel cross) and my rescue bird, Kaleb (parakeet—although we call them “budgies” here). I practically live on caffeine, and am obsessed with all things cupcake-related!
I was always writing little stories when I was growing up, so I can’t pinpoint an exact time that I got into writing, but the passion was always there. I took writing up as a hobby after I finished school, and often pulled all-nighters just to write. It was something I loved deeply, but never thought it would lead to me being an author...until I started working on a particular book that changed my life, and my views. Could I really be an author??
Apparently, I can.
After I published my first book (not the life-changing one—I’m still working on that), I never looked back…

What kind of books do you write?
I write romance (some erotic, some clean), and tend to specialise in romantic suspense ;) But I also write YA paranormal/urban fantasy as C.J. Hart.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
For my adult books, I’ve written probably ten. Not all are published. I wrote a lot as a hobby before I got into it as a career, and a lot of those will probably never see the light of day. My favourite, the one that will always have a special place in my heart, is The Truth about Love. It’s been a work in progress for about three to four years now, and it’s the first book I wrote when I started taking this writing thing seriously. It’s about a cupcake baker who comes face-to-face with her past, and she has to make a decision—who should she forgive?

What does your writing process look like?
Hmm, well, it’s a bit all over the place at times. But I start with a detailed outline of the story (which can often be up to three thousand words itself), going scene by scene, and get all of my ideas down on paper. I’m definitely not the type to wing it, though I used to be. I also do character profiles, if it’s a new series, or if there are new characters. Once I have a solid idea of where the story’s going, I start writing. I usually dedicate two weeks for the planning stage (or more, if it’s a complicated plot), and about a month and a half to complete the first draft (if aiming for seventy thousand words). Once the first draft is done, I leave it to sit for as long as possible before going back in and redrafting.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
Not really. The only thing is that I have to have some water or other drink on my desk, but that’s about it. I just sit down and write.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
It depends on the book, the country it’s set in, and ethnicity. Sometimes characters come fully formed in my head with a name, and some with no name. Generally, I just find something that fits their personality. And if there’s a couple, I like having their names sound like they match—like Bec and Rob, for example, from my upcoming book Ground Rules. In my YA
stuff though, where the characters are strong, bloodthirsty, mythical creatures (and the human main character is stubborn, curious, and a total fighter), I looked into the meanings behind names before I chose them. The main character is Cassie (Cassandra means to excel or to shine, but is also the name of a Trojan princess with the gift of prophecy); other main character is Seb (his Native American birth name is Hok’ee Nat’aanii, meaning Abandoned Leader, which is exactly what happens in the story)
I use either BehindTheName.com or BabyNames.com.au

Pick any one of your books, who would you cast in a Hollywood movie for it?
I’ll pick my upcoming release Ground Rules. It’s somewhat difficult for me to cast my characters, but I gave it my best shot.
Bec – Shailene Woodley or a blonde Erica Durance
Rob – Justin Hartley
Lena (Bec’s mother) – Helena Bonham Carter
Andrew (Bec’s father) – Woody Harrelson
Cordy (Bec’s older sister) – Emily Deschanel or Ashley Greene
Jack (Cordy’s husband) – Jackson Rathbone
Dom (Bec’s boss and longtime friend) – Raoul Bova
Nicole (Dom’s wife) – Monica Bellucci
Kaleb (Rob’s younger brother) – Skylar Austin
Matt (Rob’s older brother) – Chris Hemsworth (with dark hair)
Anna (Bec’s friend) – Kristen Kreuk or Maggie Q
Martin (Bec’s stalker ex) – Cam Gigandet
Nate (friend and building super of Bec’s apartment complex) – Ezra Miller
Melia (Bec’s new mysterious neighbour who often saves the day) – this character was based solely on a good friend of mine (with her permission), so I can’t bring myself to cast anyone else…
Celeste (Rob’s ex-wife) – Bryce Dallas Howard

Do you have any plans to attend author signings and conferences?
I haven’t got anything planned yet.

When it comes to reviews there are good and bad. Do you read them and or respond to them?
I sometimes read them—mostly the good ones—but I never respond, unless a link has been sent directly to me. I see negative reviews as a necessary evil, and just try to shrug them off if I happen to see one.

Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?
Harder, emotionally? I would say yes, if I’m writing something that I’ve gone through personally. Or if the character is going through something that I can connect with on some lever. Otherwise, not really.

What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Does waiting for the book to come out count? Hahaha


If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear? What would be your super power?
I couldn’t come up with an answer, so I asked my friend Stormy to help me…
Name: The Bakress (Bake-ress)
Super power: To have the ability to shoot cupcakes at my enemies, in which they explode in their faces and knock them out cold for a few minutes, and to be able to blow on a cake pan and—voila! Cake or cupcakes in seconds! Also, my shoes shoot sprinkles, which can be handy for emergencies like sprinkle-less cupcakes ;)
Costume: A colourful striped apron (that doubles as a cape), with matching Converse and skinny jeans, each bedazzled with cupcakes.

What secret talents do you have?
Umm…nothing secret…

If you could have any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
Maybe Italian? I really don’t know. It’s not something I’ve really thought about!

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?
I’ve always wanted to go to Rio, during their Carnivale!

Who is your celebrity crush?
Theo James and Liam Hemsworth *drools…*

If you could be a character in any book which would you want to be?
Can I be Tris from Divergent? I’d just like to look at Four all day hehehe…

If they ever made a movie about your life, which actor/actress should play you?
Haha I had no clue, so I asked Mum, and she said, “That Woodley girl” (Shailene Woodley). I think I’ll take that as a complement. I mean, I love her work, so I’d be happy with that :)

If there is something in the works is there a possibility of a sneak peek at it? A never before seen excerpt or teaser or something?
I always have several books in the works, in many phases of writing/editing/publication. But since I’ve been talking a bit about Ground Rules, how about a peek at that?

Excerpt (Bec has just lost her job):
This morning, the Lava Java Café is packed to the rafters with famished customers and Halloween decos. I’m scrutinizing a witch on a broomstick when the waitress appears. She hands Rob and I each a menu before disappearing again.
My eyes sweep over the items. They snag on one. “Triple choc pancakes.” I can practically hear my stomach say, Get the triple choc pancakes, Bec. And I can’t disappoint it, can I?
“I might try the pumpkin ones,” Rob says. “Ready to order?”
He calls over the waitress and she takes down our order.
“So,” he says after she’s gone, “what’s on your agenda for today?”
“Agenda? No agenda. Just gonna go with the flow.” It’s not like he’s a mind reader.
His honey eyes scrape over my features, not convinced. “No plans? No by-the-minute timetable?”
Oh, God. He knows me too well. Don’t show him the color-coordinated schedule. Don’t—I tug it from my handbag and slam the paper onto the table. “There. Happy?”
He picks it up. Studies it.
Oh flippity heck, what have I done? Warmth rises in my cheeks and I duck my head, pretending to check my cell phone.
“I see you’ve us allocated us forty minutes and thirty seconds for breakfast.” He quirks an eyebrow that says, thirty seconds?
“That’s for a really kick-ass kiss.” Lame.
Chuckling, he shakes his head. “I can’t wait. I see you also have time allocated for learning archery.”
“Give me that.” I snatch the paper back and stuff it into my bag. “Just keeping my options open.”
Our coffees arrive and we take a moment to sweeten them—actually, it’s just me dumping three sachets of sugar into my latte and Rob looking a little horrified.
I squirm in my chair. “Feels weird to be at a café when I’d normally be on my way to work.”
“I bet it does.” After a sip of his espresso, he adds, “I can give you a job, no problem.”
My lips curl into a half-smile at his offer. “What am I going to do at a law firm? Fetch coffee and change the toner?”
“Maybe. But the job would include breaking up fights between Matt and Kaleb. I’m sick of doing it.” He says that last bit on a sigh.
“Your brothers fight a lot?”
“They get on each other’s nerves.”
The waitress delivers our food and I tuck in two seconds after it hits the table. Three seconds after, my cell phone vibrates on the laminate, flashing Cordy.
I quickly chew, swallow. “That’s my sister,” I say to Rob, “I should answer it.”
“Go ahead.”
I tap the ANSWER button and then SPEAKER. “Cor?”
“What the hell, Bec? You lost your job?”
I jump as her shrieks flood through. I take the call off loud speaker and bring the handset to my ear. “Stop yelling. The whole of Florida can hear you.”
Rob smirks and forks a wedge of pancake into his mouth.
“Oh, real mature, Bec.”
“I wasn’t fired. I was let go. There’s a difference, you know?”
I can imagine her crossing her arms and stamping her foot at her ‘irresponsible’ younger sister. “Is that all? Because I’m kind of in the middle of breakfast with—” I almost say Rob. But as far as Cordy knows, he’s her husband’s friend. “—a guy.” Brilliant move Bec.
“Ooh. Becky’s got a date! What’s his name? Do I know him?”
“Bye,” I say, “gotta go.”
“I’ll drop by later!”
I’m certain she will. I hang up and return to my pancakes.
“Cordy sounds as cheerful as ever,” he says.
“Hm. She’s nosy. You’re lucky you have brothers.”
“I wouldn’t use lucky. I have to work with them.”
“The lesser of two evils.”
Rob’s gaze drifts over my shoulder and catches on something. His eyes harden.
“Isn’t that Martin?”
I pivot in my chair.
Controlling ex, four o’clock.
“Yep.” I turn back.
“He looks like he misses you.”
“I’m ceasing to care.” I hadn’t seen him since he tried to break into my car a few months back—and good riddance, I say.
“Yeah? Good. Because he’s coming over.”
“What?” I risk a look over my shoulder.
“Kidding. He left as soon as you turned away.”
I release a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding and face Rob again.
The waitress sidles up to us and holds out a folded receipt to me. “The guy from that table”—she gestures to Martin’s table—“asked me to give you this.”
After a beat, I take it, nerves and panic sizzling in the pit of my stomach. What could he possibly have to say? It’s too late for an apology or an ‘I’m sorry I tried to strangle you’ card.
“Thanks,” Rob says to her and she leaves.
My fingers flatten the paper on my palm and I shudder.

Never turn your back on me.

Rob pries the note from my death-grip on it. Eyes scan it. “Fuck.” He throws a twenty on the table, “Let’s go,” and strides across the café, towing me behind.
“Where are we going?” I say, trying to keep up.
“I’m taking you home.” He shoves open the door and we march across the parking lot. “Then you’re going to lock the door.” He clicks a button on his key fob and his BMW whistles. “If he shows up, you’re going to call the police.”
I shield my eyes against the blinding sun and look at him. “He’s not dangerous, just a creep.” So I tell myself.
Rob presses me up against his car, leaning in close. “Please?”
The ferocity and affection in his irises jolt me. “O—okay.”

Ground Rules is out 12/15/15. You can add it to your Goodreads TBR here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26583500-ground-rules