Tell us a little about your latest novel and when and where we can get it.
“Murder @ Work” was published by Echelon Press in August 2009 under my own name (Yvonne Walus). It’s set in the “new free South Africa” of 1994, where men are still boss, women still carry handguns for self-protection, and some mistakes can change your life forever. When a body is found during their weekend away with friends, Christine Chamberlain must use her brilliant mathematical mind to prove her husband’s innocence… whether he’s innocent or not. Every marriage needs honesty, but when it comes to your loved ones, is it possible to know too much?
How do you balance the creative process of writing with the demands of public appearances, maintenance of your website, and your family?
In a word, badly. “Balance” doesn’t come into it. Try “run around like mad, dropping the balls and falling on my face with exhaustion”. I have a day job and two children in primary school, so if I want to find time for writing, something has to give – and it’s usually household chores. I look at the dusty furniture, the carpet that has forgotten the loving touch of the vacuum cleaner, the creases on my blouse and I pretend that I don’t care (come to think of it, at 3 A.M. I really don’t care).
One thing I’ve noticed is that I can’t do creative writing and publicity at the same time: it’s either making more pages of my book appear on the word processor, or it’s making more sales happen by blogging, chatting and book signing. Partly it’s due to time constraints, but mostly it’s because my brain can’t switch between book-writing and book-selling fast enough.
Give us an example of a day in the writing life of. Do you stick to a schedule of X amount of hours writing, editing, answering email, etc.?
It’s summer holidays here in New Zealand, so my schedule is disrupted, but I usually have time to write when the children are in bed. When I’m writing the first draft, I like to get about 1000 words a day down – good words, bad words, as long as they are words. It helps when I tell myself I can’t go to bed until I’ve hot target.
About the great ‘rule’ debate: we are told you can’t do this and you can’t write that. But it is stepping outside the lines that gets many authors noticed and eventually published. What are your opinions on the rules?
My only rule is to write responsibly. I try to think of the kind of message I’d like to send to the reader. Do I want to tell them that atheism is ok, or make them think about the wonders of the world? Do I want to be controversial? Do I want to give a potential murderer a great idea on how to use poison? How will I feel when my children read my books? And what do I want to leave as a legacy for the generations to come?
What music do you listen to when you write?
When I need inspiration, I listen to REM’s “Losing my religion” – there’s just something in the beat that fires up my brain. But mostly I need the silence of the sleeping house and the knowledge that nobody will interrupt.
Has a song inspired you to write?
One of my Red Rose Publishing releases, “Safe Sex Incorporated” (written under the pen name Eve Summers), was definitely inspired by Mike Batt’s “Love makes you crazy”. The lyrics go like this:
I was reading in a history book,
Before the seventh war,
They used to have a thing that they called love,
That we don’t have any more.
I don’t know the feeling,
But I’m told it was an evil thing,
It used to make you crazy and fall down,
No one knows what it could bring.
My book’s all about that.
Do you have a favorite show on TV that helps in moving your muse?
When I write my Eve Summers romances, I always cast Sawyer from LOST as the hero, even if my leading man is black. Sawyer looks good with dark skin and hair….
If you could collaborate with any author, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Anybody famous and bestselling, but I would only do it for their name on the cover, but the book would have to be all mine or all theirs. I can’t write as a joint project. Don’t get me wrong: I love brainstorming, and I think it’s a great idea to get someone in the know to edit my work… but ultimately I need to be the boss of what goes on in my book.
What are your thoughts on promotion for books?
I honestly don’t know. Sometimes I feel as though all the promo effort is wasted, kind of like a tree falling in a forest without making a sound. Other times it looks like the more online presence I have, the better the book sells (“Like a Virgin” is at number 10 at Red Rose Publishing at the moment, and climbing).
Fortunately, I really love talking to my readers, so author talks and interviews are always fun, regardless of whether or not they sell any books.
What advice do you have for authors who haven’t quite gotten their manuscript to the next level, which for most is publishing?
Write the kind of book you’d like to read. Write what you’re passionate about. Write – simply write.