Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Interview with romance author Emma Carlyle

Today's guest has a split identity and we're focused on the romance novelist side, which is Emma Carlyle. She's talking about her newest book, Someone To Watch Over Me.

Once upon a time there was an author who began writing romance. She won awards for her unpublished manuscripts and eventually sold two romances, both of which also won awards. Life was all hearts and flowers and hunky heroes until one day she was attacked by a glue gun wielding amateur sleuth who forced the romance author to write her story. 

Thus, author Lois Winston turned her attentions from romance to mystery, writing the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. However, Lois found she had more romance stories to tell. So she decided to split her personality, remaining Lois Winston for mystery, becoming Emma Carlyle for romance, and diving into the digital publishing revolution. Read more about Emma and Lois at their websites: and

Welcome Lois (as Emma), please tell us about your current release.
My latest release is Someone To Watch Over Me, a romantic suspense. Here's a blurb:

Dori Johnson’s life is built on lies and deceit. Six years ago she committed a series of felonies in order to flee Philadelphia and save herself and her siblings from a ruthless Russian crime boss. They’ve lived under the radar ever since. But now Dori’s been offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that her siblings insist she take. Within days her carefully constructed world begins toppling around her, and when her life is threatened, the one man who can help her is the one man she doesn’t dare trust.

What inspired you to write this book?
Most people are probably familiar with the Mafia's long history in Philadelphia, especially in South Philly. There have certainly been enough books and movies on the subject. However, what most people don't realize is that there was a large influx of Russian immigrants into Philadelphia the last two decades of the twentieth century, first from defections and later after the Iron Curtain fell. Many settled in the northeast section of Philadelphia. And along with these immigrants came the Russian Mafia. I lived in Philadelphia during this period and met some of these people. Others, I read about in the newspaper. All became fodder for Someone To Watch Over Me.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Since I'm both indie and traditionally published, next up for me is finishing the fourth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series which has an early 2013 deadline. I took a break from writing it recently to launch Emma's indie career, but now I have to turn my attention back to Anastasia. She doesn't take rejection well after what her dead louse of a spouse put her through.

Thanks for that teaser!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I finished my first book. Of course, it was totally unpublishable, which I learned pretty quickly, but I wasn't daunted by the rejections. I'd written a 50,000 word story! That was a huge sense of accomplishment, and it made me realize I wanted to keep writing. So I set about learning how to write right, and ten years (almost to the day) that I began writing that first story, I sold my first book.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I'm actually juggling three full time careers. Along with writing, I'm a designer in the consumer crafts industry (I'm the person who creates the needlework kits you see in craft stores and the projects in crafts and women's magazines.) I'm also an associate of the literary agency that reps me.

I'm able to do all this because my kids are grown, and all three of my careers are done from my home. I know women writers who work 40 hours a week outside the home AND have young kids. I don't know how they do it. I have huge admiration for those women. I couldn't do what they do.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I'm writing, I employ what I refer to as "method" writing, similar to method acting where the actor becomes the role she's playing. I sit back, close my eyes, and envision the scene as a movie with me as the point of view character. I "become" my character so that I experience her feelings and understand her reasons for acting the way she does in a given situation. I find this method also works well for those times when writer's block threatens. If I'm experiencing what my heroine is experiencing, I don't have time for writer's block.

I also like to observe people. Anyone can wind up in one of my books. I have a T-shirt that says, "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel," and I mean it. You really need to watch what you say and do around me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was ten years old, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut, the first female astronaut. Unfortunately, I learned that NASA isn't interested in astronauts who suffer from motion sickness. Scratch that career path. I gave up the heavens and turned to my other love, Broadway theater. Again, I was confronted with a major problem. Actually two major problems. I have a tin ear and two left feet. Broadway isn't interested in singers who can't sing and dancers who can't dance. Good thing my third choice was something I could actually do. I wound up going to art school where I majored in graphic design and illustration. For several years after college I worked as a layout artist for John Wanamaker.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
One of my summer goals was to launch my Emma Carlyle pen name and release five ebook titles under that name. To celebrate having accomplished this before the end of July, and inspired by the incredible generosity of fellow author and good friend CJ Lyons, I decided to contribute part of the sales of my Emma Carlyle books to charity. 

From August through October, I'm making a donation of $500 to breast cancer research for every 1,000 Emma Carlyle books sold. Along with Someone To Watch Over Me, there's another romantic suspense, Lost in Manhattan. Hooking Mr. Right is a romantic comedy. Finding Hope is a romance, and Four Uncles and a Wedding is chick lit. Blurbs, excerpts, and buy links can be found at Just think, for less than the price of a latte, you can help save the tatas!

That's great! Thanks, Lois/Emma.


Linda Andrews said...

Wow! What an inspiring story. Do you write one book at a time or do you have several books going at once?

Unknown said...

Lois/Emma, I'm not a romance reader, but this sounds great! On my list now....

Unknown said...

Wow, Emma/Lois, you are a whirlwind! Great post. I'm going to look for "Someone to Watch Over Me" at a nearby Kindle.

Lois Winston said...

Linda, I used to write one book at a time and still try to do that when I can. It helps me keep all the characters and the plot lines straight, but when you're juggling deadlines, it's not always possible.

Thanks, Sheila and JoAnn! Hope you both enjoy the book. And if you do, maybe you'll give LOST IN MANHATTAN a try afterwards. It's also a romantic suspense.

Kimberley Troutte said...

I like your Method Writing idea. Might just give it a try.
Great post!

Lois Winston said...

Let me know if it works for you, Kim.

Kathleen Kaska said...

Wow, Lois! You have a lot of great things going. You're a true inspiration.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Kathleen!

Diane Schultz said...

Just finished my first Anastasia Pollock book and glad to hear there are a few more out there. I really loved her, Lois. I picked her up because of your chick-lit and romance/suspense and guess I'll have to bite the bullet and read an ebook to read your chick lit. I like suspense with strong female characters and a barrel of laughs, and if they get their man in more than one ways (or more than one man), all the better!

Lois Winston said...

Diane, thanks so much! You've made my evening!

Mia Marlowe said...

I really like the concept of "method" writing. Do you employ first person POV or do you use this for all your characters?

Lois Winston said...

Hi Mia--
My mystery series is in first person, so I'm only using it for my amateur sleuth protagonist for those books. However, I have used it for both hero and heroine plus some secondary characters in my romances. I have to admit, though, it's much easier to slip into the skin of one of the female characters than one of the male characters!

Edith Maxwell said...

I think I already do Method Writing without knowing the name for it! And as a fellow pseudonymer, I can acknowledge the juggling aspect! Thanks for sharing your story, Lois/Emma.

aka Tace Baker

Sally Carpenter said...

I think I use "method writing" for my books. I visualize the scene in my head like a movie before putting it on paper. When actors prepare for a role they ask "what if?" (what if I was this character in this setting). Writers can use the same technique.

Lois Winston said...

Edith and Sally, I think many writers use a variation of method writing without realizing it. Thanks for stopping by.