Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lara Temple: About writing, luck, and not waiting for inspiration

Two years ago I got really, really lucky and it’s all my mother’s fault. She loves sending me snippets from magazines – some funny, some pertinent, some frankly bizarre. One little snippet mentioned Harlequin’s SYTYCW (So You Think You Can Write) writing contest and immediately my mind strayed to the boxes of scribbled notebooks shoved into the corner of my workroom and the somewhat less physical but more ominous folder of files on my computer, innocuously labeled ‘Writing’.

This opened up a can of worms for me. I had already scaled down my career to become a business consultant so I could work mostly from home and be with my two little kids, but after years of being the responsible adult I wanted to do something that was absolutely and truly for me. And what I loved most of all was to write.

I’d been writing since I was a little girl but I never really dared believe anyone else would like reading my flights of fancy and so long as I didn’t put my efforts to the test, I remained in that lovely terrain of boundless potential and possibilities. But I knew it was time to jump in and risk finding out if I could become a real author – a career, not just a necessary but personal occupation.

I didn’t think this contest would be an actual stepping-stone into the profession, just a milestone in my own decision. To say I was shocked to make the top ten in the contest was an understatement. I went beyond shocked when the amazing Nicola Caws (now my editor) gave me ‘The Call’ and said they wanted my historical romance manuscript. Mine!

I don’t know how to explain it, but nothing that I had achieved in my other career had felt quite like that. Well, I do know how to explain it – writing is something that is truly intimate. No matter what you write, it requires you to expose yourself (not just your talents, but yourself). It’s like walking into a room full of strangers, standing in the middle of the room and saying – look at me! And like me! Please? – And all that without being able to run out again before they all turn on you and judge.

From that moment on I started doing something which I had only heard about but hadn’t realized was possible – I sat down every day and wrote. The more I wrote the easier it became, which was another surprise for me. I had never thought writing required the kind of discipline I had applied to my career but now I found myself gritting my teeth and writing even when I knew it would probably end up in my ‘excerpt’ file (which is now longer than my books put together).

So when I say I’m lucky it’s not because I actually have books published (which definitely proves the adage ‘more luck than brains’!), but because every day I do something I absolutely love down to the last little follicles of my existence – I sit down and write. Even when it’s terrible or even when I stare at the page and realize I’ve got zilch inspiration, I know it’s still the right thing to be doing with my life.

Now I have two books out and a third coming out in May and two more in the works (and hopefully many, many more). My next one ‘The Duke’s Unexpected Bride’ (coming in April/May). Max and Sophie were such definite characters it was a pleasure to discover them as I wrote (though not always easy!). That’s why I’m so glad the cover really conveys that mix of chemistry, intimacy, and gentleness. So far it’s my favorite book and I can’t wait to see it in print. The day that box with the advance copies arrives is always a day of celebration, another milestone in this amazing journey.

Sophie is the misfit among the nine children of a strict country vicar and is paying her dues at her rich great-aunt's in London by looking after her overweight pugs. All she wants to do is paint and enjoy her temporary freedom from parents and siblings before being sent back home, but thanks to Marmaduke her path tangles with that of Max, the Duke of Harcourt. Max takes his duties very seriously and though his previous engagement ended in tragedy, he knows he must marry and he has a very clear idea of a suitable duchess. The only problem is that the quirky, unpredictable, and distracting Sophie keeps getting in the way, dragging to the surface an old rivalry, his tragic past, and most disconcertingly – his long buried emotions. 


Virginia Heath said...

Love hat cover Lara! Very evocative.

dstoutholcomb said...