Once Upon A Romance Interview

Elisabeth Naughton


December 2008

Robyn had the opportunity to interview Elisabeth Naughton. We had a great time and I found out that while she refers to one of her characters as a spitfireóI think sheís a bit of a spitfire, too. I enjoyed this interview for the fun banter that just happened as we went along. I hope youíll enjoy getting to know Elisabeth better.

Robyn: Hello Elisabeth, Iím thrilled to welcome you to our corner of the web and for this opportunity to get to know you a little better

Elisabeth: Hi Robyn. Thanks so much for having me today! Iím always more than happy to talk about books and writing.

Robyn: I saw that you used to be a Junior High Science Teacher. Does the fact that you know science lead you to Romantic Suspense? Does your scientific background affect your writing, and if so, how?

Elisabeth: Thereís such a wide range of styles within the romantic suspense genre, from very detailed crime scene/cop books, to what I write, more romantic adventure/suspense. When I was in college, I thought Iíd go into medicine or archaeology. Both are avid interests of mine. When I finally settled on a career path though, I decided to teach. Partly because I liked kids, partly because by doing so I got to talk about all my avid interests within the discipline. Not surprisingly though, I found myself teaching in depth about the things that interested me mostÖarchaeology, geology, chemistry. I didnít begin writing for several more years, but Iíd say definitely my science background influenced what and how I wrote, and still does. Science meshes well with suspense and adventure, so itís a natural fit for me.

Photo: Elisabeth Naughton

Robyn: I know the road to getting a book published is a long one. What was the greatest encouragement you had during the non-published times?

Elisabeth: I canít really pinpoint one specific piece of advice that kept me going. Instead, I think the biggest influence on me were the people I surrounded myself with. People who were enthusiastic, encouraging, and who honestly believed I would one day see publication. My husband has been my biggest supporter from the very start. If he ever thought I was wasting my time, he didnít say so. And whenever I found myself frustrated over the state of the industry, he was right there telling me to believe in myself because it WOULD one day happen.

A few months before I signed with my agent, I found myself in a furniture store Ė you know the kind, with big, splashy magazine-style room layouts that make you want to order everything in the place and have it all set up in your house exactly as you see it. For some reason, I wound up staring at a wooden sign of the word: BELIEVE. It so captivated me, I bought it, brought it home and stuck it on my desk where I could see it. Every time I started thinking this publication gig wouldnít ever happen, Iíd look at that sign, remember what my hubby said and it would perk me back up. Iíve since bought several of those signs and given them as gifts to my writer friends. I honestly believe in the power of positive thinking.

Robyn: What a wonderful thing, Elisabeth. I also believe in positive thinking and have similar signs and notes in my house. What was the most difficult aspect of writing a romantic suspense? For me, it would be either the sex scenes or not giving away the ending too soon. Iím curious to know what part (if any) was tough on you.

Elisabeth: LOL. Well, those sex scenes can be pretty rough. A good writer friend told me once, you have to put yourself right in the middle of the scene when youíre writing. You canít be an observer, looking in. She was right. Best advice I ever got regarding writing those steamy scenes.

As for whatís hard about RSÖfor me itís tying all the threads together. Usually I stall out around the ĺ mark, when all my red herrings and dangling characters have to somehow be tied together. Iím a very organic writer Ė sometimes I know the villain at the beginning of a book and sometimes I donít. Several times Ė as was the case with Stolen Fury Ė I get to a point where I stop and realize the villain I had pegged from the beginning couldnít possibly be the REAL villain in the story. Itís there I stop, look back at what Iíve written and (often times) realize I was leaving clues all along for the REAL villain, I just didnít know it. This kind of writing drives plotters absolutely mad, but it works for me. I always get to a point where I think the book will never work, and somehow I always manage to make it work without going back and rewriting the whole thing.

Robyn: Wow! Itís a unique method, but seems to be working really well for you. So after positive thinking and organized writing, you got your first sale. How did you celebrate your first sale?

Elisabeth: I cleaned the bathroom. Seriously. I know. Sounds exciting, doesnít it? The truth is after over a week of negotiations, I was a wreck. Iíd put everything off because I was too stressed to do anything. When I finally agreed to the deal, I was able to breathe, and I immediately started cleaning all those things Iíd neglected. Itís the way I work. After my hubby got home from work, Iím pretty sure we went out to dinner. But my friends still laugh over the fact I celebrated my sale by "cleaning the toilets."

Robyn: One reference I found about you was going with your husband to a strip club. Can you elaborate on the research you were doing? Is this research in an upcoming book?

Elisabeth: Oh, man. Youíre a good sleuth! I did mention that in a blog post somewhere, didnít I?

Okay, in my defense it WAS research, not just a wild night on the town. In August, 2009, the second in my Stolen Series Ė Stolen Heat - is releasing. This is one of those run-for-your-life stories, where my hero and heroine are being chased by the bad guys in the middle of a major city. In one scene, they dart into a smoky bar, only it turns out to be a strip club, and since they need a place to hide out, they hit the VIP room. I asked everyone I knew if it was standard to pay for a lap dance before or after the dance, and everyone kept giving me conflicting answers. So, to solve my problem, I dragged my hubby to a strip club and got my own answer. The hubby Ė as you can probably imagine, since heís a guy Ė wasnít opposed to the idea at all. However, once the stripper and I started talking books, any fantasy he had went right out the window. Turns out the dancer was an aspiring author as well. And our chatting about books and publishers and authors kinda ruined the mood for him, I think. ;)

Robyn: Iím laughing my head off!! I told my husband about your research and he thought it was a great idea for your husband to take youóbut heís totally bummed out for your hubby since you girls talked books. Well, Elisabeth, itís hard to move on from that question, but I think weíd better so I donít lose our PG rating on the site. Sometimes, if a book really carries me away, I think of which actors I could see in the roles of the characters. If your book, Stolen Fury was made into a movie (you had full control of casting roles), who would you chose to play Lisa and Rafe?

Elisabeth: Oh, thatís a hard one! Okay, Iíll say right off the bat that while a lot of authors I know copy pictures of famous actors for their files so they have a picture to refer to when writing, I donít. I have an image of my characters in my head and I donít like for it to be ruined. Iím honestly not sure who Iíd like to see cast in those roles because Rafe is sooo sexy, and Lisa is such a spitfire. Iím not sure anyone could live up to what Iíve created in my head. How about you? Who do you see playing Lisa & Rafe?

Robyn: Youíre right, that is hard. Iím so bad with actorís names that Iím a little stumped. Do we have any young Sean Conneryís left in the world? Heíd make an awesome Rafe. For Lisa, I think somebody like Julia Robertsóbut Iím not convinced on that one. In your opinion, what are some of the most important attributes an author can possess?

Cover art: Stolen Fury Elisabeth: Thick skin, thick skin, thick skin. Did I say that enough? LOL. This is a hard business. Itís competitive. Itís often personal because writing comes from a very private place inside us. Iím learning slowly not to let comments get to me. A writer friend told me long ago that she can get 100 compliments about her book but itís the one negative that stays with her. Sheís right. Learning to have thick skin is probably the most important attribute for any (new) author to have.

Robyn: Now some questions just for fun. What is the biggest self-indulgence you allow yourself?

Elisabeth: Pedicures. I go once every 4-6 wks to get my toes done, even in the winter. Itís so nice to look down and see pretty toes, or to know I can go to yoga class and not be totally embarrassed by the state of my feet. Painting my toenails is one of those things I just wonít take the time to do for myself, so itís nice to let someone else do it for me.

Robyn: Does it take company coming over for you to get the house cleaned as youíd like it to always be, or is house cleaning in your daily/weekly routine?

Elisabeth: Company. The truth is I was a much better housekeeper before selling. I kept things picked up and did some kind of cleaning every day. Now? Well, now letís just say I do a lot of grumbling about the mess that is our house and the kidsí constant clutter. But you know what? There are a lot worse things in the world than having a messy house. And being happy with what youíre doing and where youíre going is a thousand times more important to me and my family.

Robyn: Winter ice storms can put things at a standstill. Imagine your power has been knocked out due to ice for up to a week or more for. The hotels are full up and the airports are closed, you canít go anywhere. What are a few things you would have to have to keep your sanity?

Elisabeth: Sounds like the weather in the PNW lately!

Okay, to save my sanity Iíd needÖcandles. And a ton of good books. Probably some board games to keep my kids entertained, and wine. Lots and lots of wine.

Interestingly, last year we had a major wind storm here that knocked out our power for over two days. The first night we lit candles all over, played games. After the kids went to bed, the DH and I played solitaire for a while, drank some wine, then after a few hours looked at each other and said, "Well. Iím bored. What now?" You know what we discovered? It totally makes sense why people wound up with so many kids back before there were things like TVs and computers to keep them entertained.

Robyn: We had a 14 hour power outage last yearóso I totally understand what youíre saying. OKóPepsi or CokeÖor what beverage is your personal preference?

Elisabeth: Diet coke, baby. All the way.

Robyn: What is something you definitely want readers to know about you?

Elisabeth: HmÖanother tough question. I guess Iíd like readers to know that Iím very laid back and down to earth in person. My characters are real people to me, and I write romance because I like knowing that even in todayís day and age, good things can happen. I love writing about everyday people in extraordinary situations because I like to think life is an adventure. The world is full of possibilities. Life is what you make it.

Robyn: Recently, Iíve had a few issues in the kitchen. So Iíve decided to ask everyone, do you prefer to cook, bake or just eat out? Are there any culinary disasters lurking in your past that our readers would enjoy hearing about?

Elisabeth: I used to love to cookÖback before I had kids. Now itís more a chore I donít relish so much. Maybe one day when my kids will actually eat something other than hot dogs and mac & cheese, Iíll enjoy it once more. (FYI: I have three kids, ages 9, 6 and 3.) I do like to bake though. Chocolate chip cookies are my specialty. And take-out is one of the wonders of modern man. (Another reason I never would have survived in the olden days.)

Robyn: Can I come by for some cookies? I love baking, but not cookies. Itís too much work babysitting the oven. Iím a cake or brownies or elaborate desserts kind of a girl. Well, Elisabeth, I hate to end this fun, but I do need to close our time together. On a final note, can you tell our readers about the fantastic event currently on your website?

Elisabeth: I have a fun contest running on my website right now. My FORTUNE & GLORY CONTEST is an interactive treasure hunt style contest with you as the star! You can visit it at www.elisabethnaughton.com/fortune.html. Embark on your very own quest, partner up with a sexy treasure hunting guide and enter to win a $100 VISA gift card! People seem to be loving the contest so far, so Iím thrilled with the feedback Iíve been getting. Whatís better than your own personal fortune & glory?

Robyn: Thank you so much for joining us today, Elisabeth. Iíve had a marvelous time getting to know you better and Iím so happy I had the chance to interview you for our site. Everyone at OUAR wishes you a prosperous and published future.

Elisabeth: Thanks, Robyn. This was fun and not nearly as painful as I thought. ;) (Just kidding!!!)

Would you like to learn more about Elisabeth Naughton?
Visit her Website at elisabethnaughton.com

Author's Interviews

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