One of my favorite books this year has been the gorgeous Caught Running by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux. It is sensuous, romantic and a serious page turner. They publish with Dreamspinner Press which has some great talents like Rhianne Aile, Eric Arvin and Ariel Tachna. Madeleine kindly agreed to answer a few questions about writing and what makes a good book …
Me: Would you like to share a few things about yourselves? Favorite TV show, season, sport…
Madeleine: I’m a Gemini, and I act like it, a lot of times being of two minds about a subject. I don’t watch much TV at all. Sports is most likely on the TV as I work/play on the computer. The only show I’ve made a serious effort to watch the past few years is Top Chef, a reality TV show. I like almost every kind of music except harsh rap and old country, although I certainly favor alternative rock and new age. If I had to choose a favorite sport, it would be baseball, although American football runs a close second. I’m a sucker for an accent.
Madeleine: I read a lot of it and so much of it was, in my opinion, low quality that I figured I had to be able to do better. I was wrong, at first, but I’ve certainly improved over the years.
Me: One of my favorite reads this year has been Caught Running. I have re read it several times! Where did the inspiration come from for this?
Madeleine: We were trying to think of an idea. Abigail was facing the beginning of softball season, she was coaching at a nearby school. I was considering applying for a teaching job the next fall. She knew a lot about sports and had been an athlete; I knew a lot about teaching and being a geek. 🙂 It turned out to be easy once we got started.
Madeleine: Abigail posted on her blog one day that her muses had abandoned her. I had always admired her writing, so I threw out there that we try writing something just to see what happened. Obviously, we clicked. I think the reason it works is because although we’re very different in our styles and thoughts, our writing meshes and we both bring important qualities to the writing that alone, for me at least, are more difficult to replicate.
Me: I was really interested in what you said about reading low quality stories Madeleine. What do you both think makes a good book?
1) Solid characterization. The characters need to be alive, so that you can “see” them, “hear” their voices in your head, “feel” what they are feeling.
2) Strong writing, technically – meaning spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, word choice, editing, etc.
3) Twists and hooks. Something, anything, it could be simple, to get your attention and keep it – even when the story is done.
4) Depth of description. I’m all about description. To me, the setting is a character in itself, and if I have a clear image of it in my head, it makes everything else come alive, too.
Me: When you’re writing, what are you hoping to accomplish? Personal satisfaction, happy readers, originality? I know you’ve said on your blog about how most things have been done before, so how do you make things fresh and unique?
Madeleine: Most of all, I want readers to be entertained. That includes me. If I can go back and reread something I’ve written and get sucked into it, I think it’s pretty damn good writing. That’s what I want to achieve.
I mentioned depth of description above. I think that’s something I do really well. If the reader feels like she is sucked “into” the story, it’s because she can see, hear, smell, and feel the world around her, and she wants to be a part of it. That’s something I spend a lot of time on. I also try to make sure my characters are well-developed, including back story, emotional troubles, likes and dislikes, etc. – even if the reader never reads about them. But I think that depth still shines through. That makes a difference – it’s in the details.
Me: I read your bio on authors den and saw you’re an Eddings fan. What do you enjoy reading in sci fi, fantasy, romance and do you have a few favourite m/m books?
Madeleine: My bookshelves are filled, but there are some authors I’ll pick up everything they write: David Weber – his Honor Harrington series is a wonderful ride with a strong female lead; Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series (Hey, vampires, werewolves, magic, and sex in about any combination possible. How can you pass that up?); Janet Evanovich’s By the Numbers series has a great romantic thread in it; Anne McCaffrey’s books. As for m/m, I must admit, embarrassingly, that I’ve read very little published material besides Dreamspinner’s books. (I’ve read millions of words of m/m fan fic, though.) Of those, I would say my favorites are “Take My Picture” by Giselle Ellis (in “Size Still Matters”), the Partnership in Blood series by Ariel Tachna, and “To Love a Cowboy” by Rhianne Aile.
Me: What have you got coming out soon we can look forward to?
Madeleine: Nothing really set in stone, but I’ll tell you Abigail and I have a really good start on a couple different novels. (YAY!!)
Madeleine: I almost always create playlists for my iPod that evoke the feel/location/emotion of the story I’m working on. Music is a huge part of writing for me, and it can really keep me going.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all my questions, you really are a sweetie!