Tuesday, April 1, 2008

[Interview] Alice Wootson

Romance novelist Alice Wootson grew up in Rankin, a small town outside Pittsburgh, PA. She attended college outside Philadelphia, PA and taught in the School District of Philadelphia for 31 years before retiring.

Her first novel, Snowbound with Love (Kimani Press) was released in 2000. Her tenth novel, Ready to Take a Chance (Kimani Press) was released in 2006.

Other books by Wootson -- all published by Kimani Press -- include Dream Wedding (2001); Home for Christmas (2001); Trust in Me (2002); To Love Again (2002); Escape to Love (2003); Kindred Spirits (2004) and Perfect Wedding (2005).

In this interview, she talks about her writing.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t remember, exactly. I do remember that I wrote a poem when I was in 4th grade and the teacher had me read it to the class twice.

I think one thing that influenced me is the fact I have been a reader for as long as I can remember. I, as did the rest of my family, spent a lot of time reading. We still do. At some point after reading romance novels for years, I said to myself, “I can do this.” Fortunately I have been able to do it successfully.

How would you describe your writing?

I write romance novels. Several of my novels are romantic suspense and I am leaning more and more in that direction.

Who is your target audience?

Readers who like a good story.

What motivated you to start writing in this genre?

I like happy endings.

Who influenced you most?

I would have to go way back to my family members who encouraged me and my six brothers and sisters to read. I also have to credit my high school, Rankin High, and the teachers who introduced me to an appreciation of literature.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

I have visited every place I have written about. The characters, however, are not based on any real people. Sometimes my views come out in a character, but it’s mostly fiction.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

I want to tell a good story well enough so the reader doesn’t feel she/he has wasted the time and money.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

Trying not to be pigeon-holed. Also, too many people are prejudiced against romance novels.

How do you deal with these challenges?

I just continue to write about things that interest me and try to write the best I can.

Do you write everyday?

I write first thing in the morning six to seven days a week. I write for two to three hours at a time.

How long did it take you to write your latest book?

Ready to Take a Chance was my last release. It took about eight months to write and was published by Kimani Press in Dec. 2006

I had to do a lot of research and that is not my favorite since I insist in getting it right. Maps and diagrams are important in my research. This book presented a new problem: my hero was a basketball player. Football is the sport I watch so I had to rely on my sons for the sports aspect. Another challenge is coming up with out of the ordinary plot twists so the reader won’t say ‘I saw that coming’.

What did you enjoy most in writing the book?

All of it is work. The enjoyment comes with the satisfaction of completing a book.

What sets it apart from the others you have written?

The characters are not like any others.

Ready to Take a Chance is similar to the others in that it is a romance as the others were. It’s also about having the characters work through problems.

What will your next book be about?

I am writing about Border Patrol Agents stationed on the Texas Mexican border and the problems they encounter.

I have finished one novel using that theme: Border Danger, Border Love is in the hands of my agent. I am about two or three chapters from finishing the second one: Love Will Make it Better.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Starting a second career at my age and being successful at it.

How did you get there?

Perseverance. I stuck with it.

While I was writing I attended writing workshops and conferences and learned as much as I could. I teach writing workshops now, but I still sit in on workshops in order to improve my writing.

*This conversation with Alice Wootson which took place in March 2007.

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