Monday, March 18, 2013

Author Shirley Martin on the Casting Couch with Sheila Claydon

With a vivid imagination and a love of storytelling, Shirley Martin has always enjoyed writing. She was born in western Pennsylvania and her first published novel, Destined to Love, reflects her familiarity with the area and shows her love of  writing. From this historical romance she blossomed out into other genres. One More Tomorrow is a vampire romance, one her publisher dubbed 'a sizzling seller'. Now the author of several fantasy novels and novellas, her writing should appeal to just about every reader of romance. Her books are on sale at Amazon and most major book stores and have garnered great reviews. 
Welcome to the Casting Couch Shirley. I am looking forward to learning more about your writing technique.
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Which characters are hardest for you to develop?  Is it the hero, the heroine, the villain, or the secondary characters?

First, thank you for featuring me, Sheila. I am so pleased to be here.
I often have trouble developing the heroines. I know women today like assertive heroines but since I'm a little reserved myself, it's difficult for me to present heroines who are truly assertive.

It is such a surprise to hear you say that Shirley because your heroines are great. When an idea strikes, do you work through the plot first and then cast the characters, or is it the characters first?  Or does it vary? 

It varies. After I get an idea, I usually work out a basic plot. I do an external and internal Goal, Motivation and Conflict chart for each major character.

That is so organized. Can you give an example from a published story? 

Yes. My historical romance, Forbidden Love, is centered around a steel strike in Pittsburgh, so I knew my hero would have to be a steelworker. To counter this I wanted the heroine to be from a wealthy family, so there would be extremes in their backgrounds, and thus, much conflict.

When deciding how your characters should look, do pictures inspire you, or do you think of someone you know?  Or perhaps you rely on an active imagination or another method entirely. 

I use my imagination
That is unusual. Nearly every other writer I've interviewed has to have their imagination triggered by some sort of visual idea. Do you have a system for developing their character traits?

As stated earlier, I use a Goal, Motivation and Conflict chart for each of my main characters,      but they often have a mind of their own and do unexpected things.

All characters have goals. Can your characters' goals usually be summed up in a word or two, or are they multi-layered?  Do they change as you write the book? 

My characters all have internal and external goals. Often their goals change as I write.

Motives drive a character. How do you discover your character's specific goals?  Are they based on back story or do other elements influence their motives? 

Their external goals center around outside circumstances.  Their internal goals are changes they must make within themselves. For example, in my time travel romance, Dream Weaver, my heroine's external goal is to save her lover's life. As her internal goal is to conquer her fear of violence  she has to attain her internal goal before she can save him.

It's very clear that you really think out your characters in great detail so, last but not least, do you like them?  Are they people you would want to spend time with? Assuming they are not just a paper exercise, which of your characters would you most want to meet, and why?

I like all of my characters and would love to meet them all.  I really admire the steelworker from Forbidden Love though.  Although he has so many things going against him he remains determined to attain his goals
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Born near Pittsburgh, Shirley Martin attended the University of Pittsburgh and then taught school for one year.After that she became a flight attendant with Eastern Airlines. She met her husband when she was based in Miami and, with him, raised three sons. Once they were grown she devoted her time to writing, something she had always wanted to do.

With a vivid imagination and a love of storytelling, Shirley has always enjoyed writing. Now, sadly, a widow, Shirley lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her two cats.

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