Aileen: I grew up in a rare part of Los Angeles that had bridal trails and streams, as well as a mountain summer camp just fifteen minutes away. As you might guess I could never get enough of nature. As a kid I was always outdoors, whether in my grandmother’s huge garden with its persimmon tree and wild roses, or making crafts at camp with leaves and pinecones, or “fishing” for pet guppies in the local stream, using sandwich bags weighted with rocks.
Animals were a huge draw for me, and at one time I had over twenty birds, including a myna, parakeets, and finches. After a while I couldn’t stand to see birds in cages—we didn’t have the means to build a proper aviary for them—so I stopped adopting them. I think that’s one thing I’d love to have as an adult, a huge indoor aviary filled with happy birds, flitting around and enjoying themselves. Don’t know how that would work out with our two cats, Raven and Sparrow, however. On second thought, maybe not.
Caroline: Oh, don't think our cats would share with birds, although my friend Jeanmarie Hamilton has a cat, dog, and a cockatoo who coexist. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?
Aileen: I’m a fairly eclectic reader. Of course I love romance and have probably read close to or more than 500 books in the genre over the last several years. Paranormal, mainstream romantic suspense, historicals (particularly Victoriana) are all huge with me. I love Amanda Quick’s Arcane Society series. I’ve read every one of Jane Austen’s novels several times over, as well as most of the British classics. One of my favorite reads lately isn’t a novel, The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger, about the last days of a group of men who went out to sea in a fishing trawler off North America and were never heard from again. It was fascinating, tragic, and heroic all at the same time, superbly written.
Caroline: Oh, I love reading, too, and I love Amanda Quick’s Arcane Society book. What are you reading now?
Aileen: I’m re-reading a lot of Nora Roberts’ early work. I recommend it highly. Studying her books can teach you a lot about writing romance, especially if you aspire to write mainstream romance. Her three sisters trilogy is not only romantic, but inspiring because the women in the novels are strong, independent, go-getters.
Caroline: Nora Roberts is another favorite of mine, too. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?
Aileen: I’m a total photo geek and love everything about photography from studying the techniques used during the dawn of photography, to collecting and using vintage cameras, to manipulating digital images in Photoshop. I can easily spend 10 hours at a session working in front of my computer or in a darkroom and not even realize the time has passed.
Caroline: I’m jealous. I collect vintage family photos. Wish I had Photoshop and knew how to use it. Would you like to share any guilty pleasures that feed your muse?
Aileen: I like to get in the car, drive to a cozy restaurant, find a booth by the window and order tea and a huge plate of fries with BBQ sauce or anything chocolate. I’ll sit there for an hour, thinking, planning my stories or writing in my laptop. I feel guilty because I used to wait tables and it seems like I’m “renting” the booth without buying much, so I’m always sure to leave a good tip.
Caroline: My friends and I do that—up the tip commensurate with time spent. How long have you been writing?
Aileen: Since I was in the second grade. Needless to say my early stories needed improvement.
Caroline: wow, you got an early start. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?
Aileen: Solitude, definitely. I’m a laptop writer, who flips open her MacBook several times a day to add a few lines or rewrite a passage whenever I have a spare moment. Big writing chunks usually get done in the middle of the night when the house is quiet and everyone is asleep.
Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?
Aileen: A little of both. Though I always need a plan of some sort, knowledge of a story’s beginning, middle, and end, what would be the fun of writing if I knew everything that was going to happen?
Caroline: Some people call that a plotzer. Do you use real events or persons in your stories?
Aileen: Almost never. Like a lot of writers I’m a people watcher and I might take characteristics from several people and combine them, but that’s it.
Caroline: Do you do your research before you begin a new project, or as you go along?
Aileen: The beauty of WiFi and Google is that you can do your research on the fly. A lot of times I’ll create a story based on a topic about which I’m already familiar, but for all the little facts needed to go into a story, a quick pause for a web search is magic.
Caroline: Do you write full time or do you have a day job?
Aileen: Two day jobs, actually. I own an online business selling vintage electronics (weird for a girl, I know, but better paying in this economy than the antiques I used to sell), plus I’m a photographer.
Caroline: Ooh, my youngest daughter and I used to sell antiques until the market crashed, and my eldest daughter is a photographer. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?
Aileen: Pure enjoyment. That’s what I want when I pick up a book to read.
Caroline: Me, too. What advice would you give to pre-published authors?
Aileen: Read as many books as you can in the genre or subgenre you’d like to write. Study them. outline them. Write notes in the margins (except library books!). Notice how your favorite authors handle the different aspects of writing: setting, plot, dialogue, transitions, opening and closing lines, love scenes, action, etc. Pretend you’re taking a college course about romance writing and the instructor insists you compare the approaches of several different novelists. It’s work, I know, but it will really help you when you write yourself into a corner and don’t know how to get out of it.
Caroline: Great advice, Aileen. Tell us about your latest release.
Caroline: Readers love series and this one definitely has a unique twist. Can you share a blurb?
Aileen: I'd love to.
Waking with amnesia in a body made for sin, Luka is a woman with an identity crisis. Not only doesn't she know her last name, why can't she remember the intense stranger with wolfen eyes who makes her want to howl with sexual hunger? Why has he accused her of a gruesome murder she knows she didn't commit?
Griffin is a wolf in mourning, sworn to bring his mate's killer to justice. His beloved Anya has just died of the bloodsong, a ritual magic forbidden among his people, in which the wolf can be called out in anyone, even humans such as Anya, who can't survive the transformation. How is it, then, that when he looks into her killer's eyes he sees not a murderess, but his own mysterious destiny?
Caroline: Sounds intriguing. What about an excerpt?
Aileen: This excerpt is rated R
Do you think I can’t take every delicious inch of you? Do you think I can’t handle you?”
He blinked, astonished by this statement and apparently at a loss for words. It was, she had to admit, the single cheesiest thing she’d ever said aloud. She watched him trying to figure out how best to react, while at the same time maintaining that stern, “we aren’t going to have sex, no-way, no-how” attitude.
The longer they looked at one another without saying anything, the harder it was to keep a straight face. She couldn’t say who broke under pressure first, but suddenly both of them were laughing uncontrollably. She collapsed forward in hysterics, her forehead dropping against his chest.
A few seconds later, she realized he’d gone completely still.
Caroline: Ooh, you got me. Where can readers find your books?
Aileen: You can purchase WOLF'S DEN on The Wild Rose Press website at:
Or on Amazon at:
Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?
Aileen: Visit me at my blog, http://aileenharkwood.blogspot.com
Caroline: Thanks so much for stopping by, Aileen.
Aileen: Thanks for having me, Caroline.
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