Joyce: Thank you for having me, Caroline.
Caroline: Tell readers about your life growing up and now.
Joyce: That's a loooong story. I was born in Texas and my mother hauled me out a window to escape her bad marriage when I was three, and took me to Southern California. Had to be spring or summer when I was three because I was enrolled in kindergarten the September I was four, turned five on December 28th. I have an aunt who was "such" a good girl. I was "Denise" the Menace. She and I would be twins if we had the same mother (mother and grandma pregnant @ same time). I'm actually 20 minutes older than she.
I married 11 days out of high school, and 58 years later we are still living our adventure. I've worn many "business" hats during my life and began writing fiction @ age 49, when I asked myself the not-too-bright question, "How hard can it be?" It is by far the most difficult job I've ever had…and the most rewarding.
Caroline: So when you write about true, lasting love, you speak from experience! When and why did you begin writing?
Joyce: One of my "hats" was as a cosmetics consultant and manager in an international company. When I moved to Florida in 1983, I decided I didn't want to do that anymore. I really no longer cared about problem skin.
Caroline: What inspired you to write your first book?
Joyce: We had moved from Southern California to Central Florida for my husband's work, and I knew not a soul, so I haunted the library and discovered Shanna, by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and devoured all of Bertrice Small's work, as well. I was hooked, and asked myself that, what turned out to be life-change, question.
Caroline: Describe your perfect writing "habitat" (the place you do your best writing). How do you block out the rest of the world when you're writing? What do you do to get into the writing zone?
Joyce: Mostly I write in my office, and my husband is directly behind me at his computer doing his job. When I write, when I read, I can block out the rest of the world. How? Beats me. I just do it. I'm not sure what getting into a zone is. Writing is a business. It's what I do. So I just plunk the derriere in the chair and work. Is all the prose I write golden? Nah. I do a lot of revision.
Caroline: My husband and I tried sharing an office, but now we're across the hall from one another. If you had to pick just one, which do you think is the most important in a good story: character, voice, or plot?
Joyce: While all are integral to a good story, I think character is most important for me. From character I hope the reader sees what kind of person I've created. What drives the emotions of that character and all the others I build to tell my story. Without emotion, stories fall flat. At least I think they do. It's not unheard of for me to start reading a book and after 50 pages or less close the cover or zap it from my Nook if the main characters are one dimensional, shallow emotion or none there.
Caroline: When is your next book due out, and what’s it about?
Joyce: I just turned in 2nd round edits for the first book in my Grandees trilogy, which is a bit of a departure from other books of mine. Heretofore, my work has been set in Central Texas, with a Comanche hero and a white heroine. My hero is a Mexican-American, a horseman. He's also part of the beginnings of the citrus and avocado agricultural orchard development in Southern California @ the Turn of the Century, 1898. Our ranch in North San Diego County was on a portion of an old land grant, Rancho Monserate. Imposed taxes once California became part of the U.S. left many cash-poor Mexicans without their heritage.
Caroline: That sounds intriguing. Have you experienced writer’s block? And if so, how did you cure it?
Joyce: By writing. And brainstorming with my critique partners is an invaluable way to get my story on track.
Caroline: Yes, good critique partners are gold. What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Joyce: Exercising my imagination.
Caroline: How much of the book is realistic?
Joyce: My settings are taken from my history, either where I've actually lived and worked or where my ancestors lived. There are many scenes in my stories that actually happened to someone in my family or something I witnessed. Or something I actually did, farming, learn how to care for horses, ride, etc.
Caroline: What is the hardest scene you have had to write (published or not)? Why?
Joyce: All scenes are important to my stories. That's what I see in my head when my story begins to unfold.
Caroline: Don't you love that movie in our heads? What is your favorite character you’ve written (published or not)?
Joyce: I fall in love with every hero I write.
Caroline: What book are you reading now?
Joyce: I'm an eclectic reader. Presently I'm reading a Nora Roberts contemporary. I just finished a paranormal, vampires, story written by Lara Adrian.
Caroline: I'm an eclectic reader also. Do you see writing as a career?
Joyce: You betcha!
Caroline: Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Joyce: I admire many writers but I can't say I have one favourite. I thoroughly enjoy reading Lynnette Hallberg contemporaries. But I'm prejudiced. She's one of my critique partners.
Caroline: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? What do you want them to take away from your books?
Joyce: It is my hope that my readers will love my characters as much as I do. That they will live the moments of my characters' lives as I do when I write.
Caroline: Well said. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Joyce: Read, and visit with friends.
Caroline: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Joyce: How difficult it is to create believable characters. In other words, get out of the way and allow the characters to experience everything. I think the reader can enjoy a story more if s/he can see, hear, touch, smell, feel scenes through the Point of View character.
Caroline: Yeah, it sounds so easy until you do it. How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
Joyce: Oh boy, I've written 15 or more, but not all are published, And not all "should be" published. I have some contemporaries that I may drag forth one day. As for my favorite, it's usually the one I'm writing at the moment. However, Promise the Moon, the one I'm presently working on…as I said, just returned 2nd round edits…is one I've wanted to see published forever! It's gone through many rewrites.
Caroline: What advice do you offer to new writers?
Joyce: Learn your craft and something about the business of writing. Don't ever forget fiction writing is a business. Work. Work hard. If you seek help from published authors, accept constructive criticism. I entered contests and took the advice from judges. Judges like Leigh Greenwood, Alicia Rasley, Marilyn Campbell, and many others who remained anonymous. I.E: Promise the Moon was once judged by three judges in a contest. Two of the three told me to axe the first two and a half pages. Their suggestions came within a sentence or two of the same spot to actually start the story. Hey! Two out of three? You can bet your sweet-bippy I took that advice!
Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers?
Joyce: If you are a reader, I hope you will enjoy my stories. I hope you will tell me what you like about them. There's nothing an author enjoys more than to hear from a reader. My email address is on my web site: http://www.joycehendersonauthor.com/ Just buzz over and drop me a note.
If you are a writer, find people to help you and be sure to return the favour. I'm fortunate to have two critique partners I've worked with for a donkey's age; one published, one working to be published. Both are priceless. Both offer honest critiques. This is a tough business. Write and submit, write and submit. It took 20 years to see my first publication but I persevered. You'll never fail unless you give up.
Caroline: Please tell us about your latest release.
|From The Wild Rose Press|
Silver Eagle has longed for Mariah half his life, but if her father knew, he'd banish the young brave from working at the Broken Spur. Mariah can never know he yearns to possess her as his own.
When Silver Eagle is faced with possible prison for a crime he didn't commit, can he and Mariah find true love in a society that believes a union between a white woman and an Indian man can never be?
Or will Mariah risk all to have her heart's desire and…CAPTURE AN EAGLE.
Caroline: Thank you so much for sharing with us today. Best of luck with CAPTURE AN EAGLE!
Joyce: Thanks for having me.
Caroline: Please check Joyce Henderson's website at http://www.joycehendersonauthor.com/. Buy CAPTURE AN EAGLE at www.thewildrosepress.com/joyce-henderson-m-750.html
Please welcome Joyce Henderson to the blog.