Best-selling author Erica Orloff tells us more about her life, her books, her favorites… Now, let’s introduce ourselves…
Hi Erica! Glad to welcome you on “Veronika Asks”! Please introduce yourself to our readers…
I’m Erica Orloff, author of Spanish Disco, Diary of a Blues Goddess, Do They Wear High Heels in Heaven and other Red Dress Ink, MIRA, and Silhouette books. I also write as Tess Hudson (Invisible Girl is the latest) and for teens as Liza Conrad (High School Bites).
You’re an Aries, aren’t you? They are often confident, adventurous but also quite impatient. Are you a typical Aries?
I am a typical Aries, which really is both good and bad. I am driven and passionate about writing, very loyal and emotionally strong. But that impatience! It’s something I am constantly trying to curb.
Who were you before starting to write? Why did you choose writing?
I think you don’t become a writer . . . you are one. I’ve written my whole life, whether stories and journals as a teen or in college. I was a book editor right out of college, but writing was always what I wanted to do. I think I was afraid to give voice to that because it seemed such an unlikely dream to accomplish.
Tell us a bit more about Invisible Girl (which has been published under the penname Tess Hudson)…
Invisible Girl is a suspense novel about a woman whose father dies under mysterious circumstances. Shortly thereafter, her beloved brother is beaten near to death. So my heroine must navigate the very tangled web of her father’s years with the CIA and other nefarious organizations in order to find out what secret he was keeping that is so valuable to someone. Along the way, she basically learns the full story of her parents’ love affair as Vietnam was falling and America was withdrawing. It’s really a novel over the course of 30 years of a family . . . but also about how we never quite know our parents . . . and my heroine gets the opportunity to really learn who they are.
Do you write in many genres? If you do, which ones?
I write romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, and teen lit.
I have many ideas in my mind but it’s always hard to choose only one to write about. How do you choose your topic? How are you sure it’s “the right one”?
I suppose you don’t quite know. I store ideas in a separate file on my computer because you never know when you’re going to use one. I had the first line of my novel The Roofer in a notebook for 15 years before I found just the right novel to use it in. The first line is: “My first instinct was to look at the corpse.” In general, though, I tell aspiring writers to be sure their idea is “big enough”–enough themes and twists and so on that it can sustain you for 300 pages.
Why do you use several pen names?
Tess Hudson is for my really dark fiction–otherwise, I think it’s a little jarring for people who buy my comedies. I use Liza Conrad so teens just search those out separately.
Your family name is Slavic. So is your soul? 🙂
I am Russian . . . There’s a line in The Roofer . . . we like to brood. I suppose my soul is that way. I am very introspective, and I have a lot of passionate, intense ideas and don’t get me started on politics. So yes . . . I think so a little bit. Plus I like vodka. 😉
I read on your MySpace profile that you’re Buddhist but you also say that you’re an avid poker player. How do you manage to put the Buddhist’s patience and zen and the passion of the game?
I do love poker–but I don’t play for more than a few dollars . . . for fun. I used to be a blackjack dealer years ago–card playing is part of me. But I think I have learned to enjoy my card-playing pals . . . without it consuming me. Besides, a really good card player reads the other players . . . . Buddhism is full of observation and being in the moment.
How do you feel when you complete a book ? Are there things you’d like to change after the book is published?
Honestly, I feel a moment of angst. I might spend a few days thinking “Oh, I should have added this or that”–but because I do earn a living as a novelist, I am usually immersed in the next book, so I have had to learn to let go.
How do you work (when, where…)?
I work, for lack of a better word, in bursts. I have four children and several pets, and I love my busy life. I tend to write very intensely and very focused . . . but I don’t get those hours of uninterrupted time the way some novelists might. I have had to learn to write in the quiet rare moments . . . or despite a lot of noise around me. It’s not for everyone, this lack of a schedule, but it works for me.
When you’re working with a publisher, do you always have to change, add things etc…?
Not too much. I’ve been doing this a while–about 15 or 16 novels now. So I turn in my manuscripts clean and ready, and usually what my editor wants. My editor will make suggestions–and they always are wonderful bits of insight . . . but I usually–with one or two exceptions–don’t have to do a lot of rewrites.
What do you think about sequels ?
My Billie Quinn books (Trace of Innocence, Trace of Doubt) are a series. I am completing the third one. I have enjoyed it. I didn’t have to say good-bye to my cast of characters at the end of the first book, so it was nice to revisit them–like old friends.
Do you have some advices for aspiring authors?
Read, read, read. And write, write, write. I kept a journal for a long time and I think it helped me hone my powers of observation.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on my next Red Dress Ink book, and wrapping up a book called BLOOD SON for the new Nocturne line of paranomal romances.
And now the nothing-to-do-with-books question: you’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, how will you use that money?
Spend it on candles and maybe a plant for my office.
“Tea or Coffee?”
Saturday evening. Going out or reading a book? Reading a book. Or watch Law & Order (I’m addicted).
Holidays. Beach or Mountains ? Beach. I’ll be heading there in a couple of weeks, actually.
Country or City ? Both!
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?)? I like action movies . . . not to much thinking. :-)And I also watch a lot of foreign flicks. I really loved House of Flying Daggers.
Shy or Easy-going? Easy-going.
Serious or Funny? Funny–but with a love of serious subjects like philosophy and politics.
Traveler or not? No, alas. Not too much. I have Crohn’s disease, which makes travel very stressful.
Sporty or not? NOT! But I do love watching American football and boxing.
The leader or not? Usually.
TV show: Probably Law & Order. I don’t watch too terribly much. I like Amazing Race when it’s on.
Movie: Too many to mention. I like old musicals. Singin’ in the Rain, Guys and Dolls. I love Camille (Greta Garbo), Waterloo Bridge (Vivian Leigh). Just too many to mention.
Book: Good Omens . . . anything by Neil Gaiman. Anything by Patrick McGrath.
Music: Also too many to mention. I like Rob Dougan, Moby, Bruce Springsteen, John Hiatt, Etta James, Django Reinhardt. A love nearly all kinds of music.
City: Manhattan. Sigh. Love my old stomping grounds.
Favorite place to write: My office, with candles burning and classical music playing in the background, looking out on the creek in back of my house.
Quote or motto: In the depths of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.–Albert Camus
Thank you, Erica!
You can visit Erica’s website http://www.ericaorloff.com