**AUTHOR PEEK** Interview with EILEEN DREYER
Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a full-time writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself.
Well, I’m a Midwestern girl, born and bred in St. Louis, Missouri and still living there with all my extended family (which amounts to about 40 people for Thanksgiving).
I’ve been writing for myself since I was ten and ran out of Nancy Drews to read. I truly had a panic attack. And then, suddenly, I thought, “Wait. I can write my own. And (far more important to a writer) I can make them turn out the way I want.” So I wrote stories for myself and my friends all through high school. But I never considered that a career. I thought I’d be a Broadway star. At least I did until my mom told me to get a real job.
So I became a nurse. In fact, I became a trauma nurse, which I did love, for 17 years, until I burned out. By then I had decided to actually try publishing (one of my nursing friends challenged me, and I cannot turn down a good challenge), and had five Harlequin romances under my belt as Kathleen Korbel. My husband, who has ever been my biggest fan, encouraged me to focus on my writing, and eventually, here I am with 42 novels and 9 short stories in print.
My other passion right now is traveling. My husband and I have been very lucky to get to places like Jaipur, India and the Atacama Desert in Chile. This spring I’m going back (for about the 14th time) to Ireland and then to the 200th anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo (which dovetails nicely into not only my love of travel but my love of research).
1. What genre(s) do you write and why?
The two big areas I’ve written in have been romance and suspense. I write romance because I need happy endings. When I was working ERs, I only wrote romance. As I recently told Alex Trebek (how’s that for name-dropping), I like to see good things happen to good people, and when you work ER, sometimes romance was the only way I could manage it. I wrote in most areas of contemporary romance except erotica, publishing 25 Harlequins that earned me only the fourth place in the Romance Writers Hall of Fame, of which I am very proud. Now, however, I’m focused on historical romance, particularly the Regency era, or as I prefer to call it, the Napoleonic Wars (grow up with 5 brothers and your priorities get a bit skewed). I call my books Historical Romantic Adventure, since there are inevitably nefarious spies to overcome (did I mention I like to write suspense?)
As for suspense, I wrote—and will write—medical forensic suspense. I mean, why not kill off everyone who annoyed me when I worked? It’s great stress relief. I also got to address medical issues I felt strongly about, although I go by the old Jack Goldwyn motto. “If you want to send a message, send a telegram.” I was always much more interested in putting my audience on the edge of their seat (and hopefully still do, since my suspenses are back in print).
2. If you were to choose one superpower, what would it be?
Flight. I don’t know why, but I’ve always yearned to fly. And it’s really frustrating, because I don’t even fly in my dreams. But oh, to be able to soar above the earth, away from all the noise and strife, just hanging on a warm current. It would also help getting around during rush hour. ;0}
3. Do you ever get stuck when you’re writing a book? What do you do to get “unstuck”?
Of course. It’s usually halfway in, especially during the suspenses, which are very linearly plotted—of which I have little skill. I get up and take a walk or go gardening (well, in the summer). Or I work on a different kind of writing. Something just for me, to loosen up the brain cells. If all else fails, I’ll just lie in bed dreaming. Not asleep, just relaxing. Amazing how it helps the right brain unlock.
4. What is your least favorite part of writing?
Those times when the blank page simply refuses to fill. Especially transition scenes. The big stuff is easy to write: conflict, action, chases, lovemaking. It’s those horrible little scenes that move you from one place to the other that seem as sticky as mud.
5. If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Well, we’ve kind of become the royalty of barbecue at our house. My husband is in international sales, and we end up playing den parents to a lot of visitors from diverse cultures, and the one thing they all want to experience is a real American barbecue. So we pull out the pork steaks (a real St. Louis tradition), beef steak, brats or chicken, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs, green bean casserole, and if I’m feeling really patriotic, apple pie. We are famous around the world for our meals. And the company is wonderful.
6. What is your typical day like?
I wish I had a typical day. As opposed to what we were taught, I am not an everyday writer. I work every day, but I’m what we lovingly call a binge and purge writer. I work out the scenes in my head like editing a movie, and when they work, sit down and spit them out. That might be only once every 3 to 4 days. And then around deadline time I hole up in a motel or B&B and slam through about 6 or 7 chapters in a couple of days concentrated writing.
It was my husband’s idea to send me off with my computer, a vat of iced tea, music and a nearby Chinese restaurant, especially on deadline. I am not a pleasant person on deadline. When my daughter was 6 she called it deadline psychosis.
So what I try to do is do business, email, social media when I get up (well, after hopefully getting a little exercise in)(hopefully). I have to do business before 4, since I’m dealing with the east coast. If I can I run away to a coffee shop so I don’t see all the stuff waiting to be done at home (I have really bad ADD and can be distracted by lint). My best writing days are when my husband travels, because my creative brain wakes at 4 (I used to be an evening/night nurse. I’m worthless in the morning), and I write til about 10. I pick up again about midnight and go ’til I can’t, usually 4 AM. When my husband is home, the schedule gets lopsided, since I want to spend time with him. So I start about 11 PM and go ’til I can’t, then start again in the mor….er, noon.
7. What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
I’m very right brain, so plot is what gives me the most trouble, especially when I’m writing suspense. I have no linear logic. And anything with an investigation takes linear logic. You know, find the clues, recognize the clues, decipher the clues, make a decision based on the clues, start over. Once I have my character, I’m good with that part of the story. Because conflict, emotions, goals, motivations all have to be in place to really know who you’re dealing with. I also find that one of my own tricks is to find out where the person lives. What is their chosen—or not—atmosphere. In movies it’s set decoration. Think of Bull Durham. Annie doesn’t have to say a word to know who she is. All you have to do is see her house and how she dresses. I love that.
8. A penguin walks into your office, right now, wearing a sombrero. What does he say to you and why is he here?
Hola, Senora, it is now happy hour on the South Pole. Shall we dance and share a drink?
9. If you could wave a magic wand, what ill in the world would you solve and why?
You had to ask me right after an election. My answer would be willful ignorance. True ignorance is excusable, because a person usually simply doesn’t have access to information. On the other hand, willful ignorance is a choice and separates people from each other. It is selfish and small and prevents people from understanding their neighbor and helping where needed. It perpetuates our worst behavior, and becomes complicit in our worst societal ills.
10. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?
Happily. TWICE TEMPTED is one of my Drakes’ Rakes series about a group of Regency gentlemen who act as agents for the British crown (I know. It’s been done. But I hope I do it differently. And I do so love nefarious spies). The series in total will be 9 books long, so I’ve divided it into 3 trilogies by the heroines. TWICE TEMPTED is the second of the LAST CHANCE ACADEMY series. Fiona Ferguson and her twin sister Mairead have been thrown out by their aristocratic grandfather to fend for themselves. Alex Knight, Earl of Whitemore, is determined to find them and bring them back into society, even though most people believe their brother Ian is a traitor. Alex can’t imagine they would object, but he doesn’t know that the two scientist sisters have secrets he can’t imagine and enemies none of them anticipated.
In the book I get to enjoy my penchant for suspense and share the research I’ve gleaned on the important and mostly forgotten role of women in science during that period. And anyone who has read the series, be assured that both Lady Bea and Chuffy, two of my favorite secondary characters ever, have big parts to play.
Links to Eileen’s website, blog, books, etc.
I’d love people to stop by my website, where I have my publishing info, my research info and a section under Extras devoted to my love of travel (and travel recommendations). I’m not organized enough to blog per se, but I do microblog on Facebook, where I’ve just shared my experience being a contestant on #Jeopardy! (Those posts also find their way to the website.)
Thanks so much for letting me join you. I loved the questions and hopes it helps you get a picture of who I am and my work. As my penguin friend would say, adios! Es tiempo de bailar!
BE SURE TO COME BACK to read more about Eileen, her new release, and an excerpt from TWICE TEMPTED, a Drake’s Rakes novel, on Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench. Happy Reading!
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Eileen is giving away a print copy of TWICE TEMPTED to one lucky winner who comments on her **Author Peek** Interview or Killer Book Bench blogs. Don’t miss this chance to read Eileen’s new story. Thanks, Eileen, for sharing your newest release with us!