Thursday, December 5, 2013

Author Interview Thursday: Welcome Gretchen de la O @GretchendelaO


Welcome to Author Interview Thursday hosted by the Never Too Old for Y.A. & N.A. Books group on Goodreads.
Today we welcome author Gretchen De La O to the blog and group for an interview!
Almost Eighteen photo 13383354_zpse8ddd283.jpgEighteen at Last photo 18685486_zps4c818835.jpgBeyond Eighteen photo 18685481_zpsd8f3ed89.jpg





So, without further ado, let's see what Gretchen has to say!
Welcome Gretchen!


1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?  I never really thought about being a writer, I always thought I was going to be an actress. But, when I got older, the dream of becoming an actress became nothing more than a childish thought. I jumped into adulthood with both feet. Right into the role of perfect wife, doting mother, and basically everything else anyone needed. It wasn’t until many years later (December of 2009 to be exact), that I got the urge to write a Thriller Romance. It was then I realized I wanted to be a writer.

2. How long does it take you to write a book?  It takes me anywhere from 6 months to a year to write my books. It truly depends on what’s going on in my life. I was able to write Wilson Mooney Almost Eighteen in roughly 6 months, but that was me writing every minute I could steal. I’m just not one of those authors that can hammer out several books in 6 months. My creative process doesn’t work that way. My life isn’t conducive to that. I still have a job, 3 kids, a husband, and friends that all need a part of me. So, when I am on and the creative process is in motion…I am prolific. But otherwise, writing a quality story people love…for me, takes time.

3. What do you think makes a great story? A great story needs impeccable character development. The story must have the ability to transport the reader into another world. When I wrote The Wilson Mooney Series, I had 2 goals in mind. The first goal was to give people the opportunity to escape their realities. I didn’t want my readers to worry about their bills, house, bank account or problems. I wanted them to be entertained for those few days or the handful of hours they read the story. The second goal was to get the readers to “dog-ear” the good pages. I wanted to give them a story that didn’t fade to black when the characters became intimate. However; it was extremely important to me to keep the descriptive actions, tasteful and without vulgarity.

4. What is your work schedule like when you're writing? Fortunately I work for an elementary school, so when schools out, I’m writing. Unfortunately, when schools out so are my kids. So writing becomes a time and space filled with stolen moments. Sometimes I have long stretches of time to write, and other times I’m working to snatch moments of inspiration between carpooling and classes.

5. How do you balance family and writing? Honestly, not as well as I should. I have a calendar and even then I miss things. And, you bet I have the mommy guilt for it. Most of the time, when they are watching TV, I write. They get home from school, and do homework, I write. Any time they are preoccupied I find moments to write. I know I need to step back and balance my life better. Sure my house suffers the wrath of my lack of cleaning, and some nights my kids will come in complaining they are hungry, but in the huge scheme of things, I am teaching them to follow their passion and if you get hungry…find something to eat. Balancing family and writing is one area I could improve for sure, but I think my boys understand how important writing is to me, and how much it has changed our lives for the better.

6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? Most of the time stories are just coming through me. Sometimes I can be looking at something and it will ignite a thought in my head and I will take off with it. Others can be a flicker of a moment when I closed my eyes and visions came to me. Now when I was writing Prototype (the first novel I wrote in 2009) there was technical terminology and advanced computer devices I wasn’t educated about so I had to go on the internet and research it. But a lot of Prototype along with its companion Hindsight’s 20/20, was spent closing my eyes and visualizing what I see happening to the characters.

7. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? I think one of the most surprising things I’ve learned in creating my books is the tremendous amount of work I have to do marketing them. When I first started writing, my thought was, I’ll write it, everyone will love it and we’ll all sing love songs about the characters and the world will fall in love with my books! Every day, there is work to be done, not just writing, but marketing, producing, and social networking. Nobody will know about my books, if I’m held up in my writing cave and not out talking about them. But with that being said, I have to balance the whole ebb and flow of self promotion. Too much and people stop listening, not enough, and people won’t find you. But fortunately, I am surrounded by amazing readers, bloggers and authors whom support me, and I support them. I have to say, belonging to the self-pub/indie community is such a gift. Most of my experience with people in my industry has been nothing but completely amazing; so supportive, cooperative, and creative.

8. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I have completed 4 books, and have roughly 10 started and waiting for my attention. Asking me my favorite is like making me choose between my kids...But if you’re twisting my arm and making me choose…I’d have to say the one I haven’t finished yet called, Ophelia’s Promise. I am really excited about getting back to working on that book. It’s a young adult novel about a 16 year old boy, Nash and his 8 year old sister, Ophelia, and their journey through the trials and tribulations of growing up submersed in dysfunction. They get a second chance at normalcy when they are sent to spend the summer with their paternal grandparents in California. Nash and Ophelia discover through love and loss, they have the ability within themselves to recover their hope. It’s a story scribed from self discovery; etched with pain, loss, and defeat; and yet, it is imbibed with hope, love, and redemption.

9. Are your characters based on anyone you know? Yeah, Cindy! Well, Cindy actually represents a mixture of several people that I’ve known in my life. The thing about Cindy is everyone has one. That’s what makes her such a good antagonist. The girl we love to hate. As far as other characters, well, certain personalities or traits I admire or struggle with find their way into my characters.

10. Do you have a favorite place you love to write? I usually write while sitting in bed at night. I have this rolling bedside table from the fifties that slides right over my lap and a chair pillow a friend of mine gave me. It works well, and doesn’t take up a whole room. Not to say that I wouldn’t love to have an office some day, but for now, I write where ever electricity and a flat surface is available.

11. Tell us one thing we wouldn’t already know about you. I rarely carry a purse, unless I’m going somewhere fancy and the outfit I am wearing doesn’t have pockets. I hate having things dangle from my shoulder and I don’t like how cumbersome a purse feels to me. Besides, I’ve always feared I’d forget it somewhere. Let’s face it; I’ve just always been a pocket girl. It drives my girlfriends crazy.

12. What do your family and friends think about your books? My family and friends are very supportive of my writing career. A lot of my close friends have read and re-read all of my work. Of course my 3 boys haven’t read my books. And to be honest, The Wilson Mooney Series is geared toward women. So even though my husband is supportive of my writing career, and started to read the first book; I’ve found after being together over 23 years, if it doesn’t have anything to do with sports, player stats, drafts, or acquisitions…he losses interest pretty fast. That’s okay, because he’s supportive of me traveling, and taking the time to write. My parents have read the books….I try and not think about that, but they loved them and support me. Actually, everyone around me is extremely supportive; I am a very fortunate person.

13. What do you like to do when you are not writing? When I’m not writing I busy being mom. I love to hang out with my family, growing my spirituality, and spend time with friends. I love to see and support my boys doing things that are their passions. All three of them are so different; it’s fun to watch them thrive in such diverse areas of their lives. You know, over all, writing can be all consuming and I am still learning how to balance my life.

14. Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers better themselves and their craft? If so, what are they? Ha, well, considering I’m still learning so much about the process and how personal it is to each writer; I can only suggest tools that work for me. 1. Always follow your gut. That inner voice is your intuition and it will never steer you wrong. Even when life appears like it’s moving in slow motion, or in the wrong direction, it isn’t. Allow the creative process to unfold. Remember, your life is a journey, not a race. 2. Find your own way and don’t rely on others to hold your hand. You are the only one who can truly write what is in your soul. 3. Try not to get caught up in your critical mind. Sometimes I hear writers talk about how they can’t get past the fear of judgment; whether it is self judgment or judgment of others. One thing you have to remember is that there will always be someone judging your work. Not everyone is going to fall in love with your books. It’s how you choose to react to judgment that defuses the power it holds. Don’t allow praise or criticism to define who you are. 4. Write what the characters tell you to, or the words that come through you. You have to allow the characters their life, even when you don’t like where it is going. 5. Don’t worry about grammar at first; just get the story down on paper or screen. You can always go back and fix issues. Don’t get stopped up with mechanics; if the story is flowing prolifically through you…go with it, you can always fix it later in revisions. 6. Lastly, enjoy the ride. If writing becomes a struggle, forced or no fun, stop, go about life and come back to it when that spark ignites again. (Wow, I didn’t realize I had so much advice. LOL)

15. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? Oh my God, I always wanted to be an actress. (still do) I loved acting; I majored in drama in college. It was my passion. I wasn’t ever good enough to take it past the small stages of the college’s little theatre or even the ski slopes of Tahoe(a story for another time. LOL). I think the training I had in San Francisco’s Jean Shelton’s Acting Academy in the 90’s was invaluable as writer. When I first started writing, I would worry because I didn’t have a degree in literature. I used to stress on the idea of having to tell people I wasn’t trained the traditional way, a lot of writers were. It took the words of a couple of dear close friends, convincing me that I didn’t need to be ashamed of not being a formally trained writer. They were the ones that pointed out that the experience I had as a drama major and actress was what gave me the ability to write stories people could fall in love with and relate to. That’s when I embraced my past and let it support my future.

16. What are your favorite books and which authors inspire you? This question has always plagued me in interviews, because it depends on where I am in my life. My answer is never glamorous as people want it to be. My favorite book of all time, is not one in my genre, as a matter of fact it is a non-fiction book called, This Thing Called You, by Dr. Ernest Holmes. It is my go to book that I read every day. It is the type of book you can open to any page and find the inspiration you are looking for. If I had to choose someone in fiction, early on in my career it would have to be Charlaine Harris author of the Sookie Stackhouse Series. Back in early 2000 when I read her books, I was drawn to her ability to make me want to “dog-ear” the steamy pages. Her books ignited my desire to write. As of right now, I’ve been really interested in indie/self-pubbed books. So my list isn’t huge but it is eclectic as far as what authors I’ve been reading lately. I’ve recently read books from Cassie Mae, CJ Roberts, Nyrae Dawn, AL Jackson and Gail McHugh just to name a few. I have to admit, I wish I’d make more time to read.

17. For an aspiring writer what do you feel are certain do's and don’ts for writing a successful book? First never, ever write for anyone but yourself (trust me on that one). You’ll find a niche and people who love your work, will find you! Never sacrifice your time and talent for fleeting advancement. Compromise, is one thing, but if it doesn’t feel right…then it probably isn’t. Write a kick-ass story, make sure you invest in a really good editor, and no matter what anyone says, a book is always judged by its cover, so make sure your cover is the bomb!


18. What are you working on now? Well, right at this moment I am working on a novel close to my heart, Ophelia’s Promise, a NA that deals with family issues, bonds between siblings, and the ability to grow from life’s experiences, even when they are really bad. I am also reworking a novel I wrote a couple years ago called Prototype and its companion novel, Hindsight. That series is an Adult Thriller Romance.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Gretchen! It's been really great having you with us! Come back soon and good luck with your new writing adventures!

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By day Gretchen teaches computers, by night she dawns the cloak of motherhood, wifehood, and authorship. She is finding her way through self-publishing and is truly learning to let go with every curve and bump in the creative process. Gretchen enjoys writing about first loves and first times, in the first person. She is a firm believer that anything is possible if you set your mind to it; and what you expect out of life, always finds a way of showing up.


She happily lives in Northern California with her amazing husband, their three terrific boys, her talented mother, one goofy black lab, one crazy kitty, and eight happy chickens. Even though it sounds like it, she doesn't live on a farm.

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