TRRC Interview with Petie McCarty
TRRC Hi Petie welcome to The Romance Readers Connection. Congratulations on the release of your second novel, CATCH OF THE DAY, how challenging has it been to continue the momentum of your debut, EVERGLADES?
PM Maintaining momentum month in and month out is certainly a challenge I think all writers face. There are only so many markets an author can approach, and the competition for the available advertising is steep. Competition for market space is doubly difficult for digital authors. Industry estimates that only 29% of the reading public has electronic readers, and that's up almost 10% over 2011. So right there, digital authors' access to the total reading market is reduced to 29%, and then you'd have to factor out the non-fiction readers from the total, too. What all that means is digital authors have to be very focused and very dedicated about their marketing efforts to be successful. The good news is the future can only get brighter with increasing numbers of readers going digital. I have been very fortunate in that a substantial number of my Everglades readers have already asked when my next book will come out.
TRRC Petie, how does an aquatic biologist delve off into writing romance? How much of an influence has your career played in your writing?
PM It's really not such a stretch when this particular aquatic biologist is lucky enough to have spent a large part of her career working at "The Most Magical Place on Earth," where fairy tales are common fare and really do come true. J
My career had a huge influence on my debut novel Everglades -- the story of a photojournalist on an airboat safari who gets stranded with her hunky airboat guide in the famed River of Grass. I spent two years of my career surveying Florida waterways by airboat, and everything that happens to the heroine Kayliee in the Everglades -- the bug storm, the leeches, the spiders, getting stuck on a tussock, falling in near a gator -- has happened to me at some time during my career. Talk about writing what you know!
TRRC Many writers have rituals or routines to get their creative juices flowing especially when trying to meet a deadline. What are some of the things you do to begin the writing process?
PM I have been incredibly fortunate with my writing in that the idea for my next novel always arrives in one piece beginning, conflict, and finale -- Wham! It's suddenly front and center in my imagination. A movie starts running in my head, characters and all. Then I spend the next couple of days speed-writing scene bullets to try to keep up with the movie. Usually only secondary characters are added or changed during editing. Partial ideas flit in and out of my imagination all the time, triggered by day-to-day events, but I know which novel is next when the entire movie arrives at one time.
When deadlines approach and a final draft manuscript or final edits are due, I hibernate in my bedroom office, and my husband abides by the "deadline rule" -- interruptions only for blood, fire, tornado or hurricane. The best part is he's always waiting with a glass of chardonnay to celebrate when I eventually crawl back out.
TRRC How much fun has it been so far? Were there times when you wanted to throw in the towel?
PM I think the fun part is the actual writing of the story. The rest is just plain hard work -- every weeknight and every weekend spent editing, marketing or doing online blog posts and online interviews. J
Quit? Oh yeah! I threw in the towel three separate times before I was eventually published. Either my sister Katy or my best friend Clare lured me back each time, which is why Everglades is dedicated to them.
My best advice to writers -- perseverance in everything. The great Stephen King said it best "The only difference between published and unpublished writers is the published writers never gave up." And I'm proof positive of that.
TRRC Tell readers about Everglades and the main characters Kylie and Skye? I have to say, I truly appreciated the amount of time you took to define all the characters, their relationships and interactions. An added bonus is learning about the work being done to save the Florida Everglades.
PM Kaylie Heddon is a photojournalist who has come to the Everglades to work on an article that will help her uncle John – a politico who’s making the restoration of the Everglades one of his top priorities. She ends up stranded alone with her handsome and enigmatic Seminole airboat guide, Skye Landers, and quickly learns that trust means everything in the dangerous River of Grass. But when secrets from Skye’s past surface, Kaylie and Skye are soon on the run from more than just gators.
Skye is the hunky airboat guide I never got when I had to do aquatic surveys. J So of course, I tried to make him as sexy as I could. And by the time I was done, I wanted to be Kaylie. I created a story imbued with an environmental flavor, which is a comfortable match for romance readers who love nature and the out-of-doors. That meant Kaylie had to be a staunch environmentalist. The conflict between Kaylie and Skye over the Everglades mimics real life politics over this delicate and priceless wetland, and I wanted to bring attention to the pollution plight of the Everglades and make my readers care about this precious ecosystem.
The process of falling in love definitely speeds up in life-or-death situations, so I threw Kaylie and Skye into a few of those to keep things exciting. Airboats are probably one of the most dangerous means of transportation, thus it wasn't hard to do. Then I threw in a surprise finale to keep the readers hooked.
Once the scene bullets were down, I did a ton of research to avoid offending anyone in the decades-long and ongoing controversy between agriculture and environmentalists over the maintenance and fate of our beautiful River of Grass. The research on the Seminole Tribe of Florida was the fun part. The Tribe is really made up of clans just as Skye Landers explained to Kaylie, and his "panther" clan really exists. I researched the chickees at length to keep them authentic for Wren's camp in the story.
I went to high school with two full-blooded Seminoles, brothers and twins. The brothers were two of the toughest guys in school, yet the most kind-hearted and always operated with their personal code of honor. So when you meet the Robles twins about halfway through the story, you'll see how my high school classmates turned out -- all grown up.
TRRC CATCH OF THE DAY, what in world made you want to write about a female bass angler in a very male dominated sport? What kind of research went into this particular story?
PM This is an easy question, and it goes back to my job again. I routinely survey lakes for aquatic vegetation, and my survey partner is a professional angler with the National Bassmaster Southern Opens series. He would always come back from his three-day tournaments around the south with plenty of fishing stories, and then one day, the movie popped into my head. What would happen if a girl entered an all-guy tournament and then stage it in the Doc-Hollywood-esque town of Loon, Alabama?
While I did some research, my survey partner provided most of the technical background, teaching me basic tournament rules and procedures and editing my final draft for fishing faux pas. In fact, I rewrote my entire finale after my partner brought back a whopper of a tale -- albeit true -- from one of his fishing tournaments. Seems one of the professional anglers actually jumped a beaver dam with his bass boat to get to the good fishing on the other side, and then won the tournament. You'll have to read Catch of the Day to see how I worked that in. J
TRRC Cody’s reason for entering the contest is admirable, how did you plot out balancing that aspect of her character with the story’s overarching theme?
PM Cody enters the Look Lake tournament because her father had fished in it every year, and when he passed away, she thought she'd feel closer to him and maybe not miss him so much if she fishes the tournament, too. Meanwhile, the women of Loon decide to adopt her as their personal mascot, and before Cody knows it, she's competing for women's fishing rights in Loon.
Cody's tournament partner, Special Ops Coast Guard captain Gage Connor comes to Loon to resolve an old family dispute and to search for the girl who was his first love. Meeting Cody throws a wrench into his well-laid plans.
Your heart will always recognize your true love, even if your eyes are blind.
TRRC Petie, thank you for joining us today, can you tell readers what you have coming up next?
PM In April 2013, Desert Breeze will release my third novel, One More Chance -- the first of what I think of as my Rescue Angel Romances. Each story will have an angel hidden in them, and the reader doesn't find out who the angel is until the finale. If I've done my job right, I'll fool the reader every time.
In One More Chance, Kellen Brand's inheritance turns out to be a whopper -- one dilapidated farm in West Virginia and one guardian angel. Since no sane woman would choose to live in Riverside, Kellen vows to sell her farm and quick. Her handsome neighbor Luke Kenyon must block the farm sale or risk exposure of his family's secrets.
While Kellen has one potential buyer, she faces a town full of objectors. Someone is trying to frighten her off, and Luke is forced to step in and rescue her more than once. Unfortunately, Kellen has a penchant for finding trouble. She stumbles onto a clandestine hazardous-waste-dumping operation next to her farm, and she prays Luke has one more rescue up his sleeve. It's her only hope of staying alive. Unless her mother really did leave her a guardian angel…
Thank you for allowing me to spend time with The Romance Reader Connection members, and I'd like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.
If you find time to read over the holiday, please give me a try, and visit my web site at www.petiemccarty.com.