Interview with Romantic Suspense Author Dawn Brown


Today we have a special treat.  Romantic Suspense author Dawn Brown has stopped by to talk about writing, ebooks, and her new release The Curse of Culcraig.  

Dawn was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. Her first sojourn into storytelling began when she was nine. She would gather neighborhood kids into her garage and regale them with ghost stories, believing even then that atmosphere played an important role in a good story.
She has a diploma in journalism, but oddly found herself pursuing a career in the less than exciting world of computer leasing. After the birth of her son, she gave up the corporate world to be a mom and write full time, trading in her dreary cubicle for a dreary atmospheric room in the attic.
Now Dawn spends her days creating dark, romantic mysteries with edgy heroes, clever heroines and villains she hopes will keep her readers sleeping with the light on. (taken from bio)

Join me in welcoming our guest!  

Dawn, thanks for stopping by. Why don't you first tell us a little about The Curse of Culcraig?
Okay, a little secret about me. I'm terrible at writing short blurbs and pitches. So here's the official blurb:
After a devastating personal tragedy, history professor Hillary Bennett seeks refuge in the quaint Scottish village of Culcraig, hoping to research a legend and salvage her career. Instead, she finds her hostess dead and her hopes for the future pinned to the woman's black sheep heir.   
The last thing Caid Douglas needs is a decrepit manor house to remind him of his estranged family, but he does need the money selling the house would bring to pay off his debts.  In desperation he offers to honor his great aunt's arrangement with Hillary—if she pays him to stay at Glendon House and view his ancestor's journals, he'll have the money to fix up the family mausoleum and sell it.
But an ancient curse hovers over the village, and the secret to lifting it lies in the journals.  Will Caid and Hillary realize what they have and uncover the truth before a twisted killer silences them forever? 

Ooh, catchy blurb.  Who can pass up a Scottish hero and good curse?  :)  So, where did you get the idea for this story?
Ideas for my stories come from anywhere and everywhere. The idea for The Curse of Culcraig came from watching a television show about a family murdered by an angry mob. I was intrigued by the effect of  the mob mentality out of control and the lingering affect on a town even a century later. I was also interested in the misogyny and hysteria of the European Witch Hunts and felt the two factors would tie together nicely.

Now for the age-old debate...are you a plotter or pantser?  
I'm pantser. Nothing will kill a story for me faster than outlining it. When I start a new story, I usually write a short premise which consists of the hook and the goal, motivation, conflict of my hero and heroine to organize my thoughts--this also usually winds up being the basis for my query when I'm ready to begin submitting. If I think the hook is strong enough, and I have a good feel of who my characters are, then I'm ready to begin writing the story.

Do you keep a writing schedule or do you just go with when the inspiration hits you?
I do have a writing schedule that I try to keep to. For a WIP, I try to write a minimum of 1,000 words a day. From 10 a.m. until noon I work my WIP. If I hit my word goal before twelve (which is rare), I keep writing until noon. If I don't hit my goal, I keep writing until I do. My afternoons are for rewrites, blogging, crits, promotion, etc. I can't always stick to my schedule, but I'm always most productive when I do.  

What drew you to romantic suspense?
 I always wanted to write, from the time I was very young. When I was twelve I read a novel by Phyllis A. Whitney, (Dream of Orchids, I think it was called) and I just loved the mix of spooky mystery and romance. I knew that was the kind of story I wanted to write.

Where on my handy dandy heat sheet do your novels fall? 
 Sizzling...if I do say so myself. :-)
Most of my readers are writers trying to make that first sale, so we are learning that persistence is often the key in this business.  So tell us what's tucked under your bed.  How many manuscripts did you complete before selling your first one?
I'd written one other novel, and it was pretty bad. It lives in a drawer never to be seen by human eyes again.
My second manuscript, Living Lies, was still rough after the first draft, but I joined a wonderful critique group and learned the fine art of rewriting. Then I was fortunate enough to sell it to Samhain Publishing.

You've been published with both Samhain and Wild Rose Press.  Tell us what your experience has been working the with e-publishers.  What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of going that route?
 I have had a wonderful experience with both publishers. Both companies are extremely professional, providing terrific information and promotional opportunities. I've been very fortunate to work with great editors, and lucky to receive fantastic covers for my books.
There are a number of advantages to choosing an e-publisher. As a writer you gain experience in publishing and marketing, and you can begin building a readership. As far as disadvantages, e-publishing is still new to a lot of readers and there's always the challenge of getting our print books on the shelves in stores. But the e-market is growing daily.

So with some of the challenges of getting the word out, do you think blogging and social networking (twitter, facebook, etc.) are necessary for writers (both published and unpublished)?
 I think a web presence is a definite necessity for writers in this day and age, especially for e-published writers. Blogs are a great way to interact with readers, and keep them updated about your work, while facebook and twitter provide great marketing and networking opportunities.

What advice do you have for handling the dreaded rejection letter?  I typically resort to large amounts of gummy bears and beef jerky.
Rejections can be demoralizing, especially when you get a few in a row. And yes, I'm speaking from experience. I think it's just really important to stay focused on your next story, and to keep moving forward.

What has surprised you the most on your journey to publication?
I've been so pleasantly surprised by how generous other  writers can be with their time and experience. I've learned so much from other writers, and cultivated some wonderful friendships.

And if you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring authors, what would it be?
 I think the best advice I can give is to never give up. Learn as much as you can and keep writing.

Now once everyone buys and reads The Curse of Culcraig, they'll be waiting with bated breath for your next book.  So tell us what you're working on now? 
I'm currently wrapping up work on another romantic suspense novel called Blood and Bone. It's about a crime writer who discovers the case she's researching isn't as straight foward as as she thought, putting her in the path of killer.

Thanks so much, Dawn, for stopping by!  

The Curse of Culcraig can be purchased from Wild Rose Press in ebook or print.  Or, in print from Amazon.  It would make a great Christmas present for the romantic suspense lover in your life (or for yourself because, let's face it, after all that Christmas shopping for everyone else--you deserve something!)

If you have any additional questions for Dawn, please comment below.  She'll be stopping by later to answer them.  And be sure to check out Dawn in her own "neighborhood" over at her blog.


I asked Dawn to provide a song that inspired her during the writing of this book...
**Today's Theme Song**
"Cast No Shadow" - Oasis

(player in sidebar if you'd like a listen)