I recently completed an interview with e-book distributor Smashwords. Below is a transcript of the interview.
Interview with Mary Frances Gualandri
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a historical drama called Dreams, which centers around the California rock music scene of the 1970s. However, it is a saga that spans 40 years. It is not a romance, but it is a love story.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, gosh, that's a question. Well, I would say that my favorite author is probably Jackie Collins, but I also really love Sylvia Day, Sylvain Reynard, and Rona Jaffe.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Well, I can't sleep late, so I guess that's a good reason. I think what really makes me get out of bed is knowing that I have a purpose.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well, I am a full-time student, so most of my time is spent going to school and studying. Other than that, though, I love to read, watch TV, listen to music, and hang out with my friends and family.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
It's usually based on the authors I typically read or through bargain sites like Bookbub. It depends, though.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote and finished was a 40 page story called Senate Girl. It was about a girl who was a page for the United States Senate during the Kennedy era. It ended up being a six part series I wrote in 4th grade.
What is your writing process?
It's shifted a lot, but lately, I've been doing extensive planning. The last two books I've been writing were both projects that I planned for a year or more before writing them. I have a lot of notes and spend a lot of time on Pinterest. I am a very visual person, so I need to know how things and people look. Then, I just write and edit. The editing is usually a three or four round process. Then, I publish.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I ever read, or that was read to me, I should stay, was a children's book called Moving Day. I loved that story and constantly wanted my grandma to read it to me. I just loved the emotion of the characters. Oh, and Hoppity, the main character, was an adorable rabbit. That might have helped.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is actually the easiest part. I have an incredible cover designer, Robin Ludwig, who has done all of my covers. She asks me what I'm looking for and takes it from there. The result has been three covers that I love and have a professional look. I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg, either.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
This is really hard, but here we go.
5. Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard- An odd book, but Southern and sultry. 4. Gabriel trilogy by Sylvain Reynard - Sensual and unique. Beautifully written. 3. The Crossfire series by Sylvia Day- The sexiest books I've ever read. Also, Gideon and Eva are incredible characters. 2. Perfect by Judith McNaught- I cried through most of this book. It's just so raw and sweet. 1. Paradise by Judith McNaught- This book is just gut-wrenching and beautiful. Matt and Meredith are incredible characters, and I can laugh and cry through the entire book.
What do you read for pleasure?
Romance is what I spend most of my time reading, but I also enjoy some general fiction as well as thrillers and horror novels.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Well, it used to my my Kindle 6, but ever since I got my iPad, I've been reading on that.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I have great critique partners, and they help me with promotion. Online release parties and cover reveals are great.
Describe your desk
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in rural north central Illinois, and it influenced my writing by making me want to write about urban areas, be it Chicago or New York. All of that glitz and glamour fascinated me.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing in second grade after my grandfather passed away. It was a shock and I didn't know how to deal with my emotions, so I picked up a pen and the rest is history.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book was a bit of a response to the Fifty Shades mania, both playing into it and questioning it. I wanted the sultriness and raw sexuality of those books, but as readers will find out, I question the mechanics.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I just wanted to do it on my own and see what happened.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating characters. I love my characters, and putting them into situations and seeing what happens to them is amazing to me.