Alice Orr loves to write. Especially romantic suspense novels and blog posts. She’s been a workshop leader, book editor and literary agent. Now she lives her dream of writing full-time. So far she’s published fifteen novels, three novellas and a memoir – either traditionally or independently. Learn more about Alice and her books at her website. Today Alice sits down with us for an interview.
When did you first decide you wanted to write novels?
The first writers’ conference I ever attended was at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. I’d been writing articles for various periodicals for some time, but I’d never admitted to anyone that what I really wanted to write was fiction. In a class taught by the poet Judith McDaniel, I spoke for the first time at that conference. She’d asked us what stood in the way of our most important writing goal. I stood up and said, “I want to write novels, but I don’t think I have any imagination.” Then I cried. The decision flowed out of me at that moment, along with my tears.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
It took a while for me to publish a novel because I wouldn’t submit to publishers. I’d write just about enough of the manuscript to have the ending in sight. Then I’d say to myself, “I have a better story idea than this one.” I’d jettison my current project and begin another one. This was still the hard copy submission era so I’d stash the incompletes on shelves my husband built for them in our hallway. I did this again and again until a friend of mine asked, “What are you going to do? Collect those yellowing manuscripts til there’s no more room in your place for shelves?” I was tempted to answer, “We’ll get a bigger place.” I made my first submission instead, and that became my first published novel, a contemporary romance from New American Library.
Are you traditionally published indie published or a hybrid author?
I’ve been all of the above.
Where do you write?
I write in my home office, with pictures of my family on one wall, my grandchildren’s artwork on another wall and mementos of my writing career on a third wall and atop the bookcases.
Is silence golden, or do you prefer music when you write?
I prefer silence, except for the sounds of breeze and birdsong through my open window in summer.
How much of your plots and characters is drawn from real life? From your life?
I write about families now. My own family experience certainly informs those plots, but so do other families I encounter. I’m always observing and taking notes. As for characters I may have borrowed, in part, from real life – I’ll never tell.
Describe your process for naming your characters?
I used to have a master list of possible character names. Two lists actually, one for first names, a second for last names. One of my favorite sources for those names was the credits at the end of movies. I’m a huge movie fan. Then I misplaced those master lists. Now, I let whim and inspiration from the goddess of creativity be my guides.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your character has?
Character quirks are overrated in my opinion. Characters come alive on the page because they are more than their quirks, more than the sum of those surface parts. They are three-dimensional people through and through.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I know I have quirks, but to myself I’m just me. You’ll have to ask my husband this question. I’m sure he has the answer.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
My first marriage. I wouldn’t have my beloved children without that error in judgment, so I’ll embrace the relationship. I simply shouldn’t have married him.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
My own inadequate supply of patience, sometimes with people but mostly with situations.
You’re stranded on a desert island. What are your three must-haves?
Photos of my family. A copy of The Holy Bible. Moisturizer.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
I can’t give details because somebody might guess where it was. I’ll just say there were unkind people working there, not so much unkind to me as they were unkind to others.
What’s the best book you ever read?
Always the one I’m reading now, and there are generally several. Check my Kindle.
Ocean or mountains?
Ocean. Please. Please. Please.
City girl or country girl?
I’ve lived in both. I’ve loved both, and occasionally I’ve hated both. I’m an adaptable be-here-now kind of person so at present I’m an urban girl because I live in New York City. More important, like most writers, I carry my true region of preference in my head.
What’s on the horizon for you?
God willing. More loving. More family. More writing. Maybe an apartment with a terrace.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
I adore the people I meet through my work, the (mostly) women who write, read and produce romance and women’s fiction. We are generous, irreverent, straightforward, feisty, sometimes grouchy and always gorgeous. I’m overjoyed to be in such company.
A story of tangled roots and tormented love.
Two families are shaken to their roots. Vanessa Westerlo must find her roots. Bobby Rizzo is torn between Vanessa and his true roots. They are all tormented by love – past and too present. Meanwhile a man has been murdered. And that is the most tormented tangle of all.