Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Devon Gray

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm featuring one of my good virtual friends and fellow Wild Rose Press authors, Devon Gray. Devon and I first "met" after she reviewed Lost in Paradise, believe it or not. Since then she's published one novella of her own with another on the way -- both of which I've had the opportunity to create trailers for. Enjoy her story!

Hi Devon! I'm so glad you're able to join me here today. Can you tell my blog readers a little about your background?

I have done a lot of different things prior to becoming a full-time writer. First and foremost I am a wife and mother. I have been married for twelve years, and we have two children, a boy (9) and a girl (6). They keep my busy and happy! As far as careers, I have kind of been all over the place. I have a degree in Psychology, but started out in Public Health. As a result, I found myself doing restaurant health inspections (gross) and teaching birth control classes for incoming college freshman for Planned Parenthood (gross…funny, but gross). I have also been a waitress, bartender, accounting clerk for a restaurant chain, personal trainer/lifestyle and weight management consultant and a regional vice president with an international network marketing company which sells natural skin products. Of all these gigs, nothing made me as happy and fulfilled as pursuing my passion for writing.

When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I began writing poetry as a teenager. I can thank typical teenage angst for the birth of my creativity. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I attempted a novel, and when I got hung up I put it aside. I decided to tackle writing for publication two years ago, and eighteen months into the adventure I got the contract for “Addicted”.

Tell us about your latest writing project or published title!

“Addicted”, which is available now from the Wild Rose Press-The Wilder Roses, is a story of a woman who relocates to a small beach town for the summer to find herself; what she discovers instead is the lengths to which she’ll end up going to have one man. It is definitely the darkest story I have written, but it was very satisfying to write.

How do you go about developing your characters?

An idea for a character will come to mind and I will start the “what if” game. What if this character suffered through a painful divorce? What would she do? In my current WIP, the answer was get as far away from her ex as possible. She relocates to rural Georgia from Phoenix. But why? What if she purchased a dilapidated farm house from an ad on the internet? What if she was just that desperate? I will continue this process until I have motivation and conflict for both characters, and any secondary characters in the story.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

Don’t quit! When things get rough, and they will, persevere. The last writer standing gets the book contract. Immerse yourself in the craft. Attend workshops, online classes, get a critique partner. Never stop learning. As your writing improves, so will your chances of selling your story. Decide that you will be published, and that failure is not an option.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

The most difficult thing for me, hands down, is the process of changing my natural writing style. I am a pantser all the way, and this approach is riddled with challenges if the writing is being approached as a long-term career. Since established authors can sell a book by proposal alone, being able to write a detailed synopsis prior to writing the book is vital. To be efficient with my time, I need to know where I’m going with my writing. I am missing snippets of time during the day where I could be writing if I had an outline. Staring at the computer for twenty minutes trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the story is a huge time suck. Luckily for me, my critique partner is a die-hard plotter, and she is a tremendous help.

The most exciting part to me is the writing itself. It is such a big part of who I am, so when I am able to work, I am very content. The most rewarding part to me, so far, is receiving an email or a review from someone who was touched by what I wrote. I remember the summer prior to starting to write again I read fifty Nora Roberts books. I loved the “literary trance” she transported me to, and I decided then that I wanted to try to do the same thing for others. I wanted the fruits of my efforts to make someone else happy. It’s very fulfilling.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

In the past, not well. LOL. I attended a workshop by Stephanie Bond at a recent conference and what she said really got through to me. It is because of her that I understand the importance of becoming more organized with my career, and that I understand how my diversion in my life affects my family. She pointed out that to most of us, our family was around before our writing career. This inspired me to become more organized with my time.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Yes! I find it best to just walk away from the project for a bit. An hour, a day, however long it takes. Of course, as a pantser this is a common occurrence. I am hoping with what I learn about plotting this phenomenon will occur less frequently. Oh, and there is a wine called “Writer’s Block”. I like to pretend it helps.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I love to take long walks. Our neighborhood is awesome, so I grab my iPod and head out for an hour or so. I am also a magazine junkie. Happiness to me is sitting on the sofa with a pile of magazines and TLC’s “What Not to Wear” on the television. My hubby doesn’t understand why I am so enthralled with the show. Me either, actually. I just love it!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

That I was able to finish them and they made sense! See why I’m desperate to plot? LOL

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

I write on my laptop and obsessively back up the files to at least three places. I have a Mac, so my books are stored remotely somewhere in California as well. I am not a techno geek, so this concept completely baffles me, but knowing if disaster strikes I can retrieve my work from Cupertino helps me sleep at night. I also just purchased an AlphaSmart Neo, and I can’t wait to use it! It is basically a word processor that has no internet capabilities. You can take it anywhere, and it automatically saves everything you type into it. When you are done for the day, you simply transfer it to the word document on your computer.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

I think I’ve rambled enough! More about me and my books can be found at my website Thanks for having me!

And thanks for being here, Devon! Readers, this author has a new book coming out in November, and here's a taste for you:


Mom said...

As I watched the trailer for Devon's new book I wondered who designed it, it was so captivating! Nice job! And nice interview too!

Devon Gray said...

Thanks for having me, Allie! I agree with your mom about the's awesome. I'm so lucky to have such a talented producer ;-)

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Thanks for posting it Allie and yeah, those trailers... they're just great.

sew said...

Great interview! The trailer of ADDICTED gave me goose bumps, it was so mysterious and sensual that I had to read that book, and it was such a page turner that I didn't put it down until I was finished reading it. It's hard to believe that Devon Gray would ever have a problem with writer's block, her words and storyline just flowed so beautifully. I can't wait to read the next book! Great interview by both talented women! Thank you.


beverley said...

HI!! Great day for an interview. I'll pretend I know none of it and say, I learned so much. :)


Anonymous said...

Great interview, Allie. Devon Gray is one of my favorite authors!