Introducing Terri Garey with her RITA Nominated book - DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY
This interview had me cracking up and tearing up! Terri is such a sweetheart! Enjoy! To be a part of the drawing for a free copy, just comment on the interview:)
How did you get started in the publishing business?
I decided back in 2001 that if I was truly going to succeed as a novelist, I needed to educate myself about the industry. I got on the Internet and discovered Romance Writers of America—they were having a conference in New Orleans that year, and it seemed like the perfect place to start. (The Garden District, the Cajun cuisine, Jackson Square… all of it dear to this Southern girl’s heart.) So, not knowing a soul, not knowing a query from a question mark, a synopsis from a synonym or “category” from cat food J, I registered, got on a plane and went to every workshop I possibly could, soaking it all up like a sponge.
And I’ll be honest with you—it was baffling. It was overwhelming. It was more scary than the tour I took one afternoon of the local cemeteries and voodoo shops. J So much to learn, so much to sift through. But it was also inspiring – I met so many women who were excited and enthused and interested in what they were doing. I remember seeing all the women in their beautiful dresses heading toward the RITA and Golden Heart Awards ceremony, and thinking how very special it must feel to be nominated for an award like that. It truly is a dream come true to be one of those women seven years later!
Any surprises? Biggest challenge so far?
I’d have to say that the biggest surprise for me was learning how little control an author has over the actual “marketing” of their book once it’s been sold. The cover, the title, the release date, the back cover copy—all the things that you envision as you’re writing it become subject to the decisions made by your publisher and their team of experts. My publisher, Avon HarperCollins, has been absolutely wonderful about allowing me input in all those areas, but the ultimate decisions are always up to them.
The biggest challenge? I’d say coming to the realization that once you’ve finished that book, you really need to get busy on the next one! We focus so hard on getting published—I think in order to truly succeed, you have to realize that as an author, your job is never really done. The book may be done, but your job as a storyteller isn’t. There are people out there who are clamoring for more stories!
What is the best part of being a novelist?
You mean besides hanging out with Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp? Fielding movie offers? Dodging the paparazzi? J The best part of being a novelist (besides making my own schedule and making up stories like the fairy tale above), is knowing that there are people out there who are reading and enjoying my work. The emails I get from readers, the fun I have knowing I’ve made people laugh and taken them out of their daily routine, if only for a little while, is by far the best part for me.
What’s the average day in the writer’s life look like for you? Are you scheduled and organized or are you more the “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” type?
I’m an “early-to-bed-early-to-rise” type who finds herself much more creative and productive in the morning than in the afternoon. I don’t have a set schedule, but after breakfast with my husband, I take a power walk with the dog and then sit down to work at my desk. I take a short break for lunch (usually reading while I eat), and then I’m back to work. I’m still there at 5:00, but I have a harder time focusing in the late afternoon, so lots of times I find myself blog surfing, answering emails or shopping online by then. (Don’t tell my editor!)
I get inspired by great settings or quirky things and/or people I see on the news. I’m a big believer in the “real life is stranger than fiction” example. I find music is a great way to get my mind going, but I absolutely can’t have music playing while I write—I need quiet for that. I also do a very small collage at the start of each book, with pictures and phrases that represent what I’m “going for” in that particular story. I keep it by my monitor until the manuscript is finished.
I’ve never had a mentor, but I’ve had a couple of really wonderful authors who encouraged me along the way, particularly NYT best-selling romantic suspense author Mariah Stewart. We were total strangers when we met at a conference in NJ, but she’d read my work in a contest. She took the time to sit down and give me some excellent career advice, which led (by a bit of a roundabout route) to me signing with my agent. I strongly believe that having a great literary agent is a necessity in this business.
As for critique partners, I have to give a tremendous amount of credit to my very first critique partner, Sheila Raye, who hounded and nagged me through the first full draft of DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY, my RITA finaling book. I don’t think I could’ve done it without her. That was four years ago, but since my editor is now the ultimate “critiquer” of my work, Sheila has gone on to critique for others. I’ve tried to “pay it forward” by acting as judge in writing contests, and try to be as encouraging and informative as possible to anyone who’s interested in writing.
What does it mean to you to be nominated for a RITA award? How did you feel when you got the call? And what do you think the RITA means for the romance novel genre?
It’s truly a dream come true, which started back in New Orleans in 2001. Getting that phone call was one of the most exciting moments of my life—getting a second call fifteen minutes later was indescribable! I actually thought there’d been a mistake, and they’d notified me twice in error! It wasn’t until the very nice lady from RWA explained to me calmly that I’d finaled in two different categories (Best First Book and Best Paranormal Romance), that it sunk in. (Well, actually, it took another few minutes after I’d hung up to sink in… I think I was numb at that point!)
What are you wearing to the RITA Awards Ceremony in San Francisco? (LOL) Do you have the dress picked out? Any stories?
Ah, yes, the dress. *sigh* I absolutely adore it. Full length, bronze/gold satin with banding and a teeny bit of bling at the bodice, with a cute little bolero jacket. I’d gone shopping and narrowed it down to two choices, then called a dear friend and begged her to come down and help me choose. When I stepped out of the dressing room expecting only her, there were five women standing there waiting for an empty dressing room—total strangers all—who oohed and aahed and had very definite opinions on which dressed looked the best! LOL It was unanimous for the bronze/gold satin!
Are you preparing a speech in case you win?
No speech. Just a short list of people to thank.
Congratulations on your RITA nomination. Any last thoughts?
Thank you, and congratulations to you, as well! This has been such an exciting journey, and it really is true what they say about just being honored to be nominated—win or lose, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!
To read more about Terri go to http://www.tgarey.com/