About Claire Delacroix:
Bestselling and award-winning author Deborah Cooke has published over fifty novels and novellas, including historical romances, fantasy romances, fantasy novels with romantic elements, paranormal romances, contemporary romances, urban fantasy romances, time travel romances and paranormal young adult novels. She writes as herself, as Claire Delacroix and has written as Claire Cross. She is nationally bestselling, #1 Kindle Bestselling, KOBO Bestselling, as well as a USA Today and New York Times’ Bestselling Author. Her Claire Delacroix medieval romance, The Beauty, was her first book to land on the New York Times’ list of bestselling books.
Deborah was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library in 2009, the first time TPL hosted a residency focused on the romance genre, and she was honored to receive the Romance Writers of America PRO Mentor of the Year Award in 2012. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and of Novelists Inc. Currently, she’s writing the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances as Deborah Cooke and The Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances as Claire Delacroix. She lives in Canada with her husband.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve always liked telling stories, so its the characters and their stories that inspire me to write. I also like to write about love making a difference in those character’s perspectives and choices, and changing their lives. Love often heals in my books, and it certainly conquers all.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m intuitively a seat-of-the-pants writer, but 20 years of working with publishers has compelled me to learn to outline first. Actually, synopses are very useful tools and learning to write them can be a good way to “vet” a story before it’s written. Usually I have a scene or a character in mind – I write linked series, so I may already know the character from a previous book, or I might be following an over-arching story plan for the series in question – and I write a scene or two. This often is the scene in which the couple meet, so I can see how they interact. It isn’t always the way I anticipate. Then I write a synopsis of about ten pages double-spaced. That’s my map to the evolving relationship and I pay particular attention to the turning points – when does each character fall in love, and why? When does each character confess his/her feelings and why? When are they intimate, and why? When that’s done, I put the synopsis in a folder, and focus on writing the book. Quite frequently the characters will take me on a different journey than I planned for them – and when they disagree with me, they’re always right – but the exercise of writing the synopsis keeps the story on track, even if it does change.
In terms of my daily routine, I write most days to keep the story in my mind. I begin by reading and editing whatever I wrote the day before, then I write another 3000 to 8000 words. My daily word count picks up as I get close to the end of the book, because there are fewer questions to resolve. In the middle, it can be slow-going. Roughly every 30,000 words, I go back to the beginning and edit the entire work thus far, dividing it into chapters, etc. Because of this back-and-forthing, everything behind me is clean. When I write the last chapter, I edit it twice, spellcheck the ms, then send it to my editor. I do my filing, put my research books away, clean my desk and my office, then start on the next project.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I talk to my characters all the time, and I often act out their lines as they’re speaking them. This is why I don’t write in public places. 🙂
What advice would you give other writers?
The two best things a writer can do, at any point in his or her career, is to read a lot, particularly outside of his or her genre of choice. Reading broadly can teach you different ways of telling stories, as well as challenge your assumptions about how stories are told. Reading across genre is the best way to keep your work fresh, and is the best way to learn. There’s always more to learn, in terms of vocabulary, characterization, craft, you name it. So, being a writer isn’t a static state – you should always be adding to your skill set.
The second thing is to write the stories you’re passionate about. There’s no value in writing to the market: if what’s selling isn’t the kind of story you want to write, you’ll probably do it badly. You should write the stories that interest you, in the way that you think they best should be told, because this will make them not only your stories but the ones that only you could tell.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was traditionally published for twenty years before becoming an indie author. I began with backlist titles – those are books that had been previously published by big publishers, but the rights had reverted to me. A number of these books had been unavailable for years, and I knew readers who wanted them. Some had worn out their print copies, while others wanted the books in digital format. They were old enough titles that they had never been available digitally. One of the frustrating things about traditional publishing is the lack of control that the author has, so having complete control was not only a contrast but a lot of fun. I could pick my covers – yay! I had one series that wasn’t complete – the publisher had decided not to continue with it, even though there were five siblings left with their stories untold. Readers had been writing to me about that, although in 2005, there was very little I could do. So, my next step was to continue that series and publish original work myself. Ultimately, I left my other publisher to publish all of my work myself.
The thing with being indie is that being responsible for everything is a lot of work. There are also a lot of decisions to be made along the way. I’m glad that I have so much experience in traditional publishing – I follow a very similar editing and production course as I did for 50 books in traditional publishing, I work with an editor I’ve known for years who is now freelance, and I learned a lot about packaging from my publishing houses. So, for me, time management has become a new challenge.
For new authors, there are choices to be made. In 2009 or 2010, a previously unpublished author could leap into indie publishing and do reasonably well, even without a professionally edited, formatted or packaged book. Those stories are becoming less common, as the market becomes more competitive and readers’ expectations rise. So, I’m not as sure that going completely indie is a good strategy for new authors. Many new authors in my writing group are “hybrid” authors: they write for a publisher (often a digital first press) and also indie publish their own works, ensuring that their publishing contracts allow for that. The combination seems to work out well for them. Often editors and illustrators at digital-first presses also work freelance, so I know several who have the same editor and cover artist for all of their work, whether it goes through the publisher or is indie. This creates continuity, and also builds a relationship that can be very good for the author. (An editor who knows your work will understand what parts of the story you can strengthen, or what hallmarks are characteristic of your work, for example.)
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it’s a wonderful time to be an author, because there are so many choices available to us. It’s also a challenging time, because the amount of content available to readers is multiplying hourly. Visibility will become increasingly difficult to gain and to sustain.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: Romance, Fantasy, YA
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print