Intimate Conversation with Ann Clay
An avid reader and lover of positive, strong men, award-winning author, Ann Clay began her writing venture in 1999. She has been duly recognized for her warm-hearted stories, bursting with memorable characters, places and special moments. Venturing into several genres, Ann still prefers her romantic versions of life and living. She resides in Southern Illinois with family and loves hearing from her readers.
BPM: What inspired you to become a romance writer? How long have you been writing?
I absolutely love reading which led me to writing. I love tender stories about romance and fantasy. I like how they impact not just the hero and heroine, but their family and friends as well. I started writing professionally in 1999.
BPM: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’ve found a voice in my work, no matter what genre I’m writing in. My stories tend to write themselves… and I let the characters have their way. I get my story concepts from places I’ve visited or from simply people watching. I like watching how people interact with one another. I pretend I know what’s going on in their lives and that helps me create storylines or writing projects. I’m always looking for an angle or a secret that connects the reader to the characters. I like relatable characters, but I also like a hero and heroine readers will love from the beginning to the end of the story. The more I do these things, the better I get at telling their truth.
BPM: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Oh boy…let’s see. It’s definitely a craft you have to practice on a regular basis. Sometimes finding time to write is challenging because I still have a full-time job. Some days I just don’t feel like it, but do it anyway. It definitely requires commitment and should become a way of life if you’re serious about the craft.
BPM: How has writing romance novels impacted your life?
Every story written/told has elements of romance in them. Which to me means that romance is a genre that touches every reader of the written word. Life has taught me joy, anger, sadness, and love. Love is what I like best. I enjoy both historical and contemporary romance, although I tend to stick to contemporary when writing romance. Pure romance, to me, appeals to all the five senses. I enjoy escaping into a good love story, even if I have to create one myself.
BPM: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your body of work?
That I like the characters I write about, and they’re people readers can relate to. And so far, I’ve been true to this format. I still have readers who ask about characters as if they’re members of the ‘family.’ It’s inspiring and what keeps me on the task.
BPM: How do you find or make time to write? Are you a plotter or a pantster?
It’s sometimes hard, especially because I travel extensively. Sometime I just write small notes to add to a project later. I try to be consistent and write something every day. If I’m working on a project, I will make daily goals for myself because I have an end date in mind. Definitely a pantster. I build my characters, and after that, they’re out of my control! Well, not always. I do build potential encounters and develop potential conflicts and encounters I think will keep the story interesting. However, I do allow my characters to drive the story.
BPM: Have you considered writing in another genre?
I didn’t really read romance at first, but when I stumbled on AA romance, I was hooked. And mostly that’s what I write. I do write some women and inspirational pieces, but romance is my baby. It depends on where I am in life at the moment, which dictates what project I will start. I have several pieces still in draft that I have to go back and finish. I’ve also written a children’s book and a hilarious pet book. The pet book is yet to be published. Oh, I also started a funny christian book entitled, Church in an Uproar.
BPM: What is your story in Love Like It’s Hot about?
Love For Liberty is a political romance that has village resident whispering. The secret love affair and a much needed city improvement project in Versa Village, sets the tone for a surprise the villagers least expects. The mayor, Liberty Kennedy is a freshmen politician, while her love interest, the city councilman, Rani Brooks, is seasoned; in politics, in business, and in the art of persuasion. Fireworks are igniting from all sides.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Liberty Kennedy has her work cut out for her. She’s smart, influential, and has a vision for making improvements. A freshmen politician, she finds herself in a love affair with the chairman of the Village Council. In the public they’re seen as rivals, but given the right circumstances, that rivalry turns into passion and create drama for the village they represent. Yet she is determined to finish the improvement project she started.
The hero is strong, ambitious, but respects family, work, and decency. Rani Brooks does his best to give Liberty space to do her job, but he is intentional in his resolve, making her his main focus. He knows what he wants and will do what it takes to get it (her).
BPM: What was your hardest scene to write, the opening or the close?
The opening is always the hardest scene for me. I’m desperate to catch the reader’s attention at the very opening. I really strive to make the first few pages so engaging that the reader refuses to put the story down. I’m still working on it. One of these days I’m going to master this task. You’ll see!
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
Sometimes I’m so focused on the task that I don’t always enjoy the journey of completing the task. There is a point in the book where Liberty has to take several steps back to realize that she doesn’t have to do all the work by herself. Like a lot of us, we work hard, but not always smartly.
BPM: Is there a specific place/space/state that you find inspiration in?
I’m a morning person, so I like quiet time. I listen to music. I like sitting in the park or on patio, watching nature. I also watch people and how they interact with one another. I’m always intrigued by what I hear and see.
BPM: Do you want each book to stand on its own or do you prefer to write series?
I like both. But, I tend to write my series in such a manner that they can stand alone, and the stories are not required to be read in any particular order.
BPM: Does writing energize you?
It does. There are so many stories in my head. They, the characters, talk to me non-stop. So, to quiet the voices, I have to put pen to paper.
BPM: Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe you come to a point in your writing where the plot is not playing out as you would like it to. It is the moment when you are force to step back and re-evaluate where the story is going. For some authors it’s as simple as taking a break or working on something else. For others, it may take discussing the plot with a trusted reader or writing partner.
BPM: Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I’m not too interested in paranormal, mostly because I’m just not interested. I’m also not too keen on erotica. I have to feel some connection with the characters, and to me these characters are only interested in the sex, and not necessarily the relationship. I could be wrong about that, but that’s how I see it.
BPM: Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
Sometimes love scenes are challenging because you want to make them as visual, natural, and often enough as possible to keep the story moving. I try not to be too graphic, but I do understand readers want to feel like those scenes are not robotic or unnatural. Most of my readers want lots of love scenes They want them hot, tender, sensual, and passionate all roll into one.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I have couple of series I’ve started…Love’s in the Air, and Durbin Enterprises, both comprise of three books. Durbin Enterprises is all mapped out and I’m about halfway done with the first story, and have a single chapter for the other two stories. It’s a working progress.
I’m also working on a contemporary story entitled, Two Black Cats. It’s about two brothers from New Orleans. I’m actually pretty excited about this project and hope to have it released in late summary, early fall.
BPM: Tell us about your most recent work beyond this collection. Available on Nook and Kindle?
I just tied up the Gumbo Love Series with four books. The last story takes place in Texas, but still have the bayou country feel. Worth The Ride is available both in print and eBook and can be found online. Also, Faith in Ordinary Things was released last year. It’s a little book of inspiration and funnies. It too is available in print and eBook formats.
BPM: What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you?
Readers can email me, follow me on my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at conferences. I’m gamed for it all. My Twitter handle is annclaywrites, and my Facebook is simply my name. My website is http://www.annclay.com and the email is email@example.com. I will be attending a number of book club and writing events this year. Would love to connect with readers there.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can just google me, normally it brings up all of my work. They may also search in Amazon or go to my website. I’m on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. I would love hear from readers; if they’ve read my work I ask that they please leave a review, especially in Good Reads. That would help me out greatly. Thanks so much!
Don’t forget to look for Ann’s upcoming projects, including the Winter Games Series entitled Romance on Ice; and the new series, Love is in the Air and Durbin Enterprises. Happy Reading!
Books featured in the Boxed Set
* Ann Clay – Love for Liberty
* Barbara Keaton – Heat at First Sight
* Deatri King-Bey – Best Laid Plans
* Donna Hill – Summer Sizzle
* Nicki Night – Sweet Heat Rising
* Xyla Turner – The Fourth
Other Books by Ann Clay
More Than a Bargain
Waving From the Heart
A Fresh Encounter
A Love for all Times
Blue Autumn in the Bayou
Beyond the Blue Cypress
A Perfect Blend
Worth the Ride
Faith in Ordinary Things
Love on the Run
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