In Character Interview : Author Shelly Ellis

IN CHARACTER INTERVIEW: SHELLY ELLIS


Which actor/actress would you like to
see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Stephanie
Gibbons is a woman who can be both wry and over-the-top sexy so it would have
to be an actress that understands how to convey both sex and humor. I think the
actress Regina Hall would be great in that role. She’s a beautiful woman and
she cracks me up whenever I see her onscreen. For the male lead, as I wrote the
book only one guy kept coming to mind: Lance Gross. He had the right look, build,
and attitude to epitomize Keith Hendricks.
What’s one thing your character has done
that you would never do?
I
don’t think I could have shoved my way onto a road trip with a private
investigator who was hunting down a conman. Stephanie’s really good at
manipulation — me, not so much.
Describe your hero or heroine in three
words?
Stephanie
is sexy, impulsive, and hilarious.
What are your thoughts on writing a book
series?
When
I wrote the first book in the Gibbons Gold Digger series, Can’t Stand the Heat, I didn’t know at that time that it was going
to be a series. It wasn’t until I reached the end of the novel and saw that
there was the possibility for stories about each of the sisters that I decided
to pitch it to my now editor, Mercedes Fernandez, as “a book with series
potential.”
This
was the first series I had ever written, so I was a little intimidated. I knew
I wanted reoccurring themes and storylines that would carry out from book to
book but I also wanted each novel to be able to exist as a standalone in case a
reader hadn’t picked up the other books. Doing this turned out to be easier
than I thought, but it required a lot of rereading of past novels to remember
details like what car characters drove, what were the names of their ex-husbands,
etc.
Do you aim for a set amount of
words/pages per day?
I
wish! I only shoot for a set amount of words when I’m close to deadline and I
have to get it done in a week or less. Besides, I’m a new mom and I work
full-time so some days if my baby takes a lot of naps or she’s at grandma’s, I
can get in 3000 words. Other days, I can’t even finish one paragraph.
Instead
of shooting for a word or page count, I just shoot for a finish date that’s
ahead of my deadline. I usually make my manuscript due a month or so in
advance. That way even if I miss my “due date,” it’s still finished early or on
time for my publisher.
How do you think you’ve evolved
creatively?

I’ve evolved creatively in that I’ve gotten a lot better at writing a fully-fleshed
out story. I think my strength had always been in description and dialogue, but
carrying the momentum throughout the storyline was challenging for me for a
quite a while. (I had my first short story published when I was 19 and even now
I cringe at how awkward and contrived the story was.)
The
challenge of writing romance is sustaining the momentum and making readers wanting
to keep turning the page even though they know how the story is going to end: with
the guy and girl having their happily-ever-after. What can you do for 300 pages
that makes the story interesting and worth reading? You’ve got to have
character development, adventure, and subplots. It took me a while to get this.
You can’t just have a couple arguing, wrangling over insecurities, or having
sex for 300 pages. It makes for a boring story.
What is the hardest or easiest thing
about writing?
The
hardest thing about writing is finding the balance between creativity and
what’s commercially viable. It’s one of the hardest lessons learned with
writing for a publishing house. Not every story (sometimes even the good ones)
is something your publisher or your readers will be willing to buy.
What are you working on at the minute?
Right
now, I’m finishing up the fourth and final book in the Gibbons Gold Digger
series. It’s about eldest sister, Cynthia. So far, I’m having a blast writing
it.
Do you have any advice for other
authors?
Don’t
take yourself too seriously. You can love to write. You can love your work. But
in this industry, your ego is bound to take a few hits in the form of rejection
from agents, editors, critics, and even readers. If you take yourself too
seriously, you’re bound to get hurt more easily. Have a serious work ethic, but
try to have a sense of humor about all the other stuff.
Where can readers find out more about
your projects?
You
can find out more about my books and the characters in the Gibbons Gold Digger
series at my web site, shellyellisbooks.com. She can also find me on Twitter
@ellisromance.

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