How much of yourself do you write into your characters? I don’t know that I put much of myself into my characters, but I try to put myself into their shoes and feel what they are feeling in different situations.
When did you first discover that you were a writer? I don’t know that I have a specific time when I knew I was a writer. It was a gradual process that brought me to the point where I decided to write a novel for publication, not just for fun.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading. I mostly like to read romantic fiction because I like happy endings, but I also enjoy biography and some bestsellers like The Help.
How do you choose your characters’ names? Sometimes the names just come to me. Other times I search phone books and the social security website that lists the most popular names for a certain year. I also use a website called the “random name generator.”
How has being published changed your life? Being published means getting used to deadlines, being able to juggle more than one project at a time and realizing that I don’t get to read as much as I would like. It also means gaining new friends through different writing organizations and sharing God’s truths with readers all over the world.
What are you reading right now? I’m always reading multiple books at the same time. On my Nook, I’m reading Lyn Cote’s Her Healing Ways. On my i-Touch, I’m reading a book by Vanessa Kelly, and the physical book I’m reading is Linda Goodnight’s The Nanny’s Homecoming.
How do you choose your settings for each book? When I started writing novels for publication, my goal was to write a book set in every state where I have lived. So far I have books set in Washington State, Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Dakota and Ohio. I plan to set future books in Illinois, Massachusetts and Tennessee. I have the ideas and the characters. Now I have to write the books.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading? I’m an avid tennis player and fan although I don’t get to play as often as I used to. I also enjoy playing bridge and walking on the beach near my home.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it? Since I mostly sell on proposal now, my biggest problem is plotting the book for the synopsis. I have a hard time knowing what is going to happen until I start writing the story. Building in all of the turning points and conflict can sometimes bring my thought processes to a standstill. I’m still working on that obstacle by reading some how-to books on writing and taking on-line writing courses.
What is your favorite food? I guess if I have to pick just one it would be chocolate.
Please tell us about the featured book: I wrote Montana Match because I wanted to tell the “grown-up” story of three teenagers, Brittany, Max and Amanda, who were secondary characters in three of my earlier books. Montana Match is Brittany’s story. The reader also meets Max again in this book, but his story comes later.
Here is the back cover blurb:
Nanny to six-year-old twin girls isn’t exactly the position Brittany Gorman is looking for. But she needs a job. And the twins’ struggling single dad, rancher Parker Watson, needs all the help he can get. Soon Brittany is not only assisting the girls, but also helping Parker make peace with his past. It seems Brittany’s finally found a place to belong. And with two little matchmakers on the loose, there’s no telling what the future holds. As her time on the ranch runs out, can Brittany and Parker find the strength to face that future—together?
Please give us the first page of the book.
Thud. Thud. Thud. Books hit the floor all over the fifth-grade classroom, shattering the relative quiet. Brittany Gorman gathered her survival instincts and forced herself not to react. She tightened her grip on the chalk and continued to write the math homework assignment on the chalkboard. This bratty group of kids pulled some kind of stunt every time she substituted for their regular teacher. Today Brittany was determined not to let their misbehavior bother her.
Brittany wrote as slowly as she could. She didn’t want to turn around and see the feigned innocence on their faces until she was sure she could face them with a stoic mask in place. There was no doubt that the instigator of this little trick was the class clown who called her “Miss Carrot Top” or “Miss Freckle Face” under his breath, just loud enough that she couldn’t miss hearing his remarks. She always pretended not to notice.
Finally, she set the chalk in the tray and glanced at the clock before turning to the group. Some of the students had already retrieved their books, but other books still lay on the floor. She looked at the students, making eye contact with as many of them as she could before speaking. “You have twenty minutes to work on the assignment. If you have any problems, raise your hand, and I’ll be glad to help you.”
A few snickers drifted through the air, but Brittany chose to ignore those, too. Without making mention of the book incident, she roamed up and down the aisles between the desks. She breathed a sigh of relief as further conflict faded. Despite situations like this, substitute teaching was still the best of all the bad temp jobs she had tried since she’d lost her position as a financial planner. Glancing out the window at the snowy Montana landscape, she prayed that all would go well until the final bell. While she waited for that sound of freedom, she vowed to double her efforts to find a real job—one that didn’t involve kids.
You can find out more about Merrillee at her web site here