Interview with Loree Lough


Thank you for joining us, Loree. At Readers’ Realm, we believe the adage:  Writers must first be readers. Do you enjoy reading?
Before I answer that question, let me take a moment to thank you for inviting me to your blog. I’m honored to be here, and delighted to have this chance to meet new people and get reacquainted with “old” ones!

Yes, I do enjoy books–fiction, non-fiction, long and short. My favorite authors are Steinbeck, London, Poe and Koontz…about as far from “what I write” as an author can get!

Endorsing novels for my author friends gives me opportunities to read romance in all its varieties: mystery, suspense, historical and contemporary, but I also enjoy true-crime, psychological thrillers, and military dramas. I’m not sure if it’s true that a well-rounded reader makes a well-rounded writer, but I love spending time with a wide variety of characters!

I love Koontz’s knack for developing characters that readers truly care about. A big plus, since he puts them through such hair-raising situations! Steinbeck has that talent, too, even though his “test the characters’ mettle” isn’t quite as dangerous. London can describe stuff like just about nobody else, and Poe? Well, I believe everything I’ve read about his insomnia; I think he created stories to keep people up at night so he’d have company when he couldn’t sleep!

When did you decide you wanted to write?
I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember (just ask my siblings and other kids I babysat!), but I didn’t become a writer until the mid-80s, when a transfer took the family to Richmond and I accepted a job as “neighborhood correspondent” for a local newspaper. One thing led to another, and soon, I was writing feature and business articles, real estate pieces, and a book column…for their competitors!

When the family returned to Baltimore, I didn’t even try finding a “real job,” and, after showing my clip book to some editors here, the assignments began rolling in. The switch to fiction happened when I noticed a disturbing trend: Far too many editors/publications were changing salient facts to appease advertisers, forcing the question “If you’re going to (in effect) write fiction, why not write a novel!”

And the result was Pocketful of Promises, which earned “Readers’ Choice Best Contemporary” that year. By then it was too late to get a “real job,” because I was completely addicted to the work!

Did your parents encourage your love for reading and/or writing?
My mom showed me a notebook once, filled with stories she’d written in high school. And my dad was always writing poetry–lovey-dovey stuff mostly–for her. So while neither of them said anything specific about writing or reading (especially not as a career), I guess you’d say words are in my DNA.

How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?
Of the 100+ novels I’ve written, 88 have been contracted (and 84 are now available). With the publication of A Man of Honor, For Love of Eli, and my new series with Harlequin’s “Heartwarming” line, the on-the-shelves number will grow a bit.

My first article appeared in the Baltimore Sun magazine section in 1986; the first novel in 1994. When you’ve been at this as long as I have, you tend to have written a little bit of everything!  Kids’ books, anthologies, non-fiction, and romance (of the contemporary and historical varieties) that include elements of suspense and/or mystery are among my “output.” I wish I could say I have a favorite “type” or “era,” but the truth is, I love what I do, so it doesn’t matter if the characters live in 1890s Texas or current-day New York City!

Wow, with that kind of prolific nature, what is your writing schedule like? Do you write only when inspired?
If I only wrote when I was inspired (i.e., “when I feel like it”), I’d never get anything done! Yes, writing is an artsy-fartsy way to earn a living, but it’s a job, nonetheless. And as such, we who choose this as our profession need to approach it as a business.

My office is my workplace. I don’t pay bills, do taxes, or play games in there. (Well, okay, except for the occasional game of Spider Solitaire.) Once I sit down at the computer, I’m in another world…and I don’t leave it until I’ve hammered out at least one reasonably solid scene.

I begin by reading and editing what I wrote yesterday. Then, having reconnected with the characters and storyline, I dive in to the next scene.

How did you study the craft of writing?
At first, it was mostly by trial and error. And when I got tired of banging my head on brick walls and coming away with nothing but a bruised forehead, I borrowed some how-to books from the library, and purchased the ones that “spoke” to me. The ones I refer to most often are:

Creating Character Emotions

Elements of Fiction Writing – Characters & Viewpoint

Techniques of the Selling Writer

The First Five Pages

The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

I also signed up for writing classes. Joined some writers’ organizations. Attended a few conferences. Like the proverbial rolling stone that gathers moss, layer by layer, the stuff I picked up stuck.

How did you get your first book published? How long did it take? Is there any advice you have for aspiring authors?
It took about 6 months to write Pocketful of Love, my first published novel. I’d already done the research, a careful market study, read a tall stack of how-to books, and attended several classes. The books written before that? The ones that are in boxes in the closet? I hadn’t done any of that preliminary stuff, and every one came back with a big fat THANKS, BUT NO THANKS stuck to the cover page.

In most industries, it’s true that “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” In the writing world, the exact opposite is true. Because how can someone who isn’t selling tell you what’s working…and what isn’t?

So, if there’s a secret to publication, it’s this: Y’gotta go to school and y’hafta pay your dues.

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With more than 3,000,000 4- and 5-star books in circulation, reviewers and readers alike have called best-selling author Loree Lough “a gifted storyteller whose novels touch hearts and change lives.” Loree lives near Baltimore and loves spending time at her little cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she loves to show off her knack for correctly identifying “critter tracks.” She loves to hear from readers (who can email her via http://www.loreelough.com) and answers every letter, personally.

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