Guarding Suzannah

Meet Norah Wilson!

I’ve been reading romance my whole life, but I was 35 before I tried writing it. It looked easy, but I quickly learned it was anything but. I joined RWA, studied the craft, and in 2001 finalled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest. I repeated that feat in 2002 and 2003. I then won the New Voice in Romance contest and got published (LAUREN’S EYES, 2004). I now have nine self-published titles, some written with writing partner Heather Doherty. I live in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, with my husband, two adult kids, a rottie-lab mix and numerous rats (the pet kind).

Did you ever want to quit writing? Why or why not?

It was a long road to publication, but I always knew that if I persevered, it would happen. And it did. But there was at least one time when I was severely tempted to quit. I think it was after my third Golden Heart final. I was able to get agents and editors to read my stuff, no problem, but I was always just missing the target. I was so incredibly discouraged. My inner monologue went something like this: “I can’t write a better book that this. If New York doesn’t want this, I’m never going to sell a book.” Let me tell you, it was terrifying, contemplating walking away. Admitting defeat. I was in a black funk for days. But then one morning, my stubbornness reasserted itself and I was back. I could write a better book. Just watch me!

What are your writing career goals? (i.e. to write 2 books a year? To hit the NY Bestsellers List? To sell 100 books a month?)

At this stage of my life, I want to make writing my full time job. I’ve never had that luxury before, but self-publishing has really changed the landscape for me. That said, given how quickly the industry has been transformed in the last 18 months, I’m not even going to try to predict what tomorrow might bring.

Have you truly mastered grammar and sentence structure? Do you feel 100% confident about every comma in your book?

I’m no grammarian, that’s for sure. On the other hand, I don’t strive to sound like a grammarian. I strive to sound like a cop or a cowboy or a 200-year-old vampire or a lawyer or a nurse. J Seriously, I think my mastery is adequate to the task, or so my agent says.

How many pages do you think you could write in one day if you had zero interruptions from 8 AM to 8 PM?

Oh, wow! An uninterrupted 12 hour stretch…. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those. I think I could probably produce maybe 20-25 pages, as long as they’re not the first pages. Beginnings take me forever! I have to get off on the right track or nothing works. If I’m nearing the end of the book, I tend to write faster. It’s like I’m going downhill. J

How do you think (take a guess) writers like Nora Roberts write so many books in a year?
Not just books – great books. It just boggles my mind. Presuming she hasn’t managed to clone herself, I imagine she does it with a lot of hard work, discipline and sacrifice.

What would be easier for you to write, a sex scene or a murder scene?

Oh, I love writing both! But if I have to pick, I’ll take the sex scene. The murder scene strikes me as more a part of the external plot, the thing you need to have happen to trigger (ha!) your story question. Whereas the sex scene (love scene) is more about the internal journey. I do incorporate sex in my books, and those scenes tend to be very sensual. However, they’re never gratuitous. When my characters have sex, something always changes about the dynamics of their relationship. Bonds are being forged, characters transformed. Luckily, it doesn’t happen all at once, which gives me lots of chances to write sex scenes. <g> Also, I like to turn the tenderness quotient up as those intimate bonds are tightened.

If you were allowed to have only ONE book (of yours) for sale on Amazon and B&N, which book would you select? Why do you think readers might enjoy it?

Oh, what a cruel, cruel question! That’s like being asked to pick between your children. But I’ll do it. ,-) If I could leave but one story up, I think it would be Guarding Suzannah. It’s the first in my Serve and Protect series and features Detective John (Quigg) Quigley and criminal defense attorney Suzannah Phelps. John may be one of the least macho guys I’ve ever written, but I love his steady strength and protective nature, and he was tailor-made for Suzannah. I adore their love story. But I’d pick that one for another reason – I chose that book to immortalize my own beloved Bandicoot. Bandy was my constant companion, following me from room to room and lying at my feet as I wrote for 11 years. I gave him life again in this book. And I promise, the eccentricities displayed by the fictional Bandy are not exaggerations.

Any advice for new writers just getting started?

Learn the craft. Put in your apprenticeship. They say you  need to write a million words before you’re proficient, and I think that’s about right. Today, you can slap your first book up at Smashwords and Amazon with very little trouble. The issue is, should you? For most of us, in retrospect, that would be a resounding, God, no! Unfortunately, new writers are not the best judges of their own work. I know I sure wasn’t. Every time I finished a manuscript, I was proud of it. I truly felt it was the best work I could produce. And it was, with the skill level I had at the time. If Smashwords had been available then, maybe I’d have self-published those early works (shudder). I submit that If you haven’t spent a number of years studying your craft, critiquing and being critiqued, entering contests and addressing judges’ comments, maybe you’re not ready. If you’re not getting positive feedback from agents or editors on near misses, maybe you’re not ready. But if you’re determined to publish sooner rather than later, you  might want to invest in some professional editing. Future you will thank you.

Thank you, Norah!

Thanks for having me, Theresa. It’s been a blast!


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Twitter:      !/norah_wilson


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