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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
INTERVIEW: ANGELA ADAMS
"I have two pen names," she confessed. "I started using a pen name to write book reviews. Then I took a second name for fiction to separate the two. I was looking for something that was easy to say and remember, so I became Angela Adams."
Angela told me that she's kept a journal for as long as she can remember.
"English/Composition, now known in schools as Language Arts, was always my favorite subject," she remembered. "As far as starting to write to be published, I was a Liberal Arts major in college with a lot of English classes. I started submitting stories that I wrote for class to the small, literary magazines."
So, she admits she's been writing "many, many years." It's not so much a matter of what inspired her to write, it was a matter of who inspired—as in encouraged—her grandmother.
"At ten years old, I was writing short stories that were about two copybook pages long. There were no computers back then. I showed my grandmother a hand-written story about a young woman waiting to go to Hollywood to be an actress, and after the typical grandmotherly sentiments, she added, 'You need a typewriter.' She got me one that Christmas."
"When did you first consider yourself a writer?" I asked.
"Before transferring to the university in Vermont, I started classes at a local community college. The college had a writing contest each semester. My second year attending, I won for short fiction. So along with the accolades from friends, family, and professors came a check, all of which made me feel like a writer. I went on to sell that story several years later, but it was that initial recognition of winning the award that made me feel like a writer."
In recent years, Angela told me that she's become a big Robyn Carr and Susan Mallery fan, because she's all for that Happy Ever After ending.
"Plus, both these authors write characters who endear themselves to the reader," she explained. "I love Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, mostly because the place, Virgin River, leaves me nostalgic for the small town in Vermont where I went to college. This summer, after I read in a trade magazine that she had just signed to write nine more books in the series, I sat down and read each Virgin River book again, back to back. There was no waiting for the next book to be released since I only had to grab it off my shelf. I read all fifteen books in about two weeks. It was great, like watching a mini-series on television.
"Susan Mallery is another author who writes series. I love her Fool’s Gold series. Especially her third book, Finding Perfect, since we got to see the teenager from a previous series, Raoul Moreno, as an adult male/hero."
For Angela, the most important elements of good writing center around the central characters, or in romance—the hero and heroine.
"If the hero isn’t someone I can fall in love with and the heroine, not the co-worker I want to meet for lunch and swap stories about our lousy work day, then I’m not really interested in what happens to them in the story," she said. "I feel strongly that if readers care about the characters, they want to know what happens with them.
"And I’m not saying that I have to identify with the characters or their dilemmas. I have friends whose point of view I can’t understand. But they have other qualities that I admire. They’re supportive, honest, compassionate. Those are the traits I look for in my characters, both those I read and those I create."
Because of this, in her own writing, the characters always come first. She will figure out who they are, give them qualities and traits, then will say to herself, "Okay, if this should happen, what would he/she do?" In "Burgers and Hot Chocolate," Kelly was created first, then Will, and Theresa was last. Then, Angela mused over a situation that could bring them together.
I asked her to tell us a little bit about this latest project.
"I kind of have The Long and Short Reviews to thank for being involved with Whimsical Publications and this project. I view LASR and Whipped Cream websites weekly, always checking out the Thrifty Thursday Short Story and Author Interview. One week, I was clicking on the banner ads, and I saw Whimsical Publications’ notice that they were looking for short stories for a winter anthology.
"A collection of nine stories, Winter Wonders, was released on December 12th. Authors like Janet Durbin ("If Only"), Sharon Donovan ("Christmas Angel"), Regina Puckett ("Hearts of Fire"), and Melissa Hosack ("Saving Santa") have previous books with Whimsical. Also included in the anthology are S.M. Senden ("Till Death Do Us Part"), Paul McDermott, ("Long Winter"), Jenny Twist ("Mantequero"), Jane Wakely ("Christmas Hope"). The unique feature of this book is the variety. There’s a mixture of contemporary romance along with a melancholy tone and a bit of the paranormal.
"If I had to describe my story, "Burgers and Hot Chocolate", in one word, that word would be 'heartwarming'. Set during the holiday season, in the small coastal village of Magic Lake Island (I combined my fondness for small town Vermont with my love of the New Jersey shore), "Burgers and Hot Chocolate", is the story of a widower, his five-year-old daughter, and a volunteer in the elementary school’s After School Program.
"Will Keegan just doesn’t know how to let Theresa Reynolds know he’s interested in her. At the school’s holiday concert, little Kelly does her part to get her father’s message across."
Angela likes to listen to the radio when she's writing. Sometimes, a song she hears, the title, a line from the song, or whoever is singing will give her an idea for a story title. The radio is also useful in coming up with the names of her characters.
"I’m a big baseball fan, and several times while I’ve been listening to a game, the first name of the player who came up to bat became the name of my character," she shared.
She also listens to a lot of classic rock and the oldies.
"I was writing part of "Burgers and Hot Chocolate" when the Four Tops started singing and they ended up in my story (along with a few other of my favorites like The Supremes and The Beatles). I typed a line and said to myself, 'that works,'" she told me.
I asked her to tell us about her favorite character.
"My grandmother was a big reader and she would pass her paperbacks on to me. She gave me a book, when I was maybe 12 or 13, titled Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith. Published in the 1960s and set in pre-depression era New York, the heroine Annie McGairy Brown, comes to New York to be with her law student husband, Carl. They have little money, no friends, and are pretty much ostracized from their families for getting married so young. She also gets pregnant. Annie is a strong person who faces every challenge thrown her way with a positive disposition and confident outlook.
"Although this book was written over fifty years ago, Annie is exactly the type of heroine a writer wants to write and a reader wants to read no matter what the time period."