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Saturday, June 25, 2011
Author Interview: Joanne Troppello
The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Joanne Troppello. Joanne is currently focusing on a new project, a mystery with the working title Island Honeymoon.
Joanne has always wanted to be a writer. She started writing her senior year in high school and kept working on her first novel, editing it time and again, until she felt ready to submit it for publication. She worked full time in various office environments until 2008, when she launched her home-based freelance writing/marketing business. She has experienced writer's block before and told me it's not always easy to get back into the writing mode when you're going through that. She makes herself sit in front of the computer and tries to brainstorm or free write. Listening to music also inspires her, but her best weapon is preventive measures like making sure she writes some every day, whether in her daily blog, her current WIP, or other writing projects. When Joanne is working, she usually follows similar procedures in going from idea to book. Her first step is to try to come up with a title.
"It’s always a working title because my first idea is not usually the end result for the title," she explained.
After that, she works on the chapter outline—the plot comes to her before any character development.
"I try to be as detailed as possible," she said, "with the realization in the back of my mind that as the story progresses, the chapter outline will most likely need to be changed to allow my characters the chance to tell their own stories."
"What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?" I asked.
"A great story that draws the reader in is very important. You need to maintain a strong point of view, without head hopping from character to character. Another important element is to create engaging dialogue and make sure to show your readers the story line and not tell them. Create characters that the reader wants to get to know and is sorry to leave them when the book is over."
Two of her favorite contemporary authors do just that—capture the reader's attention, maybe in different ways, but with the same goal in mind…to immerse the reader into the world of the characters and allow the reader to witness their growth through the story. Her favorite literary writer, Jane Austen, was a big inspiration for Joanne's second book Mr. Shipley's Governess. I asked her to tell us a little bit about it.
"My latest book, Mr. Shipley’s Governess is a contemporary inspirational romance, with a classic feel. My protagonist, Sophie Baird is looking for a way to escape the painful reality of her parents' deaths. Unable to live in their home any longer, she takes a job as a live-in tutor to Anastasia Shipley to remove herself from her painful memories and the feeling that God has abandoned her. Anastasia has an illness that has prevented her from ever attending school and makes her father, Sebastian, over protective. When Sophie first meets Sebastian, she cannot deny the intense attraction she feels toward him. When an unexpected romance begins between them, she starts to rebuild her relationship with God, with the help of a certain little girl."
Jane Austen was influential in another part of Joanne's life, as well. She used to have a pair of cats named Mr. Knightly and Emma. Sadly, she developed allergies to pet dander and had to give them away, but cats still remain her favorite animal.
Joanne shared with me that she doesn't like having her picture taken and doesn't like to be the center of attention.
"I think that’s one reason why I like writing so much," she mused. "I can escape to another world and write about characters that are different than me."
"What a saying you use a lot?" I wondered.
"Just ask my husband and he’ll tell you that I say whatever all the time. Now that’s not a saying, but more my trademark word. I’m trying to work on that, though; after all, we’re all a work in progress, right?"
Sometimes Joanne thinks she'd like to know what the future holds, but then reality sets in.
"I realize that would be a disaster for me," she told me. "I’d rather live my life to the fullest every moment and trust the future to God. He has everything in His hands anyway."
Her faith is something she strives to share in her writing and is, in fact, the inspiration for her writing. She wants to write compelling stories about the journeys of faith that her characters are taking.
On a personal note, I asked her if she were a morning or night person. "I am a night person who is married to a morning person so that makes for some interesting differences. When my husband and I go to the gym at 6:30 in the morning, I barely talk to him until 20 minutes later when the cardio is done. I’m just getting started later on in the evening and love to talk and he’s nodding off to sleep in his chair."
She loves thunderstorms, but only if she's nice and cozy inside. She hates driving in the rain and doesn't like being outside when it's lightning. They have huge windows in their house, however, and have a great view of lightning from inside.
At night, though, the lights have to be off and she has to have total quiet and no distractions in order to fall asleep.
Finally, I asked her what advice she would give to a new writer just starting out.
"My most important advice is to keep writing. If you want to be a writer, you need to write. Wishing you were a writer on the best seller list is not going to get you there. You need to combine those hopes and dreams with a strong work ethic and hard work…then anything is possible. Once your book is signed with a publisher, you need to get a website set up. There are many good free websites out there, like www.weebly.com you can utilize until you begin to get a good investment on your book and then you might want to switch to a fee-based website like www.godaddy.com. After you establish your website, you should set up accounts on Facebook (a fan page is suggested, not just your own personal page), Twitter and LinkedIn and any other social media networking sites; however those three are the most currently utilized sites. Really try to create a strong online presence for your name, not just for your book titles. Try to network with other local authors to schedule book signings and readings. Always be active in self-promotion of your work. You are your most avid fan and you need to utilize that factor. No one cares about your success more than you; use that fervor to your advantage and never stop marketing yourself."
You can keep up with Joanne on her blog, http://joannetroppello.weebly.com/blog.html