Thursday, February 19, 2009

My FIRST friend

I recently joined facebook. I didn't say anything to anybody, but then suddenly I had a friend named Lucy Clark.

My first friend! It was very exciting—I didn’t know anything about Lucy, but then I found out she’s an author and I thought it would be fun to interview her. She turned out to be very gracious, and totally hilarious, too.

Lucy: total writing dynamo
Lucy has been writing medical romances for well over a decade. In an interview on five scribes, she explains that she started by writing "Sweet" romances (a.k.a. tender romances in the UK and Harlequin Romance in the US) and being rejected, and then heard Mills & Boon were looking for Medical Romance authors.

As a secretary to 3 orthopaedic surgeons, she had some insider knowledge of the whole thing, so she wrote 3 chapters, a synopsis and sent it off. Eventually they requested the whole manuscript (months later) and many months later suggested changes. That book became A Surgeon's Care, released in 1996.

Since then she’s written 40 books, which have been translated into more than 20 languages!!!

The interview
Carolyn Jean: Lucy, first of all, thanks for being my first facebook friend! I was very excited to meet somebody totally new as my first friend, and then I looked at your site and saw you have many books published, and that you are a husband-wife writing team! First off, who am I talking to right now? Both of you?

Lucy: I was astonished to be your first facebook friend. I went to your website, clicked on the link expecting there to be a plethora and was quite delighted to be No. 1. I've never been No. 1 like that before. Quite an honour :) As for who are you talking to, why you're talking to Me... Lucy. My husband, Pete, isn't the interviewing kind although he'd gladly put his 2 cents worth in if I let him but I don't. I'm such a good wife like that. (Some would say controlling but I think not!)

Carolyn Jean: It’s an honor to be your friend, too. I can’t believe you have 40 books now out there! You are really making it as an author; I find that so inspiring. So, tell me about your most recent book.

Lucy: The next book out is... (Lucy wanders around the house, checking next book cover on her book cover wall... hmm... it's not there. She checks in recent boxes of books... no just translations. Hmm... what is the next book out? Searches for note book which has list written in it and... ah ha - victory. Back to computer to answer question.)

CJ, the next Lucy Clark book out is titled A Mother For His Twins. (Note - PLEASE note - I do not choose any of my titles!!) It is about... (Lucy tries to think back to Feb 2008 when she started writing this book... brain slowly clicks in) ... Jennifer - a doctor who has loved and lost (dead fiancé) and thrown herself into her work.

She moves "home" to Sydney after many years away, to work at the hospital where she initially did her medical training but this time, she's back as the new head of unit. Her colleague and 2nd in charge is Jasper Edwards. (man I love the name Jasper... er... sorry) Jasper is a widower of two gorgeous 4 year old girls. He's not looking for love and neither is Jennifer yet when they meet - sparks do tend to fly (the emotive kind not the axe grinding kind).

Oh and as a side note - my daughter chose the names for the twin girls - Lilly and Lola and if you're wondering (as I know you would be) where she pulled these names from - try Hannah Montana.

Carolyn Jean: That’s cute they chose the names from Hannah Montana! I like the name Jasper, too. In fact, I wanted to name our cat that, but my husband wanted Tiberius - after, you guessed it - James Tiberius Kirk. Tiberius uses Kirk’s fighting style of going on her back and flipping her opponent.

Anyway, what's it like team writing with your husband? How exactly does the process go?

Lucy: We tend to plan the books together. We drive out to this great bakery/cafe at Meadows which is about 20 mins from our house and we brainstorm and create about 2-3 books. Some are linked. Some aren't. Meadows is just such a beautiful spot, the inspiration really flows.

Then I write the first draft, Pete gives me notes. I write the second draft, Pete gives me notes. I write yet another draft and yet more notes are given. Then we try to read the ms out loud before sending it off to the editor (who is in London) who then comes back with more notes and we do yet another draft and so on and so forth until the book is "yippee-ki-yay" accepted. Also, when the proofs come in, I read these out loud whilst Pete follows the story on the computer so we can see what the eds have changed.

Carolyn Jean: How long does it take you to write a book like that?

Lucy: What a loaded question! (and here is the involved and very boring answer oh and you must take into account that these books are only 50,000-55,000 words) The first draft I usually try to get done as quickly as possible so do a “hit” of a 10-14 day run. I attempt to write a chapter (first draft between 3,500-4,000 words) per day.

By day 6 or 7, I'm totally wiped and rely on direct IV injections of caffeine into my veins. Normally, the week after I've finished the draft, I'm in caffeine withdrawals but happy that the draft is done. Nora Robert's famous words are what I live by - “You can fix a bad page, you can't fix a blank page.”

We then start on the drafts and get it tighter to send it over to the ed. We can wait anywhere up to a month or more to hear back from her and then the revision process begins. This can be anywhere from a few days to do the re-writes or a few months. I once had to re-write a book 5 times, 3 different eds worked on it with me (and of course they all wanted something different) and by the time I'd finished, I was exhausted. Two other books of mine were bought before this poor book finally made it through with the words “ACCEPTED” stamped on it. The shortest time frame I've ever had was 17 days. I wrote the draft in 10 days, I took 5 days to edit it and sent if off. The ed got back to me 2 days later saying she loved it and was putting it through to acquisition no revisions necessary. That, of course, rarely happens.

Out of 42 books – only 3 have gone through with no revisions. I have to keep telling myself that “anyone” can write but a “real writer” can re-write.

Carolyn Jean: (revealing herself as an ignorant, geography challenged American) Just to confirm, you live in Australia - Big city, small town, outback?

Lucy: We live in South Australia, just south of Adelaide which is the major capital city of SA. We're in the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula which boasts a big wine making region. In fact, where we live used to be all vineyards so we still have lots of vines down the road. So... city living I guess is the right answer.

Carolyn Jean: What a beautiful place that looks like. Wow. And Australian wines are the best. Like Shiraz. So are any of your books available in the US? (It looks like not retail, but otherwise?)

Lucy: The Medical Romance books are available via the internet at eharlequin and you can also subscribe to receive them direct.

So in this method, you'll receive 4-6 Medical Romances delivered straight to your door every month. You can subscribe online. Other than that, they are sold retail but only in certain stores so if you feel like bothering your local Waldens or Barnes and Noble book seller to stock the Medical Romances, then feel free. I'd be eternally grateful.

[CJ note: I also noticed you can download Children's Doctor, Christmas bride and other of Lucy's books from Mills & Boon UK.]

* * *

City Surgeon, Outback Bride by Lucy Clark came out this past fall. I love the plot of this one:
A highly successful, happily married Sydney surgeon, Henry Harcourt once had everything – until he lost his wife. Two years on, he's about to have his first taste of Outback life – and an unforgetable encounter with the local GP: beautiful, bubbly Rayne Hudson!
 Henry sees the generosity in Rayne as she cares for the close-knit community and raises a little orphaned girl. But there is a secret vulnerability hidden away in her heart. Together they could find what they've both been longing for – if the city surgeon can convince Rayne that she should be his bride.

* * *

Lucy: Also, if you'd like the Medical Romances to be available to you on the shelf at your local bookstore (as they are available to other readers the world over) then email Harlequin and let them know this. The greater support we have to get the Medical Romances retail in North America, the better.

I mean, everyone else in the world (I'm talking Hungary, The Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, the UK, Australasia – everyone) can walk into their bookstores and buy a Medical Romance but you can't do it in NA. (you can in South America, btw. The sell extremely well there, oh and in France. They LOVE us in France.)

The reason Harlequin have told us they're not available retail is that the medical terminology is slightly different in the UK and Down Under than in the US and they think readers won't understand. Personally, I don't think our NA readers are that thick and actually see them as highly intelligent. Whilst most of the authors are indeed situated outside the US, there are now 5 Medical Romance authors who are indeed American.

Shows like ER and Grey's Anatomy prove that the books will indeed sell so here's hoping that 2009 is the year our NA readers can actually get a bit of McDreamy loving by walking into their nearest Waldens or Barnes & Noble and purchasing a Medical Romance straight off the shelf!

Carolyn Jean: I came to romance really recently (through paranormals and urban fantasy-I only JUST read my first contemp this year) anyway, the medical romance category is totally new to me, but it sounds really fun and fascinating. How 'medical' do medical romances get? Do the plots turn on the outcomes of various operations? Do you get descriptive about procedures, or is it more that the heroes or heroines happen to be a doctors in a hospital setting?

Lucy: Medical Romances have actually changed a lot in the past decade. They used to contain quite a lot of medical but nowadays, it's very much the ER/Grey's Anatomy sort of thing. The characters just happen to be doctors/nurses/medical professionals and it's their lives we're really interested in. The medical is very secondary to the romance.

Carolyn Jean: You know how this is sort of also a coincidence? I used to be kind of a hypochondriac, and in my forthcoming book, my character is one, too, and she is forced to go around pretending to be a nurse and convincing diabolical villains that they have weird diseases. It’s a long story why. (That is sort of unethical, I know. I hope you will not unfriend me!)

But I’m kind of glad there isn’t a ton of medical procedure in medical romances, because that would scare me! But shows like ER, etc. are fun. Also, I used to watch a soap opera that had lots of doctors in it, too. There is a lot of drama connected with medicine that is not directly on the operating table.

Lucy: I am so with you on that. When I first started writing, I would do mounds of research and now I don't have to do so much. It's sort of 'big medical words, lots of action, oh quick the patient is going to die, ahh we saved their lives. We are “big damn heroes”. Fall in love with me because I'm gorgeous. The end.'

Actually, no, that's not quite true. There are other things in the middle a lot of yummy docs and medical staff but – that's generally the gist of it :) Think Grey's Anatomy and Scrubs (although with out the creepy Janitor!) This way, I think is better for the reader.

I once had someone tell me (earlier on) that they needed to read one of my books with a medical dictionary beside them. If that's the case then it doesn't make for a fun read. However, all medical MUST be accurate and up-to-date because some medical professionals do read these books. In fact, a lot of my med writing colleagues are nurses/doctors. It's great because we all help each other out on-line with questions and research and stuff like that as well as providing support for each other (usually when revisions come in!!).

And how dare you even think that I'd unfriend you. I'm your first official facebook friend. I'm adding that fact to my résumé!!!

Carolyn Jean: I understand you're a fan of the great Joss (YAY JOSS!!!!) And Nathan Fillion. If you cast Nathan (his Firefly persona) in one of your books, what sort of doc would you make him?

Lucy: Oh Joss (I'm not worthy) is such a brilliant writer. I so want to be like him when I grow up. He has taught me so much about writing, more than any course or editor and I love listening to his DVD commentaries. Such wise words. But anyway, I could gush all day long (and probably not bore you because y'all would join in) and that's not what this is all about. The question is about Nathan - and again, I could gush all day long. A brilliant actor and a very funny man. A lot of actors can't be funny without a script in front of them, but not Nathan.

He is totally funny on his own (and incredibly delish too). I have - in a way - cast him already in a medical romance. "Her Very Special Baby" (remember - I don't chose the titles!) had all the character names from Firefly and Serenity in it. The protagonists were Nathan and Morena and I not only managed to get the character names in but the actors names as well. (the dog was called Jayne)

I tend to do this with a lot of books - when needing to come up with character names. I've done a Doctor Who book (big Doctor Who fan) and in the past I've done a lot of Star Trek names as well (although I don't remember using Tiberius. Note to self – must do that in a future book).

I do, most of the time, have a "hero" in mind when I'm writing. I'll pick an actor I just adore and he's my pin up boy for that book. The problem is that I don't like to re-use them. Once the character has come to life, I can't use that same actor as inspiration again which means I'm forever on the look out for new gorgeous hunky guys to become my pin ups. Ahh... the life of a romance writer. Such a hardship!

Carolyn Jean: I am weeping tears of pity for such a hardship! Truly! Okay, this has been really fun, first friend! Thanks so much for indulging me! See you on Facebook, Lucy.

More on Lucy and her books here.
Learn more about Lucy in this interview.
For more on medical romance, check out this blog.


Jill Sorenson said...

Aw, Lucy's books look cute. Great interview! I used to be a baby hater, as far as romance goes, but now I've switched alliances and gone to the dark side.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I read and enjoyed Teresa Carpenter's Baby Twins: Parents Needed!

Jenre said...

What a great interview, CJ. Lucy sounds like a really lovely lady, with such a passion for her writing.

Carolyn Jean said...

Jill: As a non-child haver, I don't get overly excited about romances with kids, but the ones I have read with kids, like Sugar Daddy, I've really enjoyed.

Jenre: It's been fun having her be my friend. Hey, I hope you never change your avatar.

Tracy said...

Great interview! I have to admit that I've been looking at the medical books over at eharlequin and haven't taken the plunge yet. I think I might have to start!

Lilly and Lola - I know those names since my girls watch HM. Too funny that you're daughter picked those Lucy.

Ladytink_534 said...

What a good interview (and I just love the pics of McDreamy even if I don't really watch the show anymore)! Sounds like an interesting first friend!

naida said...

great interview!
40 books translated into more than 20 languages is very impressive.
a husband-wife writing team sounds very cool.
i'll have to check out that medical romance blog.

Sarai said...

Awesome interview! That's amazing that you guys met that way LOL see facebook isn't evil not at all. It is however, a time suck.

M. said...

Holy thorough interview, Batman! And how cool and serendipitous to find another writerly friend across time and space and continents (or something like that).

Kwana said...

Great interview. What a cool first friend. They are a powerhouse team.

Li said...

Excellent interview! I used to read Medical Romances now and again at university, but not recently. Hmmm... if they've become more like Grey's Anatomy, I may have to pick one up again!

Katie Reus said...

Great interview! That's so funny how her daughter picked the names :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Wonderful interview! I'm glad you two found each other. You seem well suited.

And I approve of Lucy's message!

Amy Andrews said...

Another medical author popping in to say yay! to Lucy and Carolyn finding each other.
Great interview. Great pics.
Great twins cover Lucy.

Serena said...

great interview...I had no idea you were on facebook...I'll have to go tag you!