Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I write women’s fiction under the pen name, Blair McDowell. A retired university professor, I have six professional books and numerous articles under my own name. But fiction has always been my first love.
I’m a voracious reader and I love to travel as well. Fortunately, my professional career took me to many interesting places. I’ve lived in The U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia and I’ve traveled farther. All my experiences in those places are grist for the mill of my writing.
I love being on or in the water. I have a small house on a tiny untouristic tropical island. I spend my winters there, walking, swimming and writing. The summer months I run a B&B on Canada’s rugged and beautiful west coast. And in the fall I travel—usually to Italy or Greece.
What inspired you to start writing?
I have no memory of a time after the age of six when I wasn’t writing. As a child I wrote stories and long, long letters to friends, to my grandmother, to my cousin in distant South Carolina. Once I started working I always seem to be the one asked to write the report or send an article to the paper/journal. If there was a job requiring writing, I ended up with it.
But when did I consciously decide to write a book? I was a student in Hungary. The Russian occupation army was still there. It required a special visa for me to get in and out of the country. I was studying at the Liszt Academy of Music and observing some of the best teaching I had ever seen in my life. I simply had to write about it. The result was the first of six professional books I wrote, all still in print.
And what was your first story?
I was eight and the story was called “Twins in Double Trouble”. My teacher was not impressed.
Are you a planner? Or do you dive straight into writing?
I’m a planner, to the point of being obsessive. Everything has to be completed—the plot outlined, the settings chosen and described, the character studies written, before I write the first lines of my novel. That’s not to say my characters don’t sometimes deviate from my careful constructions. Oddly, once I start the actual writing, the characters take on their own lives and sometimes they simply refuse to go along with my plans for them. Alyssa James in Sonata is an extreme case in point. I wanted her to be a real bitch and she simply wouldn’t cooperate.
If you could write anybody's biography, whose would it be?
I’d say Casanova’s but he did it admirably himself. Then I’d say Mozart’s. But again two marvelous biographies of Mozart already exist. Perhaps the Italian sculptor, Bernini. He led a thoroughly dissolute and very interesting life and died young. I love his work, and I don’t think any biographer has yet done him justice.
What is your favourite book and why?
I can never answer this question. It’s frustrating. While I read constantly and some of what I read is far from inspiring, I’ve read too many truly great books to say one is my favorite. At different stages of my life, different books have touched me. I suppose if I had to answer I’d say poetry stays with me the longest. The love poems of John Donne sit on the top of my desk, beside Keats and Byron and Shelley.
What advice would you give new and aspiring authors?
READ! Only through knowing the best writing can you ever hope to achieve anything worthwhile. And WRITE. Write every day. Make writing as much a part of your life as eating and sleeping. And once you have the book written, start sending it off to agents and publishers. And keep sending it. Don’t be discouraged by rejections. Every writer gets rejections. And last, listen to advice. If some editor takes the time to tell you what he/she thinks is wrong with your book, listen and take advantage of it. It always takes me three drafts on every book before I know I’ve done the best I can.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on that all-important third draft of a woman-in-peril, chase story, Romantic Road. A recent widow, Lacy Telchev is sent, by her husband’s last words to her, across Europe on a perilous quest to retrieve hidden sections of an expose he had been writing when he unexpectedly died. She is pursued by dangerous men down Germany’s Romantische Strasse, across Austria and finally to a shattering climax on the shores of Hungary’s Lake Balaton. She narrowly escapes death on more than one occasion, aided by a mysterious and handsome stranger, Max Petersen.
Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
Sonata is a mystery/romance set on Canada’s spectacular west coast, in Vancouver and on the Sunshine Coast. It’s a locale I know well since I live there, facing the sea with the snow-capped coastal mountains at my back.
Internationally renowned concert artist, Sayuri McAllister, returns home to Vancouver to discover her home has been broken into and a fortune in jewelry is missing. The detective assigned to the case is none other than Michael Donovan, her old high-school sweetheart, from whom she parted on less than good terms some ten years earlier.
Michael is still in love with Sayuri, but what hope can there be for a mere cop with someone famous like Sayuri, especially since the robbery looks like an inside job and Sayuri’s father and his new finance are prime suspects?
Then things take a dangerous turn and Michael begins to believe Sayuri’s life may be in danger.
Thanks for having me as your guest.
My contact info is as follows:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Blair-McDowell/e/B006SVPNHA/
My books are available in both paperback and ebook format from Amazon.com
And in E-book format only from Barnes & Noble.com and All RomanceEbooks.com. All purchase links are available on my books’ pages on my website.
Thanks to Blair for sharing her thoughts with us, on Wednesday we welcome Elizabeth Los to the hot seat.