It's our pleasure to welcome Louise Behiel to our blog. From Calgary she is a writer, therapist, mother, grandmother and dog lover. She says she listens to Country Music and watches CSI ( in all three cities) and Criminal Minds. A reader of romance, self-help, and spiritual books, she loves anything by Wayne Dyer or Deepak Chopra. She doesn't go to movies but usually has a radio playing nearby. I've read her book and can recommend it to anyone who likes a story with deep well developed characters. Louise is here to talk about her book FAMILY TIES, how she got published, and her intricate life as a new author. Louise, thank you for joining our blog to talk about your book, and your writing career. If you find this interview of value, please leave a comment for Louise.
Louise Behiel on her journey…
What is this journey like for you?
Long, to say the least. I started writing in 1996. I joined RWA, went to conferences, entered a few contests, and worked with a couple of critique groups. I got close to landing an agent or a deal a couple of times, but.... as they say, close only counts in hand grenades. It was so frustrating.
What happened that made you sit down and write that first novel?
I’m an anomaly, I think. I had no desire to write. Ever. At all. I was way too practical to spend time on something that wouldn’t generate an income. But, one day as I prepared to take the last class of my Master’s degree, everything went sideways. The start of the course was delayed by eight weeks. It felt like my whole life was on hold. The next morning I was sitting at the table, in my jammies, drinking a coffee and a small voice in my head said “you’ve read so many romances, why don’t you write one?”
As if. I knew nothing about writing. And to prove it I wrote fifty pages! So of course I finished the book. And polished it a bit and then sent it to New York. Done deal. It was rejected (as it should have been) but my name was in a database in the Big Apple. How exciting is that? As a result of that aha, I decided I’d better learn the craft and so began years of classes, conferences, and reading.
What galvanizes you to keep writing?
I actually stopped for a few years. Five years ago I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I decided to stop and give my head a shake. But I had made a serious mistake five years earlier – I founded the Calgary Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Everybody knows as the founder you have to stick around and I did. I wasn’t doing anything official but I kept up my membership. After the AGM last year, (which I didn’t attend), the members of the chapter decided to self publish a series of books (www.banditcreekbooks.com). They kindly invited me to participate. I decided to give it one more shot. But I wasn’t sure I even knew how to write anymore, so I sat down and wrote a full length historical.
On her book and characters…
Could you share a bit about your book and characters?
Family Ties is the first of a series of books placed on Sunset Crescent, in Calgary. The hero is Grayson Mills, a loner, who has no patience for others, especially children. He buys houses, fixes them and flips them and then moves on to the next house. No roots, no ties and no connections.
Andie Mills is a widowed psychologist who has decided to leave the rat race and make a difference, one child at a time. She’s taken in four high-needs foster children. As the book opens, they move into their new home, next door to Gray.
But when an unknown assailant starts tormenting Andie’s family, Gray’s personal code demands that he protect his neighbor and her children. Surrounded by family, Gray’s long dormant childhood nightmares return, driving him to understand their meaning.
Together Andie and Gray face his past, while struggling to keep her family safe and together they forge Family Ties.
What inspired you to write suspenseful romances?
I would love to write exciting, suspenseful thrillers. But I’m not made that way. My brain doesn’t go there. (Believe me, I’ve tried.) As a result, limited suspense is my genre – which you see in Family Ties. Real people who get caught in situations that aren’t atypical and then get to work their way those circumstances to love.
If you had to choose, which scene from FAMILY TIES is your favorite?
I love the scene where one of Andie’s young foster children, (Chloe, who is six) ‘breaks into’ Gray’s home, looking for cookies. She is a determined little girl and she wants a treat.
Interrupted in the shower by a call from his controlling, rigid mother Gray hears a noise in the kitchen. Fortunately for all concerned he has a towel wrapped around his waist when he goes to investigate.
Imagine his surprise at finding a little girl from the rowdy family next door has come through the dilapidated fence between their two properties and into his home. This one event is the beginning of Gray’s journey from that of a loner to a dedicated family man.
Which character was the most difficult to develop?
Because of the work I do, Andie was fairly straight forward to develop, but Gray put me through the hoops. No reader wants a hero who hates kids and Gray starts out that way. But there are good reasons for his behavior and he’s able to evolve. Thank heavens.
On her writing process…
As someone who is a therapist by profession, how has this helped or hindered you in planning your books?
It’s become my biggest asset. I think because of the work I do with clients, I understand why people do what they do. The trick is to think of my characters as clients and then I do a Q & A session or three to get to know them as people.
In reviews of your book, the one thing that was mentioned frequently was ”fascinating complicated hero and real heroine.” How do you give your characters the depth and detail necessary for readers to want to cheer them?
I believe that all of us, people and characters, have excellent reasons for doing what we do. That may be biology or childhood, but the reasons are always there and if I can get deep enough, they are always logical, for that person. Additionally, my professional training taught me to look for the nuances of facial expression and body language, because they always tell the truth. When I know why people do what they do, it’s relatively straight forward to help them move to doing something different.
With characters, this translates into knowing lots about their back story and totally understanding who they are and why they’re that way. Then it’s about creating a situation that will force them to overcome the past and find their essence, or who they were meant to be.
And then reflecting that knowledge into the characters behavior and story.
What challenge or struggle do you face when you try to build emotional bonds between the characters?
I learned very early on that romance requires the three ‘C’s’: Character, conflict and contact. For me, it’s the last two that are the hardest to write. What would logically bring 2 adults together who have no good reason to form a liaison?
Of course, the conflict must exist within them and between them and be strong enough to keep them from falling into a quick relationship. So bring them together for a realistic reason and then have stronger reasons to keep them apart.
How do you, then, go about addressing the part you struggle with.
Time, lots and lots of time. Notes. Interviews with the characters. And exploring lots of possibilities. What are the circumstances that bring people together? Work, neighborhood, church, volunteer boards, etc etc. The challenge is to find the setting that will inspire the contact and keep them together, regardless.
On her personal life as an author…
What do you find most rewarding about your writing career?
I like writing ‘The End’.
The time it took me to decide to indie publish. I almost missed the opportunity and if it hadn’t been for my chapter mates, I would have missed it all.
If you could give writers one small piece of advice, what would it be?
Sometimes continuing to write is not enough, but never, never, never give up on the friendships and community you’ve created. They will pull you along when you aren’t capable of walking on your own.
What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong?
The new writers I know are in a hurry. They don’t take the time for develop the necessary skills and support system it takes to survive in this profession. Everyone I know who has succeeded has approached writing in a professional manner, giving the craft the time to mature and the attention it deserves. It’s not easy for most of us but it takes time to learn that.
What’s next for you?
The second book in this series (FAMILY LIES) will be out late in June or early July. The third of this series will be out in early December. I also have a Bandit Creek novella coming out on December 1. It’s a busy year for me – I have a full time job and a part time therapy practice, but it’s worth it.
Where can we buy your books and find you on the web?
Family Ties is only available on Amazon right now.
Fool’s Gold, a Bandit Creek anthology which includes one of my stories is also available at Amazon .
Louise’s questions for the readers…
Do you prefer to read more realistic stories of every day people or fairy tales, with princes, billionaires, and sheiks? Do you know why you have these preferences?
What is your favorite book? What makes you re-read it?