I thoroughly enjoy my featured authors because they take me to places I might not ever go myself. Today, we’re in a cedar log cabin somewhere in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho. Below us is a stream where we caught our limit of trout. This after a trek through the wilderness – so I’ve done my exercising today. The hired chef is grilling the fish, given my guest her Manhattan. I brought along a dry white from Nearwood Winery in Knoxville, where I visit every week for a writers group.
It’s a bit cool so we’re both wearing light sweaters (and no, mine is NOT a turtleneck.) I’m about ready to begin the interview when she stands, walks to the railing, and stares off to the horizon and the waning sun.
“Is something out there?” I ask, imagining a bear upset that we caught his dinner. “What are you looking at?”
She smiles, sighs, and returns to her chair. “Sometimes, I imagine I see dragons flying off in the distance.”
Certainly better than bears…
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
Paula Millhouse, here. So nice to meet you and your Readers, Stephen. What makes me the most fascinating person in North Georgia is I often indulge my imagination and wander off in search of dragons (I promise, it’s not the Manhattans). I wrote a novel about dragons, in fact. I combined the genres of fantasy and romance because I couldn’t find the story I wanted to read. I’m published by Boroughs Publishing Group, a publisher based in California and New York.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
I write fantasy romance – oh, and I brew my own beer.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?
I’m a scientist by day, actually, and I write during all other hours not devoted to the day job. I earned a Master’s Degree from Georgia Southern University in Health Professions and I work a full-time job as a Family Nurse Practitioner. I see patients, diagnose and treat their illness in collaboration with a physician, and do my best to focus people on healthy lifestyle choices.
What interested me in becoming a writer is the need to satisfy my creative muse. So, I use my Left Brain during the day, and my Right Brain when I write fiction.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
Mr. Tolkien, first and foremost. I’d like to thank him for introducing me to Smaug, the first dragon I fell in love with as a child.
Naomi Novik for introducing me to Temeraire.
And Deborah Harkness who wrote Discovery of Witches. I’d like her to know I’m grateful to her for writing a story with grown-up, intelligent paranormal creatures, particularly Diana and her Fire Drake, and Matthew Clairmont.
Chalvaren Rising would be great company because in my Kingdom of Chalvaren Romances I explore the relationship between genres with a question: “How can we blend High Fantasy and Romance into a story that leaves the reader breathless, where magic and suspense collide in an imaginary world?
One question I wanted to explore was why wasn’t more heart-rending romance woven into the fantasy genre? “Hey, all those elves and hobbits and dragons had to come from somewhere, right?”
With Chalvaren Rising, we get a chance to explore weaving the strengths of both worlds into one. “I wanted to find out what would happen if I designed a world where fantasy lovers get their quest, but also gave their girlfriends a healthy dose of grown-up romance along the way.”
I created a world where sentient dragons defend their keepers, and the elves of Chalvaren willingly risk everything to save their future kingdom. “It’s a family story with a strong cast of characters aided by a taste of magic which rounds out the adventure.”
Villains exist in Chalvaren, and darkness looms, but the theme that love is worth fighting for is demonstrated when Mia and Kort’s passion will not wait. “And, their love for their dragons, their protectors, drives the story line in an intimate way.”
You’ll want to share Chalvaren Rising with your friends. It’s a fairy tale meant to entertain your heart, with characters meant to endure throughout time.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
If I shared my process you’d really question my credentials, or the Manhattans…
No, but people are curious about these things. I’m a hybrid writer. I sketch out the main plot points long-hand. Simple is best here. Then, I dash out a rough draft in Word, exploring where the characters want to run and what they have to say – their hopes, their fears, their faults. At the end of that draft I go back. Using Scrivener, I outline around those initial plot points and pour the draft into solid story structure points. From there, it’s editing the beast to within an inch of its life which is where the real magic happens.
I do use Google for research, but I include travel in my life as a way to open stories up. No, I can’t visit the Kingdom of Chalvaren, but I do find inspiration for specific parts of settings by traveling.
My schedule consists of early mornings with strong coffee, tracking progress on a long-hand calendar. I build in treats for myself for hitting certain goals. I also use a timer for sessions which helps me focus. Sometimes I write after work as a way to decompress, sort of a therapy session if you will.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Join your National Writers Association. Network with other writers about their process. Try something. The most valuable advice is to write. It took me five years of doing this before I was able to demystify what really worked for me. You’ll find your own process if you just write.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
“Change is the most consistent consistency in our lives.”
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
Oh, if only those characters would leave me alone!
I recently finished and submitted a romantic suspense piece to my editor. I’m also hammering out the series of the Kingdom of Chalvaren Romances.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
By clicking the link for my website, PaulaMillhouse.com, where all my social media contacts are located. I blog there, and I post news and events about writing as they become available. You can also find me at my publishing house, Boroughs Publishing Group.
Thank you for taking time to talk with me about my dragons, the Manhattans, and my process today, Stephen. I hope your Readers will find room on their bookshelves for Chalvaren Rising, and consider sharing my novel with their friends.