1. Did you set any goals for 2010?
I always set goals for the new year. This year's goal is to finish the fourth and fifth books of the Santa Rita series. I've love working on the series but I have a couple of other projects—a true historical and a coming-of-age book—that I want to work on. Another goal is to get my office done so I can have my reseach materials, files, and desk all in the same room.
2. What is the best part of the writing process for you?
The best part is exploring the characters and listening to them tell me the story. I always think I know how the story goes but I usually learn from my players that I only thought I knew what was going on. As I get to know the characters and learn their secrets and deal with their problems, I find the story is as surprising for me as I hope it is for my readers.
3. The worst part?
The worst part is always finishing the first draft. I go back, look at scenes, realize that my original plans have changed and I have to put things in, take things out, fix dialogue, or figure out where in the world some bit of action fits because one of my characters has grown in a way I didn't anticipate. So finishing the draft is a very slow process for me and I don't suffer from having patience. I want to get on with polishing and finishing. That first draft just won't let go till I've tidied all the plot threads.
4. What is the book you wish you’d written?
Oh, I wish I'd been the one to write Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. It's such a wonderful, stormy and passionate book. I've read all her others but that first introduction to Jamie and Claire is priceless.
5. Favourite author/s & book/s?
This is an everchanging list. It depends on my mood, what's going on in my life and where I am on the current WIP. I adore Amanda Quick and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Victoria Alexander is always a fun read. I've just finished Jade Lee's White Tigress and loved it. On the all time favorites I have to include Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Phyllis Whitney. I read Little Women when I was eight and Gone With the Wind when I was nine and I was hooked on novels forever. I just read Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and it was a headlong rush down an icy slope all the way. I read a little bit of everything—romance, mystery, suspense, and historical fiction. One of my new favorites is Tiffany Green's Innocence series. Her Regency England is a fascinating place.
6. Tell us about your latest release?
The new book, ELOPEMENT FOR ONE for Wild Rose Press. will be out September 10 and I'm really excited about it. It's the third book of the Santa Rita series. The setting is small town Texas and the time is the mid 1950's with all those cool cats, hot rods and party dolls, as well as the great clothes and music of the time. I had such a wonderful time writing the story and I hope my readers enjoy Zach and Troy as much as I did. We're doing the launch and first book signing at the Wildseed Farm wildflower center in Fredericksburg. They graciously permitted me to use the center as a bit of the background for the story and I thought it was the perfect place to launch the book.
7. Tease us with a blurb/short excerpt
The hour comes, the crowd awaits, and the groom impatiently stands at the altar, but Troy chooses not to attend the wedding – and she’s the bride!
Leaving behind the elaborate wedding along with a glittering solitaire, Troy flees a future tainted by her fear of the man she promised to marry. Childhood friend Zach stands waiting to help her escape…but answers her thanks with a with a stern warning:
Troy suspects she feels more than friendship for her childhood hero. In turning to him this time, she may have lost him forever.
8. What is your favourite attribute of the hero and heroine?
Troy is known for hatching half-baked schemes and ducking out on the consequences. The daughter of a wealthy, self-made man, she appears to have everything—money, social postion, a fairytale wedding with a handsome groom and a carefree future. In truth her hopes and ambitions have been smothered by her domineering dad and the man he thinks she should marry. When she sees no other way to escape marriage to a man who actually frightens her, she abandons all she knows of wealth and comfort to find a life for herself in Santa Rita. Though she believes herself to be a coward, Troy is determined to face life and accept responsiblility for her own actions. No more will she let others straighten out the messes her impulsive actions have created. Troy's spunk and courage touch me and her determination to become her own person make her a delightful character to know.
Zach, Troy's childhood hero and brother of her best friend, is a tower of good sense and understanding. He's loved her all his life but believes that a spoiled, implusive debutante is the last person a struggling young lawyer should marry. Still it's Zach to the rescue one more time as Troy begs for help escaping the church when she can't face the marriage she's foolishly agreed to. He's willing to give her the chance to grow, to become the woman she was born to be. His concern, his patience, and the surprisng depth of his love for Troy touched me. I liked watching his assessment of the flighty hoyden-next-door change as Troy matured, found her own strengths, and realized her hero worship had grown to real, lasting love for him.
9. What’s next?
Next is the story of Nina and her search for the truth about the mysterious disappearance of her young groom an hour after the wedding. Along the way she recovers a missing 1955 yellow T-Bird, meets Peter, and finds that even the people she thought she knew had deeply hidden facets to their lives. The book is called HALF PAST MOURNING and I'm having a wonderful time getting to know Nina, Peter, and the story behind the story.
10. Tell me where you write?
I write anywhere. The first chapter of ELOPEMENT was written in a hotel room with my laptop and me under the covers so the light wouldn't bother my roommate. It was at an RWA conference. Usually I write in my bedroom surrounded by cats while hoping the phone won't ring for another few minutes. Shortly I hope to be working in the room I'm converting into an office. I took a workshop at Nationals one year. The speaker talked about the importance of a writer having his/her own space for writing and I took it to heart. With luck, in about three or four weeks, I'll have a lovely lavender room with shelves and file drawers, a comfortable desk and chair, and perhaps a reduced number of cats and phone calls. At least I'm clinging to the idea.
11. Where would you like your career to be in 5 years?
On somebody's bestseller list, of course. In addition I'd like to have the two volume historical set in print, have the coming-of-age book out and perhaps take time to write the three book series I want to do about war brides. And re-visit Santa Rita from time to time. I love that little town and the time period where it exists.
12. Where can we find you?
My webpage is www.fleetacunningham.com for excerpts from the books and tabs that tell about my book signings, places I'm speaking, and when books will be coming out. In addition, I blog on www.authorsbymoonlight.com and write about life in small towns, quirks of the fifties, and talk about the books and what is happening in them. And I love to hear from readers. I have great readers and they give me interesting tips and ideas. My email address is email@example.com. Books are available through The Wild Rose Press, amazon.com and most of the on-line book stores. Come by and visit Santa Rita anytime. We'll leave the welcome mat out and a light on in the hall.
Descended from a gypsy girl and the son of a Georgia planter, Fleeta is a fifth generation Texan. She grew up in the Panhandle of Texas and graduated from Texas Tech and the University of Texas. She began writing at the age of eight when she decided to re-write ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ to remove the interval in the coffin. She’s been convoluting plots ever since. Fleeta spent more than twenty years as a librarian, most of them in libraries of large law firms. She wrote a monthly column for a professional newsletter for several years and contributed to a number of legal industry publications including National Law Journal. She served on legal publication advisory boards for Clark Boardman and RIA publishers.
The Santa Rita 1950’s series is based on the numerous small towns Fleeta lived in all over Texas. She finds the time period romantic and exciting, while small towns offer a colorful background for her eclectic characters. Don’t Call Me Darlin’ , the first of the series, is set in 1957 and is filled with 50’s slang, jazzy cars, and a redhead to remember. Coming up will be Black Rain Rising, a story about a country singer under investigation for murder, and followed by stories of a bride running away from the church an hour before her wedding, an abandoned wife’s elusive yellow T-bird, and the family saga of three sisters and the men who won’t stay gone. Watch for them.
Presently Fleeta lives in yet another small town in Central Texas where she writes full time, presides as Director of the Altar Guild at her church, and serves as housekeeper for her four feline roommates. She loves to hear from her readers and welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.