Sunday, December 21, 2008

Author Interview: Victoria Chancellor

This interview is with Victoria Chancellor, who has written eleven books for Harlequin American Romance and nine books for other publishers. She resides in Richardson, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, with her husband of 37 years and a variety of pets. Her daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters live right next door! She wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

How did you make your first sale?
I’d been seriously writing for about a year when I attended a regional writers conference in Beaumont, Texas. Author Susan Wiggs was one of the judges, and she insisted that her editor, Carolyn Marino of Harper, take a look at my book. Luckily for me, Harper was launching a new women’s fiction line, and less than three weeks later, Carolyn bought my book on proposal to be part of the launch. That was a historical romance, All My Dreams.

How long have you been published?
I sold my first book in November, 1990, and it came out in November, 1992. By then I had sold a short contemporary on proposal to Meteor Publishing, which is no longer in business. I thought writing was pretty neat, so I quit my day job to write part time and work for my husband’s business part time. After my first two relatively easy sales, I didn’t sell another book for over a year!

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written eleven books for Harlequin American, three short contemporaries for other publishers, one historical romance, and five paranormal romances for Dorchester Love Spell. I must admit I really love paranormal romances, especially time travels. Unfortunately for me, they aren’t popular right now. My favorite book is probably Miracle of Love, the story of a struggling Irish immigrant who brings her dying baby into St. Mary’s Cathedral in Galveston, Texas in 1896 and prays for a miracle. Although I’m not Irish or Catholic, and I’ve never had such a trauma in my life, that character became extremely real to me. My father passed away while I was in the midst of writing this book, and somehow, his faith seemed to make the story stronger.

Why did you target the American Romance Line?
My good friend Judy Christenberry was writing for American, and I had read many Americans, especially the Heart Beat and More Than Men series. Although I knew they weren’t publishing paranormals any longer, I still liked the line. I submitted a proposal about a small town police chief who had been stood up at the altar twice to Melissa Jeglinski and she bought it.

What did you do career-wise before becoming an author?
I’ve done a little bit of everything except working as a waitress. (Believe me, you don’t want to trust me with a plate of food around demanding or obnoxious people!) I started working in fine jewelry at age 14, then got married and had a child. When I was younger and lighter, I even exercised horses at Churchill Downs. I worked in offices, military security, volunteered for political campaigns, and finally went to college when I was in my 30s. My degree is in Economics and Finance, and I had a career in financial systems and analysis at EDS before getting bit by the writing bug.

What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Neither, really. The inciting incident comes first. I see something and try to think about what characters would fit into that scenario, and then I try to think about what choices they would make. If it seems interesting, then I start doing character sketches. For example, in Miracle of Love, I saw a man startled awake by a baby crying in the living room of his secured, high rise condo. He sees a woman dressed in period clothing holding a crying child. That scene made me ask a lot of questions, such as why is the baby crying? How did the woman and child get into his condo? What’s he going to do next? Romance writers should always remember that the characters must drive the story, not the other way around. If things are happening to your hero and heroine rather than them influencing what happens, you’re on the wrong track.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Since I live next door to my granddaughters, I spend a lot of time with them. I also love to scrapbook; I take a lot of photographs. I work part time as the financial manager of my husband’s company. We sell and install school furniture, and we are extremely busy every summer. I love to travel, but don’t get to go as often as I’d like.

What is your writing routine?
When I’m on book deadline (i.e. I have a contract to complete a book by a certain date) I write four to seven pages each morning, then get dressed and go to the office in the afternoon. I’m not a morning person, so I don’t get started until nine or ten o’clock. Then after dinner, I write another four to seven pages, depending on my deadline. When I don’t have a contract to turn in a book at a particular date, I’m a complete lazy bones. It takes me longer to write a proposal than it does to finish a book!

If you were stranded on an island for a month and could bring three books along, what would they be?
I would bring Rachel Gibson’s The Trouble With Valentines Day, almost anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but most likely Natural Born Charmer (or This Heart of Mine or Nobody’s Baby But Mine) and Anne Stuart’s HAR Heart Beat, Falling Angel.

What is your dream car?
I still have my 1978 Formula Firebird, which we ordered in 1978 and I never could make myself sell. However, I’m planning to put it on eBay soon. My whole life I’ve wanted a 1963 to 1967 Corvette, but I’ll probably be too old to climb in and out by the time I could afford one. Plus, the older I get, the more I think about safety – things like air bags and seat belts take on new significance.

Are you working on anything at the present you'd like to share?

I’m writing the proposal for the last book in the Brody’s Crossing series, tentatively titled Texan in Her Heart. It’s the story of what happened when Troy and Cal Crawford’s mother left them when they were teens. I knew all along that there was a good reason, but it didn’t come to me until a few months ago.

What are you reading now?
Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I re-read Anne Stuart’s Falling Angel. It’s a wonderful holiday story about redemption and love. If you can find a copy online or in a used book story, you should get it and read it. I know it’s a paranormal, but really, Harlequin should release that book again! Anne Stuart wrote many Harlequin American Romances, but that is my favorite. I hope to write a book someday that people will feel that strongly about.


Marin Thomas said...

Victoria--glad to know there's another woman out there who loves old cars like I do. I hope one day you get that Corvette!


Estella said...

I really enjoy these author interviews!