Interview with Averil Reisman

What motivated you to become an indie author?
Avoidance of deadline pressure was my biggest motivator. My greatest fear of selling to the New York market was that once a publishing house bought your book, your life was theirs. Authors who sold are tied to ridiculous deadlines based upon the needs of publishers, and woe be it to authors if they have another life they care to live. After working 35 years as a journalist meeting tight daily deadlines, I burned out and left the publishing world. Ten years later, I'm back doing what I love, writing, on a schedule I can live with, thanks to indie publishing.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Like the computer industry, the ebook industry needs to develop a standard platform upon which books can be read no matter the file type. Until that happens, Smashwords serves as a one stop distributor for authors who don't have the time to develop specific files for every device manufactured. An author can upload one file and be assured of distribution of their work to all.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Ever since I was a little girl, I've always imagined what life would be like in another age. I'd sit in a fishing boat with my family, for instance, and while waiting for my pole to bob, would imagine what it must have been like for the first settlers in the area to see what I saw--the lush forests, quiet lakes, roaring waterfalls, etc. At other times, I'd imagine whole scenes of dialogue in my head. Ever since the PBS-TV series America's Castles, I've honed in on the late Victorian/Gilded Age/Gay Nineties period as one of the most interesting eras of America's history. What was it like to waltz in the grand ballrooms, live in grand mansions, wear a bazillion dollars worth of jewels? Researching and writing about America's aristocracy and bringing to life the characters and times gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
What are you working on next?
My current work in progress is called Shadows and Masks. It's the first of a series called The Chessmen Mystery Romances. It's set in Chicago during the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and is about a woman who needs a husband in a hurry to fulfill a stipulation in her father's will. When an attempt is made on her life, the investigator she'd hired to help her find a husband marries her himself in order to protect her. Their growing attraction pushes against the contract of a platonic marriage they both signed. Both hero and heroine carry emotional baggage they must come to grips with at the same time they unravel the mystery of who wants her dead.
Who are your favorite authors?
I loved Catherine Coulter's historicals, and those written by Heather Graham/Shannon Drake, Sabrina Jeffries, Courtney Milan, Eloisa James, and Lisa Kleypas, to name just a few. I have four floor-to-ceiling bookcases overflowing with keepers.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Each night I go to bed with a question for my unconscious mind to mull over--usually something about how to start the next scene, or what's going to happen a chapter or two down the line. When I wake up, I generally have a great idea rattling around my thoughts I can't wait to start working on.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to garden, but bad hips and knees have kept me from doing this to any great extent right at the moment. Now, I read, read, and read some more. I belong to a local book club which keeps me reading outside my genre. I also play canasta and mah jongg, and go to lots of movies with my husband. My three grandsons keep me busy, as well.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Goodness! I've been writing so long that I don't remember. Ever since my sophomore year in high school I knew I wanted to be a journalist. But the first book I ever finished is sitting on my computer unpublished. It was my learning book after I decided I wanted to write a novel. It needs major rewriting. I plan to turn it into the second book in my Chessmen series.
What is your writing process?
My process is still developing. I started as a pantser, writing whatever came into my mind. But I quickly learned that process took too long and led to stories with little plot. So now I'm a little more structured. With just a general idea of what the story might be about, I scope out the characters in detail, filling in questionnaires I've gathered from workshops and websites. Then I decide what would put those characters into conflict and develop turning points. Then I develop a story outline, filling in some of the details with one sentence thoughts. With this outline, or really list of what I need to incude, I write the story scene by scene, editing and reediting as I go so that by the time I'm ready to go on to the next scene I have a nearly polished completed scene. Some writers like to do a rough draft of the whole thing and then go back and edit. I'm a linear writer. Sometimes a thorough fleshing out of a scene will lead me right into the next scene. When I'm done, I have an alpha reader, then fix, then farm it out to beta readers, then fix, then hire an editor.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
This is a hard one since I was a voracious reader from the start of first grade. But I do remember the book Lost Horizon by James Hilton and the impact the scene of the hero's discovering the "wood nymph" had on my imagination. Even today, one particular Enya song reminds me of that scene. I also remember the horse stories I devoured--Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, My Friend Flicka, Black Stallion.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle Fire HD. It's my only e-reading device.
Describe your desk
My desk is a great big Amish oak computer desk, usually cluttered with piles of papers, but today my desk is rather neat. The desk is identical to one my husband uses which faces me. Edging both desks on one end is a matching credenza with two drawers. Both desks are perpendicular to a large picture window which overlooks a golf course and gives me a long distance rest for my tired eyes. At the back of the desk behind my laptop is a row of writing resource books ranging from character development to plotting to slang anthologies. The thickest book is an 1895 Montgomery Ward catalog which helps me describe items in use during the period in which I write. I forked out big bucks for an ergonomic chair which I dearly love. And at my feet is a small heater to make this colder lower level office/library more tolerable during the winter.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on the far north side of the city of Chicago. The book I just finished writing, Shadows and Masks, is set in Chicago in 1893 during the Columbian Exposition, and I loved researching some of the places I remember from my childhood.
When did you first start writing?
I always was a writer. In my sophomore year in high school, I was introduced to the world of journalism and I loved the simple expository type of writing. I earned my Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri and spent the next 35 years as a journalist.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I tend to pick interesting settings first, then devise a story to fit the setting. The seed for my latest book, Shadows and Masks, germinated when my local book club took a field trip to Frank Lloyd Wright's studio in Oak Park, IL. In the gift shop, I spotted a CD of Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition which took place at the same time Wright was designing his Prairie style buildings in the Chicago area. I bought the CD and after viewing it, knew I had to write a story set at this time.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I have lots of writer friends who promote their ebooks on Facebook, and I tend to buy their books when they are released. Other than that, I buy through Bookbub ads.
Published 2017-04-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Shadows and Masks
Series: The Chessmen. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 96,920. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Victorian, Fiction » Romance » Suspense
Scientist Emmeline Griffith needs a husband fast. The marriage will be in name only…but she didn’t count on her attraction to the virile detective who steps into the role. Investigator Bartholomew Turner thought he had his demons under control. But when his relationship becomes far more enduring, he must confront both his past and the danger that’s stalking Emmie to claim the woman he loves.
The Captain's Temptress
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 83,660. Language: English. Published: September 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Historical » Victorian
Maneuvering her way onto a ship of gunrunners prior to the Spanish-American War, Samantha Etheridge proves to be more than a mere opportunistic reporter to Captain Sean Nolan, perhaps even a first mate.