Interview with Perri Forrest

Q: To start with tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a passionate individual who loves to write, who is obsessed with miniature golf/badminton, and who is a perfectionist. I am addicted to knowledge, and attracted to intellect. There’s nothing sexier than a man who is intelligent…genuinely intelligent. I’m vocal and will defend my point to the death. Anyone in my immediate circle will attest to that. I’m a person who explicates just about everything when it comes to inspirational quotes – or any quotes for that matter. I think people say, and post things all the time just because they sound good without really challenging the words or looking at it critically. I don’t care whose quote it is, I need to fully assess it first before I go, “Liking/Sharing”, or otherwise. Oh! I’m an admitted control freak. And a Leo. I think that’s it. No, wait! I love life and am the kind of person who will come down really hard on myself if I feel like I’ve gone through the day without identifying something different/new about myself and those around me. Weird, huh?
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to become an author?
I’ve known I wanted to be an author since I was 12 years old. I used to write short stories with two primary themes: 1) Walking through the woods with a group of friends and finding a magical cottage with a little old lady inside telling really magical stories about the future. I remember once we got inside her house it would be glamorous and much bigger than it looked from the outside. I was really living a dream through these stories and I saw it metaphorically. It was a picture of how I saw my life at that time, versus what I desired it to be. It was probably, in large, because of my obsession with glamour. 2) I also wrote a lot of stories about kids with invisible friends, though I didn’t have one myself :-) I think I needed one to help curb that overactive imagination.
Q: What is the most frustrating thing about being a writer?
The most frustrating part about writing to me, is not the actual writing itself, but the worrying about whether anyone will like my work or not. So much so that whenever I write a story, I never go back and read it again for fear I will find something that would give any reader ammunition to hate me and chalk me up to a wannabe. Don’t get me wrong, I know I can write and I have total faith in my writing, it’s the “acceptance” factor. I’m slowly shaking that and simply reveling in a place of finding comfort in the fact that I’m writing after having put it off so long because of fear.
Q: Are you a pantser or plotter?
100% #TeamPantser! In fact, I think I might be allergic to plotting!
Q: When you think up a story idea do you concentrate on characters first or the storyline?
I tend to concentrate on a single character first, and build a story around that person.
Q: Your two novellas Rendezvous & The Color of Lies? Where did the inspiration for these titles come from?
Oh! I love talking about that! Rendezvous was actually part of an anthology with the instruction to just “go for it…make it no longer than 10,000 words…setting Mardi Gras…start it out with a bang!” Enter the limousine scene. I came up with the bang first and built from there. I had a complete ball writing that story because it took even me to another place and it was what I wanted for the reader as well. Gabriella Alexis Sandoval, the main character in my debut novel, was introduced in this novella. Rendezvous tells a small portion of her life – the secret portion of her life – and that is her time spent in Brazil as a high priced call girl. This particular piece of her lifestyle is something that she’s held onto since a young adult because it was a release there for her during a tumultuous time in her life. She has her own wealth and a full life outside of that secret life, but continues it because for her it’s a place of comfort for her that was there for her when she felt she was at the end.

Now The Color of Lies is my absolute favorite story. I think it’s my favorite because of how it was developed. There are so many memories with that story. Let’s begin with the fact that it was written in four days out of a nervous energy. Imagine working every day all day on a book and then all of a sudden you’re done. It’s the one thing you’ve done every day for months – morning, noon, and night. Then it’s off to be edited and you’re inside your own head about what the feedback will be and wondering if the editors and beta readers will hate it. Since I’m a girl who wants the truth, and sugarcoating, I was prepared for the worst and I had nowhere to put that energy. So what did I do? I wrote a story and honestly as I wrote TCoL, it flowed so fluidly I was scared. That had never happened to me before and I was deathly afraid of what it meant instead of embracing it as a talent (something I have a hard time doing). The story has several characters, but its focus is on an agency called Pandora’s Box that outs the cheaters of the world. In this particular installment, we had Erik Warren a super dog! He is a married man living a single life and when his wife’s women’s intuition kicks in, she enlists the help of the beautiful Brooklyn Kellogg, and her agency to get to the bottom of things. The Color of Lies is my best seller to date, ironically and I am currently at work on the next installment which closes up some loose ends with a few characters, and introduces some new ones along the way.
Q: What made you decide to continue Gabriella’s story in Revolving Doors?
I knew early on that I wanted to give her a full story. I wanted to read her story! Lol! I wanted to see what led her to that secret life in Brazil, and what else she had going on in addition to that life. Gabriella told me that she wanted her story told and it was my job to tell it. There’s depth to her and it needed to be revealed alongside her life at the beautiful resort of Paraiso Belo. I wanted to tell the story of how heartbreak led her to become one of Valentina’s girls, how she found herself there, and how she developed as both a woman and a businesswoman from that experience.
Q: What do you want readers to take away from your work?
I want them to see that I work extremely hard to make my stories, and characters individuals. I don’t look at other author’s characters and take from them, I build these characters…these stories from scratch, and I feel that I owe it to them to tell their stories as thorough as possible, from the glorious to the imperfections. I want them to take from my work that I put my all into it because it’s important for me that I deliver a fine piece of work.
Q: What was your road to publication like? What made you choose the self-publishing route?
I haven’t had a road, per se. I just got in my car and drove, and am still driving until I reach a destination. I will say that the beginnings were awesome in how it all came to be. It came in the form of, “you never know who’s watching.” Literally. I used to blog heavily. I’ve since retired that blog (but will resurrect it one day soon), and had a pretty decent following. Well, there was one follower who I didn’t even realize was watching my work. Never commented, never emailed, but I knew she was a follower because I kept up with that list of people, for the sake of seeing who my audience was. After about two years of blogging, I received a message one day from her asking me if I’d like to participate in an anthology. I was so green that before I responded, I had to look up what that even was. I have always been an avid reader, but had only ever read complete novels, so wasn’t up on the lingo. As soon as I got the definition, I responded back with, “you know I’ve never published anything before, right?” to which she responded, “well you should. I’ve followed your blog for years now and you can write!” I think I started crying at that moment in front of my keyboard. It was the first time that my writing had been officially validated, and it felt good. It was years in the making.

With the self-publishing route, I decided that it would be much more effective for me to just write and get editing and publish my works to get my name out there, rather than wait for weeks, months, and YEARS, to find a Literary Agent who believed in me to get behind my work, or a huge publishing house that already has their focuses on a particular genre of work. I wanted to see who Perri was first before I introduced her to that population of individuals. It was kind of like finding myself, and building my brand before I got my “30 seconds to tell me your story,” type deal going. I want to get to a place where if I meet someone in the Literary world one day, I can tell them without blinking, why I’m their girl and be able to sell that with confidence and truth. Right now, I’m figuring out where I fit and thus far, I can tell it isn’t in any one box so I need to figure out how to clearly articulate that. I do feel that my day is near though. It isn’t wishful thinking, I just feel it. I’m hardworking and this writing thing is what I would for free, so I know I’ve found my purpose.
Q: What’s coming down the pipeline next?
I’m finishing the second installment of the Pandora’s Box series and have just ordered the cover for the 3rd installment so those are back to back projects that I plan to deliver on before Thanksgiving. Then I’ve gotten a lot of feedback lately for Revolving Doors and am going to begin mapping out a sequel to that. It may be a bit shorter, and in fact I may make them into smaller series of one another versus trying to tackle a full novel again. I think I might have tackled a complete novel too early in my career. A Type-A like myself needed to start small. I am too much of a perfectionist! I was actually reading and re-reading while the book was gone to editors. It made the work more difficult for me because I was finding errors that I knew they would find and fixing them before they came back so the cross-referencing process was a bit tedious. Thank God for dual monitors!
Q: Before we go what’s your advice to aspiring writers?
I would say more than anything don’t try to impress others before impressing yourself because then you begin to lose touch with your organic writing voice. I did that for a bit – and in some ways am still trying to get away from it. In my case, it almost made me not want to write anymore. I’m thankful that didn’t happen. I think that aspiring writers should just write from the heart and that no matter what comes during their day, to make sure they at least give a part of that day to writing something! Keep the ideas fresh and flowing. Even if it’s building a dream character on paper, just write. It’s the most important thing you could for your career. Also try as hard as possible to surround yourself with like people of like minds. Don’t get so caught up in the popularity game that you allow anybody into your space. If they must be deleted, do so. Add and follow the ones who want to see you do well. Seek healthy relationships that you can learn from and grow with. When I entered this world, I automatically expected others to embrace me and that didn’t happen so I had to feel my way around – much like everyday relationships. There will be trial and error, but at the end as long as you have a healthy balance of genuine people, it will be worth the trouble.
Q: What writers inspired/inspire you?
I've always LOVED Jackie Collins! She has been a favorite since I was a teenager. James Patterson is another one, but recently I stopped reading him because of all the collaborations. I recently added James Rollins, on the word of an author friend, but I have yet to crack the book open. I also LOVE Paulo Coelho...particularly, "The Alchemist". It's a must-have.
Q: Describe your desk
I have an L-shaped workstation and on one side sits my laptop, while on the other sits my dual monitors with my desktop and my iPod perched nicely to the side where my desk lamp is. I can NOT live without my music! I need R&B playing the entire time, and throw some light rock in there, and I'm set. My characters get the most sensual moments from one another when my music is going.
Q: How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is THE most user-friendly interface of all the others I've used, and obviously the readers believe so as well because all my titles have done better over here than on any other outlet. I'm ecstatic! I have a few ideas that I think would make it a cut way above the rest, but I won't publish them here. I'll let them contact me offline :-)
Published 2013-10-15.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.