NORAH WILSON ~~
Interview with Tracey West ~~ June 2004
Wilson, a new author to the writing scene, has been claimed as Winner
Romantic Times/Dorchester Publishing "New Voice in Romance" contest
for 2003! Her first release with
Eyes is receiving many great reviews, even before its release! Let’s get to know this new author and learn
more about her work.
to The Road to Romance Norah!
- Thank you, Tracey. I’m thrilled to be
TW - What
is a day in the life of Norah Wilson like?
How many hours a day do you spend writing?
actually spend a fair chunk of my day writing, but unfortunately, the
share is not on my work-in-progress. I
work full time for a provincial healthcare association, where I have
significant writing responsibilities (newsletters, press releases,
notes, etc.). I also have a husband, two
teenage children, and a geriatric dog, so my schedule can get pretty
tight. As for how much time I actually
that varies. Sometimes my day job leaves
me creatively flat, and when that happens, I try to organize my writing
larger chunks of time on the weekends.
On the other hand, if I’ve got a little left at the
end of the day, I
try to work on my WIP every night.
Writing regularly helps me to stay in the story and
keeps it on the edge
of my consciousness all the time.
TW - What
inspired you to become an author? Do you
remember a specific age that you knew you wanted to be a writer?
- I was always
a voracious reader. But it wasn’t until
high school that I fell in love with the idea of communications, the
business of putting words on paper and winning the reader over. But even then, I didn’t recognize it as a
desire to win hearts through writing fiction.
I figured I had a career in ad copy writing in front
of me! Alas, I didn’t go into
communications. It took me another ten
years to realize that
I wanted to tell stories. I think maybe
if I’d had more self-awareness, I would have recognized this sooner. Of course, I doubt that I would have had much
of interest to say, so I don’t feel I’ve lost too much ground.
What avenues/organizations are you a member of that has
helped you on your journey to publication?
- I’d have to put Romance
Writers of America at the top of my list.
They’ve done more to accelerate the learning curve
for aspiring romance
writers than any other organization I can think of.
I also joined a local RWA chapter and made
some friendships/forged some critique relationships that endure to this
day. We were all at approximately the
same skill level (novice) when we started out, and we’ve came a long
together. Since we started this journey,
two of my CPs have sold in novel-length romance; one made it to the
the Golden Heart contest and the Daphne duMaurier contest.
Another is published in short story
format. And of course, I can’t forget
the contributions of three published authors who helped me, each in her
– Janelle Clare Schneider, Deborah Hale and Julianne MacLean.
TW - Was
it difficult getting published?
- Yes and no. <g>
competitive. So much depends upon timing
– hitting the right editor with the right story at the right time. Ten years into this endeavor, I’d reached a
point where I felt like I was battering my head against a solid wall. Despite three consecutive finals in RWA’s
Golden Heart contest (a prestigious international contest for
I hadn’t managed to sell or to sign with an agent.
But in all that time, despite the
discouragements, only occasionally did I ever allow myself to think,
should quit.” For a writer, that’s a
very scary place to be. Fortunately, my
stubborn streak is as deep as it is wide.
I knew I had something to say and that readers
wanted to hear it.
in the end, the actual sale
was incredibly easy. In fact, I
literally won my publishing contract. I
entered Dorchester Publishing’s New Voice in Romance Contest, run in
with Romantic Times BookClub. A month
after entering, I got an email to say I’d been short-listed and could I
full manuscript? I bundled that baby up,
sacrificed a chicken, addressed the parcel in blood, and dropped it in
post. (Okay, I didn’t really do the
chicken-blood thing, but I did say a little prayer.) Within another
learned I’d finalled, along with two other very talented writers. Our first chapters went up at the Romantic
Times BookClub website for readers to vote on.
At the same time, the full manuscripts went to 50
booksellers for their
votes. The whole process culminated with
the announcement of the winners (Kate Lyon and I actually tied for the
at the Romantic Times convention in Kansas
TW - In
August your first book, Lauren’s Eyes will be released from Dorchester Publishing.
Is this the very first book you have ever
submitted anywhere to be published?
- No, Lauren’s
is not the first story I’d submitted. In
fact, it’s not even my first sale. Back in
2000, I published a short
contemporary with Hard Shell Word Factory, a really great little
was my first mass-market sale, but I had been
querying the big
publishers for years by then. I was
getting good interest, especially after
my Golden Heart finals, but I somehow couldn’t seem to turn that
a sale, until this story.
TW - What
can you tell us about Lauren’s Eyes? And I would like to say
that it is
a gorgeous cover on that book, which really draws my attention!
- Thank you! I love the cover, too. Interestingly, I had no input into its
design…because it was done before I even knew I’d sold the book! When the winners were announced at the
convention, they unveiled our respective covers (giant, glossy
covers!) at the award dinner. I
couldn’t attend the convention, which disappointed me enormously, but
retrospect, it’s probably just as well.
I’m sure I would have burst out crying when I saw my
name on that beautiful
cover. <Gulp, sniff>
it’s a western-set romantic suspense with a
strong paranormal element. The heroine
has psychic visions of murder, which lead her to the hero’s ranch to
prevent the crime. In the past, she’s
tried and failed to prevent a murder she foresaw by going to the
to be dismissed as a nutcase…until the murder actually transpired. Then she’d found herself the main
suspect. With that experience behind
her, she’s determined to do her own sleuthing this time.
TW - What
can you tell us about the hero and heroine in this book?
- My hero, Cal Taggart, is
an embattled rancher who has been obliged to open a guest ranch in a
effort to save his cow/calf operation.
For reasons that are tied up in his rocky
relationship with his dad,
failure is not an option for this guy.
He’s driven. He can be
boot leather, but he also has a tender side.
And he’s big on assuming responsibility, for himself
others. (Very broad shoulders, my
guy! And lean hips, and…whoops!)
heroine, Lauren Townsend, is a
woman who has never been able to share herself fully with another
soul. All her experiences have taught
her that her psychic gift must remain secret.
As she and Cal get closer, she finds herself in a
Catch 22. She longs for him to know her
if she reveals her gift, he’ll back away from her, just as everyone
TW - What,
in your opinion, makes a great hero/heroine?
- I think
strength, courage and intelligence are prerequisites for both hero and
though they may manifest differently in the two sexes.
They have to be capable of great passion, and
not just for each other (although my H & h are very hot for each
promise you!). They need to care
passionately enough about their goals and dreams to pursue them against
terrible odds, which make them “larger than life”.
But at the same time, they also need a major
flaw or weakness to solidify them in our minds as “real” people. Not to mention there could be no character
arc if they were perfect!
TW - You
have already had a few advanced reviews for Lauren’s Eyes from
reviewers/sites. Are you surprised at
all that this book is being given such high praise?
- This story has always
seemed to strike a chord with readers.
Of my three long contemporary stories that finalled
in the Golden Heart contest;
this one received the highest marks, by a pretty good margin. And it went on to win the New Voice contest,
further confirming that something in it resonated for readers. So in one way, I’m not unduly surprised by
its good reception. However, there’s
always that little voice of doubt (okay, it’s more like a big voice,
a megaphone!). And fiction is so
subjective; what’s wonderful by one reader’s yardstick might be lousy
another’s. All of this to say, I am
supremely grateful that the reviews to date have been so positive.
TW - Have
you been very nervous with the upcoming release, the feedback that you
waited for with respect to reviews, etc?
respect to waiting on the reviews, I was very nervous until I got a
positive ones under my belt. I figure
they will help bolster me if/when a bad one comes in.
I’ve relaxed enough to start breathing again. But as for the release of the book itself, I
have to confess to some major nerves.
The idea of strangers reading it and being
transported pleases me
mightily. But the idea of folks closer
to home reading it, well…yikes! Mostly,
I walk around in denial. It will NOT be
read by the chairman of my board of directors, my mother, my old high
TW - How
difficult was it to write Lauren’s Eyes?
Were there any moments of insecurity, writer’s block
or anything of that
- I’m not
really good at sharing or brainstorming when I get stuck.
I feel this need to shelter the work until
I’ve given it my very best, after which I have no trouble exposing it
strenuous critique. But in the creation
phase, critique seems to do me more harm than good.
So when I get stuck, it’s up to me to get
unstuck, and that happened a few times with this story.
Not that I don’t have talented critique
partners who are anxious to help me; I’m just paranoid that input too
will make it less my story.
insecurity, there is a point in every draft when I look at what I’ve
and want to wail because I’m convinced that it’s utter drivel. I want to drag and drop the file into the
trash, and then reformat my hard drive so it can never be resuscitated
again. When that happens, I just have to
back away from the keyboard.
TW - You
also have a book, Haunted by Dreams, which was a Heart of
Denver Aspen Gold Finalist for Short
Contemporary in 2003. Where and when was
- This was
the title published by Hard Shell Word Factory, the e-publisher I
earlier. Shortly after the trade
paperback version became available in 2002, I read a plea for
authors to enter their stuff in more contests, so we could make a
that our stories can go head-to-head with print pubs.
On impulse, I entered HAUNTED. You
could have knocked me over with a feather
when I finalled. I didn’t win, but it
was a blast to see my name there beside the seriously talented Jane
TW - What
can you tell us about Haunted by Dreams?
- I loved
this story, and I needed to write it, but once it was done, I realized
written something that was never going to find a home with a
publisher. Both the hero and heroine are
Native. Not to say that the publishing
world does not have a good appetite for books featuring First Nations
protagonists, but I haven’t encountered one where both hero and heroine
Native. Most often, the hero is Native
and the heroine is lily white. The
conventional wisdom (I assume) is that the heroine should be “like” us,
maximize how strongly we identify with her, and as we know, white
dominate the romance-reading demographic.
I’ve read and loved many books written in this vein
automatically when I hear Kathleen Eagle’s name). But
I really yearned to write a story where
it was a beautiful Indian woman who snagged the handsome Native hero. So I did.
HAUNTED is actually set in my home
which also gave me great pleasure.
TW - What
is something that no one knows about you?
Something they’d be surprised to find out?
- LOL! Great question.
Actually, I’m a pretty open book these days,
about most things. Anything no one knows
about me at this point will go to the grave with me.
said that, up until about
seven years ago, one thing that many people didn’t know about me was
write romance. Yes, it’s true! I was afraid to come out of the closet. That’s another thing RWA, and the close
association with other romance writers, does for you.
Now I’m proud to say I’m a romance
writer. In my own defense, I should say
that at the time, I was surrounded in my working environment with
didn’t read commercial fiction, let alone lowly romances.
I know your audience will agree that romance
writing is a good and honourable calling in a world that too often
TW - What
is your favourite food?
- Mmmmmmm gotta be
chocolate. Preferably with almonds. I know; predictable!
course, maybe my choice has
something to do with the fact that I’m on a low carb diet at the
to shed those winter pounds before I go to Dallas for
RWA conference this summer. (My
long-distance friends all think I’m svelte!)
TW - What
is your favourite thing about writing?
- Magic. The kind that happens when you
details into your scenes just because you have to put something down
then later, those details prove to be pivotal at the climax. Did my subconscious know I was going to need
that detail? Maybe. Or
maybe I just made my own magic.
TW - When
you are not writing, what would we find you doing?
- I’m an
avid cribbage player, and often compete in tournaments.
I love to watch my underachieving Toronto
Blue Jays, though I watch less and less TV these days, as my time gets
limited. Four days a week, my family and
I can always be found in front of The Daily Show for our dose of news
with a satirical bite. I also have a
huge perennial garden that my more green-thumbed sisters help me
maintain. And I spend way too much time on
the Wet Noodle Posse (WNP), an affectionate term for my
the Golden Heart finalist class of 2003.
Though I was part of two other GH finalist cohorts
(2001 and 2002), some
weird alchemy happened with this 2003 group to bond us in strange and
ways. I truly think we’ve made some
lifelong friendships. If anyone is
curious to read more about the WNP, I’d invite you check the Favorite
section of my website at http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/wilson/
We are a
force to be reckoned with!
TW - Who
are some of your favourite authors?
- Oh, oh, oh! I like this part. Barbara Samuel rules. Jennifer
Crusie is a goddess. I’ve already
mentioned Kathleen Eagle. Susan Elizabeth
Phillips is incapable of
writing something I wouldn’t love. In
the suspenseful vein, Lisa Gardner, Tami Hoag, Iris Johansen, Linda
Howard. In category, give me Gayle
Wilson (no relation, sadly), Justine Davis and Ruth Glick/Rebecca York. Out of genre, I adore Carl Hiaasen, Robert
Crais, Harlan Coban.
the historical vein, I love
Deborah Hale and Julianne MacLean. And
if you recognize these names as two of the pubbed authors who lent me
support as I was scrabbling for a toehold in this business, you’re not
mistaken! But this is not payback. These authors have proven themselves. Deborah just debuted with LUNA, Harlequin’s
new fantasy trade paperback line, and Julianne MacLean’s latest Avon
the USA Today Bestsellers list.
while I’m on a roll plugging
authors I know (but who TOTALLY deserve it!), I would put a word in for
Stephanie Rowe, whose Flipside “Stress & the City” just cracked me
up. Barbara Phinney is making big
with Silhouette Intimate Moments (my favorite category line!), and a
gal by the
name of Carol Schede, whose Five Star books I look forward to with as
as the next Jennifer Crusie hardback, is quietly winning hearts
everywhere. And my predictions for the
historical market? Look out for Sandy
Blair; she’s going to be huge. And
Nadele Jacobs, too. And oh, darn, I
think I’ve run out of space!
TW - What
other releases do you have set for release? Anything you can discuss at
nothing yet. I’m as yet unagented (my
experience proves the old adage that it’s harder to sign an agent than
to a publisher), and I’m just approaching that delicate dance of
stories to my publisher.
TW - What
do you have, have goals for in the future, with respect to your writing
- I work
full time, and I’m not able to give up that employment income just yet. In point of fact, I’m not sure I want to give
the work up. I do draw a lot of reward
from my job. So I’ll probably continue
to write a book a year for a while. I
also have a small inventory of Golden Heart finalling romantic suspense
I’d love to sell. My aim is for my
writing career to build momentum at the same time as my 9-5 job winds
down. Ultimately, I would love to be
able to be self-sustaining as a writer.
But it won’t stop there. I’m
afraid I never was content to be merely adequate and workmanlike in my
job. When writing becomes my principal
focus and source of income, I’m afraid I’ll have to excel at it. (No pressure, right?)
TW - If
fans would like to get in contact with you, where could they write?
- Fans can email me at email@example.com If they prefer a snail mail address, they can
correspond with me at P.O.
TW - Is
there anything else you would like to add Norah?
- Just a great big
THANKS! The whole reason we writers
write is to connect with readers. We
want to hook them, draw them in, and hold them in thrall.
But opportunities like this afford me a
chance to speak to readers on a different level.
you so much Norah for taking the time out of your busy schedule to
us at The Road to Romance.