Today author Giselle Marks answers 10 Questions about her writing. Giselle is a prolific author of historical romance, fantasy/science fiction, and poetry.
Linda Covella: Welcome, Giselle!
When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Giselle Marks: I have always written at least since I was about eight. I just wrote stuff for class but I got used to being top in the class. I was set on having a career in art – I was good at that too. I took a Foundation Course in Art. I had a place to do Fine Art at degree level which in the end I turned down. Then I went out to work. All my jobs involved writing. I wrote for a number of companies – minutes, computer programming, letters, reports, advertising material and technical manuals. I started writing stories and articles after I married and had children. I sold a number of articles to magazines and newspapers, it was money that was mine alone. I joined a local writing group and read some stories. Then a friend loaned me a couple of feminist sci-fi books by Suzette Haden Elgin, Native Tongue and The Judas Rose. I enjoyed the books but argued that if women were in charge not all of them would be sweet and kind. I said if women were in power and as strong physically as men that they would have all the same faults and strengths as men. I was dared to write a book that reflected that view. So I started the slightly spoof series of The Zeninan Saga which grew. I did not really consider publication until after my marriage failed.
I wrote the series believing that I knew how to write. Short stories are very different to novels. I wrote from a multiple POV with telepaths and a large cast of characters. I had a lot of back story and other problems.
I wrote a pair of Regency romances which I offered for publication. I was accepted by a small American romance publisher. I put out the two books and within 3 months of the first going out the publisher went bust, owing me a little money and other writers very much more. After burning my fingers on my first outing I considered other publishers – three accepted my books but I did not like their ideas about how to package me and I was wary of making the same mistake twice. Two stories were published in anthologies while I dithered. I do not think I really realized that I was a writer until I finally published independently.
LC: That’s quite a history. You must be proud of all you’ve now accomplished.
What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?
GM: These are difficult questions. I write mostly at home on a computer or lap top, but currently I have a pile of handwritten sheets to type up. So if no computer is available I still write. I do not write every day because I have been working on getting some of the books I have already written ready for publication. So edits, rewrites, blurbs and I am updating my bio for this piece. I also edit for other independent writers which means I get to read their books first. Time is taken up with promotion which has to be done. I am gradually building up a fan base but that is complicated by my writing cross genre. I write historical romances, four of which I have published. The Fencing Master’s Daughter, The Marquis’s Mistake, The Purchased Peer and the most recent A Compromised Rake. A Purchased Peer is Georgian was set between 1790-1800 but the others are Regency. There is also a charity novella in an anthology called the “Chocolate House – All for Love – Anthology Masqueraders,” which Francine Howarth put together. Money goes to GOSH, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, which treated me as a child.
I have a long Regency novel completed which needs editing and preparing for publication. I also however write fantasy and soft sci-fi. So I am a full time writer/editor. For my historical romances I usually have a first scene and an ending and some of the in between but my characters largely decide the action between. I have written outlines before writing and written straight off without any plan more than a character arrives and says write. Some of my short stories have ambitions and turn into full scale novels.
LC: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?
GM: Everything we write takes something from who we are. However I have only ever written one character based loosely on someone I have met and only from appearance because I don’t know him well enough to know what makes him tick. I do think education and wanting to learn a skill or knowledge is important and I suspect that is reflected in my writing. I write whatever comes to me, I have no idea where from, but I am not short of ideas only time to write them all. For The Purchased Peer, I had just finished writing another book and was planning a few days off writing. However Xavier Falconer (TPP’s hero) turned up and demanded I write his story, as a very gorgeous specimen of manhood with great determination – he badgered me until I wrote the first scenes.
LC: One of those pesky characters, right?
Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?
GM: I do not create my characters, they arrive. I thought I was creating them to start with but they impose their own ideas about who they are. I do not really have favorites, they all different and like my children all much loved. Out of my historical romance heroines, then it will be Mademoiselle Madelaine Deschamps, who rescues the hero from footpads intent on killing him with a fine display of swords-womanship in The Fencing Master’s Daughter. She has many qualities and a great deal of determination. If you want a gorgeous hero then I can’t chose between Xavier Falconer, traditionally dark haired and Sebastian Farndon, the Marquis in the Marquis’s Mistake who is blond. Sebastian might just edge it because he is not just a pretty face. However Charles from the Zeninan Saga is probably the most complex and interesting character I have wrote.
LC: Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?
GM: I am sure I must I am very honest and I think my heroines and heroes are naturally honest.
They incorporate my love of the English language which is a joy forever and my love of history and knowledge.
LC: Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.
GM: They are character driven, but the characters come and drive me to write. I can plot and do sometimes in advance, there is no guarantee that my characters will agree to follow the plot though. They will not do anything I plot out if they feel it does not fit with their ethos. We have nasty arguments about it.
LC: Did you read much as a child?
GM: Everything and anything I could get my hands on. My father did threaten to tear out two pages from Lady’s Chatterley’s Lover but I already knew all the words he was offended by. Still do when I am not writing or editing for other writers.
LC: How important do you think reading is for writers?
GM: How can you write without reading? It is paramount that writers read. I still read many genres, historical romance, history and historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, who-dunnits and forensic murder mystery. I have probably missed some genres. Currently reading a history of the Chines players in 1920s onwards called the Shanghai Tapestry.
LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?
GM: Georgette Heyer, Sarah Waldock and Stacy Reid for historical romances. Georgette is the example we all adore and learn by. Her scene setting and language are wonderful, brighten any dreary day. Sarah writes some gorgeous romances and historical mysteries, set in Regency and Tudor times. She is a brilliant historian and tireless in her research. Stacy Reid is one of the best writers of sexy scenes which the other two do not write. I would add Bernard Cornwell, especially for both his Sharpe and The Last Kingdom series, but they are very well researched historical novels rather than romances.
Patrick Rothfuss – The Name of the Wind – fantasy writer is probably the best writer alive. It takes a long time for him to write his tomes but they are well worth waiting for. There are a lot of other writers from assorted genres that I love to read, but I could fill several pages with the lists.
LC: Anything new in the works?
GM: I am working on bringing out imminently Wishing Well Cottage which is a magical modern romance between a white witch and a slightly tarnished wizard. It is sexy and funny. I have a draft of a poetry book which I am reducing in length and Champion of Zenina, book 3 in the Zeninan Saga is being prepared for publication.
LC: A lot for your readers to look forward to! Giselle, thanks so much for joining us today. Best of luck with all your writing!
Giselle Marks is an English writer, poet and novelist, born in London, who has been writing most of her life. Currently Giselle lives in the beautiful Isle of Man. Her family is grown, contented and expanding. She spends most of her time writing.
Her historical romances ‘The Fencing Master’s Daughter,’ ‘The Purchased Peer’ and ‘The Marquis’ Mistake’ have been receiving good reviews. ‘A Compromised Rake’ is recently released; it is a light Regency romance. A Regency ‘Gypsy Countess’ series is planned with the first draft of book one already written.
Together with her fellow writer and cover artist Sarah J. Waldock, Giselle wrote and illustrated ‘Fae Tales’ an anthology of fae and mythic tales updated to modern times and intended for teenagers and adults. All three books are available from Amazon. The ‘Princess of Zenina,’ and ‘Heroine of Zenina’ are the first two books in the sci-fi / fantasy Zeninan Saga will soon be followed by ‘Champion of Zenina’. Other long- term projects include a possible book of her poetry. Her poems have been published in Female First and she has entered two of their contests, scoring a win and a commendation. Within the Isle of Man her poetry has been included in the local Lit Fest poetry trail 2016 and in a number of ’Manx Reflections’ a local poetry anthology. Giselle has had short stories and a novella published in anthologies.
Books currently available:
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