Friday, July 29, 2011

Interview with Erin Quinn

Interview with Erin Quinn Author of The Mist of Ireland Series

By Shannan Albright

I want to thank you Erin for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to do this interview. I like so many of your fans find your work rich and compelling. Your characters are alive, complex and truly unforgettable.

Hi Shannan, thank you so much for the interview.  I really enjoyed meeting you at AZ Dreamin’ Reader’s Event.  It was the highlight of the day!

~ Do you have a particular methodology that you use when you begin a novel?
Methodology is too big scary of a word for me. I get shivers every time I think of it.  I come at each book differently, I think.  Sometimes I have very crystal clear ideas about certain scenes or certain characters and I build from there.  I usually spend a few days with paper and pencil, scribbling ideas.  I find stepping away from the keyboard often jumpstarts my creativity and gets me thinking in a less linear manner which I think is necessary in the creation stage.  For me, each time is new and different and I’ve yet to find one single approach that is “my way.”
~Why do you feel so drawn to writing paranormal historical romance?
Wow, great question.  I love the idea of the unknown which brings me naturally to paranormal.  Things that go bump in the night, shadows that take on substance, things that can’t be explained—it all intrigues me.  I also love history and the idea that it repeats itself.  I think that has been a theme in my books almost from the start.    Time, in Erin’s world, is not linear and death is rarely final.  Historical novels make a terrific backdrop for those ideas and so it just seems to go hand in hand for me.
~Which book is your favorite and why?
Of my own books?  Wow, that’s like asking which child I like best.  J  Okay, to date I have to say Haunting Warrior is my favorite Erin Quinn and Echoes is my favorite Erin Grady title.  Why?  I felt with Haunting Warrior that Rory’s story just had to be told and the more time I spent with him the more deeply in love I fell.  I loved the flavor and feel of that story and the redemption that Rory found.  Echoes challenged me in so many ways that I can’t even begin to describe them.  It tells a historical story as well as a contemporary one and weaving those dual plots together was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I was pleased with the outcome and Echoes went on to win the coveted WILLA award for historical fiction as well as final in many literary awards.  Haunting Warrior, by the way, is also racking up the accolades.  It’s a Readers Crown finalist, a Booksellers Best finalist and a Golden Quill finalist.
~ What inspires you in the creation of your characters? How do they develop?
I don’t do the extensive character sketches that many writers do.  I find them tedious and I get bored with them.  I usually have a few ideas about who and what my characters are when I begin, but the rest, I learn as I go.  I find the actions of the characters draw the picture of who they are and give the story spark.
~How and where do you write? How many words a day is enough? Is writing about routine for you?
I still work full-time so my writing time is squished into very small chunks.  I write 3 days a week, mostly in the hours between 8am-noon.  When I focus, I can turn out about 10-15 pages of first draft per writing session.  I have a spreadsheet with page goals on it and a timeline for how long I have to finish that first draft.  The second draft is usually the most difficult but that’s where I turn on the editor (I hate that bitch) and really go through the story looking at the plot.  It’s at this point that I start sharing with my critique partner too so I’m getting feedback from my own internal editor and from her.  I have yet to find a workable system that allows me to forecast the time it takes to get through the second draft.  If anyone has a system they use for this, please let me know.  It’s usually during this draft that I curse a lot and cry even more.  I always feel like I’ll never manage to pull the story off.  Third draft is where I look at prose, emotion, pacing.  Fourth draft I’m looking for the mistakes (scenes that were cut in round two but threads of them lurking in later chapters, etc).  By the fifth draft I’m usually so insecure about the book that I’m certain my career will end as soon as I send it in.  All of this BEFORE my editor even gets a hold of it.  No wonder I’m neurotic, right?
Influenced?  I would say Stephen King was a huge influence on me.  The man is a genius.  He made us fear dogs, hotels, proms, cars, small towns, soda machines, fire, clowns… (well, I already feared those, but still).  There were many, many romance writers in there that also influenced me but none with the same impact as King.  When I started out, my goal was to write a book that made you scared to turn out the lights while at the same time, made you fall in love.  I’m not a horror writer by any stretch, but I do like to make things dark and it’s just not a story without romance as far as I’m concerned.
~ What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
~What advice would you give new authors?
I just wrote an article on advice to new authors ( if you’re interested) and in it I say, forget about the business when you start your book.  Don’t worry about who’s going to buy it, read it, review it or represent it.  Don’t worry about anything but telling the story you want to tell.  You can worry every ounce of creativity out of yourself if you try to write and sell at the same time.  Do one and then worry about the other.

~ What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies?

I am a bookworm to my core.  I like to read when I have free time.  Strike that—I love to read.  I probably read about 3 books a week.
~What book are you reading right now?
One that I’m not enjoying so I’m not going to tell you the title.  But I just finished Madeline Hunter’s latest series which was delightful regency.  I’m looking forward to reading the next of Ilona Andrews Magic series, just finished Nalini Singh’s Kiss of Snow (love her psy/changelings).  I’m lucky enough to be a pre-reader for Kathryne Kennedy and finished her latest in the Elven Lords series and it was fabulous.  Love Gini Koch’s kick-ass Alien series.  Can’t wait for Jennifer Ashley’s next in her Highland Pleasures (Mackenzies) series.  Sylvia Day has a new series coming out that I’m looking forward to.  I could go on for hours, ha ha.
~ How much of yourself is present in your writing? Do you look back and find that characters possess a little of your own self in them?
I wouldn’t say they possess a little of myself but they definitely possess a lot of what I would be if I could be someone else.
~If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Honestly?  Wherever my children are.  I live in Arizona right now and I would love to go someplace cooler, but I will never leave unless my kids do.  I couldn’t bear not being near them.
~What is a guilty pleasure for you and why?
Hmmm….I’m not really sure.  I’m not one for self restraint so if I want to do it, I do it and I usually don’t feel guilty about it either.  Lol.  You might say I live large.  Friday nights can find me at Happy Hour, over indulging.  I’ve been known to awake Saturday with a wee bit of a hangover.  Sunday mornings find me sleeping in and dreading Monday.  Would my addiction to movie popcorn count as a guilty pleasure?  I LOVE movie popcorn and I’ve been known to go to the theater to buy the popcorn and bring it home.  I mix it with peanut M&M’s and diet Pepsi (which of course negates the calories) and I’m in heaven.

~Can you tell us what events you will be attending this year?

Wanted to mention that I’ll be at RWA Nationals this year.  I’m giving a workshop called Set it in Emotion on Wednesday, June 29, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM if you’re interested.  I’ll also be at the literacy signing and at the Berkley signing.  In addition, I’ll be at RomCon this year in Denver—hosting a cocktail party and on several panels.  It should be a blast!

Erin Quinn and me at Arizona Dreamin

I wish to thank Erin Quinn for such a wonderful interview. Meeting her was the highlight of my trip to Arizona Dreamin.


  1. Thank you so much for having me here! You asked such great questions!

  2. Great interview, Erin! I loved your "I hate that bitch" comment about your inner editor. I do, too! Not yours, but mine. :) She's kinda snippy, too. If I weren't a nice person, she'd get slapped a lot.
    Keep on writing! And congrats on the accolades for Haunting Warrior!

  3. LOL. Thanks, Joyce. And feel free to hate on my bitch too. She's not a nice person.

    And back at you with the congratulations. I can't believe (or should I say I completely believe) how many awards your books have won!!! For those of you who haven't read Joyce--True Vision which released last year recently took the coveted Daphne du Maurier Award as well as many others. She's an amazing writer and you should give her a read. :)

  4. Hi Erin. I'm a definite fan and I'm dropping by to say "HI!" The Mists of Ireland is just such a sophisticated series. I love it! I made sure I got my copy of Haunting Desire the first week it came out. When is Haunting Embrace due? And, do you have another series or story in the works? Thanks!
    lvsgund at

  5. Amazing interview... my "to read" list is growing exponentially!

  6. Hi LilMissMolly, Haunting Embrace comes out October 4. I'm really excited about it. Haunting Beauty will be re-released in mass market paperback on September 4. (And I have Echoes going in eBook form sometime shortly after). I'm also working on a story for a Halloween anthology.

    Jennifer, I hope you'll give the series a try!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Erin Quinn
    HAUNTING EMBRACE, October 4, 2011
    Don't miss the other books in the Mists of Ireland series: HAUNTING DESIRE, HAUNTING WARRIOR (Booksellers Best Winner) & HAUNTING BEAUTY available now!
    "Erin Quinn writes with passion, power and heart!” ~Nalini Singh, NYT Bestselling Author.