One of the things I love most about this interview series is how many different types of writing and publishing get represented here. So today, I’m eager to share the thoughts of self-published, romance writer, Alison Clifford.  Enjoy.  

1.Tell us about your book.

Start with What If: An Interview with Novelist Allison CliffordRoses is a romance suspense book set in Washington, DC. It is the story of Beth, an Australian forensic botanist married to an FBI Special Agent. When her husband, Nick, betrays his colleagues and deserts her, Beth’s life is thrown into turmoil until she is befriended by Nick’s FBI boss, Warren Pearce. The book covers a long time span – over two years – an includes abductions, secret organisations, set ups, deadly toxins, friendship, plot twists, romance, and of course, roses.

The story for Roses had been writing itself in my mind for about two years when I finally sat down to let some of it out. The first scene I wrote was part way through the story – Beth’s arrival at the road after her escape through the forest – and once I’d started writing, I couldn’t stop. I never intended to publish it, but the more I wrote, the more I thought about taking the plunge and self-publishing. Roses will always be special to me, not only because it’s my first novel, but because it introduced me to the characters it contains. It’s a fast moving, rollercoaster ride, that will leave you wondering what is coming next. Roses is the first book of the White Rose series and is available both as an Ebook from most sellers, in serialized form on Channillo, and in print from Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

2. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I love to read, usually thrillers and mystery novels, but will try most genres. I’m also a fan of most types of motorsport and love getting trackside when I can. On top of that, I have a full-time job as a payroll officer, which challenges my brain in a completely different way to the writing process. It also gives me freedom when it comes to my writing as I am not relying on income from my books to pay the bills!

3. Describe the first 2-3 steps of your process in writing your book.

I guess the first step is to come up with the premise for the story. I like to start with ‘what if?’ and see what ideas emerge from that. As my books are romance thrillers, I then write a sentence or two about the romantic and suspense aspects, and any other issues I want raised during the book. For example, my heroine, Beth, is a forensic botanist, so I determine and outline the botanic information that will play a role. Then I research (love research!).

4. How do you balance what will sell with what you want to say?

I must admit that I don’t write with a specific audience in mind. This is going to sound mushy, but I write what my heart wants to write. I don’t think I’d enjoy it if I didn’t.

5. Which is more difficult – drafting or revising? Why?

Definitely revising! I don’t do any revision when I’m writing my first draft, so the first revision usually involves me sitting at my laptop saying “oh, I need to fix that” and “what was I thinking?”

6. What is your favorite part about being a writer?

Being able to create. For me it’s that simple. I get to bring my imagination to life and let my characters live in the story, and the pleasure that gives me is immense.

7. What is your least favorite part about being a writer?

When my characters take over and change the plot. It can be quite irritating at times, but they’re usually right. (That’s why its irritating!)

8. What are a few of your favorite books of all time?

A hard question! Precious Time by Erica James is one I have read more times than I can remember – a wonderful story. Another favourite is Death in the Andamans by MM Kaye – a classic romance suspense. For a bit of fun, I go for Sammy’s Hill by Kirsten Gore. Sammy is a flawed and wonderful character, and the story gives a fascinating insight into the American political world by one who would know – the author is the daughter of Al Gore.

9. What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, once put three rules for writing up on her Facebook page. The third rule, she said, was the most important – “DON’T STOP.” I haven’t, and I won’t.

10. What’s your philosophy and practice about reading reviews of your work?

I love reviews – even the bad ones. I believe I can learn a lot by listening to what others say about my writing, and my writing will never improve unless I do. Every piece of feedback needs to be considered and weighed up, and any lessons learned then applied. The only thing I don’t appreciate is if someone tells me they didn’t like something, but they don’t go on to say why. “I didn’t like your book” means nothing to me, and I ignore comments like that. “I didn’t like your book because your hero wasStart with What If: An Interview with Novelist Allison Clifford boring” is feedback I can work with. Of course, I like the good reviews too. They are also welcome!

Clifford began writing as a teenager, but didn’t take it seriously until 2013 when she sat down to write Roses. A mother of three, she has served with the Australian Army Reserve and the Royal Australian Air Force, leaving her with a keen interest in the military and law enforcement. Clifford lives in Tasmania, Australia, and you can connect with her on her website, Facebook page, on Twitter, and on Instagram. Her next novel Seeing Red will be out on April 26th.