Please give a big welcome to—
rem: Thank you, Robin for being on my blog this week.
Robin: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
rem: Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
Robin: About me. I’m eclectic, I’m a singer and actress and artist, as well as a writer. I have three grown children and two precious grand girls. I was born at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, we moved around a lot—I went from coast to coast and back again before I was even born!—lived sixteen years in Colorado, and now live in the upstate of South Carolina. I’ve been here for 28 years.
rem: Tell us three things about yourself.
Robin: 1) I love all things British and Irish, and I do a pretty good British and Irish accent; my favourite thing to say in accent, is, “I’m born in Mississippi.” 2) I have a twisted sense of humour. But I’m really fun to be with! 3) I had knee replacement seven weeks ago and I couldn’t be more satisfied or excited! (I’ve needed it since, well, forever really.)
rem: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?
Robin: Ice cream: chocolate mint, close second, cinnamon swirl. Cookie: snicker doodle, close second, mint chocolate chip.
rem: If you could have any super power what would it be?
Robin: The way Samantha Stevens could speed herself up. I always have so much to do and not enough time to do it. There are two reasons for this: not the best at time management but also I get really tired really easily. (which is changing since my surgery!)
rem: Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?
Robin: Big Bird? ‘cause, you know, Robin, bird… (I’m kind of out of the Muppet loop these days)
rem: Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?
Robin: Yes. I drink coffee in the mornings, then tea the rest of the time (my blood type is A-tea-positive…..) Definitely not sweetened, coffee or tea. And coffee is cinnamon hazelnut, tea is Pekoe and green tea, no flavors.
rem: Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer? What are the names of your pets?
Robin: I think I’m part cat. I like dogs okay, but I’ a cat lover. They are, Shadow (the Mama), Trinity Juniper Star, Jasper Jupiter Mars, Jacob Jeremiah, and Princess Penelope Primrose.
rem: Superman or Batman?
Robin: Batman. Hello? Robin here….. #sorryhadto
rem: Vacation: beach or mountains?
Robin: Give me my mountains. #rockymountainhigh
rem: What is your most treasured possession?
Robin: Of things it would be my birthstone ring. It’s a pink amethyst, which is a rare color variation. My mother’s father bought it in 1919, forty years before I was born.
rem: What is your greatest fear?
Robin: Oddly enough, my fear used to be success not failure. Failure I knew, success terrified me.
rem: What is your greatest regret?
Robin: Being afraid of success for so many years.
rem: What is your favourite quotation and why?
Robin: There are so many that I identify with but given my aforementioned fear of success, this one speaks to me deeply: “What if I fail? Oh, but my darling what if you fly?” attributed to Erin Hanson (see greatest fear and regret)
image found on Pinterest
rem: What do you do as a hobby?
Robin: Does research count? LOL When I’m not writing or reading, I like to paint and draw, I love to be outdoors and go for long walks. (which I’ll be able to do without pain as recovery from surgery progresses!) I also love to cook and bake.
rem: What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
Robin: Genuineness. Don’t play games with me, be real. Qualities that make a man or woman are integrity, honesty, compassion. Oh, and a sense of humour!
rem: When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?
Robin: The story has to be real, plausible even fantasy and sci fi. And it has to be well told.
rem: Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
Robin: Ummmm…. let me get back to you on that one…. I read few more than once.
rem: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Robin: Too cliché to say Robin Hood?
rem: If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?
Robin: Too cliché to say Maid Marian?
rem: Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?
Robin: Favorite genre, easy, historical fiction, Biblical fiction in particular. Favorite authors include Tessa Afshar, Marian Merritt, Kristen Heitzmann, Valerie Comer, newcomer Connilyn Cossette—it’s a long list…
rem: Which is more important: plot or characters?
Robin: Yes. According to DiAnn Mills, “They are inseparable.” (from my interview with her on 28 January) The way I see it, one feeds the other.
rem: What would you do if you weren’t writing?
Robin: Wishing I was. I’ve my BFA in Interior Design and I love doing it. But writing fits me like nothing ever has.
rem: Tell us a little about your writing journey.
Robin: I started writing in 1995 as a self-prescribed therapy; I was going through some pretty intense self-examination at the time, going to counseling and on anti-depressant. The writing “came” to me, naturally, and turned into something so much more. I started with my story (which will never see publication) and over the years, have written dozens of poems. In July of 2008, the opening of Tessa, my debut novel, came to me. I made a bit of a start, then lost a chunk (digital malfunction) and I abandoned it. I also went back to school, started with the 2009 spring semester, and that didn’t leave much time for writing (I was also diagnosed with RA during this time.) After graduation, and the anticipated illustrious career in Interior Design did not manifest, I set back to my writing; I got serious about it somewhere around September of that year, and by end of January 2014, Tessa was complete. The rest, as they say, is history.
rem: What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
Robin: Routine, not so much. Although, the muse seems strongest in the afternoon and evening. (In fact, I just set myself an alarm for 5:00—I feed the fur babies at about 5:30 and was so into writing I missed it. Looked up and it was after six! Of course, this also means my supper is later rather than earlier…)
In preparation for surgery, I had to rearrange my living room (technically, two wonderful friend did this for me, and wouldn’t even let me help!) I now have a niche with my writing accoutrements at hand—I “nest” as I write and need everything within easy reach—and it works very well for me. Almost officey looking even.
rem: What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
Robin: Discipline? Focus? Staying off of Facebook…. (yeeps) Once I get into my storyline, at whatever point that might be, it’s pretty golden, and words flow. It’s just that “jump” over that hurdle; I think all writers struggle with this at one time or another.
rem: Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
Robin: Yes. Like plot and character, they are, for me, inseparable. There is the school of thought that you write the first draft without so much as glancing back over it at all, at all. I can’t do that, I need to review, see where I’ve been to get the feel for where it’s going. And yes, I edit as I go. Same principle.
rem: What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
Robin: The stories. As a plantzer I don’t know [most of] the story until I write it. I know the general arc, and where the story needs to go to resolution, but how it gets there—no clue until the characters tell me!
rem: What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
Robin: The hardest? I had no clue what I was doing. The easiest? I had a friend who did!
rem: What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?
Robin: DO: 1) Keep writing. 2) Network. Get involved in writing communities, both live and online. Be involved in the writing journey of other writers. 3) Never give up. 4) Don’t compare yourself – your writing or your journey – to another writer. What works, or fits, for one will and necessarily be the best plan for you. 5) One more nugget, which most writers accept as par for the course. Read. Read. And read some more. I have read some that were not what I would have otherwise read, and found that I quite enjoyed them. Like any other field, we are ever learning and growing, and honing our craft. (okay that was more than three… )
DON’T: 1) Ever give up. 2) Forego the value of editing! Or professioinal cover design. No one person can do it all. As an artist, it was hard to let go of my concept for my cover, but in the end I’m very happy with my covers! (designed by Victorine Lieske, by the way) 3) (don’t) take criticism personally. A good critique will have issues that may or may not hurt our feelings, but to produce the best we can produce, we must have more than our own eyes on our work.
rem: Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
Robin: Yes. Anywhere and everywhere. The most random thing can trigger a new story, a name, a concept…
rem: What do you like most about being a writer?
Robin: The creative process, which really isn’t much of a process at all. It’s amorphic, fluid, ever changing. While I know I need the [ahem] discipline, as a creative, this flexibility serves me well. I really love being able to tell a story that others enjoy reading. And as I’ve cast my networking net, I am thriving on the community of writers I am now part of!
rem: Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
Robin: Third book in, and I could no more pick a favorite than I could choose a favorite between my children!
rem: Which character in the story is most like/least like you?
Robin: Cassie. She didn’t know her own amazing talent and ability. She didn’t loathe herself as I did, but neither did she know her worth, or really who she was; she felt invisible, and I very much relate to that.
rem: Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?
Robin: Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy are all part of the unsavory heritage series. When I wrote Tessa, I had no idea of a sequel, let alone a series. Father God, however, had a plan. Cissy is the culmination of the generational story. It is where the “unsavory” begins, and loops back and forth between the 1860’s and current day; it is also the resolution of the unsavory heritage.
rem: Why do you write Christian fiction?
Robin: For me it’s an opportunity to express my faith without being “preachy.” There’s a time and place for traditional witnessing, but to me the greater value and effect is being real in what I believe and living my life accordingly; indeed, this opens the door for direct ministry. For me to be able to write the way I write – which I cannot market as Christian Fiction because of a few “no-no” words – and yet I am a Christian and I am an author, so my faith is in every word I write (yes, even “those” words) and my story conveys what I believe. In the grander scheme, Christian fiction is a platform that readers hold in their hands, and they may confront a Truth they never realized or understood before. If something I write gives a reader pause, plants a seed, or waters a seed planted, then my story is a success.
rem: What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
Robin: Know who you are, and why you were created. Identity is from Father God, and He will bring us to our purpose.
rem: How do you hope your readers react to your stories?
Robin: Like any other author, I hope readers fall in love with my characters. I hope they find some truth, something that speaks to them in the words I write. I hope some facet of my story rings true with my readers.
rem: Thanks for joining us today, Robin. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!
#robinemason, #authorinterview, #interivewselfie, #unsavoryheritageseries, #tessa, #larabess, #cissy