Authors Are People, Too

Your favorite writers talking about everything but writing.

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Janet Dawson

Janet DawsonCrime fiction writer Janet Dawson talks about everything but writing…

What are your interests outside of writing?

I enjoy birding and hiking, I like to garden, though it seems hard to carve out the time, and I enjoy going to the theatre.

Gush about your celebrity crush.

Okay, Yul Brynner. Been a fan of Yul Brynner for years, dating back to The King and I. I have lots of his movies, and a small collection of movie memorabilia (lobby cards, posters). The first movie I bought on DVD was The Magnificent Seven. I never tire of watching it. Other favorites, besides the two already mentioned: Anastasia, The Buccaneer, The Journey, The Brothers Karamazov.

If you had to give up chocolate or alcohol, which would you choose and why?

Alcohol! Makes me sleepy. Give me more than a glass of wine at dinner, and I’ll be facedown with my nose in the entree. Couldn’t give up chocolate. There’s chocolate (must be dark), and then there’s everything else. Of course, I have to watch it with eating chocolate late in the evening, because the caffeine in it will keep me awake.

What advice would you give the younger you?

Take more risks. It is so easy to do the safe thing, and I have done the safe thing, a lot. However, many of the good things that have come to me in life are the result of my taking risks.

What do you miss about childhood?

Being taken care of. I had good, loving parents who stayed married and took their roles as parents seriously. They looked after me and my brother, saw that we were fed, housed, educated. They were always there for us, and my mother still is (Dad passed on a few years ago). As I grew older, I realized that not everyone has that, and how fortunate I have been in my parents. I once told Mom the rough thing about being sick as an adult is that she’s not there to make me chicken noodle soup.

What remains undone that you’ve wanted to get done for years?

Travel. I would really like to go places and see things. I’ve been to France but would love to see the rest of continental Europe, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece. Australia, New Zealand, China, India. I haven’t had the time or the money to travel a lot, and would like to do it before I get much older. Over the past few years I have been taking vacations with my mother, who is in her late 80s. I want to do this while she’s still able to travel. We went to New York City and the US Open (she’s a tennis nut) a few years ago. We’ve done a road trip in Colorado, a trip to Yosemite and the Eastern Sierra, a Yellowstone road trip, and last year, a Grand Canyon trip. This year it’s a train trip to Oregon and Washington. 

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Oh, my, how to pick one? I’ve had a few of those in my checkered, er, no, multi-faceted career. I was a legal secretary for many years, until I got a job in what I now refer to as “the law firm from hell.” This was a situation that underscored the fact that many lawyers are afflicted with the arrogance gene. There is a reason for the high turnover in legal secretaries. When I left that job and started looking for another, I found that I couldn’t face the prospect of ever working for lawyers again. So I made a career change. An unexpected offshoot of this is that I now find it difficult to read fiction about lawyers.

Would you prefer a quiet life of safety or a life of great adventure and uncertainty?

See earlier answer about risk. I think I prefer a life that balances the two of these. There are times when I like that quiet life of safety and there are times I want the great adventure and uncertainty. Could I have a month of adventure followed by three months of quiet safety, please?

What You Wish For by Janet DawsonJANET DAWSON is the author of ten mysteries published by Perseverance Press.  Her next release is WHAT YOU WISH FOR, a novel of suspense due out in September 2012 (and available for pre-order now).  Visit Janet’s website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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Denise Dietz

Denise Dietz photoCrime fiction, historical romance, and saga author Denise Dietz (who also writes as Mary Ellen Dennis) talks about everything but writing…


What are your interests outside of writing?

Singing, performing in musical theatre, reading and editing (I’m the Senior Editor for Five Star Mysteries).

Describe the most romantic date you’ve ever been on.

I met novelist Gordon Aalborg (aka Victoria Gordon) on the Internet, through an author’s loop. He lived in Australia, I lived in Colorado. Through our emails we fell in love and Gordon asked me to marry him. I said I thought I should meet him first. So I visited him in Tasmania and for our first date he took me to a restaurant that had all my favorite foods. Then — knowing I loved musical theatre — he took me to a local production of Annie Get Your Gun, where the hillbilly-ish Annie Oakley was performed by a lovely woman…with an Aussie accent. Trust me, you’ve never been romanced until you’ve been romanced by a romance author  :)

Describe the worst date you’ve ever been on.

A date with a guy who’d won an International body-building competition. I thought that date would be “romatic.” We went to HIS favorite restaurant and every head in the room turned my way. Women — and men — stared at me with envy. Frankly, I’d have gladly given him to one (or all) of them. His favorite pose was flexing his biceps, his favorite subject himself. I found “himself” boring.

If you could have any view from your balcony, what would it be?

Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Oh, wait, I DID have that view from my balcony when I lived in Colorado Springs. I once watched a rainbow appear through a snowstorm. Except for the birth of my daughter, it’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.

If you could have front row seats to any concert, who would you like to see?

Barbra Streisand. I saw Streisand on Broadway in Funny Girl. When I left the theatre I predicted she’d be a superstar. I screamed, “I’ve just seen the greatest star in the history of the world!” Then I started singing “People.” No one even turned my way. This was, after all, NYC.

What about you would most surprise your readers?

I was the lead singer of a British rock group. Our biggest gig was on a cruise ship, where our most popular songs were: “Happy anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Abramowitz…” and “Happy birthday, dear Shirley…”

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever collected?

A newspaper reviewer compared my singing to Judy Garland’s and, flattered, I started collecting Judy memorabilia. My weirdest piece of memorabilia is a greeting card cartoon of a woman in braids. The caption says: “Traumatized by a bizarre childhood, an adult Dorothy of Kansas wonders why she’s constantly falling for heartless, cowardly men with no brains.”

What’s the worst thing you ever lost?

The lead role in the musical Gypsy. I’ve always wanted to play three roles: Mama Rose in Gypsy, the Madam in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Ado Annie in Oklahoma. I achieved part of my dream when I played Annie and sang, “I’m just a girl who cain’t say no…” At the time I had only been married three times. :)

Denise Dietz bookDENISE DIETZ, who also writes as MARY ELLEN DENNIS, is the bestselling, award-winning author of crime fiction, historical romance, and sagas.  So far she’s published 15 books with Harlequin, Kensington, Five Star, and Sourcebooks.  Denise’s latest release is FOOTPRINTS IN THE BUTTER, an Ingrid Beaumont Mystery co-starring Hitchock the Dog.  Mary Ellen’s latest release is THE LANDLORD’S BLACK-EYED DAUGHTER, a historical romance with a Romantic Times K.I.S.S. Award-winning hero. Visit Denise’s website or follow her on Facebook.

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Donna Fasano

Donna Fasano photoRomance author Donna Fasano talks about everything but writing…

What are your interests outside of writing?

I love to cook, and I have a collection of over 50 cookbooks to prove it. I love to eat. (Thank goodness, because someone has to eat all that food!) I love to hike. (Hallelujah, because those calories need to be worked off somehow!) I love the ocean. Oh, I don’t usually go into it (who knows what’s lurking beneath the blue-green surface?); I just like to lounge on the shore and listen to the rhythmic waves. I love to socialize; I spend hours bouncing from Facebook, to Twitter, to StumbleUpon, to Tumblr, to Google+, to Reddit…and my latest craze—Pinterest!

If you could have any view from your balcony, what would it be?

This is an easy one! The ocean. Which ocean wouldn’t really matter…just give me the sea. Watching the gulls swoop and the clouds scud across the cerulean sky while the sun warms my skin and flashes like diamonds on the aqua water is one of my very favorite pastimes. Okay, that might have been a bit much, but what can I say? I love the beach!

What was your most memorable meal ever?

On Valentine’s Day about 25 years ago, my husband planned a surprise for me. He arranged for a babysitter, he made reservations, he bought flowers, and he took me to one of the fanciest restaurants in town. I don’t remember what we ate; I only remember how overwhelmed I was that he did something so sweet, so romantic. I’ll never forget that night.

Which temptation do you try the hardest to resist?

Dessert. I have a sweet tooth that nags and nags at me. But as I get older, the pounds seem to creep on and it’s harder to get them off and keep them off. It’s a constant battle.

What’s the worst thing you ever lost?

When my son was 4, he got the notion to visit his friend down the street. The problem came when he didn’t tell his mommy. I thought I would lose my mind! I tore through the house, through the yard, through the whole neighborhood. I remember walking right into my neighbor’s house without knocking, wailing that I’d lost my son. And there he was, staring up at me with wide, innocent eyes. I’ve never breathed such a huge sigh of relief!

If you could donate one million dollars to charity, which one would you choose?

I would donate money to cancer research. My wonderful dad battled 5 different kinds of cancer before he died of brain tumors a year and a half ago. If there was any way to keep people from suffering this horrific disease, I’d love to contribute.

If you could have front row seats to any concert, who would you like to see?

Bands and artists of the 70s. Carly Simon, Elton John, Carol King, Billy Joel, Bread, The Doobie Brothers, Eagles, Genesis, Linda Ronstadt, Little River Band…I could go on and on. I love songs I can sing to. If I’m in a blue mood, I’ll turn on some music and sing and dance.

Describe the best birthday you’ve ever had.

When I turned 40, my whole family succeeded in surprising me with a party. And I mean my whole family: my parents, my brothers and their wives, nieces, nephews, my husband and kids. I was absolutely stunned that they were able to keep the secret from me.

Donna Fasano bookDONNA FASANO is the bestselling, award-winning author of 32 character-driven romance novels published by Harlequin under her own name and as Donna Clayton.  Her books have sold 3.6 million copies worldwide.  Recently she’s been editing, updating, and self-publishing some of her backlist titles.  Donna’s latest release is NANNY AND THE PROFESSOR.  Visit Donna’s website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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Phoebe Conn

Phoebe Conn photoAction-adventure romance author Phoebe Conn talks about everything but writing…

What are your interests outside of writing?

I love to read and belong to two book clubs. One gets together for a potluck dinner and wonderful book discussions. The other group meets at a cafe where we can sit outdoors most of the year and talk books and everything else that pops into our heads. I also knit, but make only scarfs which require no reading of patterns or fancy stitches. I have two grown sons with marvelous families and they make every day worthwhile.

Describe the worst date you’ve ever been on.

I belonged to Great Expectations for a while and stated in my profile that I hoped to meet a man who’d be my equal in intelligence, passion, and wit. One man seemed like a match, and we met for dinner at a nice restaurant. He was a handsome man and likable until he asked angrily: What makes you think you’re the equal of any man? I was absolutely stunned and didn’t get up and leave as I should have. My date asked the waiter so many questions, I thought he was more interested in dating him than me. I took home most of my dinner in a carryout carton and never heard from the dolt again. Thank God.

If you could do something dangerous just once with no risk, what would you do?

I’d go white water rafting. It looks like such an amazing adventure. I can swim and love the water, the only problem is I get seasick and would probably not last in the raft.

If you could donate one million dollars to charity, which one would you choose?

Brad Pitt’s Make It Right that is building sustainable homes in New Orleans’ 9th ward that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Not nearly enough has been done to help the people who lost everything, and I admire Brad for taking a lead in building energy efficient homes designed for New Orleans.

If you could have any view from your balcony, what would it be?

The Pacific Ocean. My family vacationed on Balboa Island every summer, and I went to the beach often growing up. The sea calls to me and mountains, while beautiful, just sit there. The ocean is never still.

What do you miss most about childhood?

I miss being completely carefree and knowing my loving parents would take care of everything. I’ve never felt grown up and everyone I meet tells me they still feel as though they’re in their 20s or 30s rather than their actual age. It would be so nice to have someone to handle all of life’s details so I could just write.

What was your most memorable meal ever?

We visit a terrific Panda Inn for our family birthdays. It’s a beautiful restaurant and the food is so good, we nearly lick our plates. Their honey walnut shrimp is amazing. Any meal there is memorable.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

My two sons’ banter is better than most radio morning show personalities. They see every situation in a comical light and ought to be doing stand up comedy together.

Phoebe Conn bookPHOEBE CONN is the New York Times bestselling author of 36 action-adventure romance novels published by Kensington, Warner Books, Dorchester, and Samhain.  Her latest release is CAPTIVE HEART, and her next release is FIERCE LOVE, due out on May 22. Visit Phoebe’s website or follow her on Facebook.