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Elaine Cantell Interview

Most authors are also avid readers. Is this the case with you? If so, who are some of your favorites? Have any influenced your writing?
I’ve always been an avid reader. My mother loved to read, and every Friday she carried my sister and me to the public library. Getting new books was one of the highlights of the week. Some of my favorite authors are Elizabeth Peters, Frank McCourt, Larry McMurtry, and Jennifer Weiner. I’m sure they all influenced my writing. If nothing else I think they set a standard to strive for.

How do you handle family and your writing career? Is your family understanding of the time that you have to give your career? Is it sometimes difficult for you? How did they react to fact that you are a romance author?
I’ve been super lucky. My husband is my biggest fan. He told me for years that I should write a book, but I told him I didn’t know how. Since I’ve signed four contracts now he has said I told you so a couple of times. My biggest challenge is time. I teach social studies at the local high school, and that’s a time consuming job. I got a few chuckles from some family members when I told them I had written a romance novel. My brother-in-law wanted to make a joke of it, but when I offered to put him in a novel he backed off.

What does your writing day look like?
I like to get up around eight and have some breakfast. Then I sit down at my computer and deal with my email. Afterwards, I’ll write for a couple of hours. Then I’ll take a break, have lunch, do errands, etc, and then I’ll spend another hour or so writing. After dinner I’ll read what I’ve written and do a little polishing on it.

Your characters come to life in your books. Do you feel each of your characters live with you as you write? Do their lives sometimes take over a part of your life?
I think of my characters as real people. So much so that sometimes I hate to finish a book! I’ve created one family that I especially love. I have two books already written and am thinking about a third. I’m hunting just the right publisher for them.

How long did it take for your first book to get published?
Actually, it didn’t take long at all. I heard about a contest sponsored by a small publisher. The winner of the contest won a publishing contract. I sent a book in and forgot about it. Three or four months later I decided to look at the web site to see who had won, and my name was at the top of the short list! I woke my husband at one o’clock in the morning to tell him. A few months later, the publisher called and told me I had won. I had a carton of ice cream out of the refrigerator, and I was so excited I forgot about it. The whole thing melted and ran everywhere, but I was too excited to care.

What is your favorite book from the books that you have written so far? Who are your favorite hero and heroine and why?
I think my favorite published book is A New Leaf. I like it because it shows that people can learn from their mistakes and find happiness in places they never dreamed of. I also like it because the characters are ordinary people who might live next door to any of us. My favorite hero is Richard Lovinggood or maybe his son, Hank. Those books don’t have a publisher yet, but I’m looking. My favorite heroine is Betsy McLaughlin. You can read Betsy’s story in A New Leaf.

Which book was the hardest to write and which the easiest?
A New Leaf was the easiest because I think there’s a lot of Betsy, the heroine, in me. The hardest one is yet to be finished. I started a fantasy novel and got stuck so I put it away until I get inspired.

If you could change places with one character from your books, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Betsy from A New Leaf. As I said, I see a lot of Betsy in me, and I also enjoyed seeing her grow and mature as the story progressed.

How long have you been writing? What inspired you to pick the pen up one day and create characters that capture the imagination?
I started writing in 2001 because my son wrote a book. I figured if he could do it so could I. I think his work is spectacular.

When a new book comes out, have you ever been nervous over readers’ reaction to it? How much does reader reaction mean to you as an author? What do you hope readers get from your books?
I’m scared to death that people won’t like it! I want my readers to immerse themselves in my work and come away feeling that their lives are enriched because of what they read.

Would you share an excerpt from your current WIP?
I’d be delighted to. This book is titled The Captain and the Cheerleader. If you like this excerpt, check my web site at http://www.elainecantrell.com/. Each month I’m featuring a new excerpt from this book.

The Captain And The Cheerleader
Chapter 1

“I think that Kurt Deveraux is gay,” announced Robin Landford as she plopped down in the seat beside Susan English.
It was Friday afternoon, but Robin’s statement halted the teacher exodus from the faculty lounge.
“Why do you say that, Robin?” Susan coolly asked. Fresh out of college, Robin seemed to think that she was God’s gift to men; Susan guessed that Robin had made a play for Kurt’s attention and been rejected. Not that many women wouldn’t make a play for Kurt Deveraux. There might be a man somewhere who had more sex appeal than the blond, blue eyed coach, but Susan doubted it.
She watched as Robin tossed her hair and pouted. “If I can’t get his attention he isn’t interested in women.”
Several people rolled their eyes. “Oh, I don’t think that’s the problem at all,” Susan informed her irritating colleague. “You just don’t know how to attract a man like Kurt.”
“And you do? If that’s true why haven’t you already gone out with him? Don’t tell me that you wouldn’t be interested in him. He’s hot.”
“Until recently I was involved with someone else. I wasn’t interested in seeing Kurt or any other man socially.”
“Well, I think you’re full of it. If I couldn’t get him to notice me, I know that you can’t.”
Around the faculty lounge a murmur of delightfully horrified voices broke out.
“Actually, I could make Kurt ask me out if I wanted to.”
“Yeah? Prove it. Get him to ask you out. I’ll bet you fifty dollars you can’t do it. All he’s interested in is football.”

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