Thursday, November 6, 2008

Meet Evonne Wareham: American Title V Finalist!

Hello! It's Magical Mel (Thanks for the moniker, Sav!)And I'm here to welcome you to our last ATV interview. I'd like to take a moment to thank all of the finalists for spending some of their precious time with us over the past two weeks. It was wonderful to meet all of you! Or in some cases, it was wonderful to see you again. :-) Good luck, ladies. Enjoy the ride!

Since we all met each other at the beginning of ATIV, we've had lots to cheer about. ATIV itself; Trish, Savanna, and Anitra's sales; Anitra and Evonne's Launching a Star contest finals. (I'm sure I'm forgetting something. You may apply the wet noodle in comments!) I think it's appropriate, however, that as we approach our first anniversary here at Title Magic, we get to celebrate by watching one of our own compete in the same contest in which we met. Congrats, Evonne! We're so proud of you!

All righty, enough squishy stuff. Evonne! Who are you and where are you from?

I’m Evonne, and I come from Barry, which is a large town on the South Wales coast, not far from the Welsh capital city, Cardiff. Those who are into the cult series Doctor Who and Torchwood would recognize landmarks from the area, as it's where they are both filmed.

Mel: Last year, we all competed with paranormal manuscripts, but this year's contest is a genre free-for-all. What's your book's title, and subgenre?

Evonne: My manuscript is called Never Coming Home. It's a contemporary romantic thriller. I seem to have tuned into my dark side while I was writing it, as it has a very high body count and a number of characters meet rather gruesome ends. Not all of them the bad guys.

Mel: Sounds like one of those dangerous books! Can you tell us a little more?

Evonne: Kaz Elmore’s four-year-old daughter died in a car crash while on holiday in the States with her father. Now, six months later, Kaz gets a visit from a guy called Devlin. His account of what happened that day is very different from the one Kaz got from her ex-husband. She needs to find out the truth, and Devlin seems to be the only person who is willing to help her. But can she trust him?

Mel: When we talked about the book earlier, you mentioned that it opens in the U.S., but then it moves to London, and then to Florence. Why were those locations important to you?

Evonne: They were significant for me and for the book. I needed the car crash involving Kaz's daughter to be somewhere that was a long way from home, so that she knows very little about what happened, and is too overcome with grief to ask. Also Devlin is living in the States. Hiding out, if you like. Everyone thinks that he is an American, but he's not, he was born in Hackney, in London. He used to work for a very secret branch of the security services, which I invented for the purpose. When the book opens he is 'retired' and living under a new name.

London and Florence are two of my favorite cities. I lived for a long time in London, and I'd love to live in Italy. I hope that the atmosphere of both comes across in the book. There are also brief trips to France, Lake Garda, also in Italy, and Cardiff, in a short but vital scene at the end of the book. I always like to put a small glimpse of Wales into everything I write.

Mel: To this small-town Midwestern girl, that all sounds so exotic and beautiful! I can't wait to read your excerpts when voting starts. Can you tell us more about the conflicts in Never Coming Home?

Evonne: The book has quite a complex plot, so I had to weave the progress of the love affair and the emotional development of the characters in amongst the parts where I’m throwing people off high buildings. Both Devlin and Kaz are carrying baggage and have a lot of internal conflict. For some reason that she doesn't understand, Kaz trusts Devlin from the beginning. Everyone is telling her that she is wrong to do this and that is also what her brain is telling her, but her instinct is pushing her in the opposite direction. She is afraid that she is making a mistake, which she has made before, relying on a man to solve her problems, when she could and should be doing it for herself. She has no idea how strong she really is, or how much that attracts a man like Devlin, who admires her independence.

Kaz’s mother, Suzanne, was a wild child in the swinging 60s, and her lifestyle has given Kaz an insecure background that she is trying to repair. A lot of my books have an older woman in them, who has an influence on the heroine. I had a lot of fun imagining Suzanne's life as a model and party girl in London in the late 1960s. I will be interviewing Suzanne on author Sylvia Day's blog on 4 December. If everybody would like to drop in then you can find out more about her life.

Devlin’s got his own problems – he’s done some pretty bad things in his past, but now something inside him is changing. It looks like it may be his conscience coming to life. Meeting Kaz makes the whole situation a lot worse, because she seems to be able to push all the wrong buttons. He finds himself volunteering to help her, and it’s all downhill from there. Plus they both think that the other is hot. They don't actually managed to resist each other all that long -- my willpower wasn't strong enough – but, of course, they think that it's only a casual affair. I have news for them …

Mel: Sylvia has been so supportive of American Title. I'll be there with bells on! When you wrote NCH, did you do a lot of plotting, or are you more of a pantser?

Evonne: I’ve never been able to decide about this, because I do both. Never Coming Home was quite heavily plotted in parts, because I had to be sure that all the layers pulled together while Kaz is searching for her daughter. I had bits of plot written on cards which I kept shuffling to get them in the right order. By the sort of nasty coincidence that we evil writers like to throw into the mix, something from Devlin's past also comes back to haunt him. There was even more shuffling then, to ensure that everyone was in the right place, and even in the right country, to be doing what they were supposed to be doing.

In other parts of the book, particularly in the developing relationship between Kaz and Devlin, I often sat down to write with no idea of what was going to happen. I just let them tell me what came next. It took a bit of double checking and sorting out at the editing stage, but it all hangs together now -- I think! Now I just have to see what the readers of Romantic Times make of it.

Mel: I have to know - how did you react this time around when you heard the news you'd finaled?

Evonne: Getting the e-mail from Romantic Times was a very weird experience because, of course, I'm one of the Title Magicians who were finalists last year. So I was thrilled and excited, and also had a strange sense of déjà vu. When I sent off three chapters and the synopsis of Never Coming Home, I really didn't know if I could do it again, or even if they'd accept another entry from a previous finalist. As you know, I didn't even tell the rest of the ladies on Title Magic, not even when I got the request from Dorchester in July for the full manuscript. Only my mum and two close friends knew. They'd all encouraged me to have another try, but I didn't know what to expect. So – I’m living proof that you can have a dream come true more than once.

Mel: Well, you must be doing something right, Evonne. Dream big, and dream often! I'm looking forward to cheering you on!

Voting starts November 10th at the Romantic Times Website. These talented, yet still unpublished ladies are the future of romantic fiction. And you, reader, get to tell a major review magazine and a leading publisher exactly what you want that future to look like. YOU get to tell them what you like and what you want to read with one quick monthly e-mail.

So if you don't vote, you don't get to whine later that you can't find anything good to read. At least not to me. :-P

Thanks again ATV finalists! Good luck!


Jessica said...

Evonne, this book sounds fantastic. And I adore your choice of locations! This sounds like an amazing read.

Edie said...

Evonne, I love your locations, too. I'm already hoping that the daughter shows up alive. LOL And I believe that dreams can come true a second time. There's no expiration date on dreams. We're all fabulous writers and we can all publish!

Savanna Kougar said...

Evonne and Mel, outstanding interview.
Evonne, I can just imagine you shuffling through your plot cards. Now, I shuffle at the end of wip, where I put the various plot points, and attempt to keep it relatively organized.
Evonne, best of luck. And ride that star...

Evonne Wareham said...

Thanks ladies.
I had a lot of fun with the locations for the book.

The worst bit about the cards was the day I dropped them. The plot could have been really strange if I'd stayed with the order in which I picked them up.

Savanna Kougar said...

Evonne, I would probably have thrown a temper fit if I'd dropped the cards...or laughed, one of the two...

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Hi Evonne,

your book sounds fascinating. I love books where the th eplot takes the protags to many places. I'll be rooting for you as I'm sure all of us on Title Magic will.

Lots of luck in the voting rounds!

Evonne Wareham said...

Thanks for the support, Helen.
You know how important that is! And appreciated.

Sav - I think I was too out of breath from crawling under the furniture to retrieve them to cuss or smile.