What draws you to writing historical romance?
For many years going through regular school, I tried hard to find something to enjoy about history class. There were moments and tidbits, but on the whole, the classes were rather boring. Nothing but facts, names, dates, events, etc. Nothing personal, and no connection to what happened or who lived during those times. So now, as a historical fiction author, I seek to create stories people will love while weaving history throughout the book. When readers finish one of my books, they’ve usually gotten a history lesson without realizing it. And that’s the highest testament someone can give me about my books.
Michigan Brides is set, obviously, in Michigan. Do you have personal ties to Michigan? What can we expect to learn about Michigan’s history from this book?
No, I actually have no personal ties to the state. In fact, I had to seek out location advice and research details from a friend I know who lives there, as well as the Detroit Historical Society. As for Michigan’s history, you’ll learn a lot about the city of Detroit, the factories, Mayor Pingree’s Potato Patch farming, and Henry Ford with his Model-T and the invention of the Assembly Line.
I believe you and I began writing for Heartsong Presents about the same time. Tell me how that came about.
My journey began many years ago. I wrote my first short story in 5th grade with several accolades from both my teacher and my fellow students. It was even entered into a ‘Young Writers of America’ contest and placed but didn’t get selected for publication. Ever since I learned to read at age 3-1/2, I’ve been telling stories, and I could often easily keep a captive audience. Writing seemed to be a natural progression from the verbal.
I wrote often, but it wasn’t until I was a Senior in high school that I got the ‘bug’ to write. My English teacher saw potential, and as an author herself, she encouraged me to pursue the talent further. However, I became more focused on finishing my education and getting my degree, so my writing took up residence on the back burner.
It wasn’t until 1997 when I wrote my first fan fiction and received a lot of encouragement and feedback that I realized I might be able to make something of this ability. It took me another 5 years and encouragement from Tracie Peterson (one of my favorite authors) before I took the step professionally to begin a career by joining a national organization called ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), then known as ACRW (American Christian Romance Writers).
I did everything I could to improve my skills and develop my craft. I bought writing books, studied a wide variety of fiction, conversed with other writers and authors, attended conferences, purchased audio recordings of workshops and presentations, and soaked up as much information as I could handle. Almost 5 years later, I sold my first book and took a rather scary step into the world of authorship.
When I received the notification that my first book was actually going to be bought, I can’t begin to describe the elation and the excitement. The first thought that went through my mind is, “I have to tell someone!” Since the hour was late, and everyone had gone to bed, I logged online. The only one signed on was the man who is now my husband. Some people would call that ironic. I call it God. One of the biggest moments of my life, and the first person I tell is the man I would marry just 8 months later. Amazing!
What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?
I’d have to say being voted the #1 favorite new author in 2009 by the reader’s and being a top 3 finalist, placing 2nd, in the 2009 Annual Reader’s Choice Awards. It’s wonderful to write and be paid to do what you love, but it’s ten times more amazing to have the readers love your work and be touched by your words that they vote you a favorite. A true testament to God’s gift being used to its fullest.
Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?
Honestly? I get or set a deadline. (grins) You’d be amazed how inspired you get when a deadline is looming, whether it’s a personal one you set for yourself or one your editor sets for you. But yes, the deadlines set for you on a contract tend to hold more weight and motivate much more.
In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?
It’s made me even more grateful that I’m able to do what I love and bless others in the process. It’s humbling and an honor to use the gifts God’s given me to inspire those who read my books. And it’s the best feeling in the world to receive a letter or email from a reader telling me one of my books met them exactly where they were at the time, speaking to their heart. How amazing to be called to this career.
As for an aspect that hasn’t changed much, the only one coming to mind is the knowledge I have to stick to my guns and plant my rear in the chair. That I have to write, write, write, in order to keep moving forward. I also have to maintain a teachable spirit and never stop learning.
What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?
I just signed a contract for a new 3-book series set in the Brandywine Valley of Delaware during the Gilded Age and turn of the 20th Century. In all 3 books, an antique book brings each hero and heroine together in ways they never would have imagined, irrevocably intertwining their lives with each other. The first book is set to release in late summer 2011.
And readers can always find me at my web site: www.amberstockton.com. There, you’ll find links to my Facebook page, readers group, Linked in profile, blog, and much more. Come on by! I love to hear from my readers.