MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Chris Redding primarily writes romance fiction. In 2004, Wings Press published her first romantic suspense book titled THE DRINKING GAME. In 2007, Enspiren Press published her next book CORPSE WHISPERER, a paranormal romantic suspense book. Her third is soon to be published. She also teaches courses in writing and is active in the writers’ group “Liberty States Fiction Writers.” Her web page is here.
Chris, When writing romance, what are the key elements that you believe need to be present?
CHRIS REDDING: You must have a hero, a heroine and a happy ending. There must be some reason in the beginning that they cannot be together and both of them must overcome the obstacles by the end of the book for that happily ever after. Both can be flawed, but they can’t be unlikable. They can’t be mean or cruel. Lastly, the motivation for their actions must be clear.
VENTRELLA: Have you had any formal writing training? Do you think that is necessary?
REDDING: I have a BA in Journalism from Penn State though that should not have prepared me for writing fiction! And if it did my professors would be mortified. Other than that I’ve been to conferences and participated in workshops for ten years. Not sure if you’d consider that formal or not. I don’t think you need a degree in writing to write. You do need to be educated about the business of writing. You also need to know about the genre you write in. There are guidelines you must adhere to for each.
VENTRELLA: You have two books published so far, with two different publishers. How did that come about?
REDDING: With smaller publishers coming and going, I did not want to put all my books in the same place. One of my fellow writers in a group I was in at the time raved about Wings. She was so happy there that it was infectious. And they accepted my first book THE DRINKING GAME which came out in 2004. Then a few years later I heard a small Canadian publisher, Enspiren, was looking for submissions. They accepted my second book, CORPSE WHISPERER, which was released in 2007.
VENTRELLA: How did you end up with your current publisher?
REDDING: My next book will be out with LBF books in the Spring of 2010. I pitched INCENDIARY to them in 2008 at a conference I attended. I feel each step has been a step up in terms of my career. That’s why I’ve chosen each publisher.
VENTRELLA: Would you advise beginning writers to contact them, or are they fairly specialized?
REDDING: Enspiren is more a boutique publisher. Wings and LBF Books accept more genres and publish more books each year. They would be more what a new author is looking for.
VENTRELLA: What’s your opinion on self-publishing?
REDDING: I think it has its place. I haven’t read many self-published books so I really can’t speak to their quality or lack of. It just never seemed the way to go for me. I think you must have already established outlets I which to sell your books. I don’t so I never saw it as a good fit.
VENTRELLA: What’s next? What are you working on now?
REDDING: I’m working on a novella about an angel who investigates crimes. It’s for a call for submission by a specific publisher. With my critique group I am working on a romantic comedy I hope to pitch at a conference in March. My edits for Incendiary will arrive at the end of November so all that will be on hold until they get done.
VENTRELLA: Have you ever considered writing in any other genre?
REDDING: I have been approached by a former co-worker to co-write a children’s picture book with her. I’ve also written a book geared towards the early elementary grades. It’s a chapter book about a pencil monster. I haven’t really done anything with it. If you want a short answer, yes, but I read mostly thrillers, mysteries and suspense so I’m most comfortable with those genres.
VENTRELLA: What is your writing style? Do you tend to rely on outlines first or do you just plow right in?
REDDING: I plow right in. A true pantser. The only things I need to start are the names of the characters, the title of the book, and maybe the conflict they have. I trust that the words will be there when I sit down. And they always are. They aren’t always the best words, but that’s what revising is for.
VENTRELLA: What was your biggest mistake so far in trying to make it as an author?
REDDING: I listened to two people at the very beginning and they led me astray. Not on purpose. I think they had the best of intentions, but they didn’t know as much as I thought they did. Neither is published at this point so I was lucky to find some more knowledgeable writers to take advice from.
VENTRELLA: Do you have any specific advice you would give a writer trying to make it in the publishing business that they may not have heard before?
REDDING: Besides being wealthy so you can buy a publisher? Uh, no that won’t work. You need to have a realistic belief in yourself. What do I mean by realistic? I’m 5’ 2” tall. I’d never make it as a professional basketball player. That’s realistic. What I do know, is that any time I needed to write something to test out of a class in school, I succeeded, including freshman English in college. Does that mean I know everything? No, It means I have a good base to build on.
Thanks for having me on your blog, Michael!