I met Fay in ACFW's critique group. I absolutely loved the story she was writing and could
not wait to read more of it! If you haven't read Fay's books, I highly recommend doing so!
Fay Lamb is an editor, writing coach, and author, whose emotionally charged stories remind Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on two Christmas novella projects: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, and A Ruby Christmas, and the Write Integrity Press romance novella series, which includes A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger. The romance novellas have also been combined into one volume entitled The Heart Seekers. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast. Fay has contracted two series.
Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.
Anyone interested in learning more about Fay’s freelance editing and her coaching should contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joi: Why did you start writing? How did you start writing?
Fay: I know that these days it sounds cliché to say that I’ve been writing since I was very young, but I have. I always had stories dancing through my head. I never checked this theory, but I truly believe I could have been the youngest recorded insomniac in history (five years old). As a fearful child, I didn’t sleep. My brain had to relieve me of my childhood anxieties and keep me entertained at the same time so it formulated characters and stories. Before I could write, I directed. All the kids in the neighborhood would gather around, and I’d have them act out the stories in my head. I can remember reading the newspaper to my father when I was five years old because I wanted to learn to read all of the books in my grandmother’s library (and she would take a lot of those books from me when I tried to read them at that age), but I also needed to learn to write because I simply wanted to write the stories I’d envisioned.
Today, the characters and stories still dance inside my imagination, and I’m still directing in my mind and on the page.
Joi: Love that, Fay!
Joi: How did you select your genre?
Fay: Could I get away with saying, “A funny thing happened to me on the way to my last line …”? I actually started writing what I considered women’s fiction. Then someone came along and whispered to me, “Don’t say women’s fiction. It doesn’t sell. Call it contemporary fiction. It’s the same thing, but readers don’t buy women’s fiction any longer.”
In those early days as I wrote my contemporary fiction, I’d exclaim, “I don’t write romance.”
Well … Oh, yes, I did, and I do. I don’t write it like Love Inspired and other formula romance publishers like it, but everything I write has romance in it. Romance is important to story. But that truth never hit me until the first novella I participated in entitled A Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt, in which I was the only author who introduced a romantic figure. I tried not to do it, but I stopped fighting against it. Since the contemporary fiction I cut my teeth on when I thought I wasn’t writing romance turned out to be filled with romance, I learned that I am a hopeless romantic—at least on paper. My husband would say that in real life, I’m pretty pathetic when it comes to romance, but I love a great conflict filled story of romance. Add suspense to the mix, and I love it even more.
Joi: What is your writing day like?
Fay: Ugh … No, I don’t mean the writing part. It’s actually getting to the writing. I have a to-do list that meanders through housework, editing, coaching, promotion, bookkeeping … and writing. Now, when I start the writing, I don’t have trouble with word count. I can write a thousand words in an hour on a mediocre day. I love to dance through those thousands of words. Here’s my problem: I have to convince myself that I’m not wasting my time, my husband’s time, and the time of everyone else who needs me. The reason I have to daily convince myself of this is because writing is so much fun. It’s the escape it has always been since my insomnia at five years of age. Even editing my work is fun for me because in edits I can include another layer of story. If someone asked me if I’d like to visit Disney World or spend a day alone writing, I’d be at my desk writing away, enveloped in the world I created with the characters I love—even the creepy ones—while my family enjoyed the attraction.
I do believe, though, that my husband and my loved ones are beginning to realize how important my daily writing time is to me. I get pretty cranky when I can’t spend time with my imaginary friends.
Joi: How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
Fay: Writing is probably about the only thing I don’t organize. On occasion, if I get stuck on a plot, I’ll use a system similar to the LOCK system that James Scott Bell created and teaches. Otherwise, the story at hand is always running through my head. Sometimes it needs to compete with other stories, but even when I’m not sitting at the computer, my mind visualizes scenes so that when I sit down to type, the scene is mostly written in my head, and I put it down on paper.
Joi: What's the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
Fay: I love this question because this just happened to me, and it wasn’t one character, it was five of them. I’m writing away, and the hero and heroine are receiving information that points to the antagonist. That’s when the villain started snickering and asking me how foolish I thought he was? He taunted me with “Why would I do that? That doesn’t make sense. Of course, they’d catch me if I did that.” His chastisement lasted for a few days, and I was pretty ticked at him for ruining my plot. Then four characters approached me. When I asked them what was going on, they each told me their part in everything I’d written, “Well, I’m the one who did that because …” and I got an answer from each of them that put some great twists into the story, put the entire plot into perspective, and kept me moving forward. The villain ain’t too happy, but the other four high-fived me.
Joi: That is fantastic!!!
Joi: Do you have a list of characters that you're saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters
Fay: A list? Like a written list? Ha Ha. That thought never occurred to me. I’ve probably outed myself as an insane individual before this question, but in case there’s any doubt, I can give you a list of characters (all from memory) who are vying for attention. When I bring them on stage, I have a perfect picture of them in my mind; I remember where they live, what they do, what their story is about, and how they know each other, which ones belong with each other, and which ones have really never met the others because, of course, they’re from different series, and then there are those who cross over from one series to another. I’m clearly under-estimating the number of characters when I say there are at least fifty of them inside my imagination.
I want to be careful here: these are characters and not levels of my personality. I’m a little off of center, but not that far. I’m the director, and they never, ever take over—not completely.
Joi: What does your work space/office look like?
Fay: I work in a bedroom turned office at the far end of the house from my husband’s office. From behind my L-shaped desk sitting in front of the window, I look out onto my front yard at oak trees, azalea bushes, squirrels, birds, birds chasing squirrels, the two outdoor neighborhood cats that everyone believes belong to me (probably because I feed them), and the lizard that has taken to playing peek-a-boo and tormenting our indoor cat by sticking his head around the shutter and moving back and forth. My desk sits between two bookshelves, one filled with writing references and the other with my to-be-read collection, which is just about as large as the same type of collection in my Kindle. A portrait of my grandmother when she was a small girl watches over me from its place on the wall, and a picture of a dog at the typewriter, reminds me, “Do not waste a day without adding words to the page.”
Fay: My go-to snack anytime is ice cream and/or sweet iced tea (of course in the South it’s called iced tea—sweet is redundant) from our town’s wonderful Moonlight Drive-In. I’m enjoying a cup right now. We don’t keep snacks in the house mainly because, heaven forbid, we’d eat it. Well, we don’t keep that much real food in the house either because, heaven forbid, I’d have to cook it. But we do head to the Moonlight Tuesday through Saturday (they’d call the police thinking foul play had occurred if we didn’t show up) for the best iced tea ever, and quite a few times during the week, we enjoy their ice cream.
Joi: My husband loves ice cream! It's his favorite!
Joi: If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
Fay: You mean besides one of mine? Only kidding.
That’s a very easy questions because I’ve been thinking about the novel lately. It was required reading for Florida high school students for a number of years because it was written by an author who was only seventeen years old at the time. I don’t remember if the author used the elements that I believe go into crafting a well-written novel, but I do know that when I was seventeen, my mother came into my room one night to shake me awake because I was crying out a line from the story: “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.” The novel is S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. The reason I recommend it is because that story captured my imagination when I was seventeen, and the story lingers with me still today, and that’s what the best stories do. They linger with the reader. They aren’t forgotten as soon as the last word is read.
Joi: If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, not crocheting), what would it be? Why?
Fay: I’m going to cheat on this one. I can’t recommend just one book, but I can recommend one author I credit with most everything I have learned about writing fiction. If I’d read no other books on the craft of writing but his, I would have been well-served. Every author should read and keep on their shelves for reference, each book written by James Scott Bell on the craft of writing. Mr. Bell teaches without all those highfalutin phrases and boring feats of engineering other writers on craft use. He cuts to the chase, tells you the job is hard, but he explains it so well that a writer, working diligently to learn can’t help but improve. He uses great examples and simplistic terms. The man has been, and continues to be, a tremendous blessing to writers.
Oh, and I don’t crochet, but I do tat. I could recommend some books for tatting, if you’d like.
Joi: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Fay: I get the feeling that by the time you got to my answer for this question, you were cringing.
Joi: Absolutely not! I have loved this interview!
Fay: Joi, I just want to thank you for letting me have fun with the interview today. I bet you couldn’t tell that I love to chat, and I appreciate you’re inviting me to do so.
Joi: Thanks for joining us, Fay! Fay has graciously offered to do a giveaway! Tell her in the comment below what your favorite snack is!