Today’s interview is with Talia Quinn Daniels, author of What’s Yours is Mine, a finalist in the Contemporary Single Title category of Romance Writers of America’s® 2013 Golden Heart® contest for unpublished manuscripts. This is the premier contest (worldwide) for writers of the romance genre. Welcome, Talia!
Welcome! Tell us a little about yourself, Talia.
I grew up in New York City, went to college in Boston, and came back to New York because it was the center of the universe. (Isn’t it?) Despite that, I moved to Los Angeles a couple of years later with my boyfriend, who is now my husband. We were both assistant film/TV editors at the time, and it made sense to be in the middle of the action. We moved back to New York after a suitable trial period (seventeen years). My husband and I call ourselves go-backs after the Oregon Trail denizens who decided they weren’t suited for the West after all. Though our son was born in LA, he was enchanted the first time he saw snow, and has never looked back.
Ironically, there’s as much television editing work now in New York as there is in LA, so we’ve done just fine here.
Tell us about your manuscript, What’s Yours is Mine, that just finalled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest!
Darcy and Will have reason to hate each other. Problem is, they just accidentally bought the very same condo. It would be easier to battle it out if they could keep their hands off each other.
The story takes place in a brand new, clean and green condo complex on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in a bucolic seaside community north of Santa Barbara.
How do you feel about the Golden Heart experience?
This is my second go-round. I actually won the Golden Heart in 2012. Last year, I was overwhelmed. In shock. Thrilled. And did I mention overwhelmed? Finaling sent me into a bit of a tailspin. I just wasn’t prepared for anything like that, and I had to figure out what direction I wanted to go with positioning that book, the next book, my career… It took a few months to sort through.
As you’ve discovered this year, the best part, hands down, is getting to know my fellow finalists. I also got such a kick out of going to National with that finalist ribbon on my badge. I hadn’t been involved with RWA at all before this, so it was a great chance to begin to develop relationships with other romance writers. I think that kind of peer support and connection is so crucial for any writer.
This year has felt calmer, though equally wonderful. I think I’ve managed to internalize the validation. It’s like a lovely warm bath instead of an electric jolt.
Where did you get the idea for this story?
When I worked in episodic television drama, we sometimes got scripts for what are called “bottled” shows. These are episodes shot entirely on pre-existing sets. They’re done to save money, but they’re often the most intriguing stories. Putting your cast in a single space, forcing them to rub up against each other, often creates a fascinating tension. So I thought, well, what if I bottle two characters who hate each other but have crazy chemistry? And what if they’ve got opposing goals so they can’t just fall into each other’s arms? The setup forces them to actually deal with each other, peeling layers and getting to something underneath the surface. It’s like snowbound or stuck-in-the-elevator stories, but with a twist.
What has your writing journey been like?
I came to novel writing in a backward sort of way. I wrote short stories in high school and college, but they never had any real plot. They were like long, meandering tone poems. Without a strong throughline, they were incredibly hard to write and probably just as hard to read. I nearly turned to drink, but there’s only so much Chambord and Amaretto one woman can stomach. (I was a frou-frou sweet drink type.)
When I started working in film editing, I began reading screenplays, so I naturally started writing them, too. The thing about screenwriting is that it cuts to the bone. You can’t obfuscate with poetic language and quirky characters. I had to learn how to create satisfying plots.
I came back to the prose form when I started an online journal (the precursor to the personal blog), which was essentially a series of personal essays. Doing that on a regular basis, getting positive feedback from readers, I remembered how much I loved writing prose. From there, it was a natural step to writing fiction again, this time with actual plots.
Last year’s Golden Heart manuscript, No Peeking, was my first romance novel but my third manuscript. What’s Yours is Mine is my second and fourth, respectively.
What’s your ideal writing environment?
How’s a quiet cabin in the woods with a daily delivery of personally tailored fresh-cooked meals sound? Or maybe a beach house in a quiet oceanside community, so I can write to the sound of the surf pounding the sand and go for walks barefoot between writing stints.
Yeah, maybe someday…
In the meantime, I have a tiny home office. I love writing in there, when I get the chance (not often enough!). It has a view of our pleasant street: small brick houses side by side, each with minor but telling differences in character. Flowering trees in the spring. An expanse of sky, rare in NYC, with an occasional view of a plane descending quietly into one of the city airports a few miles away.
I put on music to suit the mood of my scene, sit at the pale pine three cornered desk my mother bought at a flea market when I was a kid, and sink into the story. Until my son comes knocking and the cats try to clamber on the keyboard and the phone rings and it’s time to make dinner and the spell is broken.
How can fans (and agents and editors!) reach you?
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I want to recommend that every Lucky 13 (current Golden Heart finalist) write a speech. It’s hard to believe, I know, but some of us will actually win, and it could be you. You’ll want that speech at hand. When I stood on the podium last year facing that huge audience, my brain was absolutely blank. That flimsy bit of paper in front of me was the only thing keeping me from saying, “Uh, yeah, thanks,” and running offstage.
Thank you, Talia, for visiting Leslie Lynch Writes – and we wish you the very best in your publishing future!
Thanks for having me, and for doing this! It’s great fun to read everyone’s descriptions of their writing experience and their contemporary romance stories.