Today, our guest is a great friend and fellow writer, Ginger Simpson. Ginger's new novel Sparta Rose makes it debut February 2009.
Please tell readers about yourself and your background; your hobbies and interests.
I wish I could tell you I’m a world traveler who has lived an exciting life, but that would be a lie. I’m married for the second time, live in TN with my husband, and I write. I worked for twenty-three years at the University of California, Davis, and from that experience, I hope to write a non-fiction novel entitled, Souled Out. It won’t be a happy story, but maybe it will bring some closure to the disappointment of being sued by a co-worker I considered a friend. You just never know.
Despite missing riches and extreme beauty, I love my life, and the bright spot in it is my grandson, Spencer. He’s the reason I moved here and the reason I want to get up every day and keep going. Ever love someone so much your heart hurts? That’s how I feel about him.
How long have you been writing historical fiction?
Since I started writing in 2002.
Prairie Peace was my first published novel, and an historical romance. Of all the genres in which I’ve dabbled, historical is my favorite.
What do you enjoy most about writing in this genre? What challenges have you found?
I love the old west and that’s what I write about. The challenge is making sure you speak appropriately for the time. When writing, it’s so easy to let modern day lingo slip into the dialogue. For instance, kids were goats and “youngins” were children. You didn’t say “okay”, you said all right, and Mom and Dad weren’t recognized words. It was Ma and Pa who raised you, and believe me, if you slip up, someone will notice.
You have an upcoming release with Eternal Press, Sparta Rose. Please tell us about the story.
Sparta Rose is a romance set in Sparta, TN. When I came to this state, I was awed by its beauty. I never guess there were so many shades of green. It was only natural that I write a story set here. But…this book has been through the wringer. I signed with an agent who contracted me with an e-publisher—something I could have done on my own. It turned out to be a nightmare and I asked for and received my rights back. The second publisher who offered a contract fell ill and put everything on hold. Rather than wait and see what happened, I asked for and received my rights back again. It was a wise move, I think, because the website is down, and I’ve seen no new releases from them in months. Still it was more time wasted for me. Finally, Eternal Press offered a contract and I was elated because I’ve published with them before and love how they do business. Finally, Tomboy Ellie Fountain’s story is going to be told. If three different houses contracted this book, it can’t be bad. *smile*
What do you enjoy most about your heroine in this story?
Her feistiness. Ellie is determined to prove she can do anything a man can do, and maybe better. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. I wouldn’t mind looking like her either, but that “aint’ happnin’”.
What’s a typical writing day for you?
I write when I find time or when the mood strikes. Since I’m a “pantser”, I have to wait until my character is ready to talk to me. Sometimes they get stubborn and don’t say a word for days.
Tell us about your other works and projects.
Part of the problem with being a “pantser” is you always have voices in your head. The big dilemma for me is how to turn them off. I can’t ignore them, so I find myself knee-deep in stories I’ve started that need to be finished. Right now I’m working on:
First Degree Innocence – A mystery romance
The Locket – A mystery
Souled Out – Non-Fiction
Odessa – Western historical
Tender Return – Historical Romance
How do you create your characters?
My characters create themselves and they seem to do a great job. I don’t have to do much work, and I’ll give you an example of how one gets started. I was working on First Degree Innocence when Odessa popped into my mind. She started yelling about her pa being trapped under an overturned wagon in the middle of the Arizona desert. I couldn’t very well ignore her, and once I started listening to her, I was hooked on the story. It’s finding time to finish them when all the characters are screaming for my attention.
Do you have a favorite character from your stories?
Sarah Collins from Sarah’s Journey. I love all my heroines, but she defines the person I would like to be or even hope I am. Unwilling to put up with unfair treatment of others, Sarah speaks her mind, stands up for others and shows a brave side when bravery is required. When faced with a difficult decision, she makes the one that is most beneficial to all—unlike some who think only of themselves.
Your stories have a real flavor of the setting and time. How do you do your research?
I think years of reading western historical has given me a good foothold on the period I like to write about. I’ve spent a lot of time in the local library, researching unfamiliar information, and making sure I get my ‘ducks in a row.’ The internet is a valuable tool for language (etymology) and costumes, and when all else fails, I have a great resource in other historical authors who are always willing to help.
You have dynamic, gutsy heroines throughout your books. Who is your favorite literary heroine?
I’m sure everyone expects me to name a mainstream heroine here, but I’m not going to. Anita Davison, a friend and great author, has created a wonderful heroine in her Duking Days series. Helena Woulfe is someone I admire, aspire to follow, and can’t wait to read more about. If you want to see old England through the wide eyes of someone with spunk, beauty and grace, then you need to read Anita’s work.
What are your future writing plans?
Like everyone, I would love to be recognized on a larger scale, and that takes tons of work and perseverance. I’m hoping 2009 will be the year I secure an agent who will help me sell one of my manuscripts to a mainstream publisher…or just a publisher who will make the book available in an actual ‘brick and mortar’ store. I set goals for myself when I started and this is the final one.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t despair. Write from the heart, then join a critique group and get lots of opinions. Don’t use them all, just the ones that allow your voice and story to be heard, but makes it better. Be active on lots of loops and make bunches of friends. They teach you tons.
Do you have a website, blog, etc. where readers can learn more about you?
Well, yes I do. My website is http://www.gingersimpson.com and my blog is http://mizging.blogspot.com. You can also find me at http://myspace.com/mizging, as well as many of the networking groups. I believe in visibility.
Any closing thoughts you’d like to share.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge my fellow authors who have always been willing to take time to “help me get it right.” People like Anita Davison, Lisa Yarde, Ciara Gold, Phylllis Campbell, and Mirella Patzer, just to name a few, are aces with me. I also want to thank the readers who have been with me since I began this crazy journey… the ones who still read my books and encourage me to write more. The support and love you offer is better than any royalty check I could ever earn.
Thanks for your time, Ginger, and best of luck with your new release, Sparta Rose, coming in February from Eternal Press.
Thank you for taking time to ask such great questions thus allowing me to promote myself and my work. This has been a pleasure. I hope 2009 brings us all good health, prosperity, and peace.