I've known Carly for a long time and under another name. I've watched her career blossom and her talent grow from the very beginning. Here's her interview.
1. For you, which comes first the characters or the plot?Always, always, characters come first. For me the characters must have life and personality before the plot can take shape. Who the heroine is, who the hero is, how their conflicts mesh together, all of this is of utmost importance. The plot is a means to carry the romance through the book as opposed to more suspense/mystery writers whose plot is central.
2. How do you create your characters?From my heart. Seriously, I have to feel the characters come alive inside me. For example I am working on Lucky Break right now and in the first seventy-five pages, I realized my heroine was flat. The character didn't jump off the page. The plot was there, the heroine's history, background, etc. After reading my critique partner, Janelle Denison's work, it finally dawned on me what MY heroine was missing - PERSONALITY. As a result, i had to go back to the drawing board and ask myself, who is she? How would someone who was raised by parents more concerned with humanitarian issues than their children, who had to clean up her younger sister's messes, who would SHE become? This taught me that you prepare all you want with a character - I gave her everything in her background, conflict, etc. as I always do, and yet it still wasn't enough. I am now in the process of going back to the drawing board and weaving my new heroine into those first 75 pages. That said, my basic process is the same: I sit down with my plotting group (there are four of us) and we tape our sessions, building character first, then plot, then story.
3. Do you plan ahead or go with the flow?I go with the flow. This inevitably leads me to have to go back to the beginning often, and weave things back in. Over the years, I've learned to plot more heavily with my plotting group (www.plotmonkeys.com), and plan ahead and then I let the characters tell the story. If I don't follow the plan exactly that's fine, but I write faster and easier with a road map of where to head next. Usually it's transitions that hang me up - how do I get from point A to point B. The easier things are sometimes the hardest!
4. How much research do you do and how do you go about it?Not enough and that's honest. I prefer to do my research over the Internet or by asking questions of people I already know. I'm not someone who goes deep into areas other than character, so it's easier for me. I do rely on Google. Google is my friend!
5. How do you select goals and the reasons your characters what to accomplish these goals?The goals are usually set by the characters personality first, and the plot second. If I don't have a heavy secondary storyline, the goals must drive the characters more heavily so there is meat to the story. It really depends.
6. Tell us about your latest release.
Three sexy heroes and a centuries old curse defines the series that's out now. I call it my "LUCKY" series, starting with LUCKY CHARM (out now); LUCKY BREAK 6/09 and LUCKY STREAK 10/09/. In between, SECRET FANTASY is being reissued in January 2009. All my books are listed on my website at www.carlyphillips.com.
7. What's on your backlist?Luckily for me, Harlequin has been releasing my backlist in January of each year, so most books are available. My backlist can be found here: http://www.carlyphillips.com/books.php and there is also a printable booklist link on this page. As I said, SECRET FANTASY is out in January 2009, which means my entire backlist as Carly Phillips will have been reissued at least once!
8. What are you working on now?LUCKY BREAK (10/09) which is giving me fits as I had to search for my heroine's personality, but hopefully it's been located and all will be well. Soon! Then it's on to planning a brand new series, and I'm blank at the moment, so I can't wait to see what I come up with!