We are happy to have Carly Phillips at Smexy today for a chat!
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a stay at home mom who is lucky enough to write and publish contemporary romance. I have two teenage daughters, one is nineteen and away at college, the other is fifteen and needs constant driving to and from everywhere. When I’m home and not working, I’m at the beck and call of two dogs, a 4 year old wheaten terrier named Bailey and an eight month old Havanese named Brady. I’m married to a guy I met in college and we have a very happy, normal-crazy life!
How did you come up with the story in Serendipity?
I’ve always written contemporaries and I’ve almost always centered the stories in small towns. What is different about Serendipity for me was that I focused first on the town and then on the characters. The town, especially the ‘house on the hill’ is the centerpiece of the action for the first three books in the series. Since Serendipity is a town of haves and have nots, the house on the hill is the focal point for that – and for the idea that fortunes can shift, things can change – but at the heart of it all are families and characters who I hope you will come to love. I’d say the story itself came from my heart.
Serendipity is the perfect title for this book as events in your story are certainly serendipitous? So I’m curious, when you title your books, do you title before, during or after you finish a story?
In an ideal world, I title a story before I write. For me, a title helps me set the scene, the stage, even the tone of the book. In the case of Serendipity, the town was titled from the beginning as was the first book. The second two book titles came afterwards, but before I started writing those books. Whew
I loved the subtle humor between the characters. Do you try to balance humor with the emotional content?
Balancing humor has been a learning curve for me as you can tell if you’ve read Kiss Me if You Can or Love Me if You Dare. Those books were humor heavy. Serendipity is content and character heavy but the humor comes from the heart of the characters. As I said, it’s been a learning experience and I hope with each book I get it right more and more.
4. I have to admit, I was a little turned off to the character of Kelly when she just left her younger sister, Tess, with a virtual stranger-half brother notwithstanding. Did you worry that readers would be upset or find Kelly’s character irresponsible?
Do I worry? No, because they should find it irresponsible. They should also realize (and I hope they will in Kelly’s story – Destiny) that she is a desperate woman who was out of options. She isn’t Tess’s mother, she’s her sister. She didn’t ask for the job of raising her, she took it on and when things got tough, and she held on as long as she could. You’ll discover in Destiny that she had it on good authority that the Barron brothers were decent men before she left Tess. But she didn’t do it easily or lightly. And Kelly’s growth is a major subject of Destiny. I hope readers will come to understand if not agree and then learn to love her anyway despite and because of her flaws because if nothing else, Kelly has a big heart. And when she loves, she does it whole heartedly.
I loved the character of Ethan; I mean who doesn’t love a sexy bad boy! Do you ever base your characters on real people?
Nope. Well, not consciously. Maybe they can be based on fictional characters I’ve read, but mostly they are in my imagination. For example, I thought Ethan would be a total bad boy when I started writing but as he took over, he had more depth and a bigger heart than I could have imagined. I love him too. Thanks!
What three things do you absolutely have to have in order to write?
I’m assuming you mean besides the laptop, my favorite recliner and a feeling of peace inside me? I’m not sure. In an ideal world I’d love to know where I’m going next but since I can’t always have that, I need a stretch of free time, the urge to get words on a page, and a story I want to tell. (Good question!)
When you write, do you start with an outline or storyboard or do you just write freely and edit afterward?
I start with a beginning, middle and end. A bare bones idea of where I’m going and where I’m ending. If I’m lucky, sometimes I even have an idea of how I’m getting there although that’s usually the challenge. I have a critique partner who reads as I write, rereads as I revise and holds my hand in bad times. I have two other plotting partners who are always there to get me over any hump. And I have my characters who I hope will eventually take over and want to tell the story their way. Beyond that? I write freely and edit as I go along, so by the time I hit the end, I’m pretty much done! My process is fairly ugly. It takes me longer to write the first 150 pages than the entire book! But eventually I get there.
When you’re not writing, what is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Sit around with my dogs, my family and watch TV while I read on my Kindle. I am a true couch potato! On occasion, throw in some shopping and lunch with a friend and I’m rejuvenated and good to go!
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Oh wow. Thanks to the Kindle that list has grown. I’m reading more now than ever! When it comes to contemporary romances, I’m a fan of Jill Shalvis, Janelle Denison, Lauren Dane, Toni Blake and Leslie Kelly, and that’s just to start. I’ve started reading paranormals and that led me to Larissa Ione, Sydney Croft (and Stephanie Tyler’s romantic suspense novels), Nalini Singh’s Psy series and for laughs too, Shelly Laurenston! Wow I could go on. Can you tell I love Romance?
What are you working on right now?
I am on the downhill slide of Karma, Dare Barron’s book. Dare is so yummy. I can’t wait for readers to get ahold of his story!
Can you tell us anything juicy about Nash’s book, Destiny?
Nash? Wow. He really gave me fits writing. His anger ran deep but it only hid such emotion and pain. He had so much to get over. I can tell you there are surprises and secrets in Destiny (Nash’s book) that send him reeling. He really has to look deep into himself and figure out why the people he loves tend to keep things from him.
After that? I have to figure out what comes next in Serendipity, at least that’s my hope!
Carly Phillips is the New York Times Bestselling author of over 30 romance novels with contemporary characters and plotlines that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. Carly is a stay at home mom of 2 daughters (now almost old enough to read her books!), one soft coated wheaten terrier and a brand new Havanese puppy. She’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers. More information on Carly can be found at www.carlyphillips.com. Around the web you can also find Carly at:
Thanks Carly! Today, we have three sets of Serendipity Trading Cards to give away! To enter, just leave a comment. Contest open through September 8 to US/Canada.